Are sexist jokes okay?

VicHealth’s recent report on sexist attitudes both in the workplace and in social settings has revealed some surprising results.

The leading contributor of death, disability and illness in Victorian women 15 to 44 years of age is intimate partner violence. The report concluded that preventing violence against women means changing the attitudes in society which create an environment where one’s partner is statistically more dangerous than cars, smoking, alcohol or hereditary diseases.

The report focused on ‘bystander action’ as the best way to address violence against women. A bystander is “anyone not directly involved as a victim or perpetrator, who observes an act of violence, discrimination or other unacceptable or offensive behaviour”. Bystander action simply means a bystander pointing and condemning sexist behaviour at the time of the event, or taking steps to notify the persons in charge of a workplace or sporting club of the behaviour.

In the survey it was found that although approximately one third of those surveyed had witnessed sexism towards women during the last twelve months, only half had said or done anything in response. It was also found that while sexual harassment or abuse has widely condemned, there was moderate community acceptance of sexist jokes, sexist slang and casual comments about the number of sexual partners a woman has had.

More information
To read the full report or report summaries visit the VicHealth website.

Have your say
Do you think sexist jokes are okay? Or should we be condemning them as a society? Find out why Rachel had a hard time speaking out, and tell us what you think on her blog post One of the boys



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