Depressingly, it probably says more about me than other people when I am happy to stand here and accept ‘the banter’ that is now thrown about in everyday conversation. Although I am riddled with my own insecurities, as all of us are, when the hilarious blokes – and I say blokes because it’s usually the guys in my life that feel the need to state their dominance by having a good poke at all my sad and saggy bits – fill their conversation with unnecessary digs and sarcastic comments, all in the name of some good old bants, I normally laugh and join in. Partly because I don’t care what they think and am confident in myself to accept their barrage of negativity as a mere joke, but mostly because I’ve learnt the hard way that, if you don’t laugh, you cry. And I’d much less rather do that.
Regular ‘bants’ that I have been subjected to are, predictably, the accusation of my promiscuity by the guys I refuse to sleep with myself, (directed in the general delivery of “I’m going home with Becky tonight as we all know she’s such a raging slag”), snide comments about my misfortune of being a woman when I omit a semi-tone of happiness from my telephone inflection, (the ol’ “Ooh you’re in a bad mood, must be that time of the month”), and a regular smattering of down-right insults about my appearance, which no sane human being would ever contemplate arousing, yet seem to be natural to those of a certain LADish disposition (this can be anything from “Cor, better get back down the gym soon” to “Going for the ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look this morning then?”)
“A joke is a very serious thing.” – Winston Churchill
Yet I stand here and take all of it. Hell, I even laugh and join in the joke. The response of a self-assured and confident young woman, or someone who, in the 20 years of her difficult teenage growing up, believed this sort of discussion is to be expected?
Regrettably I am also finding it more and more common in amongst these groups of comedy acts that they can’t take the same humour back. It’s all very well for their mob mentality to stand and berate me to the ends of the earth, but as soon as a sarky remark is thrown back in their direction, the tone changes, the mood dissolves and I’m the one in the doghouse.
Which brings me back to my original point – while I immediately get upset, apologetic and descend into a mood of shame for pushing the joke too far, assured that their lack of self confidence means I’m bluntly mocking their inhibitions rather than engaging in humourous banter, perhaps it’s more a discussion into me and my responses that need to be questioned here.
“In my deepest parts of sadness, I’m always making a joke or being sarcastic.” – Lea Thompson
It’s not their fault for getting upset – it’s my fault from stopping myself getting upset. Rather than defending myself against the array of humour sent my way over the years, I’ve accepted it. I’ve allowed myself to be around people that think it’s okay, that think it’s funny, that are happy to upset their fellow friends all in the name of lad culture, from the teenage guys that I know from school, up to 30 year old colleagues who can merely offer a quick insult as their only form of wit.
So I’ll say this now – if I ever say anything to genuinely offend you, I am deeply and truly sorry. I will never say anything with the intention of hurting anyone and, more often than not, am just trying to appear cool by keeping up with your lingo.
But if you’re gonna go all in with a quick snipe in the form of some hilarious banter, you’d better be prepared for me to raise the stakes and bet it straight back at you.