The other day I was having a conversation with a dear friend. We know each other from school. She was very upset when she called me. Actually she had a fight with her husband over a small matter. Her mother in law said something mean to her. She did not say anything back to her MIL but later she raised the topic in front of her husband. She only wanted someone to cheer her up and she thought who could be better than her husband? But on the contrary, he just made her feel worse.
Let me describe the whole incident. (My friend’s name is Bee)
Bee just had her dinner and was sitting with her husband in the living room changing channels of TV.
“Who wants a biscuit?” exclaimed her MIL as she entered the room.
“I am full.” said Bee
“Who is gonna give you anyway, right son?” said the MIL.
Bee felt quite annoyed with the joke (teasing?) but replied easily, “OK, as you wish. I will have it myself if I want.”
“Take it yourself? I will chop your hand and break them into pieces if you do so.” came the response from the MIL.
Bee left the hall silently as she did not find words to reply.
The whole incident happened in front of her husband but her husband said nothing to his mom.
That night she told her husband that she felt really bad when his mother talked to her in that way.
Her husband was like, “Are you crazy, can’t you take a casual joke?”
She said she never ever heard of such joke. She was not asking her husband to go to his mom and ask her to stop behaving like that. She just wanted to hear something soothing like, Yea I know you felt bad but don’t worry everything will be alright. Instead his husband said that she was dumb enough not to understand a joke.
He even said that she was intentionally trying to create tensions between him and his mom.
So she called me crying.
I tried to calm her. She asked whether she did anything wrong.
“No, you didn’t. Do not think about it right now and go to sleep. Your husband got angry because his mom is involved in this. Everything will be alright.” I said to her.
After the call was over I sat down and tried to think about the difference between a harmless joke and a harmful one with the intention to belittle the other person.
Many a times people just spew words of contempt under the guise of ‘just kidding, won’t you get that?’
It becomes very hard for the receiver of the joke to prove otherwise because ultimately the blame comes down upon the receiver for inventing hurtful meaning from some ‘benign bunch of words meant to evoke laughter.’ But the reality is they do not evoke laughter but they do hurt feelings of others.
The receiver, if tries to stop these by simply stating that they don’t like such kind of jokes, the narrator feels outraged.
“Oh God! You have such a cunning mind.” All of a sudden the blame of being presumptuous comes upon the victim and the original villain acts as the victim of injustice.
So, overall it’s a tricky situation to end this hurtful teasing game. Joking is okay, but immoral teasing is not.
It was natural for Bee to feel bad because if I were in her position I would have felt the same. The only bad thing is, her husband did not feel the same.