Dark humour- Humour around subjects which are generally of pain, or discomfort. Unfortunately, a lot of us have failed to draw the line between dark and disrespect. Misogynist, assault, and harassing jokes are not comedic gold because they’re dark but outright disrespectful. This kind of humour is different from other forms of dark humour. When historical events of genocide etc. are joked about, it is comparatively less discomforting given that people do not fear such a scenario on a day to day basis, in contrast to the jokes in question.
You might feel like these jokes don’t harm anyone, but they do for various reasons, even though you may not see it. I came across this line in a paper addressing this kind of humour given that multiple contexts of its usage exist that made a lot of sense- “There is a monumental difference between laughing at the act of sexual assault—which encourages an apathetic attitude toward rape and even perpetuates sexual violence—and satirising the things that perpetuate it, such as sexism or our rape culture. In other words, we should ridicule our twisted rape culture, not rape victims.” (Source) While I could further discuss the complex nature of comedians usage of such humour, given its complexity and keeping in mind the target audience, this post will not explore that far.
It’s clear that amidst the audience that takes offence by this kind of humour, the majority are women, although a good amount of men also stand up against them, like myself. If there’s anything this distinction brings out, it’s that those who condone this behaviour, have not experienced the fear, judgement, anxiety and other negative affects of society. They have not been taught to ‘protect’ themselves subsequently lacking the ability to empathise in such a situation and not be able to see the picture from the shoes of someone who understands. Privilege.
Granted not everyone can easily understand perspectives from a view point that they haven’t experienced first-hand, but at least, taking a look at the magnitude of people that reason against this kind of humour, give it the benefit of the doubt and keep away from this humour. Trust and respect the reasoning of others even if you don’t fully understand it (especially on matters like this). When someone feels uncomfortable, the matter ends there, no one else gets to decide how they feel. It’s not like it’s the only kind of humour available out there for you to so eagerly defend.
Apart from the discomfort caused by such humour, repeatedly using it risks the sub-conscious acceptance of such behaviours in practice. For those who already fail to see the harm their toxic behaviours cause, such humour further strengthens their beliefs, even if it wasn’t the intention of the person making the joke. What could of started as innocent jokes might eventually turn into strengthening their beliefs, and lead to the jokes not remaining jokes anymore. While this isn’t something that will happen in a very short duration, or something easily visible at the surface level, given the subconscious effect and impact such humour has on those around, as discussed earlier, the possibility of such escalation cannot be refuted.
The privilege arises from existing social norms that have been created decades ago, and still persist, although eroding to some extent. The lack of teaching ones children respect for all people, regardless of their gender, for the virtue of being human further contributes to condoning such negative behaviours. Giving focus on guiding the women to stay safe, cover, and stay home instead of teaching everyone to control their thoughts, actions and respect others adds more fuel to the fire.
The humour part won’t necessarily be noted by the younger audiences (<13), the sub conscious effect will be far more intense on them, causing negative upbringing. Furthermore, the problem of many who use such humour and remain silent in opposing it to ‘fit in’ and avoid being ‘that person‘ will also be larger in younger audiences, who depict lesser confidence in their beliefs and are more likely to hop on bandwagons that will make them feel socially acceptable compared to others.
Do you really need yourself surrounded by people who will consider you a Party Pooper for correcting ethics? It is completely possible to be fun, humoured, sociable and interesting without resorting to degrading jokes, and if you need them to be fun, you have a lot of introspection to do.
We also need to understand that a person opposing such jokes simply understands with the aforementioned reasoning, and is not a feminazi. A male who opposes such jokes simply understands the reasoning, and is not a simp. Instead of using such terminology towards those you think ruin the fun (apparently), talk to them in a civilised manner inquiring what’s wrong in your humour.
If any reasoning has not been included, feel free to put it down in the comments, if you have any questions or doubts, ask way. Let’s work towards a more united and prosperous society.