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 81 comments.

on Feb. 8 at 10:54 am
EpsteinIsland, Cripston, District Of Columbia
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments
Mabye if you hadn't left the kitchen he wouldn't have said it

Lillerz said...
on Mar. 13 2022 at 3:43 pm
Lillerz, Kalispell, Montana
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

I hate "women in the kitchen" jokes. Keep writing and keep being awesome!

Lydiaq ELITE said...
on Apr. 15 2021 at 7:16 pm
Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
173 articles 54 photos 1026 comments

Favorite Quote:
The universe must be a teenage girl. So much darkness, so many stars.

I know just how this feels because my big brother used to taunt and belittle me until I was in tears, but my parents said I had to walk away and ignore him and don't give him attention, things like that.

on Mar. 3 2020 at 10:06 am
why-your-wrong-and-im-right, Dallas, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

on Oct. 11 2019 at 3:36 pm
wilkay08 BRONZE, Cisco, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
Life is confusing. It's full of heartbreak, confusion, and pain, but it gets better. People don't realise how much words can affect others and how it can hurt others. I know you're going through a hard time at the moment, and you feel like it will never get better, but it does. Trust me. These people aren't in our shoes, so they don't know the things that we go through at home or anything and so they think they have power over you. Keep fighting and don't give you. Show your worth, because you're worth it <3

on Aug. 23 2019 at 9:16 am
SergeantSteel82 GOLD, Fort Wayne, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
one of the greatest tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war.
-Francis Collins

I may never let go of my anger and wrath,
But I will always have the last laugh.
-Corey Taylor

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

you did the right thing in this situation, you stayed calm and didn't let his words get the best of you. this article will give many other people strength to make a stand passively.

on Mar. 12 2019 at 11:16 am
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
you like jazzzzz?


on Nov. 19 2018 at 11:49 am
Dani_Higareda PLATINUM, Hanahan, South Carolina
20 articles 0 photos 109 comments

Favorite Quote:
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
- Winnie the Pooh

I love it! It's very empowering!

on Sep. 20 2018 at 10:50 am
rachelorozco13, Houston, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
#FemalePower Your Very Inspriational

on Feb. 17 2017 at 9:50 am
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
why didn't you tell. very proud of you for not giving up in what you believe and for not listening to others when they tell you to give up.

on Dec. 4 2015 at 10:37 am
Trench_Coat BRONZE, PERU, Indiana
2 articles 1 photo 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Promise me you'll survive.
That you won't give up,
no matter what happens,
no matter how hopeless"- Titanic

Why didn't you tell? He should have known about this. The look on his face would be so shocked.

on Sep. 22 2015 at 10:15 pm
beAWESOMEstayAWESOME BRONZE, New York City, New York
3 articles 0 photos 133 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Work hard in silence and let your accomplishments make the noise."

o my gosh!!!! I wish that boy could read this and realize that he was dead wrong! loved the story BTW. x thumbs up x You go girl!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)

on Aug. 17 2015 at 11:38 pm
PinkSkies BRONZE, Goshen, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Its not possible to fight beyond you're strength, even if you strive."


But nobody's perfect, though.

Agilch BRONZE said...
on May. 25 2015 at 10:06 pm
Agilch BRONZE, Millstone Township, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
~Robin Williams~

I can understand that you were upset with the boy because you felt that he was trying to pressure you into being submissive, but you can not say that he was trying to make you feel useless or that he was trying to "take away your words" because you really don't know anything about him. I admire your commitment to standing up for what you believe in. And until you are perfect, you can't really say negative things about others and be taken seriously.

on Oct. 4 2014 at 5:48 am
GillianBorromeo PLATINUM, San Pedro City, Laguna, Other
24 articles 0 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reward of a thing well done is having done it."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I salute what you did. You were very brave to have stood up for yourself, and to put that bravery into words. Good job :)

Dazeeee said...
on Sep. 23 2014 at 3:20 pm
Very inspiring , loved the story !

on Sep. 23 2014 at 3:18 pm
Wow ... Good job

on May. 13 2014 at 11:13 am
lil_faith BRONZE, United States, California
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Friendship...is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything" Muhammad Ali

I loved how you added amazing imagery and very descriptive details to your story. I am glad that you stood up for yourself. I am very proud of you

on May. 1 2014 at 10:18 pm
callieismyname BRONZE, Klamath Falls, Oregon
2 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Live your life the way you want to, not the way everyone thinks you should." ~unknown

I completely agree. Most people would think he was doing a good thing and not look at it the same way.

on Apr. 2 2014 at 1:28 pm
alixvillarreal BRONZE, Grandville, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
I really like how you showed everything happening instead of just telling about it.