Very simple (albeit a bit tacky) example:

Him: We're not that different from other couples, are we?
Her: Hm... maybe. I mean, you make me sandwiches, for one.
Him: Yeah, because I can do them better!
Her: laughs That's true, I'll give you that.

Now, I don't really have a problem with... sexist dialog like that, since it's obvious (or at least I think so) that the characters are self-aware and just joking about stereotypes. I just wonder if it could come across as childish to a reader, taking them out of the story.

Should I just avoid these types of jokes or should I not worry about it too much?


Including some light sexist banter is acceptable if it serves your story. Including some heavier sexist, racist, homophobic or any other hate-derived dialog would also be acceptable as long as it serves your story. If you are trying to set your story in a world where such things are common, then including them in your character dialog contributes to the authenticity of your writing.

Excluding them is also acceptable, again in service to your story.

It is nice to be sensitive to your readers' feelings but don't let it get in the way of your telling your story, your way.

  • 1
    ...although it's risky. After all, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" got censored as "offensive" due to heavy use of racial slurs. Historical accuracy be damned. In this case it's not about whether the author is right, but whether the author is named alt-right. – SF. Jun 27 '17 at 13:48
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    @SF. unfortunately, that is the sad truth. Though we still have stories like "Huckleberry Finn" that are used in schools. I honestly don't understand this censorship fear. If anything, censorship and not having open dialog about it makes things worse. By writing historically accurate or maybe even racially questionable subjects, people can be exposed to it, see how ugly it sounds from a 3rd person point of view. But that in itself is the problem. People don't want to see the ugly side of humanity and rather keep it locked in a closet. – ggiaquin16 Jun 27 '17 at 15:10


As a human being, you are entitled to have an opinion about everything you encounter in life, and joke or be upset about it–or both.

As a writer, you also have a right express your opinions in writing, and you not only can disclose your own, you can present thoughts and beliefs which are totally opposite. This is why you invent characters, which can carry out their own views on the world you make them inhabit. You can make them prejudiced, sexist, feminist, racist, human rights activists, law-abiding citizens (who can still be racist and sexist), and career criminals. You and only you own the world you are creating, whether it is a high-fantasy imaginary one or a meticulously crafted reflection of the real life.

No matter what you choose to write about–happines, misery, affluence, hunger, religious fanatism or progressive thinking, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, etc.–go for it. Do not try to play it safe–it will be instantly noticeable and will come through like a watered-down attempt to play both sides (oh, I want to address a serious and unpleasant issue, or feel like a risky joke will go well with this character, but I do not want to upset my readers) and will make your writing bland and boring.

You should remember, though, that as human beings, your readers also have a right to have an opinion about what they read and your words will be judged and commented upon.

Guess what: you cannot please everyone. If your readers are upset by your writing, they are not your readers. If someone flips because you used an (insert-a-letter)-word, that person should stick to reading newspaper headlines and cereal boxes (milk cartons might be too unsettling).

Go ahead with your story and do everything to make it work. Self-censorship is one of the worst methods of self-editing.

Best of luck.


You may write any dialogue you please. If there are people in the world who speak it - you may write it.

Dialogue is, perhaps, the most important aspect of storytelling. One line from a character can tell the reader a character's nationality, class, education, world view, and a lot more to boot.


The thing I wonder about is the relevance of those lines to your story.

Now if that's a story about a working wife and a stay-at-home husband, the dialog can very relevant. To a lesser extent, this could be true about an aggressive, outgoing woman, and a shyer, more introverted man.

But don't use this, or other dialog if not relevant to the story. Unless, perhaps, it is a form of light humor or comic relief.

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