The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 10, No 1 (2022)

Stereotyping Arab women in jokes circulated on social media during the coronavirus crisis

Ahmad S. Haider,Linda S. Al-Abbas


Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, fear and panic dominated the content of online news. Simultaneously, there was a prevalence of jokes and satire on the different social media sites. During the crisis, most Arab countries went through a nationwide lockdown for weeks that people found themselves trapped in their homes and resorted to social media to express their frustrations about the prevailing happenings. They began exchanging jokes and parodies on social media that indirectly reflected stereotypes about them. 1424 jokes were collected from Facebook and WhatsApp messages during a period of three months and were categorized based on the themes they covered. Gender-related jokes ranked the highest, and were predominantly targeting women. Hence, this study is an attempt to explore how Arab Women were stereotyped in Jokes circulated on social media during the Coronavirus crisis. The 508 gender-related jokes were analysed in light of the General Theory of Verbal Humor (GTVH). The analysis generated 4 main themes, namely 'marital relations’ (33%), 'habits and attributes’ (26%), 'beauty and makeup’ (23%) and 'violence’ (18%). Women were stereotyped as being ugly and less feminine without makeup, talkative, shopaholic, despising and annoying wives, and violent and harmful partners in their private sphere. The study concludes that such negative stereotypes might be unintentionally produced and reinforced through laughter-eliciting humor that circulates fast in the virtual world.


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