Thursday, May 2, 2013

Joking about Non-Consent

Read this blog post first:

I've always been very sensitive to this kind of joking. I've been known to say things like, "They don't have to do that if they don't want to!" or "Don't let them boss you around!" only to be informed that the person was joking, in a how could you not get the joke? tone. I've never liked the way people joke around about things being non-consensual. But ever since I've had a boyfriend, I started doing it myself. Every time I plan something fun to do, I'll joke that I dragged my boyfriend into it even though he thought it would be fun. I still had a problem with that kind of joking if someone else did it, but I didn't even realize that I was doing it myself until I read this blog post.

To use the example in the blog post, it's like I can finally talk about airplane food being bad because now I've been on a plane and I'm part of that club. I think that growing up with this kind of joking, I figured it was the thing to do once I had a boyfriend. It felt like this insider kind of thing that one could only do when they were in a relationship, and now I was part of that group. But it's not something I want to continue. Not at all.

A long time ago, my friend had a big high school graduation party, where people took turns getting up and saying nice things about her. One teacher explained that my friend was involved in a volunteer program over the summer and, as he put it, someone basically handed her the program and said, "Here, run this." He then went on to explain how she rose to the occasion and that made her awesome. I cringed. Did I think that she hadn't volunteered for the program? No. Did I think that the program might have been more work than she really wanted and she was pressured to not back out? Possibly.  All I know is that the way he put it really bothered me.  Because I knew that this friend had a hard time saying no. Because we once worked on a voluntary group project together for a couple of months before I found out that she had never even wanted to do it. Because if what that teacher said had been true, if someone had pushed my friend into running this program, then the fact that she did it anyway would not show how awesome she is - it would show that the person who pushed it on her was a complete jerk.

Anyway, joking about non-consent is something I want to try to stop. It just doesn't feel right.

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