Feminism/Sexism and Gaming/Geek/Popular culture Catch All

CheezePavilion wrote:

I think the warning sign is turning on people you joke with in other parts of the forum as if they're strangers.

If my very good friend started telling racist jokes around me, you'd better believe I'd be more than a little put off by it.

edit to combine responses:

Valmorian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

I think the warning sign is turning on people you joke with in other parts of the forum as if they're strangers.

If my very good friend started telling racist jokes around me, you'd better believe I'd be more than a little put off by it.

Hypatian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

I think the warning sign is turning on people you joke with in other parts of the forum as if they're strangers.

Step 1 of turning this discussion back around is this: To realize that nobody here has "turned on" anyone. At no point did anyone say "Poster X! You are a bad, bad person!" Rather, what we were trying to say was "Poster X, you are a perfectly fine person, but what you have said is hurtful in ways that you perhaps don't realize. Here, let me try to explain."

Wait, when did people start saying it was hurtful or sexist? I thought this was about how those jokes prop up sexist stereotypes.

Hypatian wrote:

Well thought out, sensitive wisdom.

+1

Of course it's hurtful. First, stereotypes cause real harm, so propping them up propagates that harm. Second, facing stereotypical assumptions that you may not conform to over and over again hurts. Each time might only be like a little paper-cut, but it adds up—even when it's in the form of a joke.

Both of these were already brought up in the original discussion about the ad.

Very, very well said Hypatian.

Not going to make any other comments at the moment as it would distract from the very clearly stated wisdom in that post. In fact, I'll quote it here to keep it on the current page.

Hypatian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

I think the warning sign is turning on people you joke with in other parts of the forum as if they're strangers.

Step 1 of turning this discussion back around is this: To realize that nobody here has "turned on" anyone. At no point did anyone say "Poster X! You are a bad, bad person!" Rather, what we were trying to say was "Poster X, you are a perfectly fine person, but what you have said is hurtful in ways that you perhaps don't realize. Here, let me try to explain."

I would [em]hope[/em] that the degree to which people are feeling bad and defensive about being "attacked" when nobody actually intended to attack them might demonstrate how our intentions and the actual effects of what we say are distinct. How we can make people feel attacked even when we mean to simply let them know that they have inadvertently offended. How we can inadvertently offend even when we mean simply to make a joke.

So... let's all take a nice deep breath, and step back from the conversation for a moment in order to clear our minds. Remember: This is not about individuals, it is about society as a whole. It is not about people who intend to cause harm, it is about systems of thought that cause harm even though everybody involved is acting with the best intentions. It is not about casting blame, but about trying to help people understand the difference between what they're trying to do and how it actually makes other people feel.

Try not to take things as a personal attack: Instead of reacting by becoming defensive, ask yourself the following question: "I didn't mean to be offensive, so why did the people I'm talking to take offense?" Chances are pretty good that they had reasons, and that if you think about it instead of raising your hackles, you can figure out why.

So, I'm going to try to break the joke down here, to show why it was hurtful.

SallyNasty wrote:

Also, please remove your nerd card for the day - The clever girl comment was from Jurassic Park!

I'm pretty sure that absolutely everyone involved understood the reference. However, I think it's less clear that people should react well to being compared to a man-eating creature that has just demonstrated an unexpected level of reasoning ability.

SallyNasty wrote:

Please, hope off your pedestal and re-read my comment with the intent it was made - that of a joke. Note that it was self-deprecating towards myself, implying that my wife outsmarted me and tricked me into all the household work.

I am sorry that there is no place for humor in "your" thread - no insult may have been implied, but some has certainly been taken.

And... the whole point is that even when no insult is implied, the insult can still be taken. Does it matter what intent you had? Yes, absolutely. That's why we don't think you're a bad person. We know you didn't mean any harm, so we think you're a fine, fine person. However, while your intentions were plain, what you said [em]was[/em] in fact offensive. And it is still offensive, even when you break it down into "the point of the joke". So let's look at that:

"Note that it was self-deprecating towards myself, implying that my wife outsmarted me and tricked me into all the household work."

So, why is this offensive? Well, at the base level (and there is a deeper subtext which I'll get to in a moment), it's offensive because it implies that your wife is expected to do the household work and that it is somehow strange that you should be doing it. You may have intended that it be about "all of the household work" instead of "some of the household work", but it can be read both ways. And, either way, the mere fact that it's self-deprecating suggests that it is somehow demeaning that the man in the joke should be doing household work at all. (Again, whether or not it's about "all" of the work.)

The subtext level, which is in my opinion the more harmful part, is that there is a long-standing stereotype that women are manipulative, and manipulate men into doing things they would otherwise not be inclined to do, and shouldn't be expected to do. That stereotype, combined with the "clever girl" comment, paints a picture of a predatory woman who has displayed unexpected cleverness and unnaturally convinced her husband to act outside of his expected role.

Again, I know you didn't [em]mean[/em] to say any of this, but that doesn't mean that it's not what people heard when you said it. And that's the point we're all trying to emphasize: that these little joking things (what you said, the advertisement) don't happen in isolation. They're understood in the broader cultural context, and because of that they bring along with them all of that baggage. Because of that, the innocent joke not only raises all of these ghosts for people ("you are unnatural if you're a clever woman", "you are a harridan if you try to convince a man to do something unmanly", "you are less of a woman if you don't do all of the womanly things", and on the other side "you are less of a man if you let a woman convince you to do womanly things"), it also helps reinforce and carry forward all of those ideas.

And that is actively harmful. Not intentionally harmful, it's true... but it still hurts. And that's why that ad was offensive and hurtful (even though the people who made it surely did not intend to be offensive or to hurt anyone), and that's why that joke was offensive and hurtful (even though the people who made it surely did not intend to be offensive or to hurt anyone).

Ignorance and good intentions mean that you get credit for not intending to hurt anyone. But it doesn't mean that you shouldn't be told why your innocent joke was actually a problem. How else are we supposed to change these things, except by trying to inform people about the difference between what they intended and what their audience actually felt?

CheezePavilion wrote:

Wait, when did people start saying it was hurtful or sexist? I thought this was about how those jokes prop up sexist stereotypes.

Propping up sexist stereotypes IS sexist. Perhaps I wasn't clear about what I meant. Telling a joke that relies upon sexist or racist stereotypes doesn't mean that someone harbors a hatred of women or minorities, but it is still harmful because it normalizes those stereotypes.

Hypatian wrote:

Of course it's hurtful. First, stereotypes cause real harm, so propping them up propagates that harm.

Pretty blanket statement given the soft science which we're discussing. The best I can do is say that you're *sometimes* right. And in the case of the Asda ad, I think you're wrong.

Second, facing stereotypical assumptions that you may not conform to over and over again hurts. Each time might only be like a little paper-cut, but it adds up—even when it's in the form of a joke.

Both of these were already brought up in the original discussion about the ad.

Again -- I think this is a pretty blanket statement you're making. It doesn't hurt everyone. It hurts some people. I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Welcome to privilege.

Valmorian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Wait, when did people start saying it was hurtful or sexist? I thought this was about how those jokes prop up sexist stereotypes.

Propping up sexist stereotypes IS sexist. Perhaps I wasn't clear about what I meant. Telling a joke that relies upon sexist or racist stereotypes doesn't mean that someone harbors a hatred of women or minorities, but it is still harmful because it normalizes those stereotypes.

It becomes a weird area to deal with, though, when you deal with certain stereotypes. Think of this - there are definitely women out there who fit into the domestic mother / homemaker stereotype and are thoroughly fulfilled and happy with it. And on the other hand, there are women who would not want that life for themselves at all. So does it follow that for the latter group to be protected, we have to absolutely avoid any situation that sheds a positive, encouraging, or celebratory light on the former? It's not an easy question in the broad sense, I'm sure, but I'm kind of with Seth here in that the ad in question doesn't seem to do it in any demeaning way.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Welcome to privilege.

If, after the years I have posted on these boards about this topic, this is the best you can do, I suppose we're done.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Welcome to privilege.

That was a terribly patronising and condescending jab. I think Seth is debating in good faith. Just because he (or by extension, any of us) don't agree with the perception of the ad doesn't mean we are part of the problem.

Valmorian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Wait, when did people start saying it was hurtful or sexist? I thought this was about how those jokes prop up sexist stereotypes.

Propping up sexist stereotypes IS sexist. Perhaps I wasn't clear about what I meant. Telling a joke that relies upon sexist or racist stereotypes doesn't mean that someone harbors a hatred of women or minorities, but it is still harmful because it normalizes those stereotypes.

Hypatian wrote:

Of course it's hurtful. First, stereotypes cause real harm, so propping them up propagates that harm. Second, facing stereotypical assumptions that you may not conform to over and over again hurts. Each time might only be like a little paper-cut, but it adds up—even when it's in the form of a joke.

Both of these were already brought up in the original discussion about the ad.

Well then it has nothing to do with this thread. That means those jokes would be wrong even if they were in the Everything Else forum under the topic "Roomba: Should I Buy One?" thread. I think the assumption here was that the problem isn't just those jokes, but that this thread is to some extent a safe space that the jokers didn't realize. Hypatian, you yourself said "However--I don't think it would have taken much reflection to realize that it there's something [em]odd[/em] about saying it in this sort of thread." Take a look at mudbunny's post here. I think the defensiveness is a result of the lines of communication getting crossed.

I bet there would have been much different responses to a simple "hey--that's actually hurtful" said clearly. I mean, I don't know why I'm involved in this considering you guys that are fighting with each other are kinda responsible for me becoming more of a lurker and I should be sitting back and munching popcorn through all this, but it just doesn't seem right for the forum to blow up when if people are getting personally hurt, if they'd be...personal in their responses instead of burying it under a lot of logical words like it was some sort of CheezePavilion post.

You guys all pretty much like each other from what I can tell. If one of you is hurting the other, I bet you'd get a pretty polite and thoughtful response from one another if you were just straight up with the other person about that fact.

Seth wrote:

Pretty blanket statement given the soft science which we're discussing. The best I can do is say that you're *sometimes* right. And in the case of the Asda ad, I think you're wrong.

So you are criticizing that statement because it's a "soft science" but then as a defense you simply give your personal opinion that he's wrong? That seems more than a little off to me.

Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Privilege. You're soaking in it. I also don't conform to the stereotypical assumption of a man that does no housework. However, I also recognize that I don't have a societal expectation to not do housework. As a straight white male there is precious little that I am actually REALLY criticized for, and that's a powerful position of privilege. The best I can manage is to recognize that privilege and maybe consider that my personal feelings about how someone who doesn't enjoy such privilege should feel MIGHT NOT BE VALID.

Advertisements that reinforce societal expectations of women being dismissed as "not that big a deal" by MEN is pretty laughable, when you think about it.

Valmorian wrote:

Advertisements that reinforce societal expectations of women being dismissed as "not that big a deal" by MEN is pretty laughable, when you think about it.

By that metric - arguments being made by MEN that "it is a pretty big deal" are also laughable?

CheezePavilion wrote:

Well then it has nothing to do with this thread. That means those jokes would be wrong even if they were in the Everything Else forum under the topic "Roomba: Should I Buy One?" thread. I think the assumption here was that the problem isn't just those jokes, but that this thread is to some extent a safe space that the jokers didn't realize. Hypatian, you yourself said "However--I don't think it would have taken much reflection to realize that it there's something [em]odd[/em] about saying it in this sort of thread." Take a look at mudbunny's post here. I think the defensiveness is a result of the lines of communication getting crossed.

To a certain degree—I was trying less, though, to say "this thread should be a safe space" (which I don't think is necessary), and more that "while this kind of thing would be a problem no matter where it's said, it should have been [em]really obvious[/em] to anybody who's reading this thread that it might be a problem." That made seeing it here that much more confusing.

SallyNasty wrote:

By that metric - arguments being made by MEN that "it is a pretty big deal" are also laughable?

Privilege makes it very difficult to discuss such matters, but pointing out that those stereotypes might just be harmful is a lot different than dismissing such potential harm when it doesn't target you.

You don't need to be an ethnic minority to see that a racist joke is harmful, but to dismiss racist humor not targetted at your ethnic group is quite presumptuous, don't you think?

Seth wrote:

If, after the years I have posted on these boards about this topic, this is the best you can do, I suppose we're done.

SallyNasty wrote:

That was a terribly patronising and condescending jab. I think Seth is debating in good faith. Just because he (or by extension, any of us) don't agree with the perception of the ad doesn't mean we are part of the problem.

I sincerely sorry that the comment caused offence, but it's true. It's something I keep coming to, a privileged position is necessarily distorted so not seeing the issue is no defence. All one can do is own that and attempt to move beyond it.

I have nothing but respect for either of you, yet I've seen no attempt to move beyond the perspective of the privileged party in this discussion.

In fact the 'well there are male stereotypes too' comment is a typical privileged dodge. I really think you are both doing yourselves a disservice here.

Valmorian wrote:
Seth wrote:

Pretty blanket statement given the soft science which we're discussing. The best I can do is say that you're *sometimes* right. And in the case of the Asda ad, I think you're wrong.

So you are criticizing that statement because it's a "soft science" but then as a defense you simply give your personal opinion that he's wrong? That seems more than a little off to me.

Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

Privilege. You're soaking in it. I also don't conform to the stereotypical assumption of a man that does no housework. However, I also recognize that I don't have a societal expectation to not do housework. As a straight white male there is precious little that I am actually REALLY criticized for, and that's a powerful position of privilege. The best I can manage is to recognize that privilege and maybe consider that my personal feelings about how someone who doesn't enjoy such privilege should feel MIGHT NOT BE VALID.

Advertisements that reinforce societal expectations of women being dismissed as "not that big a deal" by MEN is pretty laughable, when you think about it.

More eloquently put than I managed.

Seth wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I hope you don't need more proof than that.

Well err. Proof and anecdotes are different.

Not always. You said there needs to be proof of harm. That anecdote is proof of harm. The original hypothesis wasn't that it harms all women all the time, or anything else that requires more evidence/an actual proof.

I do understand what you mean, but the general flow of this conversation has been:

"I don't think it's harmful."
"I'm a woman, this is why it's harmful."
"I still don't think it's harmful."

CheezePavilion wrote:

Well then it has nothing to do with this thread. That means those jokes would be wrong even if they were in the Everything Else forum under the topic "Roomba: Should I Buy One?" thread.

I agree, they ARE just as wrong there. The difference is in framing. It's more likely to get called out here because, well, this is a thread ABOUT sexism.

Nobody likes to be told that what they are saying is offensive, and just about everyone I've ever seen called out on sexist/racist jokes takes issue with being called out. They'll get defensive and angry about it, offended that you would imply that they are awful people, hide behind the "it's just a joke!" defense, etc..

It rarely makes a difference how you even bring it up. The mere fact that you mention that those things are not cool to say seems to imply that you are attacking them.

I mean just look at this thread! Is ANYONE really expressing any concern about potential hurt feelings of people constantly bombarded with unfair expectations placed on them by such stereotypical humor? OR is the majority of the back and forth on here about whether it's "OK" to use that humor? The focus always seems to be on the poor individual/company utilizing those stereotypes.

EDIT: Along with the other common fallback arguments of "It's not that bad" and "What about the men?"

Valmorian, I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but are you seriously saying that thinking a depiction of women enjoying domestic responsibilities can only be driven by privilege if that opinion comes from a male?

Do I really need to get my wife to create an account here to just say "I agree with Seth" in order for my opinion to have validity here?

Perhaps being accused of being ignorant of my own privilege twice in ten minutes cause some snark to exude from this post.

Valmorian wrote:

I mean just look at this thread! Is ANYONE really expressing any concern about potential hurt feelings of people constantly bombarded with unfair expectations placed on them by such stereotypical humor? OR is the majority of the back and forth on here about whether it's "OK" to use that humor? The focus always seems to be on the poor individual/company utilizing those stereotypes.

I think this is the crux of why there's such a problem in this exchange. You are seeing the above in this way, and from your words I can reasonably assume what you think is that the people discussing it are discounting any harm could happen in any case. I think it's universally understood in this thread that sexism, denigration, slow and repetitive problems, and many forms of this exist and have an effect. But to people like me and others, it is not always black and white. It's possible to discuss "well, is this really part of the overall problem" without also saying "there is no problem".

Or, in short, I personally think it's possible for someone to be offended about an item in respect to their gender, but it is not exactly fair to categorize it as something that is actually doing harm. Like Hypatian said, the discourse is important and you have to understand that ignorance and good intentions only get you so far. But on the other end of that spectrum, there's a point where someone can reasonably say/do socially sensitive and harmless things and people will still take offense. That's a hard line to find, and the discussion is valuable.

So, just throwing the word "privilege" out like an I Win button is not particularly helpful.

Seth wrote:

I wasn't hurt by the stereotype of a man not doing a lick of domestic work in the asda ad, even though that stereotypical assumption is one I run into over and over again despite it not comforming to me. So right there, I have one very personal contradiction that disproves your assumption.

I have to say, I was fairly deeply offended by that. In fact, I found the ad's portrayal of the husband more personally problematic and sexist than its portrayal of the woman.

It's bad enough that the ad just assumes as given that the husband is a nonentity in the holiday prep. But his worst moment ("What's for tea, love?") is couched in a meant-to-be-idyllic Christmas scene that not only excuses the behavior, but suggests that it may be ideal. ("He may be a lout, but he's my lout!")

I agree that Seth is debating in good faith, but the "welcome to privilege" line, if directed at the ad instead, is not at all misplaced. The husband embodies privilege, and by showing the effects of that privilege on his wife and then making all those effects "worth it," it legitimizes that privilege.

For my part - i think the ad was lame. I only posted to kind of laugh at myself because my life is the opposite of that ad. Somehow that derailed and feathers got ruffled (mine included).

I don't necessarily agree with Seth, just think that saying he(or any dissenting opinion) feels the way he feels is only because he is in a priveledge bubble is kind of unecessary.

I do apologize for the derail - that was not my intent. My intent was levity not offence. .

SallyNasty wrote:

For my part - i think the ad was lame. I only posted to kind of laugh at myself because my life is the opposite of that ad. Somehow that derailed and feathers got ruffled (mine included).

I don't necessarily agree with Seth, just think that saying he(or any dissenting opinion) feels the way he feels is only because he is in a priveledge bubble is kind of unecessary.

I do apologize for the derail - that was not my intent. My intent was levity not offence. .

Well, I think the derail has been valuable, if a bit more fraught than necessary. But that's the nature of the discussion.

Valmorian wrote:

Nobody likes to be told that what they are saying is offensive, and just about everyone I've ever seen called out on sexist/racist jokes takes issue with being called out. They'll get defensive and angry about it, offended that you would imply that they are awful people, hide behind the "it's just a joke!" defense, etc..

As much as I don't like some of the recent developments in the tone of this community, I still have to give credit where credit is due: on this forum, with how well the people involved know and like each other, I think you could call people out on here and they won't get defensive if you do it on a person-to-person level.

Seth wrote:

Valmorian, I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but are you seriously saying that thinking a depiction of women enjoying domestic responsibilities can only be driven by privilege if that opinion comes from a male?

I don't think I said anything like that? Maybe I'm not being clear here, but the point I am trying to make here is that dismissing criticism of said ad from a position of privilege is disingenuous at best.

The ad itself is likely NOT driven by privilege, but rather exactly what was originally proposed: A desire to appeal to their largest customer base. However, it's important to note that the source of that ad can be completely unrelated to its effect regarding stereotypical gender role expectations.

I don't think the company putting out that ad necessarily intended to reinforce gender stereotypes consciously (although they certainly utilized those stereotypes to great effect) but intent and effect are different things, and a woman who is constantly expected to live up to those expectations is not very well served by said ad, humorous or not.

Privilege isn't an insult, it's not a dismissal, it's admitting that not everyone's experiences are equal when it comes to life. In the same way that it would be arrogant and dismissive for me to presume to tell an African American that they are being too sensitive when they react negatively to a racially charged joke, it's just as arrogant and dismissive to say that an ad placing unrealistic expectations on women is not a big deal.

CheezePavilion wrote:

As much as I don't like some of the recent developments in the tone of this community, I still have to give credit where credit is due: on this forum, with how well the people involved know and like each other, I think you could call people out on here and they won't get defensive if you do it on a person-to-person level.

In many cases this works, but honestly I've seen far too many VERY good friends get deeply offended when they are called out on borderline racist/sexist behaviour. It's a painful pill to swallow when you're told you've done/said something bad. Hell, I've felt that same level of defensiveness myself, as I've certainly been as guilty as anyone else at saying terrible things without thinking.

Seth wrote:

Valmorian, I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but are you seriously saying that thinking a depiction of women enjoying domestic responsibilities can only be driven by privilege if that opinion comes from a male?

It's a good job that's not the argument he's making then

Valmorian wrote:
Seth wrote:

Valmorian, I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but are you seriously saying that thinking a depiction of women enjoying domestic responsibilities can only be driven by privilege if that opinion comes from a male?

I don't think I said anything like that? Maybe I'm not being clear here, but the point I am trying to make here is that dismissing criticism of said ad from a position of privilege is disingenuous at best.

**snip**

Privilege isn't an insult, it's not a dismissal, it's admitting that not everyone's experiences are equal when it comes to life. In the same way that it would be arrogant and dismissive for me to presume to tell an African American that they are being too sensitive when they react negatively to a racially charged joke, it's just as arrogant and dismissive to say that an ad placing unrealistic expectations on women is not a big deal.

MrDevil and I had a page long discussion about the importance of checking our privilege at the door before entering into a conversation like this. So whether you missed that or ignored it, I was absolutely insulted when two people accused me of being ignorant of my own privilege. It really felt like you were using that as a dismissive "I Win" button in order to ignore my points.

The ad itself is likely NOT driven by privilege, but rather exactly what was originally proposed: A desire to appeal to their largest customer base. However, it's important to note that the source of that ad can be completely unrelated to its effect regarding stereotypical gender role expectations.

I don't think the company putting out that ad necessarily intended to reinforce gender stereotypes consciously (although they certainly utilized those stereotypes to great effect) but intent and effect are different things, and a woman who is constantly expected to live up to those expectations is not very well served by said ad, humorous or not.

What about the women who love doing those things, whether it's expected of them or not? Most (not all, but most) of the females in my life enjoy doing things similar to that asda ad. Are they somehow wrong or not being well served by having their efforts recognized?

Bloo Driver wrote:

You are seeing the above in this way, and from your words I can reasonably assume what you think is that the people discussing it are discounting any harm could happen in any case.

I never said that. I do think that people are quick to minimize the potential harm of reinforcing gender stereotypes though.

Or, in short, I personally think it's possible for someone to be offended about an item in respect to their gender, but it is not exactly fair to categorize it as something that is actually doing harm. Like Hypatian said, the discourse is important and you have to understand that ignorance and good intentions only get you so far. But on the other end of that spectrum, there's a point where someone can reasonably say/do socially sensitive and harmless things and people will still take offense. That's a hard line to find, and the discussion is valuable.

It's important to note that anything someone does where an appreciable amount of people take offense to it can't really be "harmless". More notably it's nearly always the people who are unoffended that claim the act is harmless, since the fact that they view it as harmless MEANS they can't see the harm.

Basically arguing with someone who is offended by something said by saying "BUT IT'S HARMLESS" is useless at best, and grossly offensive at worst.

The better tack would be to ask WHY they find it offensive and maybe consider that respecting those feelings of harm might just be worth losing a "joke".

I don't hold myself up as some paragon of virtue in this regard, but my own education with regards to the ideas of privilege has really shaped how I view humor and discourse. It's why I don't use the word "retarded" in humor anymore, and why I try very hard not to dismiss concerns with humor that I see as being "overly sensitive".

So, just throwing the word "privilege" out like an I Win button is not particularly helpful.

It's not an "I Win" button. More like pointing out that you might be playing the wrong game.