Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sense of Reality / Sense of Humor

Went to see Michael Card in concert last night - man, it was good. Deep, artful music, played by a guy who seems humble, thoughtful, and authentic. Although it was a Christmas concert, the performance and commentary really seemed to emphasize that hey, life is tough; as human beings we often feel trapped, alone, or misunderstood. In coming to us as he did, Christ entered that world – his birth announced to people on the fringes of society – his body wrapped in rags – his purpose and message, as he grew, often misunderstood – his grace, so often rejected. Michael Card has written a couple books about lamenting, and now he's working on one about slavery. Not exactly 'positive and encouraging' stuff that so often comes out of the Christian subculture...

Anyway, I particularly appreciated the Michael Card concert because the two Christmas-oriented events I'd been part of the day before left something to be desired. One was intensely religious and just downright weird; the other was – well...

I'm part of a group I'm struggling with. The individuals in the group are not bad one-on-one, but you know how every group has sort of a culture of its own? And with this group, I really don't like how the culture is developed. There's lots of joking around. That ought to be a good thing; humor can be a powerful tool to bring people together. And maybe that's what some people feel is happening. But to me it seems just the opposite. It seems like junior high – a bunch of insecure people posturing for one another.

The jokes are almost all a bit gross, cruel, demeaning, or, mostly, downright stupid. I don't think my instincts are off on this - that really everything is OK and I need to just accept it. But on the other hand, if a big part of what is bugging me is sense of humor – that’s a highly subjective thing, isn't it? We talk about people who have a ‘great sense of humor’ as opposed to ‘no sense of humor’ but is it fair to say some people may have ‘a bad sense of humor’?

Do the trends I’m fighting have anything to with the fact that the group’s dominant personalities are all men? They seem to hide behind that ("We can take cheap shots at each other and tell gross-out stories because we're men and that's the way we are.") I find gender stereotypes really annoying and don’t like people to put gender-related expectations on me (for example, I don’t like to have people make a big deal about noticing and mentioning how I look, or expect me to like shopping or organizing things). I want to be treated like a person, not just a woman. So, I don't want to say, this isn't a problem because boys will be boys.

On the other hand in many cases the stereotypes can be tools to help us understand and appreciate one another – just because they aren’t one-size-fits-all doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. So I don’t want to dismiss them all together.

Meanwhile, I’m longing for wholesome and intelligent conversation, and for whatever reason, it’s often not to be found in this context. And unfortunately it's not a group I can extract myself from, not without great cost. So, it's hard to socialize with them.

Sigh. It's possible that if I am faithful to love the people in the group, over time it will become more the kind of group I want to be part of. But I'll admit I have a hard time being committed to loving the group, and if I can't do that, I don't think I can be part of the solution.

7 comments:

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

I'm curious what the Christmas event was you went to.
Guy humor is different from girl humor. I don't know if accepting that is part of the deal. I don't know how much of comparing where you were before to where you know is effecting your circumstances either.

Marti said...

Yeah, I know there are various genres of humor... and that there are some things men find funny that women just don't, though generally women will laugh anyway. Often men won't laugh at a woman's jokes, I've found. Though I was told in college I was good at making both men and women laugh and that I should use that, so I have. I think there's some aspect of being considerate, involved here. I wish these guys who are annoying me would think about their audience before they speak - would contextualize to the fact that it's a mixed group. Do they realize that I, for one, feel soiled and degraded by being around them? Maybe they don't. Maybe they do and aren't willing to change.

Paul Merrill said...

I'm never a fan of bad humor - or any humor that degrades another.

Dunno why God puts us in hard situations. Growth, yes - we all know that - but does it always have to be that way?!

Megan Noel said...

i have been working at the boathouse lately. if you have these issues, try never to spend time around constuction workers!

i guess i am "lucky" -- my social group has some of that, but way more jokes about LOLcats, microsoft, and eating kittens. really highbrow stuff!!

dad said...

Tell us about the picture at the top of the page, Marti. And is that you in the middle?

Marti said...

Ha - no, I am not one of the dancing girls. The picture was taken about a dozen years ago, in Azerbaijan, by friends of mine. I think it evokes joy and unity...

Marti said...

... or at least a sense of 'we're all in this together.'