Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Theology of the Bawdy Poll

Most Recent Update: Be careful to note that one of the choices is that women should NOT tell bawdy jokes in public at ALL. At the moment this is the most popular choice for both male and female readers, so I just want to make sure you all know what you're voting.

The choices are

*you're ok with women telling bawdy jokes in mixed company
*you're ok with women telling bawdy jokes just to men
*you're ok with women telling bawdy jokes just to women
*your're NOT ok with women telling bawdy jokes in public

I won't tell you what I prefer until the voting is done.

Not everyone can immediately see the poll in the right margin, so this is just to alert margin-challenged readers that there is a poll about women and bawdy humour. So far most of the respondents are women--not surprising, for most Seraphic Singles readers are women!

One lesson learned on the playground is that the great arbiters of female behaviour are not men but other women. This is a painful lesson, as in the playground many girls are power-crazed barbarians. Say once that you'd rather read your book in a corner than join in their skipping games at your peril.

That said, women have a comfort level, and since women have a friendship of economy based on emotional demands and favours, we develop a sense of what kind of women we want for friends or even just around. (This is particularly true in married women, who are beset with emotional demands from husband and any children.) In adult life, therefore, there are tentative invitations and careful pondering. Happily, there are also joyful surprises when you realize that someone you didn't know very well is actually not just friend-worthy, but a friend, a friend like your best girlfriends "back home."

Now, some women are horrified by any trace of female hive-mindedness, and say they could not give a damn what other women think. It is easier just to hang out with men. This may be, but in order to hang out with men, you have to give a damn about what men think, and it is not very easy to find that out. Men are often reluctant to tell women what they think, often because they have learned it is so foreign to the female point of view that upon hearing it women make a fuss, and most men hate it when women make a fuss.

Woman: What a terrible day at the office. I hate working with women.

Man: Wow, you're hot.

Woman: What?

Man: The guy next to me in the lab, all he can talk about is picking up women on Cuban beaches on his vacations. He talks about it from 9 to freakin' 5. And even though I know I should despise him, I envy him. I want to pick up women on Cuban beaches. Being able to pick up women on Cuban beaches would make me look more of a man to myself and other men. However, I couldn't do that. It's easier to sit here with you, and when other men look at you, I can feel good.

Woman: But... But we're just friends.

Man: They don't know that. Meanwhile, as you are clearly an attractive woman, I consider you a friend with benefits, so to speak. Besides, I can tell you how I feel about art and stuff without being afraid you'll think I'm gay and reject me.

Woman: What? What the heck's gotten into you?

Man: We tested truth serum today.

This post has completely run away with me. Of course, not all men are like that, for if you stuck truth serum into another kind of man, he would say something like:

Man: It's all a matriarchal conspiracy to keep men down. I've seen this so many times. You give a woman an inch and she takes a mile. All my pals at work... One by one a woman got her hooks into him. But that never happened to me, thank God. And it will never happen to--. Who's that bastard talking to Mary Angelica? She's only 20 and as innocent as a lamb in May. That's disgusting--he must be 45. Who does he think he is? I think I'll go over there and sort him out.

Anyway, the whole point of the poll is to see whether readers think it is okay for women to tell bawdy jokes to mixed company, just to men, just to women, or at all.

Update (Not Safe for Sensitive!): Examples of bawdy humour include:
"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" (Mae West)
"One more drink and I'll be under the host." (Dorothy Parker)
"You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." (Dorothy Parker)
"Men should be like Kleenex--soft, strong and disposable." (Cher)
"I was into animal husbandry--until they caught me at it." (Tom Lehrer)

B.A. just came up with a really funny one, and then told me I couldn't post it. I can think of several worse--including well-timed deadpan declarations of "That's what she said" and "That's not what I hear"--but they might get me into trouble.


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I'm one of the women who voted against women using bawdy humor in public. But I would make a distinction between bawdy humor and earthy humor. I think that earthy humor (among women only) is okay.

Seraphic Spouse said...

At some point we will all have to have a conversation about what the difference between bawdy and earthy humour is. In this context, I meant risque jokes, as in, "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"


Julie said...

I voted honestly - I'm ok with it. I know this because I work around some very dirty minded and mouthed people and it doesn't upset me in practice, although I am not proud of that.

Notburga said...

The Updates - I'm shocked.

Seraphic said...

Sorry! Sorry! But I thought I had to give examples of what I meant by bawdy humour. Waah!

Nekeisha said...

Most of those go over my head, it once took me 2 years to figure out a joke and I was a little embarrassed to ask what it meant, especially since my younger sister got it (unless she was pretending like me).

If it is an all female, close friend group, maybe. My close friends won't tell any really out there stuff. I would feel a little uncomfortable with mixed company.

Alyssa said...

Thank you for the examples! I riskily voted that I'm okay with bawdy humour in public and hoped we were thinking along the same lines. I think we are.

With that said, I don't mean any and every public place, but in the right context, even in mixed company, I think it's ookay.

Prudish said...

I don't really have a problem with the examples you give in the update, though I doubt I'd use them myself unless I was with very close women friends. But sometimes "humor" can share waaaaaaaay too much personal information, and much of that I can do without. Keep that between you & your husband, honey, or talk to some other married lady who can give you some advice.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Alyssa, the vote mentioning public is a total nix on women telling votes in public.

You have a choice of:

yes to telling joke in mixed company
yes to telling joke only to men
yes to telling joke only to women
NO to telling joke in public at all.

some guy on the street said...

It's possible Cher has priority on that line, but I heard it by Madelein Kahn in Clue. She seriously did not look like herself in that film... straight black hair, for instance; not very tall, though... did I like the movie?

Well, there are things we tolerate in fiction because fiction also embodies the harsh justice of ridicule. And my final answer, I believe Madeline Kahn said it best when she said "I believe Marcel Marceau said it best."

aussie girl in australia said...

I guess it depends on the joke. There is simply a little dirty and then there is down right hair-raising! There are some words I will never say no matter who is or isn't listening. Some jokes I would only repeat to my closest friends or sisters.

I voted that I don't mind women telling bawdy jokes in mixed company and I don't. That doesn't mean that I will tell such jokes but I'm not offended by other women doing it. I don't, however, like men who swear or tell filthy jokes in front of women. I feel quite offended by that. I guess I have a double standard. Oh well.

healthily sanguine said...

Auntie Seraphic, on an obliquely related note, watch this interview with actress Kirsten Dunst's reaction in the shot: I think this is a hugely instructive clip on how to behave when someone is telling an off-color joke or saying something you find offensive--NO smile, uncomfortable body language, loss of attention, the whole nine yards. Every lady should know how to do this--and shouldn't feel she has to chuckle at something that shocks her sensibilities! And I wish I had that goldenrod dress she's wearing . . .

Sheila said...

I tell slightly edgy jokes around my close friends (male or female), but not really dirty jokes, or edgy jokes to people I don't know well. I like that's-what-she-said's and double entendres. But I do it because our group of friends does it and accepts it. If I was with people I wasn't sure about, I'd keep it clean until I knew the level of the group.

I've changed a lot over the years, though. When I first came to college, I left a guy on the dance floor because he made a (really very tame) joke about lesbians. Now, I get into contests for the cleverest "that's what she said." It doesn't seem really dirty to me, though, because we're all just teasing and we'd never get specific enough for it to be a temptation to sin for anyone.