On Jokes and Insults
This is a tricky subject. Many jokes are funny because they are also somewhat insulting. The key is to know where to draw the line, and how to take responsibility if you cross it. To take from Chuck Wendig, own up and apologize like an adult if you cross from offensive to mean.
Let’s take an example: sexist jokes. Most people can laugh at the typical jokes that poke fun at the stereotypical differences between men and women. Yet once you start going down the path of friendzones, make me a sandwich, your place is in the kitchen, and so on… things aren’t funny anymore. Now you’re just being mean and degrading to roughly half the human population.
This is a topic I’ve been mulling over for a while, but recent events encouraged me to finally post on it. An English friend re-tweeted a joke on Twitter, a joke that insulted Americans. When I called him out on this, recommending he consider who follows him before posting hateful remarks, he told me I simply couldn’t take a joke.
He then proceeded to tell his friends how I lacked emotional maturity for being hurt by a joke. That is when I blocked him. This wasn’t our first fall-out and I decided I’d had enough.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and bash this person for his actions. In his mind, his words and actions were completely harmless. That’s usually how jokes go — the joker doesn’t think the jokes could hurt someone. But sometimes they do. You wouldn’t tell insulting Islam jokes around practicing Islams. Because it’s mean and hurtful. I don’t tell homophobic jokes because it would hurt several of my friends (not to mention myself).
Being American is as part of my identity as being female is. Insults to my country and nationality hurt just as much as insults to my gender or my race, and I’m not afraid to stand up for myself as I once was.
What you consider to be a joke might hurt those at the other end of that joke. And if it does, that’s when you act the adult and apologize. Sure there is a point when people are overly-sensitive, but if you can’t accept that your jokes may have unintended consequences, well… who’s the immature one, then?