If you're well-acquainted with Arab jokes, you know that while some are based on thoughtful sarcasm, others are just trashy attempts at reinforcing false ideologies and normalizing offensive stigmatizations.
When it comes to those targeting us as women, things get even worse with revolting sexist jokes that are unfortunately still all too common.
From our ability to drive to our sizes, intelligence, and self-worth, we're casually made fun of and expected to just stand there and laugh ... or even worse, simply brush things aside.
But that's no longer an option because as we reclaim our rights within the misogynistic societies we live in, we have to banish every insulting so-called "joke" that only serves to further popularize already deep-seated messed up gender roles.
Here are seven to get us started:
1. The "3anes" jokes
These basically serve to make light of women who chose not to get married. They often feature belittling remarks and use the word "spinster" as if it's an insult.
Exhibit: "A spinster was walking down a street and found a man sleeping in the garbage. So she picked him up, shook him around, and said: 'Isn't it a shame for him to go to waste?'"
Apart from being incredibly lame and unfunny, these kinds of "jokes" reinforce the idea that it's better for women to marry unsuitable husbands rather than stay unmarried.
That's not only insulting but just flat out unacceptable in a region where millions of women continue to be pressured into getting married and warned over the so-called God-awful consequence of not doing that.
2. The jokes about size
Let's make it clear, both men and women in the region are often subjected to insulting jokes about their size, but as with everything in this part of the world, women have it tougher.
Why? Because in the majority of Arab communities, women are still rated on their appearances which are often seen as something that can affect their "marriageability." This problematic way of thought is normalized among so many people that joking about it isn't deemed unacceptable when it really is.
Supposed jokes about the matter are borderline abusive and ridiculously abhorrent. A few even use "scale numbers" to rate women based on their weight and try to pass it as a joke.
Exhibit A: "The girl whose weight is: 30-39: Stick thin. 40-55: Fit. 56-65: A true woman. 66-75: Chubby. 76-85: In critical condition. 86-95: We belong to God and to him we return. 96-100: On the way to becoming a petrol tanker. How much do you weigh? If it's over 100, it's OK not to answer."
Exhibit B: "What do you say to a man marrying an obese woman? God have mercy on your soul."
Not even one laugh because there's nothing funny about shaming women about being "too fat" or "too skinny."
3. The household chores jokes
The messed up gender roles of our region sure do come up in "jokes" that are anything but funny.
These remarks aim to garner laughs out of making fun of women for not being able to cook, clean, or take care of a household as if that's our job.
Exhibit: "I'd like to say something to every girl who can't cook: Instant noodles aren't going to help you out."
4. The overspending "men's money" jokes
It's 2020 and some Arab men still joke about having to provide for their partners.
Exhibit: "An Arabic teacher asked his wife: 'What do you know about proper grammar usage?' She replied saying: 'I use your money the way I want to.'" (This joke is based on a word pun, as "grammar usage" translates into the word "spending" in Arabic.)
The notion that "men are breadwinners" has long been shattered all around the world including in our countries. So FYI to those still making jokes about women spending their husbands' salaries: Your comedy is a tad outdated.
5. The jokes on women's IQs
Arab men like to think they're smarter than women. Who knows, maybe this does something to their big egos. A few try to pass on this idea via "jokes" that backfire because they reveal how unintelligent some men actually are.
Exhibit: "One hundred mad chickens equal a quarter of a woman's brain."
Anyone laughing? Nope.
6. The jokes about women driving
The false belief that men are better drivers than women is the root of endless sexist Arab "jokes."
Exhibit A: "Where are all these ambulances heading? They're following a woman driving up a highway."
Exhibit B: "If I am in a car driven by a woman, where's the seat with the best survival rate?"
Is it just us or are these as cringe-worthy as they are lame?
7. The jokes that objectify women
Arab jokes often objectify women, comparing them to anything and everything, from fruits to cars.
Exhibit A: "Out of all the strawberries (women) on TV, I had to marry this grapefruit."
Exhibit B: "Women are like cars, you've got to keep updating the models."
We can't even bring ourselves to call these "jokes" because they're just insults in disguise.