Nationally, a broad conversation is happening around sexual misconduct, gender bias and sexist attitudes. Industries are being forced to tackle this attitude shift head on and change (for the better).
So, how is a daily mortgage lending industry email with disparaging jokes about women still a thing?
Rob Chrisman distributes a daily email newsletter six times a week for the mortgage lending industry. It’s a combo platter of news, events, industry gossip, paid promotional content, recruitment opportunities and commentary that reaches well over 40,000 people in various parts of the mortgage and real estate field and their related industries. The email newsletter is also published on his website, bookended by many ads.
Frequent readers of Chrisman know that at the end of his newsletter, there’s always a joke, or a link to a cat video, or something equivalent to what your grandpa would’ve emailed you in 1995. Sometimes, the jokes featured are crass and distasteful – but more often than not, they are biased against women.
Since January 1, 2018, 13 out of 38, or 34%, of Chrisman’s jokes were disparaging towards women.
Thus far, his newsletter has featured jokes on women sleeping their way to the top, pregnant women, breast implants, women who lie to the police, topless women, women cheating on homework, menopausal women, a snow woman with breasts, sexual assault on an airplane, and a woman distracted by a “good-looking” doctor.
Here is just a small sample of jokes he has used so far in 2018...
March 8, 2018:
There are more than 11,000 attorneys belong to the Utah State Bar. In case any of them needed an anatomy lesson, the Association emailed each and every one of them a photo of a topless woman. Not the breast move…
March 5, 2018:
Do you know the difference between a dilapidated Greyhound depot and a lobster with breast implants? One’s a Crusty Bus Station and the other is a Busty Crustacean!
February 27, 2018:
On average, an American man under age 75 will have sex two to three times a week. Whereas, a Japanese man the same age will have sex only one or two times a year. This is very upsetting news to many of my friends…as they had no idea they were Japanese.
January 3, 2018:
Success is like being pregnant. Everyone congratulates you, but no one knows how many times you got *&^%%# along the way.
I reached out to Chrisman, asking him the following questions:
Q1: Do you believe the jokes that are disparaging towards women and minorities are offensive?
Q2: Would you recommend that the owners, managers, and employees of the companies that read and/or purchase paid advertising in your newsletter forward the sexist jokes in this article to consumers, or to their referral partners in their own business email marketing campaigns?
Q3: Is 2018 a good time to end the jokes that appear at the end of your daily email newsletter?
Q4: Do you have any other comment that you’d like to appear in this article?
Rob Chrisman’s response to me, from March 11, 2018:
“Jillayne – I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback, and certainly am open to speaking with you at some point. Large corporations train employees not to respond, but I prefer communication. We might have different ways of looking at things and different senses of humor, but we certainly share a desire to serve the industry in our own ways, and I bet we have much more in common than not.
I do get a great deal of feedback on my free newsletter, and I do take seriously that people use my commentary as a source of information. Some like the information, some don’t, and those that don’t often tell me, or unsubscribe. That is certainly their right, but we engage in a dialog.
I find it somewhat unbalanced to only focus on the last paragraph of my commentary. You may be unaware of the numerous pieces of advice and content that I have published from women and minorities in our industry to others, or my publicizing women and minorities’ numerous accomplishments, or my promoting affiliated events. In fact I will have many in the middle part of this week. Similarly you may be unaware of my mentions of charity work. Similarly my mentions of people in our industry who have died.
Every joke, or piece of trivia, comes from readers, and, people’s taste being what it is, humor is in the eye of the beholder. Some will consider the trivia and jokes old-fashioned, corny, or immature, as you state – but it is my sense of humor. Just as the information in the commentary is my sense of what is relevant to the industry. Every joke, or piece of trivia, has come from readers from every walk of life, and I savor the diversity. You’d be surprised at what I choose not to publish. In other words, I do curate the joke content heavily.
I never wish to offend, and I’m truly sorry that you have taken offense – I can see you care very much for this industry, and offending you or others is never intended. I hope we’d agree that particularly since my newsletter is free and no one is being forced to read it or place ads in it, that I have the ability to exercise my own sense of humor as most of my readers actually have indicated they particularly look forward to this portion of my commentary.
I do appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts, and you are certainly entitled to your opinions as well – which although we might disagree upon, I absolutely respect.”
I don’t need an apology for the offensive nature of the jokes. I just want the jokes to stop. In order to move past the biases against women, the behavior needs to be confronted and the culture that allows it to perpetuate must change.