Some things I think I know about dirty jokes

This post I think is not quite right. It’s something I know a bit about, but there are parts I don’t understand too. Anyway, here are some things I think I know about dirty jokes.

Jokes about the following subjects are usually considered dirty (some of these jokes are relatively innocuous):

  • Sex
  • Masturbation
  • Genitals
  • Breasts
  • Defecation
  • Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Doing drugs
  • These jokes can be good or bad, it depends on the joke, and the context in which it is told. 

Rude jokes that are dirty because they deal with impolite subject matter can be ok to tell in some circumstances, but not others:

There are three basic situations in which these jokes are usually ok:

  • People who are social equals and have an equal friendship, and both like telling rude jokes to one another, or:
  • People in a profession that deals with impolite areas, making trade-related jokes to colleagues (eg: people who work concert security making jokes to one another about bodily functions and weird things people do at shows) 
  • When someone is doing a comedy routine and other people are listening to it on purpose

It’s almost always a bad idea to tell rude jokes to people you have power over:

  • Partly this is because it’s not ok to tell rude jokes to people who dislike rude jokes. And people you have power over might not feel comfortable or safe telling you to stop.
  • It’s also threatening in a few ways that go beyond this.
  • Telling rude jokes is a sign that you regard someone as a social equal, and emphatically expect that they share that view
  • This can be a sign that you aren’t willing to acknowledge the power you have over them. That’s threatening.
  • It can also be sexually threatening. The rules about dirty jokes are part of the rules about sexual boundaries. Telling a dirty joke in an inappropriate contexts is often the first step a sexual predator takes in testing someone’s willingness to enforce sexual boundaries. Even if you have no such intent, telling a rude joke, especially a sexual rude joke, can be seen this way.
  • That’s especially true if when someone objects to the joke, you tell them to lighten up because it was just a joke.

There’s also another kind of dirty joke: the hate joke. Hate jokes are about hurting people. Hate jokes say bad things about other groups, or express violent desires, then make somewhat more socially acceptable by phrasing it as a joke:

  • Jokes that contain slur words are usually, but not always, hate jokes
  • Jokes that rely on asserting that stereotypes are true are usually hate jokes
  • For instance, dumb blonde jokes. 
  • Or “ironic” racism (eg: telling a racist joke, where the joke is that it’s so hilarious that someone who is so not-racist would say such a thing)
  • Some hate jokes are explicitly violent.
  • Here’s an example of a joke glorifying violence towards women with physical disabilities, in scrambled text that can be decoded at decode.org. The end of this block of scrambled text says “scrambled text ends here”.
  • N thl vf wbttvat qbja gur ornpu jura ur pbzrf npebff guvf ornhgvshy tvey fvggvat va n jurrypunve pelvat ure rlrf bhg. Fybjvat qbja ur nfxf ure, “Jung'f jebat?” “V'ir arire orra xvffrq orsber,” fur fbof. Srryvat onqyl, ur yrnaf qbja, xvffrf ure naq pbagvahrf ba uvf jnl. Ba uvf jnl onpx ur frrf gur fnzr tvey fboovat rira uneqre. Ur gevrf uneq abg gb fubj uvf rknfcrengvba. “Jung'f gur znggre abj?” ur nfxf ure. “V'ir arire orra fperjrq orsber rvgure,” fur fbof. Ur tenof gur unaqyrf bs ure jurrypunve, chfurf ure qbja gur obneqjnyx naq bss gur cvre. “Abj lbh'er fperjrq,” ur lryyf nsgre ure. Scrambled text ends here.
  • That kind of joke normalizes violence. The violent abuser in that joke is the sympathetic character.
  • Hate jokes are only ok when it’s actually ok to hate the people the joke is about. That’s almost never the case. But sometimes hate jokes about an abuser, or general hate jokes about rapists, can be ok jokes to make.
  • There’s a difference between telling hate jokes with the intent of harming members of the target group, and telling hate jokes without active ill intent because you think they’re funny. But it’s a difference of degree, not kind.
  • Sometimes members of target groups tell hate jokes as a form of self-hatred. That’s also a difference of degree
  • Sometimes members of the target groups tell hate jokes as a way of mocking the way people hate them. This is a difference of kind, not degree.

Basically, the bottom line is that it still matters what you’re saying if you’re making a joke while you’re saying it.