Some people have just never had to take a joke

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Elena Botella, Duke Write(H)ers blogger, weighs in on the KSig controversy.

For each marginalized group, there is one big myth.

The one big myth about women is that they aren't as competent and as serious as men.
The one big myth about African Americans and Latinos is that they are lazy criminals.
The one big myth about Asian Americans is that they are emotionless robots, and will always be essentially foreigners.
The one big myth about gays and lesbians is that they're diseased, perverted.

 These are the myths that explain why women experience pay discrimination -- in controlled studies, they find that changing the name from male to female at the top of a resume has a big impact on the salary that person is offered.  These are the myths that explain why people clutch their bags closer when they pass a black man on the street, and these are probably the myths that explain Trayvon Martin's death, and that certainly have explained many lynchings and hate crimes in the past.  These are the myths that explain why committed gay couples are prevented from adopting children together in so many states. These are the myths that get in the way of marginalized groups achieving their dreams, having equal power in society, and being accepted. These are the myths that explain Kappa Sigma's "Asia Prime" party. IFC fraternities are, generally, clubs of white, upper or upper-middle-class, heterosexual men.   The worst myths about white, straight upper class men are that they can't jump very high or dance very well. A lot of online commenters have echoed Fedja Pavlovic's claim in the Chronicle: that the Asia Prime party would be no different than a party about French, or Swedish people. An obvious point to make is that the Asia Prime party invitation deliberately and openly mocked Asian Americans living in the United States, making a joke about their accents -- about their desire to make it, indeed, to survive in America that has been hostile to their attempts to make a better life for their families. Dressing in a stereotypical costume is bad -- deliberately mocking your peers. But let's say you did want to mock Swedes, or mock white dudes.  You could try but you'd have no pervasive, malignant stereotypes to draw from.   If you're a white dude, you might think "I can handle a joke about white dudes, and I'd be cool with a party where people dressed up as stereotypical version of white dudes." Dressing up as a stereotypical version of a white dude might be dressing up as the Speaker of the House, a corporate lawyer; a successful, responsible family man.  Worst case scenario, a Jack Johnson fan or a Reddit gamer. The stereotype of a white dude isn't a "crack mom," or a thief, or an incomprehensible cab driver, or a terrorist, a deadbeat, a thug, a loser, a construction worker with a pot belly, someone who doesn't fit in, someone on the margins.  If those were the pervasive images of your group, maybe you wouldn't be so keen to have people make jokes about you. Some people like to claim that minorities can't take jokes; those people have never had to try to take a joke.

 

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