This Article was originally published at Different Truths in my weekly column, Relationship Rationale.
We often come across the messages where wives are insulted and ridiculed in the name of humor. I recently received this message on my WhatsApp: “A successful husband is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man!”
The internet is flooded with marriage jokes with a subtle sexism. A few examples are:
Before marriage, a man yearns for the woman he loves. After marriage, the “y” becomes silent.
A little boy asked his father, “Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?” In addition, the father replied, “I don’t know, son, I’m still paying for it.”
A bus full of homemakers going on a picnic fell into a river, all aboard died. Each husband cried for a week, one husband continued for more than two weeks. When asked, he replied miserably – “My wife missed the bus”
We often become an instrument in spreading this kind of evil humor that stereotypes wife as a woman who only knows how to spend money she has not earned.
“Your husband called. He said buy whatever you want.” This might look like a plain joke but here is what you are saying when you make a joke about your wife spending all the money:
- My wife is unable to make her own money
- My wife does not understand money and how it is earned.
- My wife does silly things like shopping
It was not only the men who were sharing these jokes, the women were too. They spread like wildfire. Demonetisation in India acted like a fuel for firing more jokes on women.
Have you watched the video where husband calls to complain to his mother-in-law that the product he got from her is a defective piece? Refund, please.
Jokes, where women are compared to a lifeless object, are definitely not acceptable. Men sure lead a difficult life as their in-laws treat them as Kings and Emperors. It is not easy to live a life without millions of expectations from in-laws and extended families even neighbors.
The neighbors are quick to judge a newly married woman. Not all men appreciate jokes of this kind. The truth is some men are happily married. Yes, happy and married are not an oxymoron. I have witnessed, with my friends and cousins, who openly express such sentiments of sexism on their wives.
It is not just women alone who suffer from this kind of message—men and children are also negatively affected. It does as much hostile damage to a man, Ray says, because the theme intensifies the pressures on men to be a provider, to be masculine, and if they cannot, they are a failure. The message of benevolent sexism tells girls they are too fragile, and their job is to be pretty and be put on a pedestal, Ray said. “This also perpetuates self-doubt in girls and stifles their developing sense of self-efficacy and agency that are critical aspects to basic human contentment.”
These are not light-hearted jokes but carry a subtle message of dehumanising and objectifying women. There are many heterosexual households where women make the money and the husband takes care of the household. We never hear the jokes on wife asking the husband, “Where did you spend all my money.” This could be disastrous for their marriage, as it would hurt the male ego. Why can we take liberty with women but not men?
How a man and woman are earning and spending their money is a personal matter. If men have a problem being a breadwinner, they should confess it to their wives and be willing to take care of the household and children. Laughing on your wives does not make you a Hero!