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deleted post question
January 20, 2010 2:09 PM   Subscribe

regarding the recently (nearly immediately) deleted thread "about rape jokes", i have a question or two.

i feel like either the mods missed the point of the post (which was not really "har har rape jokes" by any stretch) or they just gave a solid vote of no-confidence that the community here could be anything other than be awful.

mods, your thoughts?
posted by radiosilents to Etiquette/Policy at 2:09 PM (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

A prolonged discussion on the merits of rape jokes or their place in culture or the effect on an audience feels like an extremely intense discussion we've had before and ends with a lot of heat and little light.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


By the time I saw the post, Matt had already deleted it; I think I would have deleted it if he or Jessamyn hadn't, largely because it feels more like "hey let's talk about rape jokes and triggers" more than "here's an interesting thing on the web", and I feel like we've really, really covered that ground lately and that a general chatting-on-the-blue thread with the theme of Rape Jokes stands a really good chance of going badly.

I think lunit totally meant well and am not all under the impression that the post was intended to be an excuse for impromptu rape humor, but, yeah, it sort of feels like a disaster waiting to happen, and Yet Another Rape Post when for whatever reason there seems to have been a lot of that in the last few months, in a way that I'm not really convinced that post was worth slogging through.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2010


that makes a certain amount of sense. thank you.
posted by radiosilents at 2:16 PM on January 20, 2010


It wasn't even on the blue long enough for most people to see it and it was still toxic enough to generate a grey post.
posted by Babblesort at 2:16 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


A prolonged discussion on the merits of rape jokes or their place in culture or the effect on an audience feels like an extremely intense discussion we've had before and ends with a lot of heat and little light.

Actually, the last time we did it, it went pretty well.
posted by billysumday at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2010


That's probably true but the fact that it's already been done, and the fact that there are many other subjects for discussion in this great world of ours, renders the point at least quasi-moot.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2010


Yeah, I don't disagree with the deletion - I just wish the reason had been "we've done this before, let's not do it again" rather than "we can't do this kind of thing here" because we have done it here, and it was fine.
posted by billysumday at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


billysunday, you're right, but I had about 20 seconds to think of a reason and wrote down the first thing that popped into my head.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2010


and it was still toxic enough to generate a grey post.

that seems a little disingenuous since this thread wasn't started because of the supposed toxicity, but questioning the deletion, no?
posted by nadawi at 2:44 PM on January 20, 2010


and when they came for the rape jokes, I said nothing, for I was not a rape joke.
posted by boo_radley at 2:55 PM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


I knew that it could potentially go over badly, and I understand why it was deleted. That being said, I posted it because it was the best piece about what it's like for some people to hear rape jokes that I've ever seen.
posted by lunit at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and they are called the Artisocrats!
posted by fixedgear at 3:00 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


and when they came for the rape jokes, I said nothing, for I was not a rape joke.
posted by boo_radley at 4:55 PM on January 20


An ironic joke about rape jokes, in the form of a parody of a statement made about the holocaust. I mean, is that really the direction you want to go in your life? At some point even you will not be able to figure out whether you're a dick or not.
posted by nanojath at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2010 [42 favorites]


As in Performance Artisocrats ?
posted by y2karl at 3:04 PM on January 20, 2010


Full disclosure: lunit is a friend of mine and she had sent me the blogpost earlier today and I think it was a good essay.

I thought it was a good post and it should stand. MetaFilter discusses hard to talk about issues all the time. And as billysumday says, this is something we've talked about before without bursting into flames.
posted by Kattullus at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2010


Oh, also. I pulled the post title from the blogpost, but in retrospect, I probably could have chosen better on that one.
posted by lunit at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2010


boo_radley, not only are you not a joke, you're not even funny.
posted by desjardins at 3:12 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally I'm a big fan of the blogger linked to in the original post, and I think she should be hosting her own TV show or something.

But the fpp seemed a little questionable... maybe it was the framing? Maybe it should have started with something more recent, like the fact that Mike Tyson's instances of violence and rape are considered funny now? Or whatever. The point is that some topical framing would have, in my mind, taken an amazing essay and turned it into something more than just a teaching moment.
posted by muddgirl at 3:13 PM on January 20, 2010


yeah, we've done the thing before about whether certain types of humor are "ok," and what we end up with are people on either side making wildly sweeping absolutist statements that they either are or aren't (depending on which side the commenter takes), period. and before long many people are offended, and with good reason, at people on either side of the debate. we've been better than that, but we've also gotten pretty horrible to one another over almost exactly this topic a number of times. I liked the essay, but I can't say I blame mathowie for shutting it down quickly. we've had quality users quit the site because of these discussions, and how badly we (as a community) can sometimes come off because of them.
posted by shmegegge at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or wait, maybe it did. I don't remember if that stuff was in a comment or in the FPP. If so, please ignore me.
posted by muddgirl at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2010


I thought it was a good post and it should stand. MetaFilter discusses hard to talk about issues all the time.

I also thought it was a good examination of ways to react to insensitive remarks rather than an invitation for rape jokes or hysteria about same.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:15 PM on January 20, 2010


I also thought it was a good examination of ways to react to insensitive remarks rather than an invitation for rape jokes or hysteria about same.

unfortunately, not everyone waits for an invitation.
posted by shmegegge at 3:15 PM on January 20, 2010


I thought it was a good post and it should stand.

It falls into the "this is a very touchy subject herre, one that requires a careful touch to go well" area for me. After reading lunit's post, without clicking the links, I still had no idea what it was about. Then I read the first few paragraphs of the main link and I still wasn't sure what it was about, except the rape part obviously. I guess the sentences above the fold were from the post, but not marked that way, so that once I saw them in the post I got more confused. And I basically live here; if I am confused by your post, there's a decent chance that it is confusing.

I can see that this would be a great topic of conversation among a bunch of people interested in this topic who took the time to read all the links and understood what lunit was getting at by posting it [which I think I do...]. That said, this is not that place, to me.

That fact that MetaFilter can, in some instances, have interesting discussions about rape does not necessarily mean that any post about rape should be allowed to stand because it's on an important topic. And seriously, we know people don't read the links, title it better than "welcome to a post about rape jokes" [which yeah I know, it's a play on the title of the blog] if you want people to do anything other than make "this will wendell" jokes.

I appreciate that people see the MetaFilter that they want to see sometimes, and not the one that we have and I get where lunit was coming from, but I have to agree with mathowie and cortex on this one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 PM on January 20, 2010


Oh, also. I pulled the post title from the blogpost, but in retrospect, I probably could have chosen better on that one.

I thought the title was the best part of the article. Not that the article was bad, but the title was a rape joke joke that wittily and succinctly summarized the point of the article itself (that rape jokes aren't funny).
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:16 PM on January 20, 2010


Would you say that when we trot out rape a a topic, unless the audience has personal experience with rape, we are all thinking of the Lifetime channel, or some hot hot scene from a movie, or angry-faced women on the news marching down the street all frumpy and queer. Of course it generates nervous giggles, and “edgy” humor, and is allowable conversation for not-so-secret misogynists — that’s what the cultural depiction of rape is meant to do. Humor that is degrading or offensive to oppressed populations has always operated as a pressure release valve for the things we know we are not “supposed” to say or think anymore. You might not be able to say you really don’t think 1 in 4 women are actually being raped, and if they are, they probably deserved it, and there are some circumstances where rape is okay – but you can sure as shit make a joke about it!

There remains here an excellent post -- which is not apparent because of the poor framing.
posted by boo_radley at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2010


You might not be able to say you really don’t think 1 in 4 women are actually being raped, and if they are, they probably deserved it, and there are some circumstances where rape is okay – but you can sure as shit make a joke about it!

Whu whu whu whu whu whu whu whu whu whu whut
posted by billysumday at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2010


And oh god I can't believe I'm making a fucking "framing" argument.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 PM on January 20, 2010


Metafilter: I had about 20 seconds to think of a reason and wrote down the first thing that popped into my head.

sorry
posted by jbickers at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


That seems a little disingenuous since this thread wasn't started because of the supposed toxicity, but questioning the deletion, no?
posted by nadawi

The post as it was posted was jarring and contextless. jessamyn described it pretty well above. It took about a second to think that either deletion or a trainwreck was coming fast. That's why I called it toxic. At very best the topic is riddled with quicksand for communication. Presented as it was the discussion would have started at chin level in the muck and sinking fast. The exact argument about ironic jokes etc. that would have happened in the blue post are now happening here. This fell squarely in GYOB territory for me.
posted by Babblesort at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2010


boo_radley: "You might not be able to say you really don’t think 1 in 4 women are actually being raped, and if they are, they probably deserved it, and there are some circumstances where rape is okay – but you can sure as shit make a joke about it!"

Are we posting the Tony Clifton comments over here now?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:34 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The topic has potential, but the framing was nothing but trollish. It was bound to end in the well.
posted by Elmore at 3:37 PM on January 20, 2010


Slack-a-gogo: "Are we posting the Tony Clifton comments over here now?"

Source.

I'm going to ask the mods to delete what I've written here. I've clearly comported poorly.
posted by boo_radley at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2010


For good measure, here is the post itself.

I think the problem with this post was entirely about framing and not the subject matter. It should have been something like "In 'A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar' the blogger Fugitivus writes about how women who have been raped respond to rape jokes." If it was, it probably would still be there, and would have been an interesting discussion. If someone posted it with a less confusing opening statement (out of the context of the blog post itself the line is a little strange) I would fully support it.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:49 PM on January 20, 2010


That Tony Clifton interview has a big fat rape joke in it, FWIW.
posted by unSane at 3:51 PM on January 20, 2010


Babblesort - ah, ok. just to my reading your original comment suggested that the toxicness of the post is the reason this post was created, which doesn't seem to be the case.

i do think the things linked were interesting and worth reading, but, like has been discussed here, the way the post on the blue was created could have used more care. i think this metatalk post is useful for discussing how tender topics need more sensitivity before someone hits posts.
posted by nadawi at 3:58 PM on January 20, 2010


That post is more than just about rape. I wish it had stayed.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:04 PM on January 20, 2010


That Tony Clifton interview has a big fat rape joke in it, FWIW.

Big surprise, given the disgusting joke that is the center of the post.
posted by bearwife at 4:04 PM on January 20, 2010


And since I suspect the Tony Clifton thing will wind up here eventually, I was pretty much not into that post either. If you don't get the Tony Clifton thing, then it's a big gross MY COCK story on the front page. Not against the rules, but not so awesome either.

Even if you do get the Tony Clifton thing, I could have seen that post made much better. It's really a variety of the same issue, to me.

- how does this post look to some random person who doesn't know the culture here?
- how does this post look to someone who knows what is going on with this specific post?

That said, swearing and cock stories on the front page aren't strictly speaking verboten, but maybe not such a great idea?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:09 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


we are all thinking of the Lifetime channel, or some hot hot scene from a movie, or angry-faced women on the news marching down the street all frumpy and queer.

Holy shit.
posted by box at 4:17 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Actually, the last time we did it, it went pretty well.

That wasn't the last time we did it.

I'll give this to metafilter...it's made me rethink some of my humor. I love dark fucking humor. I like the idea of laughing at the things that hurt and kill us. This was a gift imparted from my mother while I was still in my deformative years. We both made fun of the cancer that eventually killed her. Few could understood how we could find humor here. I've been proud of my ability to make jokes about pretty much anything. It's also somewhat damaged that little voice in my head that asks, "Do you really want to say that?" and gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion.

I make jokes about subjects like cancer, war, car crashes, etc. In my mind sometimes all you can do is laugh.

This said, I can't think of a funny rape joke. Not one.

I used to think some suicide jokes were worth making. Metafilter has changed this as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:23 PM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think the article/blog post in question is quite good. It's not about the "merits of rape jokes". Worth a read, IMO.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:03 PM on January 20, 2010


I'm really glad I read the article. I definitely tell rape jokes. I've been paid to tell jokes that include rape jokes. But the rape jokes I tell and the rape jokes that I've laughed at have nothing to do with the types of jokes she seems to be describing. That doesn't mean she'd think "oh this one's ok".

Judging by the rape joke post before I think we could have done alright with this one. I have friends that don't like books because the people in the books are bad people. Or they don't like it when authors don't seem to like their characters. Or if it seems to be advancing an idea that they disagree with. That's sort of how I feel. A joke about rape will trivialize people of rape to a certain extent. And it will remind people of rape which maybe they'd rather not be reminded of. And I think the first thing is a downside, and the second thing also goes for mention rape. But really a joke about rape doesn't have to approve of rape, it doesn't have to blame the woman, it doesn't need to forgive the rapist.
posted by I Foody at 5:06 PM on January 20, 2010


I saw that post and the mouse jumped leaped out of my hand and ran down the hallway. It's still there, hiding underneath the couch. I'm doing all of this with keyboard commands. My mouse apparently has a conscience. My keyboard couldn't give a rat's ass, so long as I keep feeding it with crumbs.

That said, swearing and cock stories on the front page aren't strictly speaking verboten, but maybe not such a great idea?

Look, all I'm saying is that it's been sighted in a loch in Scotland. Not the whole thing. Just a large, moving wake and a snakelike head.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: It falls into the "this is a very touchy subject herre, one that requires a careful touch to go well" area for me. After reading lunit's post, without clicking the links, I still had no idea what it was about.

Okay. I can understand that. I had read the blogpost beforehand so I wasn't gonna come to this post fresh.

Even if you do get the Tony Clifton thing, I could have seen that post made much better. It's really a variety of the same issue, to me.

You know how some people know how to make things funny, even when they shouldn't be, and other people don't have that knowledge? Andy Kaufman was a comic genius, the people who've continued the Tony Clifton thing aren't. I think that's an awful post and awful post material and I'm really surprised that's still up there.

I Foody: I'm really glad I read the article.

The essay is very good. It reminded me of the sickening realization I had sometimes in my late teens that all the dirty jokes I had been taught by classmates (and shared with other classmates) as a kid in my early teens were rape jokes of one sort or another. Rape jokes are very common in our culture, overtly or covertly, and it's something that should be fought. I do give people shit about it most of the time when people tell rape jokes around me, but it's tiring and emotionally draining, so it's nice to see other people taking up the fight and doing it so well, like Harriet Jacobs (the author of the blogpost in question).

I make an effort to pretty with it regarding these things but that essay presented me with a fresh way of looking at these kinds of situations. I really appreciate having read it and I want other people to have that kind of reaction.
posted by Kattullus at 8:03 PM on January 20, 2010


I read the essay and appreciated it. It makes some very good points, including points I agree with but often fail to make about the depictions of murder, torture, and violence in pop culture as entertainment. So I'm glad I read it.

At the same time, I understand the deletion reason. And it's true, this past year or so has seen at least two MAJOR lengthy painful detailed vociferous discussions on rape - probably more, but only two that I read in full. I don't think they went poorly, exactly, but I do think they're draining and exhausting. It takes a lot of effort for everyone to keep stepping up to the discussion and work things out. That kind of effort to resolve disparate viewpoints can be, and at times has been, really good for the community, but it wouldn't be really good if it happened, like, every month. So it seems to me that it's not so much the post content or topic, but perhaps partly framing and partly that this particular topic has had a lot of exposure, and exposed a lot of nerves, on MeFi during the last year.
posted by Miko at 8:54 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I admit that the post also confused me, giving me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The essay, though, is pretty good, as flammable as the subject matter certainly is. Maybe it could see a new day, if framed a whole lot better?

Also seconding Kattulus' experience with childhood jokes. Unfortunately, self-styled edgy, in-your-face, boundary-pushing comics still employ these "jokes". Glad to see a writer try and disassemble what's going on there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:52 AM on January 21, 2010


The suspense is killing me, radiosilents. Did you ever make it to New Zealand?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:47 AM on January 21, 2010


I'm going to ask the mods to delete what I've written here. I've clearly comported poorly.
Yeah, that thing you get on other forums where you just post a quote with no context, no quote marks and no italicising, under your own name, with the idea being that you're mocking something? It's fucking stupid, and doesn't work here at all.
posted by bonaldi at 6:40 AM on January 21, 2010


and it was still toxic enough to generate a grey post.

that seems a little disingenuous since this thread wasn't started because of the supposed toxicity, but questioning the deletion, no?


Yeah, I'm fine with this deletion, but it's kind of irritating if every question about a deletion is going to be met with, "The very fact that you're even asking about it just shows why it had to be deleted!"
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:44 AM on January 21, 2010


No such thing as a funny rape joke. Cut that shit out.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:02 AM on January 21, 2010


The discussion contained a link to a post from Washington CityPaper's The Sexist blog called The Onion’s Best and Worst Rape Jokes that I thought was quite an interesting read. Rape is such a difficult subject for humor that it was fascinating to see an author look at one of America's premiere satirical publications and see how they have tackled the subject, and where their use of rape as a subject works as satire, and where it fails. In almost every case where the author determines it works, it worked because rape itself was not the subject of humor, but instead was an element that pointed out the ridiculousness of another subject, such as their "Brutal Gang Rape Gives Screenplay More 'Punch'" story, which is not about an actual rape, but instead about how the subject is used for cheap drama by a hack screenwriter.

Your mileage is probably going to vary on whether you agree with the success of lack of success of these stories in tackling the topic, but I appreciated seeing the subject broached, as I am rarely on the fence about the use of sexual violence for the sake of humor. In general, I find it horrific, insensitive, and bullying, but I've always conceded that the subject should not be off-limits for comic examination, so I appreciated an author asking, well, if it's allowable in comedy, what would be examples of where it is well-used.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:21 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought that Best/Worst article was interesting too, Astro Zombie. I especially liked the author's admittance at completely misunderstanding one of the jokes. Though when I watched it yesterday the ads prefacing the videos were Budweiser ads, the punchlines to which was a man exposing himself to a female coworker, which was weird and uncomfortable.
posted by Kattullus at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2010


I was sad to see that this post was deleted because I also love Harriet's blog and her essays (including the main link) are excellent and thought-provoking. Another vote for reframing and reposting.
posted by amber_dale at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2010


I vote for reframing and reposting as well. I was really glad to see that link show up on the blue, actually, I love Harriet's blog and that particular post is definitely worth discussing.
posted by palomar at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2010


And, not to thumb-up or thumb-down the idea of reposting, but this is another thing that makes the subject so... sensitive here. Some people really like to talk about rape, rape culture, rape jokes, and some people don't.

This is true for many [if not most] other topics here too but for topics that sometimes Don't Go Well, it can be hard to sometimes convey to people who like talking about these topics -- or especially who think they are Important Topics that should be talked about, I'm not saying that anyone here is saying that this time -- that they need to be handled sort of carefully because there are a lot of people here who, under the right circumstance could be drawn into a conversation but who under the wrong circumstance will not only not be drawn into a conversation but be made angry or upset by it. And some angry/upset people act out and derail and destroy threads. Not psyched about that, but it happens, and all the moderation that's likely to happen here won't change that.

And again, this is just me saying "hey it's complicated" but for many people who post on what I'd call "consciousness raising" topics [where there's a "make you think" aspect to the topic and not just another funny youtube video or flash game] I'd really like to see a sense that things that go well in New England liberal arts college seminars need to be framed totally differently to even have a chance at going well here. I get the impulse to want to have a discusison about weighty, important topics [though I dislike the sneering that goes on sometimes when people claim that MeFi is either leaning too far towards dumb fun stuff or too far towards heavy serious topics] but it's important to have a reality check that this is MetaFilter. Whether you want to shake your head and say that it's a shame that it's hard sometimes to talk about difficult topics here doesn't change the fact that it's true and we can all bandy about different ideas of how to address that [and whether some people even care] which is another thing MetaTalk is good at.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:32 AM on January 21, 2010


n-thing the love for that essay. Not sure it needs an FPP though.
posted by msalt at 4:02 PM on January 21, 2010


one day I was standing in a room with two friends, waiting for something to start and filling the time with chit-chat. a person I didn't know walked up and addressed friend 1 in a familiar fashion, then proceeded to tell a joke about having raped the person he'd stayed with the night before.

I didn't know what to do. we're not allowed to react in public. we're not allowed to ask people to not do that. we're not allowed to wonder at the sanity of a person who would think that's appropriate around strangers.

so I told him I'd had an overnight visitor, too, and it had taken me all morning to get the blood off my hands after he'd confessed to being impotent.

he didn't get it. no one laughed.

we were even.
posted by batmonkey at 11:13 PM on January 21, 2010


we're not allowed to react in public. we're not allowed to ask people to not do that. we're not allowed to wonder at the sanity of a person who would think that's appropriate around strangers.

Why not?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:42 PM on January 21, 2010


because it turns into drama instead of being a simple thing, generally. and there's no way to know when it'll be otherwise.

don't get me wrong...when I feel up to the potential tempest, I dive right in. mostly, though, it just makes my heart heavy and my soul sad.
posted by batmonkey at 12:46 AM on January 22, 2010


Yeah, it is depressing. Usually saying "Uh, rape isn't funny" suffices to make the would-be comic drop it. If they try that tired "you're just being PC" or some variation thereof, you can calmly explain why you don't find it funny. Might make him stop, might make him think he's a free speech warrior, but at least he'll hear this POV. I agree, though, that it gives me that socked-in-the-gut feeling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:31 AM on January 22, 2010


Generally speaking, a mocking tone seems to work better (or at least is perceived as humorless less often.) "I GET IT -- rape is FUNNY because the girl was asking for it. HA! That's a knee slapper."

I'm trying to figure out why -- I guess the "rape isn't funny" makes it seem as if you can't "get" the humor, while the more mocking approach makes it seem as if the joke teller can't get the humor. Or maybe because the response itself is in a form of humor (sarcasm.) Not sure.
posted by msalt at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to pretend that I don't get the joke, and get the joke-teller to attempt to explain it to me, all the while getting frownier and frownier as the explanation gets more and more offensive, until the joke teller "gets it" and feels really embarrassed.

It's fun.
posted by muddgirl at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


muddgirl: I like to pretend that I don't get the joke, and get the joke-teller to attempt to explain it to me, all the while getting frownier and frownier as the explanation gets more and more offensive, until the joke teller "gets it" and feels really embarrassed.

That's brilliant! I may have to start doing that.
posted by Kattullus at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2010


I guess the "rape isn't funny" makes it seem as if you can't "get" the humor

When I read the essay, and the writer lists off the number of possible choices there are to make in response to a rape joke, I was really thinking about how often we have to run through a similar list of choices in regards to just about any joke that touches on an identity issue - racist jokes, classist jokes, sexist jokes, rape jokes, murder jokes, what have you. Though I have not been raped, the mental listing process was still familiar from dealing with many other kids of jokes delivered as light humor but which have the effect of reinforcing social structures which are frightening or oppressive. Each time, you have to ask yourself: Am I going to respond with "that's not funny?" Am I going to respond with an edgy riposte of my own? Am I going to deliver a mini-lecture? Am I going to take it lightly and say jokingly "oh, you're terrible!"Is it cold stare or walk away time? Is it it better (or safer) if I just ignore this, or even if I appear to assent with a small grin or some other semi-neutral response?

It made me reflect on that classic trope where someone who objects to a joke is then classified as someone with 'no sense of humor,' 'too uptight,' 'being too PC,' or something similar that basically tries to fault the person for responding in some predetermined or rote fashion. But what's really happening to the person who's objected to the joke has not been an immediate leap to a stance outraged offense, as some people seem to think, but usually an internal run-through of the litany of all of these possible responses and a choice selected from among them, a choice made with a lot of care and attention to audience, the importance of the issue, the consequences of speaking up, the level of safety, the likelihood of an argument, and so on.

In other words, what people do when they hear cruel jokes is often called a "knee-jerk" response, when in fact it's the opposite of knee-jerk. It's the result of a long thought process that has sometimes been developing over years, but gets re-created every time you are faced with yet another rendition of a supposedly innocent, but offensive, joke. This essay illuminated that for me. It called to mind the all-too-familiar, stomach-tightening, face-flushing, exhausting experience of standing in that situation and thinking "Oh God. Now how am I going to respond to this. Let's see, there's Choice A, ...."
posted by Miko at 10:36 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't have said "identity" issue, should have said "sensitive issue" or something like that.
posted by Miko at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2010


I like muddgirl's approach but I bet it requires some practice and timing. Ideally, everyone EXCEPT the joker would know you're mocking them right away, and they would take a long time to get it.

Another approach: long awkward pause followed by too much laughter and comments like "wow" and "OK then" and "On that note..." Or more simply "Did somebody fart?"
posted by msalt at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2010


I'm just glad I got away with posting a link to a page full of rape jokes in that thread and no one called me out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:26 AM on January 24, 2010


Damn it, Astro Zombie.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:27 AM on January 24, 2010


thanks to google buzz, fugitivus has been set to private.

more here
posted by nadawi at 1:00 PM on February 17, 2010


Holy crap, I had a Buzz account and didn't know it.

I deleted it with extreme prejudice. Thanks to the blogger at fugitivus, otherwise I'd not have even noticed.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2010


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