Why do some married women find it acceptable to poke fun at their husbands in public?
I noticed that several married women I know on Facebook posted this joke on their timelines in recent days:
Woman’s Ass Size Study
There is a new study about women and how they feel about their asses. The results are very interesting.
10% of women think their ass is too skinny
30% of women think their ass is too fat
60% say they don’t care. They love him. He is a good man and they wouldn’t trade him for the world.
At the time I started working on this post, about 6:30 PM CDT on April 9th, the joke had been shared 13,610 times and liked 6,053 times, by both men and women. I didn’t count the ratio, but in my timeline, the posts came exclusively from women.
Only a few hours later, another joke popped up, again from a married woman, this time in the form of one of these “your-e-cards”
Men are like fine wine. They begin as grapes and it’s up to the women to stomp the shit of them (sic) until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.
I started browsing through the Facebook pages to look for things I might have missed. I kept finding jokes. Here’s another one, again in one of these “your-e-cards”:
Dear Children: I only take credit for the first nine months. After that you were exposed to your father.
I suppose if I searched all night, I might find more. But I’m done searching. I’m suddenly provoked.
My wife would never post anything like this. She understands I’d feel irritated even if I did get the joke. And my irritation matters to her. Part of the reason I love her is because she wouldn’t expect me “to get it”, and she doesn’t find this kind of humor tasteful. I know women who’d critique my response to the joke, make fun of me for whining, for being a wimp and suggest I grow thicker skin. I’m not married to them.
I became mindful, however, of my response to the jokes. As soon as I had seen the first one, and it happened automatically, a quiet little voice in the center of my consciousness whispered, “Don’t be offended. Be a man. It’s just a joke.” But then I sensed that I was actually offended, if mildly. My next response really bothered me. I wondered, “Do I have the right to feel offense? What would these women say if I told them I don’t like this stuff?” Of course, this is probably a rhetorical question. Isn’t the action of posting this stuff already a dismissal of male emotions?
I don’t personally know all of the husbands of the women who posted these jokes on Facebook. Perhaps they sincerely do not mind this humor; maybe some of them even celebrate it. I can’t pretend to know exactly what kind of partners they are, but these men are educated professionals who live healthy lifestyles. They play a role as fathers and homemakers, at least on some level, and they contribute positively to their communities through their work and just by being decent neighbors. Their hobbies include things like cooking, gardening and various outdoor activities: fishing, boating, etc. I know one of them has a rather serious video game addiction. However, there are certainly worse asses in the world.
One thing all (and I mean every single one) of the married men I know on Facebook have in common is this: none has ever posted anything even vaguely similar to these joke as commentary on married life or courtship, at least not a bit that ended up in my News Feed. If anything, when they joke, they poke fun at their own incompetence. If I were to play a game to think of an analogous joke about a survey of men—something I have no interest in doing—perhaps, if it were clever enough, I would tell it in the lunchroom or some bar. Even if some of the men laughed at the joke, I can’t imagine any of them ever posting it in public. I haven’t interviewed them, but I should believe that, similarly with my wife, they wouldn’t expect their wives to have to get it. Why should someone’s spouse have to accept being called a name in order to give a partner a little chuckle during the work day?
Am I dismissing all the tasteless humor pointed at women over the centuries? Hardly. I’m not about to list blonde jokes just for the sake of a balancing act. But can I imagine one of my male friends, many of whom are married to natural (I know a lot of Lithuanian women) blondes (these include a psychiatrist, a sports journalist, a molecular biologist, a load of classical musicians…you get the point) posting blonde jokes on Facebook? I can certainly imagine their wives’ responses if they did. I actually doubt any of my friends would laugh very hard at any blonde joke. These are, after all, the husbands of very well educated women.
The vast majority of these women wouldn’t post this sort of humor. Yet some don’t seem to think twice. And married friends of theirs, also educated, chime in to laugh out loud. Perusing their pages, you find a pattern of it, and 13,619 shares seems a bit much.
I’m on record here at The Good Men Project and on my personal blog, Liquid Ink, asking men to lose their reluctance and share stories about their married lives. One of the responses I get is that men would rather not because they feel their emotions will be dismissed. Of course, it begs a question: where did they get the idea? For some men, it starts on the wedding day when their role is reduced, as I’ve written before, to that of a supporting actor. And now I wonder if it progresses through the years when they find themselves the butt of so many jokes.
Photo by Jon Grant.