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new boyfriend constantly telling sexist jokes.. should I end it or am I over sensitive??!!

(184 Posts)
misssounsure Mon 26-Aug-13 17:52:59

I've been seeing a lovely man for a few months and he is great in every way except one... he makes some sexist jokes. They are just jokes and initially I laughed as I didn't want to come across as having no sense of humour or being over sensitive! His father is also like it... cracking sexist jokes all the time and jokingly saying his wife cant do x, y, z etc because she is a woman... its constant joking sexism with his family.

The other day my boyfriend started telling me how he and a colleague told a female colleague they could tell she was on her period. He was laughing hysterically as he told me this and told me she got very embarrassed. I've been thinking this over and over and I dont think its acceptable. Q. is would this be enough to end the relationship for you? He is amazing in all other ways but for these stupid jokes and comments

His friends are also like it too!! Last month we went on a weekend away with his friend and his friend's wife. His friend CONSTANTLY leered at the air hostesses saying "phhwwoooor look at that" (this was a 3pm flight with families, kids about... not a night club environment!

My boyfriend is 33 years old by the way. Would you get rid now???? He is great in all other ways!!

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 30-Aug-13 21:29:26

"I'd say, don't miss out on a first class relationship because you felt obliged to take second best if he came along first"

Perfect smile

cory Fri 30-Aug-13 21:25:49

Contrarian78 Thu 29-Aug-13 10:32:07

"Don't accept second best, but equally don't potentially miss out on a fulfilling relationship because somebody fell short of this notion of a perfect human being."

I'd say, don't miss out on a first class relationship because you felt obliged to take second best if he came along first

GrendelsMum Fri 30-Aug-13 17:17:34

Would that be the town versus <nudge nudge> country debate?

nkf Fri 30-Aug-13 16:23:30

And the town versus country debate would be settled in no time. Never move out of London.

GrendelsMum Fri 30-Aug-13 15:35:47

MN needs more Congreve on the Relationships board.

Except that rather than LTB, all the advice would probably be CTB (cukold the bastard)

nkf Fri 30-Aug-13 12:26:40

Great quote from Congreve about the faults and failings of spouses. You should like their faults as much as you like your own. That's the summary. Here's the exact quote.

I'll tell thee, Fainall, she once used me with that insolence that in revenge I took her to pieces, sifted her, and separated her failings: I studied 'em and got 'em by rote. The catalogue was so large that I was not without hopes, one day or other, to hate her heartily. To which end I so used myself to think of 'em, that at length, contrary to my design and expectation, they gave me every hour less and less disturbance, till in a few days it became habitual to me to remember 'em without being displeased. They are now grown as familiar to me as my own frailties, and in all probability in a little time longer I shall like 'em as well.

quoteunquote Fri 30-Aug-13 08:34:59

Relationships are really finding someone who's faults you can live with,

You can't change someone, pointless trying,

So unless you want nasty undermining sexist crap as a back drop to the rest of your life, move on and don't waste any more precious time .

JoinYourPlayfellows Thu 29-Aug-13 15:39:48

"because of the society I've been raised in I will invariably end up being sexist somewhere along the line."

I bet you will.

And so will I.

Despite it being something I am very conscious of.

And I do tend to challenge that kind of laziness where I see it and where it can be done gently.

But I only have so much energy and I'd rather spend it on convincing women not to put up with sexist crap than on trying to convince male chauvinists to only tell their nasty jokes when there are no women around.

We are more than half the population.

Even with the money and property and positions of power that we have been denied by mediocre, domineering and avaricious men, we can still do a lot.

I look forward to a day when no woman would even consider dating a man who makes sexist jokes.

And she would just laugh when some other sexist told her to give sexists and chance and fix their deficiencies.

Keepithidden Thu 29-Aug-13 14:42:07

Dahlen, you're right. I'm just complicating things by trying to explain my sexism in the context of the sexism demonstrated by OPs.

Apologies to all I've confused/annoyed.

Dahlen Thu 29-Aug-13 14:34:52

Keepithidden I can see you are trying to find some middle ground here, but I really don't think there is any when it comes to the sort of sexism that is characterised by frequent recounting of sexist jokes.

The sort of sexism you - and I - are guilty of takes place entirely unthinkingly because of social norms. This is the sort of sexism apparent every time you wrap a present in some pink paper for a niece or ask if there's anything you can do to 'help' around the house. This is the sort of sexism that, while wrong, tends to be carried out through benign, unthinking habit rather than a conscious desire to reinforce male status above women's. There is no conscious target because it isn't even realised that there IS a target.

A sexist joke has a target. That is what makes it 'funny'. hmm When you repeat such a joke you have made a conscious decision that it is ok to mock that target. It's different.

Some people can make the odd joke like this and get away with it. If they are the sort of people who clearly demonstrate a belief in gender equality through their actions and they recount a joke that is genuinely funny (often because the humour is a benign observation rather than an 'edgy' mockery), it doesn't tend to cause offence. That's banter. IME, however, the sort of person whose entire humour repertoire consists mostly of sexist jokes is a sexist. Their humour reflects a deeper mindset about women, and it's not one characterised by equality.

LittlePeaPod Thu 29-Aug-13 14:22:33

To an extent I think the OP, and all feminist women, do have to try and make those who are unaware, aware because things aren't going to change unless the sexist parts of society are exposed and educated

Why is it down to women to do to this? Why do we have to mother these men? Men are fully aware of their behaviour and what's right/wrong. I have never wanted to mother my partner the thought irrates the hell out of me I want my partner to be mature and be fully aware and take responsiblity for his actions/behaviour. If he needs me to spoon feed him these basic principles then I am very unlikely to have any respect for him. The is probably why it took me till I was 32 to finanally meet someone I wanted to settle down with. His 4 years older than me and we have been together years. We are completely suited to each other. I wasn't prepared to settle for anything less than what was right for me. Like another Op mentioned above women and men shouldn't just settle.

Interestingly I asked my DF his opinion on this discussion. His view is his embarrassed that some men still try to abdicate responsibilty. They know what's right/wrong, they just think they can get away with it. If this isn't the case then thy are either stupid or very immature.

Keepithidden Thu 29-Aug-13 14:04:26

I have no interest in convincing sexist men not to be sexist.

Maybe convincing is the wrong word, I'd say challenging. Convincing implies a kind of protracted debate which would be exhausting considering the amount of sexist men out there!

^They are grown ups living in a world that is organised entirely to suit them.

If they can live in that world and still feel the need to put women down, refuse to see the bleeding obvious about how our society treats women, then that is their problem.^

Well, the trouble is much of it isn't conscious. The need to put women down is normalised, it's how it has always been, it isn't a deliberate decision in many cases. I don't wake up in the morning and think to myself "I'm a man, I think women need to be put in their place today I'll make a few sexist comments, treat them as second class citizens and make their lives a misery". I wake up and try to live a life without causing harm and grief to anyone, but because of the society I've been raised in I will invariably end up being sexist somewhere along the line. I need people to tell me when this is happening and why I shouldn't be thinking/behaving/speaking along those lines.

I will not associate with them. And where there is any harassment, I will report it.

Good. Unfortunately I'm afraid because of the sheer number of sexist people out there your associates may be limited in number.

But teaching men how not to be sexist is not my job.

No, but challenging opinions, words or behaviour that is offensive is all of our jobs. In the same way as I'll challenge someone obviously spouting racist rubbish, I'd hope that a feminist would challenge me when I 'revert to type'.

JoinYourPlayfellows Thu 29-Aug-13 13:47:31

"To an extent I think the OP, and all feminist women, do have to try and make those who are unaware, aware because things aren't going to change unless the sexist parts of society are exposed and educated."

To an extent, yes.

And extent (for me, anyway) is to make women, such as the OP, think about whether they really need to be giving "chances" to objectionable men.

To challenge the idea that many women have been raised with that men are better than them, that they should constantly overlook how men treat them and make excuses.

I have no interest in convincing sexist men not to be sexist.

They are grown ups living in a world that is organised entirely to suit them.

If they can live in that world and still feel the need to put women down, refuse to see the bleeding obvious about how our society treats women, then that is their problem.

I will not associate with them. And where there is any harassment, I will report it.

But teaching men how not to be sexist is not my job.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 29-Aug-13 11:00:22

To an extent I think the OP, and all feminist women, do have to try and make those who are unaware, aware because things aren't going to change unless the sexist parts of society are exposed and educated.

keepithidden this is so true...but there is a tendency to accuse women of being over sensitive, emotional or too quick to take offence. I can see why op has posted, get that 'is it just me?' Reassurance.

I also think there is a difference between prejudicial treatment of men and sexism towards women. It seems to me that sexism involves the holding of prejudicial views about gender but with the power to affect other people's lives as a result of those prejudices. In general (and there will be examples of exceptions) men have been in the position of power and therefore their prejudices have a greater impact on the lives of women around them.

I would be concerned that the underlining sexism within this man and also with his family would make changing opinions very difficult...but you are correct, only Op could judge that in the end.

Keepithidden Thu 29-Aug-13 10:50:40

That's not the same thing as being unaware at all.

Well, when you put it like that I don't think I can defend the OPs BFs behaviour! OP, he hasn't been living under a rock for thirty years has he?

Thinking about it though, I do feel a bit of pity towards throwbacks like the OPs BF, in the same way I kind of feel sorry for older folks who still insist on calling corner shops "P*ki-shops" and using outdated racial terms. It's like they lack knowledge and I tend to make allowances (in the same way you would for a puppy after it trashed your living room) for their ignorance, despite challenging them on a lot of their beliefs.

Maybe it's because their world is changing and they aren't.

Contrarian78 Thu 29-Aug-13 10:46:05

What's actually happening (here in real life) is that men are genrally toning it down, and women are generally ramping it up. Eventually (rightly or wrongly) there'll be a meeting in the middle.

I think on one end of the scale you have workplace bullying (bad) and on the other end of the scale you have married women taking their husbands surnames (bad?) I know this is becoming less common, but I've known (otherwise) sensible and educated women change their name by deed poll so that it matches that of their partner and kids.

Contrarian78 Thu 29-Aug-13 10:39:51

Dahlen/Keepingithidden

Thank you. Sensible and reasoned debate.

Dahlen Thu 29-Aug-13 10:33:54

Keepithidden - I both agree and disagree with you. A lot of people - including feminists - are blind to a lot of sexism because it is so entrenched and normalised in our society.

But only a first-class twat would think that constantly telling sexist jokes is acceptable in 2013. You could only get away with putting that down to ignorance if you've been living under a rock for the last 30 years. Work-based sexual harassment (sometimes in the form of jokes) may still be commonplace, sadly, but enough people have lost their jobs over it and enough high-profile cases have made it into the media that no one can claim to know it's not offensive. The difference is that the perpetrators believe that it's 'PC gorn mad' and the rules shouldn't apply to them. That's not the same thing as being unaware at all.

Contrarian78 Thu 29-Aug-13 10:32:07

cory (I agree) this is becoming a bit like the "I agree with Nick" (before the last general election) but I think the same is (to an extent) true for men too.

I'll try not to make this about the OP as I don't know her specific situation, but speaking more generally (and without ANY referene to this situation) I do believe that some people's expectations are too high. Nobody has to settle for second best, but (and this is true of both sexes) let's keep things grounded in reality.

Just look at the expectations that people have of women (and men). We're told how to behave and what to expect. I know this from my own experience. I expected my wife to have a career, be a great mother, wife, cook and for us to have the sex life that was well er.........

We're programmed to think we should have all of those things and that our lives will be better if we do (I honestly think women put more pressure on themselves than is healthy) a cursory glance through a celeb type mag will confirm this

Equally, though, this idea of the perfect modern man, also doesn't exist.

Don't accept second best, but equally don't potentially miss out on a fulfilling relationship because somebody fell short of this notion of a perfect human being.

Keepithidden Thu 29-Aug-13 10:25:30

If there is ignorance, it is a wilful one.

Oh I don't know about that, I'm ignorant of much of the sexism that exists in society (I'm male) and it is only when it has been pointed out to me that I think, actually, yeah that isn't fair/right and should be changed.

To an extent I think the OP, and all feminist women, do have to try and make those who are unaware, aware because things aren't going to change unless the sexist parts of society are exposed and educated.

Having said that, there does seem to be a sliding scale: the OPs BF seems to be at one end, deeply ingrained gender sterotyping manifesting itself in the jokes and behaviour that is outlined. Whereas a lot of men (and women too I suppose) are aware of the need for equality, but have been so subconsciously indoctrinated by society that they need someone to point out to them when they are being misogynistic.

Whether the pros outweigh the cons in the OPs case is open to debate (hence the thread) and I suppose only she can judge how much effort she'll have to put into educate her BF to her acceptable level. If she's going to be challengeing his behaviour and words for the next two years without apparent benefit, then I'd humbly suggest she finds someone else. If he can be challenged and change his own behaviour/attitude within a week or so, she may deem it worth the effort. You never know he may even start trying to persuade family/friends that their behaviour is wrong too! (Can you tell I'm clutching at straws in an effort to maintain my belief that humans are generally nice people?!)

Dahlen Thu 29-Aug-13 09:56:26

The difference between the racism of our grandparents' generation and the sexism of today is very different. The casual racism of the past was borne of ignorance rather than malice. That doesn't make it any more acceptable, but it does make it more understandable. It is true that many of our grandparents would have (and did in some cases) change their outlook when they met someone black/asian. But for many of them their lives simply took place in a race vacuum. They never met anyone of any other colour or culture than white.

The men of today are, and always have been, in a society that comprises 50% women. Ignorance is not an excuse. If there is ignorance, it is a wilful one.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 29-Aug-13 09:51:11

As is goes, I would agree with contarian if we were talking about picking up dirty socks or remembering birthday dates...or something little but annoying.

However, you are taking a massive risk if you bet on trying to change these beliefs, as Cory says. Why not cut losses and find someone who shares a similar outlook on life in the first place?

LittlePeaPod Thu 29-Aug-13 09:48:52

Cory very well said. I couldn't agree more.

cory Thu 29-Aug-13 09:45:35

One of the most depressing things about MN imo is realising how many women have entered on marriage or a longterm relationship with men they were never sure about in the first place because they had a subconscious feeling that they ought to be grateful that any man would have them. They have been told that not being in a relationship is some kind of failure and having a boyfriend (any boyfriend) is a sign that you are a success. And then things go from bad to worse and children are involved and it all becomes terribly messy.

(And before you ask, I am not talking sour grapes here: I am writing from a very happy 30 years relationship which I have no doubt will last until one of us dies. But then I didn't marry the first man who offered: I married the man I felt sure about.)

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 29-Aug-13 09:42:22

Sorry to be picky but my original post said final comments (plural), referring to the paragraph and not just your last one single sentence. Yes, didn't see the Winner thing as a constructive contribution. I was more interested in what you said really.

Anyho. I also agree with Cory too. Wonder what op has done?

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