WTF With Not Getting The Rules

I’m sure my friend is about to write about this. But I’m writing about it too.

I freely acknowledge that women do this too (particularly privileged ones), but it’s mostly the people in a dominant position, so it’s mostly men, and mostly white men at that.

The minor, tiny, restriction of being a white man in today’s world is that you’re going to get called out if you publicly - or professionally - say something untoward about someone based on their membership in a group of which you are not a member. Women, LGBT folks, minorities, etc. 

We get oppression, you get less license to make unkind jokes or comments. Oh how even.

But a lot of folks can’t accept this. So when someone from these groups pokes fun back at them, they get O-FEN-DED. Witness Senor Gingrich getting all up in arms after Robert DeNiro joked about the country not being ready for a white first lady.

See, that was funny. But whether or not it’s funny, it’s DeNiro making fun of his OWN GROUP (white people, and specifically white men, really). The joke wasn’t about the women. When people said the country wasn’t ready for a black president, it wasn’t about Obama really so much as it was about the country (read: white people).

But Newt is Newt so, well, he acted Newtly.

Let me lay down the ground rules for you.

By the way, the ground rules do not guarantee that you will be funny or insightful. But they will stop you from being an ass.

1. You can always make fun of your own group.

Define said group how you like, but make sure it’s widely accepted that you’re a part of it. I’m part native american but I don’t know enough about that part of me to go around making “Indian” jokes or something.

But black folks? Yeah. I can talk about that.

2. Do not rag on the people beneath you on the social ladder and expect not to be an ass.

This does not mean you can’t TALK about them. If you’re being honest and forthright you can talk about anything without anger.

But if you’re on high and pissing on the people below you - if you’re a man, women; if you’re white, minorities; if you’re hetero, LGBT folks; if you’re judeochristian (in this country), other religions (or the nonreligious); etc - you’re being an ass. And if you want to be an ass, then, that’s fine. Just own up to it. Honestly, if you admit you’re being a jerk then, while it doesn’t absolve you of anything, at least it removes the pretense of propriety.

And yeah, this locks straight white men (with money) up into a box. Oh poo. Do what the truly clever comedians do and make fun of yourself. Or the country overall. You have to work harder to be funny and not a jerk. Like the rest of us have to work harder to make a living.

3. You can definitely rag on the people above you.

That’s your comedy gold mine. Do it. And even though you might make a few sympathetic men like me a bit sad for being lumped in with assholes, we’ll understand that it’s the assholes doing this, not you.

All this is to say: it’s a lot easier not to see your commentary as nasty if you’re not pushing a lower group down.

And leave out the slurs. You can make a really insightful point without resorting to lazy name-calling.

I happen to think a truly creative insult - one that calls up personal information and actually makes someone pause - is a lot better than calling a woman a “slut” or some stupid shit.

Or, you could not insult people. But, that’s advice I have yet to take. Heh. So here are my rules.

(Edited to add: and yeah, for those of you who know me, one of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever met was a woman who was big on “aw man I gonna offend all the peoples,” so this isn’t just a thing that men do, I know.)


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality