How often have you opened up a text message from a friend or acquaintance to find a slew of laughing emoticons prompting that what's to follow is funny - only to find a sexist slur being passed off as a joke? #NotAJoke is a campaign in collaboration with Avis Viswanathan and Vaani Anand to call out what is very clearly sexism, verbal gender-based violence and discrimination. As part of this campaign, we endeavour to offer up a tool that can be used to determine whether a piece is a joke or a case of sexism, and this is followed up by a database of sexist slurs that are doing the rounds in the name of jokes.

Tool to evaluate a piece to see if it is a joke or sexism
The table below offers up a breakdown of the kind of questions you need to ask yourself to determine if something falls under a joke or a case of sexism. If you find yourself answering "Yes" to a majority of questions under the Discriminatory, Stereotypical and Objectification categories, and "No" to a majority of questions under the Bechdel and Mako Mori Tests, you have on your hands a classic case of sexism.

CriterionQuestions to Ask
DiscriminatoryDoes this piece insult women?
Does this piece poke fun at women?
Does this piece diminish the value of women?
StereotypicalDoes this piece reduce women to a gender role?
Does this piece assert an exaggerated notion of her identity?
Does this piece insinuate stereotypical responses on part of women?
ObjectificationDoes this piece reduce a woman to her body?
Does this piece chattelize / reduce to property a woman?
Does this piece disregard the personal agency of a woman?
Does this piece disregard the consent / right to consent of a woman?
The Bechdel TestDoes it have at least two women in it,
who talk to each other, about
something besides a man?
Mako Mori TestDoes it have at least one female character...
Who gets her own narrative arc...
That is not about supporting a man’s story?
Our version of the Bechdel Test* Are women portrayed independently with a narrative backstory unique to them, as opposed to being portrayed through a male lens?
Are women portrayed with a narrative arc that is beyond the stereotypes ascribed to them by the culture that the story they are in, is set, in?
Are the women treated with value for their personal agency in the portrayal in the film?
Are the women portraying hackneyed stereotypes with respect to their individual identities and choices?
If violence is shown, is it a portrayal of a realistic situation or an integral part of the story (for instance, telling the story of a survivor of violence)? If violence is shown, is it an unnecessary element to reassert male dominance and masculinity?
What role does her caste, class, religion, language and other cultural attributes, play - are they meaningless caricatures, are they substantial, are they used to mock, or are they portrayed with authenticity?
*Developed by Kirthi Jayakumar

The Database
We've put together a database of "jokes" that are doing the rounds online and offline, but are truly cases of blatant sexism. If you would like to contribute to the database, fill out this form.
Click here to view the database.