Women’s Internalization and Rejection of Sexist Humour
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Most research has examined men’s reactions to sexist humour, making it unclear how sexist (i.e., anti-female) humour impacts women. Accordingly, the purpose of Study 1 (N=225) was to investigate women’s proximal joke reactions, that is, ratings of amusement and inoffensiveness for sexist (aggressive or belittling) versus neutral (non-sexist) jokes, as well as to examine individual differences predicting these reactions. We found that women overall rated sexist jokes as less amusing and inoffensive than neutral jokes. Critically, however, women’s endorsement of greater hostile sexism predicted more favourable reactions to sexist (but not neutral) jokes; likewise, women higher in cavalier humour beliefs (i.e., the belief that “jokes are just jokes”) reacted more favourably to sexist (and neutral) jokes. Unlike the case for men, little research has addressed the effects of sexist humour exposure among women. Therefore, the purpose of Study 2 (N=226) was to assess the experimental effects of sexist humour exposure among women. First, participants completed pre-test measures of hostile sexism, cavalier humour beliefs, and ingroup identification. After, women were randomly assigned to an aggressive joke condition (n=114) or a neutral joke condition (n=112). Subsequently, participants completed measures of joke amusement and inoffensiveness ratings, self-objectification, negative bias effects against women (i.e., prejudice against women, discrimination against women, and support for women’s rights), and marginalized outgroup favourability. Results revealed that aggressive (vs. neutral) joke exposure lowered joke amusement and inoffensiveness ratings; these effects were weaker among women higher in hostile sexism or cavalier humour beliefs, or lower in ingroup identification. Exposure to aggressive (vs. neutral) jokes also led to increased self-objectification. Moreover, aggressive (vs. neutral) joke exposure increased both anti-women prejudice (among women higher in cavalier humour beliefs) and discrimination against women (among women higher in hostile sexism or cavalier humour beliefs). There were no effects of sexist joke exposure on women’s rights support or marginalized outgroup favourability. Implications are discussed.