How to deal with offensive jokes

Say what now?

We all have experienced receiving offensive jokes, maybe the one that delivered the joke did not think it was offensive, but we did. And although it was “just a joke” study shows that it can result into subtle effects, such as not feeling safe at your workplace, fear of speaking out, fear of stepping up or feeling violated.

We are unfortunately not unfamiliar hearing:
Where are you going with your porn shoes?
Congrats on getting this big client in, did you spend a lot of time on your knees?
Your mouth must be tired trying to satisfy your clients
Woman, make yourself useful and get me a coffee
Aren’t you a pretty little girl?
Any jokes/comments on your clothes (doesn’t matter what you are wearing)


And much more including jokes about women cleaning, being dumb, not able to drive a car, or anything sexual. It even goes as far that many women think twice before eating a banana in front of a man.

So how do you deal with it? What do you respond? Should you respond to it? We started asking around for advice, and present you the top 4 of dealing with offensive jokes.

1. Respond in a classy and fierce way
Say that you understand that he thinks this is a joke, but that you personally feel offended by it and do not appreciate the jokes he is making towards women/you. Try to make him understand that this is not okay and see if his brains are processing what you just said. If not…start from the beginning and try explaining it in a way he might understand.

2. Put him in his place
Now, this is for the Fierce ladies amongst us, the natural responder to anything that is thrown at her. Although we do somehow cheer for this point, we also think it is important to let him know why you respond like that. There is nothing to learn if you don’t teach!

3. Be direct
As in: “that’s inappropriate and not even funny, do you see me laughing?” or “Why would you say that?” Or anything else that works, don’t cover what you want to say in a story but be direct and clear.

4. No response at all
No response and thus not acknowledging the joke was made. This only works if you don’t care that the joke was made. He might be thick enough to repeat the joke thinking you did not hear it, turning around and walking away is also an option. Again, the goal is not for you to struggle with this afterwards and the goal is as well not hearing these jokes anymore.

We know that this is not applicable to everyone and that dealing with this is different for every woman. We hope to show you, that you are not alone and hope that next time, you will react. Even if the joke is not addressed to you, no shame in helping your sisters out!

Should you want to read/learn more, I highly recommend reading Susan Adams's blog on Forbes.