Gender Representation in SMS Jokes

Gender Representation in SMS Jokes

Yasmeen Sultana, Naima Saeed, Tansif Ur Rehman
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0128-3.ch008
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This research aims to investigate how language is used in a new mode of communication such as SMS jokes portraying different roles of human gender. A distinct form of ideology is constructed in SMS jokes by using certain expressions which criticize the roles of both the genders in a humorous way which helps in reinforcing the already existing stereotypes about them. The study adopted the qualitative research method and purposive sampling technique was used for the selection of SMS jokes. Through this sampling technique, 30 different gender-biased SMS jokes were selected which were received on the cell phone numbers of researchers. It is believed that only the female gender becomes the target of ridiculous humor, but this study proves that the attitudes associated with both male and female are humiliating. The findings of research reveal that jokes play a pivotal role in constructing the overall image of both the genders. The language which is used in portrayal of both male and female gender is highly subjective, derogatory, abusive, and prejudiced.
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Research Questions

  • 1.

    How is gender portrayed in SMS jokes?

  • 2.

    Which specific roles of gender (both males and females) are mostly the target of humor or criticism through jokes?

  • 3.

    To what extent jokes play a significant role in shaping the already existing beliefs, i.e. stereotypes regarding both the genders?


Literature Review

Language is an effective tool for communication. Humans need language to express ideas, feelings, and emotions. Language plays a vital role in human society as is serves as the predominant means of communication. “Every cultural pattern and every single act of social behavior involves communication either in an explicit or implicit sense” (Sapir, 1921). It is only through language that effective communication takes place. By altering the word sequence in a respective sentence, an individual can surely modify its meaning and can divert it to another dimension as well, i.e. by even making it meaningless.

Similarly, jokes are smart and skillful use of language in which the speaker deliberately uses words in a way which creates humor. This makes it different from the other genres of discourse. According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, a joke is something that an individual says for causing laughter as well as amusement, usually a short story with a funny punch line.

Lakoff (1975) as well as Tannen (1990) are few of the pioneers regarding language and gender research. In their view, the positions of the two genders are unchangeable as well as fixed. According to their perspective, women can only comply with the imposed roles.

Judith Butler’s (1990) work proved to be a radical change in the field of gender studies. From philosophy of language, she used John Langshaw Austin’s term ‘performativity’ and argued against the traditional feminists. She opined that gender should not be understood as either ‘being’ or ‘having’, but should be understood as ‘doing’.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gender Representation: Representation of gender in society.

Jokes: A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter.

Gender Bias: A preference or prejudice toward one gender over the other.

Stereotypes: A widely held but oversimplified ideas regarding a particular person or thing.

Ideology: A system of ideas and ideals.

SMS: A text message.

Gender Roles: Behaviors, values, and attitudes that a society considers appropriate for both male and female.

Prejudice: Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

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