It's not just men who do this, obviously. I'm female, and I'm frequently embarrassed and appalled by members of my own gender who are so clueless they don't even seem to realize they're engaging in exactly the same sort of stereotyping - "reverse chauvinism", so to speak - they deplore in men.
This is a part of a larger societal problem, i.e., continuing to claim there are "boy" things and "girl" things, starting at an early age. Children are too often discouraged - by bad parents, bad teachers, and an avalanche of bad examples in the media, TV, and movies - from pursuing activities or interests termed "unfeminine" or "unmanly".
In reality, neither term has any meaning. There is nothing inherently "unfeminine"about playing sports, studying science, enjoying first-person shooters....nothing inherently "unmanly" about cooking, studying literature, knitting, etc.
Cultures throughout history have managed to define the same activity as both "manly" and "unmanly", "feminine" and "unfeminine". The terms are arbitrary, inconsistent, and obvious nonsense - purely defined by the current whims of a particular society, group, culture, or country.
It's time we faced the truth squarely:
Gender stereotypes are a form of sexism, just as racial stereotypes are a form of racism.
Both sexism and racism are forms of prejudice or bigotry.
Jokes based on gender or racial stereotypes are prejudiced or bigoted jokes.
Sure, people are free to tell them, free to laugh at them (at least in their private life, with their friends, outside of work).
They have freedom of speech. They have the right to be bigots if they choose. They have the right to be prejudiced.
But attempting to camouflage bigotry as humor doesn't magically change it into non-bigotry.
Camouflaging sexism as humor doesn't magically render it non-sexist.
And vilifying as "humorless" anyone who objects to bigoted, stereotypical jokes is a form of bullying and defensiveness.It tries to claim people who object to sexism, or racism, or other -isms, simply "can't take a joke."
Nope - people who object to bigoted jokes are simply non-bigots. They have every right NOT to be bigots, not to be prejudiced, not to be sexists, not to be racists. They have every right to object to all those things if they wish.
And they have not just the right but the OBLIGATION to object to stereotypical humor in some cases. Because alleged "humor" based specifically on sexist, racist, or other stereotypes - HAS NO PLACE IN A PROFESSIONAL OR BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT.
In any business or professional context, there should be Zero Tolerance for ANY form of bigotry, prejudice, sexism, racism, or other -ism - whether phrased as a joke or not.
In business, freedom of speech does NOT apply, but policy and law DO.
Freedom of speech is not an absolute. It is contextual, and always has been.
Men AND Women have forgotten how to behave at work. Both genders - and the companies that employ them - obviously need to be re-educated in the basics of professional behavior.
The workplace is not a bar or your living room, folks. Stop treating it like one.