TRIGGER WARNING: Relationship abuse, physical abuse, racism, violence
Ugh. UGH UGH UGH UGH.
Meep. Why does the impulse to dismiss problematic jokes/comments have to compete with my need to make people around me comfortable? Well yeah because often times the people around me are my family/family friends/family friends of my extended family and I love my extended family to death and it would kill me for example if my aunt’s friend thought that my aunt’s niece were a precocious vibe-ruiner and I brought bad vibes to my aunt’s party.
Of course that’s not what I am, I’m just a feminist college student who’s a hundred times more socially aware/sensitive than everyone at family-friend BBQs (how’s that for precocious?) who feels utterly disgusting laughing along with your stupid degrading ignorant jokes because believe it or not these kinds of expressions feed into the systems that silence and oppress people and they have a real material impact on the world!
Okay but like as disgusting as it feels I can’t help but give the person a little bit of what they want by smiling guiltily or something because of what I mentioned above about the vibes and the family and the everything. But like honestly, what this woman (a woman my aunt knows from her Greek community to whom I have no other connection) said was AWFUL. They are as follows (TW): 1. “We should just bomb the Middle East already, I’m tired of them.” and 2. “The funny thing is, Rihanna sings about how she wants these things and then she gets beat up.”
SERIOUSLY? Also she made the Rihanna comment in front of a woman who was physically abused by her husband so, I hope she didn’t hear. What I should have done was give her the death stare, or maybe even just say that I don’t find that funny. Letting people know that their jokes are not funny is one of the best ways to shut them up. “If you’re worried about everyone thinking you’re a vibe-killer and the attention whore of the family, I’m pretty sure everyone around you would have agreed that that comment was fucked up, Soph” (me reassuring myself).
The only downside to retaliating to people’s dumb jokes in this way, actually, is that you could feel awkward about it. Like, if that woman would have felt awkward if I told her I didn’t find that funny, it would have been her problem, not mine. Even though calling people out and making “everything” awkward can make you want to cry— like I’ve had to leave spaces after standing up for myself/something so I could go cry afterwards— this comment was so blatantly obviously inappropriate that I think the woman who made the comment would have been the only one to resent me for making things awkward/maybe the only person who felt awkward.
K so it may seem like I’m overthinking (a term that I hate because what’s the point of telling someone to stop thinking so much? Gah what a cop-out response!) but really I’m just fleshing out all of the insecurities and balances that need to be found related to calling people out on their shittiness at a family BBQ. WHICH IS A FREQUENT SITUATION FOR ME. And I think sometimes that I’m so over trying to get people to see the fucking light.. which I am, because I don’t believe I can change people on the spot, and I don’t believe it’s worth arguing with someone who is stuck saying the same stupid backward logic things that you’ve heard a thousand times before. But like, when someone says it’s funny that Rihanna asked to get beat up and then got beat up, TOLERATING the comment is unacceptable, because that comment has too much impact.
Yeah so, I like to write these things out so I can in a sense really justify for myself and mentally prepare myself for how I plan to handle situations like this in the future. If (WHEN, actually) this happens again, even if it’s an adult, even if it’s around my extended family, I will look the person in the eye and calmly tell them “I don’t find that funny.” And then idk, look at my phone? Keep looking at them until they look away? Wait yeah, I’m going with the latter. I actually have never tried that before, I don’t think. Which is weird. I am not afraid of eye contact usually. So I should just do that. I will.