In general, I despise jokes and satires which punch down.
Punching down can give the impression that marginalised groups create the most number of problems in their societies, despite their lack of political power and smaller population sizes.
I have made a blog post about it. But, it seems I forgot to talk about punching sideways.
Another issue with punching down is the punchers are often ignorant about the problems within marginalised communities. The punches are either full of oversimplifications or inaccurate stereotypes. Do you know who can provide nuanced and accurate information about said communities? Their own members!
Admittedly, I don’t believe you understand a community just because you grew up in it. Fanaticism and cultural cringe can cloud your judgement, compelling you to whitewash and exaggerate the problems among your people, respectively.
But still, if you want to truly understand a community, wouldn’t it make sense to listen people who have lived the life?
I wouldn’t think about this if it wasn’t for a video titled The Darkness by Youtuber Natalie Wynn AKA Contrapoints, in which she asserted that telling funny trans jokes requires knowledge to actual trans experiences. And yes, she has made lots of funny trans jokes.
Disclaimer: I am cis. I certainly don’t know what kind of trans jokes trans people like. But, I have yet to see her any significant backlashes from the trans community regarding her trans jokes.
This also reminds me of Muslim American webcomic artist Huda Fahmy, known for her work Yes, I am hot in this. While she does not create crude content, she constantly makes fun of her fellow American Muslims and, to a lesser extent, the entire Muslim world.
And the fact that she is a hijabi reveals a previously-hidden complexity about Muslims.
When you think of a hijabi, you think of someone who supports shaming of non-hijabis and takes hijab too seriously. That’s what anti-Muslim bigots, liberal Muslims, ex-Muslims and even some moderate Muslims (the old school Indonesian ones, at least) believe.
Huda Fahmy isn’t like that.
For one, she believes in giving women the freedom to wear anything they desire. She despises the idea of shaming them for dressing “immodestly”. In a satirical tone, she offers new dehumanising pro-hijab metaphors which do not involve ants and candies. She even acknowledges that modesty does not prevent sexual harassment.
She also makes jokes about hijabs, including one which she jokes how women become hijabis after bitten by hijampire, who has snaggle pins as fangs.
Never mind non-Muslims. As someone who grew up Muslim in the biggest Muslim-majority country and attended two Islamic schools, I have yet to met a hijabi who makes such jokes. She showcases an aspect of the Muslim world which is hidden even from many Muslims.
Basically, unless your intention is to dehumanise them even further and make them even more prone to discrimination, you have to learn about intricacies of the lives of marginalised peoples before you make fun of the them.
And no, stereotypes are not good enough. They are beliefs about our fellow human beings which are never 100% accurate, but shamelessly waiting to be affirmed.
Apart from the power imbalance, the absence of nuanced perspectives is another reason why punching down is problematic.
Yes, black and white thinking is problematic. It is just a few steps away from misinformation.
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