Take a Joke, Sweetheart | Teen Ink

Take a Joke, Sweetheart MAG

April 10, 2011
By ohmakemeover BRONZE, Centerville, Minnesota
ohmakemeover BRONZE, Centerville, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth."- Margaret Atwood


He leaned over my desk, his body casting a shadow over my writing. Two fists were suddenly pressed hard next to my book, giving him an air of undeserved authority. “You know they're just joking, right?” His voice was gentle, as if he were speaking to a timid animal.

I nodded slowly, confused, trying to focus on my work as my blood boiled. “I'm aware that they're joking, but jokes can be offensive, and I was feeling uncomfortable,” I said.

He took a deep breath, a small, nearly undetectable smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He shoved his sleeves up his arms. “The more you ask them to stop, the more they'll just keep doing it. That's how they work.” He was telling me what many men had tried to explain before: men don't change, men don't stop, men won't listen to you.

And oh, he was so very smart, his words so very wise. I knew that he thought he was imparting some helpful, kind-hearted wisdom on me. He was trying to save the silly girl who was making a fool of herself by refusing to tolerate something that made her and other girls uncomfortable. He was playing big brother, daddy, the savior on a white horse sent to shut me up.

I looked at him, anger burning the back of my neck and my cheeks. “So, because they won't stop, I should just give up? I should let them make sexist jokes that make me very uneasy?” We were in history class. I thought I deserved to feel safe.

His smirk faltered a bit. “They're just joking. They don't actually mean what they say.”

People were watching us; I could feel their eyes. I was suddenly vulnerable. I wanted them to stop staring, to go away. I wanted this boy to sit down and talk instead of towering over me.

“They may mean those jokes to be harmless, but they're ignorant,” I continued. “Believe me, the jokes don't end at ‘Women should stay in the kitchen.' They continue until they become sexual and inappropriate. I want them to stop now before I have even more reason to be angry.” I'd been down this road before, many times.

“I think you should just give it up before they gang up on you,” he replied, calmly and reasonably, like an adult pacifying a cranky child.

I was so upset I wanted to cry, but the steam gathering behind my eyes made tears impossible. I wondered who he thought he was, standing over a girl he'd never spoken to, telling her that her words were useless, that she could try but she'd always fail. If we had been friends, I would have listened; if he'd spoken to me like a peer, I would have cared. But he was just pushing me down, stuffing me into a box until I suffocated on all of my useless, silly words.

I looked him in the eye and said, “If they're going to be rude, then I will be rude back.”

My comment didn't even make sense. Ten minutes earlier, a group of boys had been trading sexist jokes about women. I had turned around in my seat, looked one of the boys in the eye, and said, “Just please stop, for me. I'm asking you to stop.” That boy looked doubtful but he stopped, and I resumed my work. I ­didn't yell, lecture, or swear. I simply asked. I used words, the only weapon I knew how to use, and everything was okay.

Now this boy had the nerve to tell me that my words didn't mean anything. This boy hurt me more than he realized. He tried to take away the only weapon I had to defend myself.

But he didn't have the power to do that. I will never stop fighting for what I believe is right. I will never stop standing up for myself, my friends, and my gender, and I will never stop using my (stupid, useless, fruitless, beautiful, powerful, amazing) words.

He backed away, easing off my desk. Frustration was apparent in his face, but he kept his features stony and emotionless. “Fine, whatever. But you'll never get anywhere with them, believe me.”

I didn't believe him. To this day, I don't believe him, because I have continually used my knowledge and my words to make others rethink their actions. Sometimes I fail and they don't stop. Sometimes my words get me into trouble. But sometimes I even make a new ally.

Little did he know, that boy didn't break me down. He made me stronger.


The author's comments:
This was a pivotal moment in my life as a feminist. This moment helped me to realize my strength as a woman. After this experience, I've never doubted my power to express my feelings with words.

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This article has 79 comments.


isamsuarez said...
on Mar. 27 2014 at 3:36 pm
isamsuarez, Dumfries, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Dear Math, stop trying to get me to find your X, don't ask me Y either SHES GONE DUDE! FACE THE FACTS. Love~ Math students"

All I can say is AMAZING!!! plus when you said that stronger part i just burst into song. "WHAT DOSEN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!!!!"

2write said...
on Mar. 20 2014 at 5:39 am
2write, Dededo, Other
0 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
" I wasn't built for conformity, I was born to stand out from the crowd"
" In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took but how many moment tsook your breath away:"- Chinese man
"I have tried, in my way, to be free."-Leonard Cohen

Instead of spreading things like this,: ONCE YOU'VE STARTED READINGTHIS YOU CAN'T GET OUT! READ ON IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DIE A year ago A girl named Kathy was hated by everyone. Everyone made fun of her. She was ignored. Even by messages. One day she decided to kill herself. Beca......use..................... even her parents ignored her. She jumed out her window. No one noticed utill people started dissapearing. Kathy haunted them. She made them suffer like the way she did. She hung them slowly and stabed them over and over very slowly so they could suffer like she did.
If you don't send this message to 15 diffrent comments you will die tonight by Kathy. Because she considers it ignooring her.
Example 1:
Dave looked at the first sentece and said, "Spam" And the next day the neighbors found him in his backyard, dead.
Example 2:
Joane was alone. She didn't have kids or a husband. She had alot of friends. When She had a sleepover with them she quickly had to check her e-mail.She saw this message and sent it to only 6 people because she thought she couldn't die that night beacuse she was surounded by people. The next morning Joane's friends found her in her bathtub, dead.
If you don't send this, Kathy WILL find yo

we should be sharing a message of peace and love.Never hurt someone for your own gain. How you treat someone should not depend on anything except the old Golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated. We are human beings, not instruments of cruelty.‪#‎anitbullying‬ * I hope you don't mind if I post this, I chose to do so in hopes that you spread the message. 

on Mar. 19 2014 at 9:35 am
AllyInsomnia BRONZE, Perryville, Arkansas
2 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometime the hardest thing to wear is your own skin." -Jayy Von Monroe
"The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and be loved in return." -(Movie) Moulin Rouge

I love this so much..Inspired me a lot!!

on Feb. 18 2014 at 9:09 pm
rottenpotato99, Brighton, Tennessee
0 articles 2 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Writing is a struggle against silence.

Ain't that the truth

on Jan. 26 2014 at 12:20 pm
ImSleepwalking BRONZE, Hendersonville, North Carolina
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I love how you showed the true nature of the guy telling you it's pointless to defend yourself, because they aren't going to stop.  Most people in that context would view him as "the good guy" but that's not the case. Awesome article. 

on Jan. 13 2014 at 8:46 am
A.M.Geyer PLATINUM, Alverton, Pennsylvania
22 articles 3 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I loved your story. I can tell you, I completely understand what you mean. Words ARE the best defense against bullying. Sometimes it IS all there is. Keep going strong, and please keep writing, I would love to read more of your work.

on Dec. 30 2013 at 11:43 am
_tanyagrace BRONZE, Matthews, North Carolina
3 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Keep your head up princess, your tiara is falling"

Hi Hun! I just read your story and you did a great job. This was very deep and I understand your situation. Ive been there too. I really liked this however I didnt really understand the begininng. Other than that I loved it. You have great talent keep up the great work!

on Nov. 12 2013 at 7:30 pm
Carson_Beck GOLD, Austin, Texas
16 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Barry's real superpower isn't speed, it's hope. The kid's got an endless reservoir. Thinks it's all gonna work out!" - HR (The Flash)

Such a great story very inspiring!

Terry_A BRONZE said...
on Oct. 30 2013 at 12:33 pm
Terry_A BRONZE, Las Vegas, Nevada
4 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who you choose to be around you, let's you know who you are."

Inspirational!

SwaaggDooee said...
on Oct. 10 2013 at 8:20 pm
SwaaggDooee, Descanso, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
EXCELLENT EFFORT!:)

on Sep. 3 2013 at 2:36 am
TheSkyOwesMeRain GOLD, Irvine, California
13 articles 1 photo 299 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments which take your breath away.

You are only as strong as your weakest link.

Great job! Never let others shoot you down! 

on Aug. 31 2013 at 9:05 pm
VictorianEra BRONZE, Rosedale, New York
1 article 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This was pure awesomeness.

on Aug. 15 2013 at 4:24 am
Natasha_C SILVER, Bloomington, Minnesota
5 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day."
"Life goes on... Whether you choose to move on and take a chance in the unknown.
Or stay behind, locked in the past,thinking of what could've been."

WOW!! i love this...

rhea752 GOLD said...
on Jun. 5 2013 at 11:46 am
rhea752 GOLD, Merritt Island, Florida
16 articles 1 photo 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
Maybe it's not about the happy ending, maybe it's about the story.

You are my hero. 

on May. 15 2013 at 5:14 pm
fictitious-quandary GOLD, Orlando, Florida
18 articles 5 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right"
- Henry Ford

I agree. He was just trying to help. He was not the trouble, he was the solution.

on May. 14 2013 at 11:04 am
YozoraK PLATINUM, Maumelle, Arkansas
21 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life for you has been less than kind/So take a number/Stand in line/We've all been sorry/We've all been hurt/But how we survive/Is what makes us who we are." -'Survive' by Rise Against

I love this article because it goes to show just how little society has changed.  Yes, women have gained a lot more power in this modern day world, but the one thing that hasn't changed is just how sexist some people are, which is the one thing holding us back. Women have the same rights has men do in society, and all of the sexist jokes should be put to a halt because they will always be offensive, no matter if they weren't meant to be harmful or not.  It's disrespectful and it puts others down, which is wrong in general. Thank you for writing this article!  ^_^

on Apr. 26 2013 at 9:30 pm
WinstonSmith BRONZE, Columbia, Missouri
3 articles 0 photos 32 comments
I admire you.

on Apr. 18 2013 at 4:45 pm
Alyssa-the-only, Anna, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

this was a absolutely amazing story.

on Mar. 25 2013 at 1:52 pm
write_to_express16 BRONZE, Wilmington, Delaware
1 article 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."

"If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price."

"Never dull your shine for somebody else."

I thought this was very well written and I agreed with your point of view. I probably would have been happy at the fact that someone who I did not know actually took the time to try and consult me while I was upset. He probably knows these people well enough to know that your words might not get anywhere, no matter how powerful they are. Sometimes the best thing is to just tune it out and let it go, and sometimes you have to not listen to what anyone else says and just let your beliefs guide you. Those kind of 'jokes' are not something I take very offensively so I could have let it go, but there are other subjects in which I have a serious passion for & like you, I would have wanted them to have some of my thoughts. Anyways, you did a really good job!

on Mar. 11 2013 at 6:31 pm
sydneylouise_101 BRONZE, Oak Forest, Illinois
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments
this is amazing. i enjoyed it so much.