Feminism | Posted by Holly D on 11/16/2010

Get Back in the Kitchen

Im not getting back in the kitchen

I'm not getting back in the kitchen

The age old joke along the lines of ‘woman, get back to the kitchen,’ is pretty much thrown about on the internet and in real life. As a seventeen year old girl, I’ve come into contact with boys who think it’s the funniest thing ever to tell me to ‘make them a sandwich’ or ‘do the ironing.’ Only last Saturday a boy I’d just met told me to get him a beer and when I gave him a scathing look, told me he was joking.

I do, surprisingly, have a sense of humour. I laugh at things that are funny, I like controversial humour and I’m not easily offended. Honestly, it’s not the fact that boys think it’s okay to make jokes out of a woman’s supposed domestic role that irks me most. It’s more that girls think it’s okay. When asking a girl if they find sexist jokes funny, most will answer yes and say that they can ‘take a joke’. Girls like to look like they are one of the boys, easy to get along with and not a nagging psycho bitch. And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be a psycho bitch. It’s just that they often demean themselves whilst trying to act like this. These girls take much more than is actually acceptable. Some boys do not think twice about saying things that are clearly sexist and derogatory, just because a girl will not complain if it’s ‘just a joke.’

It all goes back to girls being ashamed to be seen as feminist. Feminism has connotations that are not popular with the opposite sex, which is obviously important at this age. I think we as young girls need to understand that it’s a good thing to be strong and outspoken, especially if we feel a boy has gone too far with his jokes. If by trying to impress a boy we have to lower ourselves, we should really reassess if this is the sort of boy we actually want to impress. It’s not embarrassing to consider yourself a feminist, and I’m not going back to the kitchen any time soon.

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  • Samuel W. @ at 11:35 am, November 16th, 2010

    Well, they’re not rape jokes, they’re not requests for blowjobs, they’re not domestic violence jokes. I think a lot of people, especially the girls, who don’t condemn jokes like that, are poking fun at the stereotype themselves, since it’s become a campy facet of pop culture to have a June Cleaver-esque wife in the kitchen. Glad you’re not too offended by that stuff, because there’s much, much worse stuff out there.

  • Katherine C. @ at 11:47 am, November 16th, 2010

    Nice relaxed semi-rant!

  • Liz @ at 11:59 am, November 16th, 2010

    And boys never seem to appreciate it when I make jokes about their penis sizes…

    Just kidding, I don’t do that… very often. I agree with this post. I love comedy, and can take a joke as well as I can give them, but the kitchen jokes tend to fall flat. Come on! Think of something better!

  • Zoe @ at 1:15 pm, November 16th, 2010

    @Liz haha, nice.

    Good post.

    @Samuel W. No, these jokes definitely aren’t rape jokes (which is good!) but what makes these jokes irritating is that when a guy tells a girl to “get back in the kitchen”, there’s a split second where it may be unclear whether the person is really joking or not. Tons of people are still very misogynistic and actually believe the “joke” they are telling. I think that is the crux of the situation.

    I have some friends who if they joked around with me like this, I’d laugh because I know neither of us agreed with this joke. But then I have some friends who I think would be using the joke as a thin veil for how they really felt.

  • Jessica @ at 2:04 pm, November 16th, 2010

    I think that jokes are just a way to “naturalize” certain prejudices, and banalize them. For example, no one would accept, today, at least not in public, racist jokes, or jokes against jews (even if they’re not violent, let’s say they could “play with the stereotypes”). And why is that? Because even if those prejudices still exist, they’re not socially accepted anymore. Now, sexist jokes, such as those against women or gays, are seen as harmless and funny, which, for me, masks its conservative and prejudiced nature. I think jokes must be taken seriously and actually criticize reality, and not naturalize it.

  • Tessa @ at 5:32 pm, November 16th, 2010

    In my opinion, your post is completely off base with what feminism is about. First, you assume that all (or the majority)of women jokes are made by guys (not true, based on my experience). And second you assume that only girls are feminists. Why are only girls at fault for thinking women jokes are “okay?” That’s like saying only people of color should be offended by jokes made against their race. Or that only Black people need to “understand” how “not okay” using the N-word is. Singling out specific groups of people and saying that they “need to understand” is complete bullshit and is against what feminism is about. Everyone, and not just women/girls, needs to understand that women jokes are not okay. EQUALITY, my friend, not “certain groups of people need to CARE”!!

  • A @ at 6:19 pm, November 16th, 2010

    “And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be a psycho bitch. It’s just that they often demean themselves whilst trying to act like this.”
    Fantastic line.

  • Nano Muse @ at 10:03 pm, November 16th, 2010

    @Liz: And boys never seem to appreciate it when I make jokes about their penis sizes…


    I’m going to be honest, me and my guy friends throw around stupid jokes all the time, this one included, and they find the penis jokes just as funny as I do, even when it’s about themselves. o.O

    The one time a guy “jokingly” told me to go get a soda (as in, with an attitude that wasn’t meant to poke fun at the joke/stereotype but to demean me as a woman), I got up, got a can of soda, shook it as hard as I could, went back, and sprayed him with it. He didn’t try that again, or any of the other guys who were there…. :)

    Interestingly enough, that became an unofficial test. When I hosed the guy with soda, half the guys did laugh and the other half just stared in shock. The guys that laughed are the ones who, despite their regularly misogynistic jokes, are very pro-women and have no issues with strong women and are almost even feministic. The guys who stared in shock were the very sexist assholes who later told me that I was overreacting and a nutcase. None of them stayed my friend for long.

  • Kelpie @ at 10:10 pm, November 16th, 2010

    I find myself really bristling at these comments, even when they’re all in jest. I’m bad at handling stuff like that, so I end up getting really sullen or spit something out and usually people will apologize because they’ll realize what they said. I know it irks most girls, but a lot of them just want to be accepted by the guys. Luckily, I’ve found boys who try to understand, even if they don’t agree with my opinions.

  • Mackenzie @ at 11:37 pm, November 16th, 2010

    “And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be a psycho bitch.” Yes! I am usually fairly even-tempered. If something’s a non-issue to me I’ll let it be. When I do take offence to a joke, comment or institution that perpetuates gender roles or makes someone feel that their time and energy is worth less than someone else’s I let loose, I rant, I argue. My friends (guys and girls), taken-a-back by my outburst of “psychoness” chime in with the always clever “God, somebody’s PMSing” or “jeez, simmer down”. My usual response is “I can’t always be precious”*laden with sarcasam*, though I think I’ll give your line a try the next time they try to quiet me. Thank you.
    P.S. “Bitches get stuff done!”- Tina Fey

  • Anon :) @ at 7:33 pm, November 18th, 2010

    I have a male teacher who jokes about a women’s job is to make sandwhiches and carry babies o.o

  • Danielle B. @ at 3:41 am, November 19th, 2010

    I like to think that I have a good sense of humor. I love to make people laugh, my brother and I quote Seinfeld on a daily basis, etc. etc. But I’m still offended by these “get back to the kitchen” jokes. I’ve been assaulted by that hideous line on a number of occasions – both online and in real life – and it’s just very mean-spirited.

    On a completely unrelated side note, I’m frustrated that my dad and brother roll their eyes when I talk about feminist issues. Blah.

  • Shanmin @ at 4:56 am, November 19th, 2010

    I’ve always seen the humor in kitchen jokes as making fun of gender roles.
    They’re not so funny when the person making the joke doesn’t get that, and actually means it. Guess it depends on the person. D:

  • firefly @ at 10:50 pm, November 19th, 2010

    Yes, it could potentially be worse(rape jokes anyone?), but there really is no retaliation for those kinds of jokes. What can girls say?

    I, personally, would say “Get back to the garage and fix my car.” Or fix the fence. Or something that would shut them up.

  • Joe @ at 4:54 pm, November 20th, 2010

    “And this offends you as a feminist?”
    “No, it offends me as a comedian!”

  • Katie @ at 12:35 am, December 1st, 2010

    Totally agree.

    When I hear sexist jokes I’ll call the person out on it, and usually their response is, like you said, “it’s just a joke, don’t you have a sense of humor?” And yes, I do, and a very odd one at that (for a feminist I suppose). I LOVE dry, tasteless, and sometimes offensive humor (my favorite TV show is South Park…can’t get enough). So I guess it’s kind of ironic. But at the same time, I know when to draw the line and there are a lot of comedians/jokes that I hate because they are just “too” offensive.
    Getting back to my point, is the fact that those sexist (and racist and classicist, etc etc.) jokes still exist in our society and are used all the time. While yes, some people may think that is a joke, it’s the principle of the matter that really bugs me.

    And a word of caution…might I suggest not using a smart remark back to said person who made the joke? Then you will just be using the same tactics that angered you. Be smart about it and use your brain for a witty, rhetorical comment that will shut that person up.


  • A @ at 1:38 am, February 13th, 2011

    @ Anon- I don’t think that that’s ok for a teacher to do…

  • JessicaCole @ at 7:42 am, July 27th, 2011

    Going ever towards blatant anti-woman connotations, know its not tolerable (heck) ever. Kitchen-joking is too childish historically, even now.

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