Are dumb blonde jokes really all in good fun?

September 11, 1991|By Bob Dyer | Bob Dyer,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

AKRON, OHIO ` — AKRON, Ohio How do you put a twinkle in a blonde's eye? Shine a flashlight in her ear.

* How can you tell when a blonde has been using the office computer? There's white-out on the screen.

* What do you call a redhead walking between two blondes? An interpreter.

In proper society, you cannot tell ethnic jokes or racial jokes or fat jokes or female jokes or disability jokes or homosexual jokes. But in the past couple of months, blonde jokes seem to have become perfectly acceptable.

You hear them at the office water cooler, over the radio, at parties. And some of the most avid tellers of blonde jokes are blondes.

Sue Woodling, 22, says she just returned from a large family reunion that included five blondes, and "they stood around and told blonde jokes the whole time."

Woodling identifies herself as a fifth-year senior at Ohio University. Then she laughs and adds: "But maybe you don't want to put 'fifth-year.'"

Yep, in case you haven't picked up on it, the continuing theme here is that blondes are not Einsteins. Not brain surgeons. Not masters of the SAT.

And that theme troubles some people, including Michael Freedman, a psychologist who has offices in Cleveland and Akron. He is not convinced that blonde jokes are truly socially acceptable.

"My general feeling is that any joke that degrades a person is not helpful to that class of people," he says. "This reinforces the stereotype that blondes have beauty but no brains."

It also should be noted that blonde jokes are, in a sense, female jokes. Male blonds are ignored. (OK, there is Dan Quayle, but that's different. He's a phenomenon unto himself.)

Yet even Freedman, after a moment's reflection, softens considerably on the subject.

"It's not as big a deal as racial prejudice, because people aren't losing their jobs because of being blonde. They're not losing money or prestige or power. So maybe it's easier to get away with a blonde joke....

"It's sort of a non-issue. The thing about blonde jokes is, I don't think anybody's really that upset about being blonde."

That's for sure. In fact, plenty of non-blondes have taken steps to become blonde. We're not here to name names, but keep in mind that Clairol has sold enough hair coloring to dye the Great Lakes.

In most of western civilization, the blue-eyed blonde is viewed as the prototype of beauty and desirability. Blondes are perceived to be superior, at least in terms of physical appeal.

Blondes, as the saying goes, have more fun. And that seems to ameliorate any potential backlash.

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