A Sense of Humor

I’m a little exhausted. Not in general, although the kids are off their routine this week and in need of extra love…which is FINE. Just…Mommy’s an introvert, guys. Please give me a little space every two or three hours or so.

Anyway. As a feminist, I’m exhausted by the Oscars. As a feminist, someone who is opposed to racism, a mother, and a human being in general I’m exhausted by The Onion. I’m exhausted by arguments I’ve had over using racial slang and being told that I’m too easily offended. I’m exhausted by people who still use the word “retarded.”

And you know what I’m MOST exhausted by? People who hide behind “I just don’t see why we have to be so politically correct. Just get a sense of humor.”

Hi. Welcome to Entitlement ‘n Privilege Village. Population: you.

You know what I hear when I hear that? I hear “I know this language is offensive. I know I’m demeaning a certain section of the popluation. But because I’m part of the majority group not being offended, with the privilege that goes with it, I know I’m not going to have to change how I think or act. So the rest of you can get over it.”

Let’s be honest: most people who are part of a majority are not used to being told “You can’t.” It makes us uncomfortable; it happens so rarely. We can go where we like, say what we like, without people casting aspersions on our intentions or our character because we look/act/ARE the accepted majority. When someone says “You can’t say that” they want to know why.

Because you can’t. That’s all. Because you can’t.

Do you need more of an explanation of why all that sexist nonsense at the Oscars isn’t right to say? “He has the right to say it.” Sure. And we have the right to hate it. Think that The Onion tweet was “just satire” and people need to “get a sense of humor, gosh”? That’s your right, just as it’s my right to say you are using your privilege to ignore the fact that the tweet could be written because our culture is pretty used to treating minorities like crap without any penalties at all. (See also: thinking that there’s more than one side to the Trayvon Martin case and that people “Need to get over it.” Here’s your train ticket back to your village, marked “CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE.”) Think it’s not a big deal to say “That’s retarded”? Great. Cool. I think it’s not a big deal to call you an ignorant ass.

But maybe I just need a nap. Or a sense of humor.

4 thoughts on “A Sense of Humor

  1. Those same people would be howling their heads off if they found themselves in a situation where they were the minority. Let’s see how they would cope with a little bit of reverse racism and discrimination thrown at them. It’s the uncaring, self centered, selfish attitude that wears me out. Think I’ll go take a nap too.

  2. You know what? Many times I am in the minority and I am the first one to join in the jokes. I AM a pig headed or slow Polak. I AM a nerd. A geek. A dork. A stubborn ass.
    Kids used to use those words to make fun of me but it was because I chose to give those words power. But now I choose to laugh along with them and make fun of myself. Because there is NOTHING in this world that can’t be laughed at. Especially ourselves. Words are just words. The only power they have is that which we imbue them with. Life is not supposed to be so serious. Laugh at our shortcomings and the negative connotations lose their power.
    Life is a huge roast. You can choose to continue to be upset by what is said, be indignant ( or maybe we should say self-righteous ) and scream ‘How could they say that about those poor people’. Or, maybe, just maybe you can look at things differently and realize that true equality means that we laugh at EVERYONE equally, ourselves included. By choosing not to make fun of something, or someone you are saying they are different and need to be protected. And who is discrimating then?

    • So by not fighting back against the two minority/oppressed groups with which I have experience–institutionalized sexism and ableism–outwardly I’m discriminating? That is absurd. We are different. That’s a GOOD thing. We should not all be the same. I don’t buy into “being colorblind” or “Oh, sex/gender are just constructs.” That’s lazy. That’s saying “I choose to ignore the fact that seeing the nuance takes a lot of work and nobody is going to make me, so I won’t.” Proving that I’m above it all by being cool with and laughing at marginalization changes nothing–and things DO NEED to be changed.

      Also, being Polish still means you’re white in America. That’s still a privileged, advantaged position. Being “a nerd” does not open you up to the discrimination that someone with, say, severe autism experiences. I don’t doubt you experienced pain because of these things and for that I am sorry. However, I sincerely doubt that it’s affected your ability to earn an equitable wage, made you a constant object of reductionism in media, or had people say that because you were a nerd you shouldn’t have the right to reproduce.

      And you know what? I DO need protection. So do all women against institutionalized sexism. And I choose to protect MYSELF, by saying “This is not right; we need to change the system.” As far as ableism is concerned, my daughter is officially diagnosed with a disability, which I will be discussing further here later. She is far more likely than her sister to experience public shaming, bullying, violence, and discrimination in the workplace (if she even gets hired) because of her disability. Do you really think I should laugh that off? I don’t. And I never will.

      It all starts with saying “You just need to get over it. You just need to laugh it off.” No. I don’t. YOU should start wondering why you aren’t angrier.

  3. Naps are always a good thing as far as I’m concerned, so enjoy them while you can. As to your sense of humor, it seems fine to me, but I’m probably not the best judge. When I’m serious people think I’m joking, when I’m joking, well you no doubt no the rest.

    Wish we’d all (as a race) started having these kinds of conversations thousands of years ago. I might not have had to have grown up thinking my name was retard. Or that I was retarded, alien, freakishly broken. My Mum loved me, my dad not so much, or at all. I like the visual of a train ticket back to the Village of Privileged being checked, because it’s an apt metaphor. One I’ve been on the wrong side of my whole life. But hey, we’re working on it right and making progress right? Your daughter is going to have a very different life than mine. One where she’s loved, heard and understood, and this fills my hear with joy.

    I agree with you post, and your replies to comments. I have to try and have this conversation with someone soon who is otherwise awesome and on the bright side of life. Someone aware, a feminist, and a self described rabid liberal. Except of course she’s apparently blind to her privileged status. I’m disabled, more than just because I’m on the spectrum, and much to my dismay I have to have basically this conversation with a friend. It just boggles the mind. But people often do that to me, boggle my mind.

    Thanks for being a voice in the darkness, one with clarity of thought, understanding, and a vision of a better world. Because sometimes I want to wear a sign that says I’m autistic, NOT stupid. But then I don’t know if that’s the right word either. It dawned on me recently to study a work that’s been part of my life for far too long. Retard.

    The top two definitions in the dictionary were just as I seemed to remember. Mind when I was in second grade and couldn’t read or write at all, Autism didn’t exist. But looking back through time with the lens of understanding and awareness on my Canon DSLR it struck me. In that place and time, yes, factually I was retarded. What I understand now to be horrifically delayed because apparently I should have had a really good start on the by the end of Kindergarten. It was a road to here I’d not wish on anyone, and the wheels were constantly near to the cliff because of the very abled thinking and behavior covered above. Thank you for your blog, and thank you for your clarity and compassion. You rock!

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