Sunio: Humor to ridicule

WHAT things would make you laugh? Is ridiculing funny?

Humor is a great spice in everyday conversations. A great laugh is really delightful. My college instructor once said humor is sexy, even.

Some witticisms could have been great entertainment, had it not crossed the line to become ridicule.

Every day, I hear several jokes and punch line that use the following materials for laughs: gender preferences, mental illness, disorders, weaknesses, obesity, body sizes, appearances, depression, impotence, femaleness, religion, and political beliefs, among others.

By merely talking about this in a humorous way, we subtly influence people, even children, to think callously about such matters, especially if it is about people.

Kids in a rural area where I stayed before would jeer bayot (gay)to one another. They usually taunt this whenever a boy lost in a game, or would back out from a fist fight or a game of dare. They think the boy didn’t "man up." Even parents would participate in the name calling, thinking it is a harmless joke to get a good laugh at.

When kids get called as such after noticing that they’ve done an action that does not get anyone’s approval, they then associate the label as something that would also earn them condemnation. They’d now perceive the gender as something bad, or something that will shame them. Later, the label will be perceived as something shameful.

Sooner or later, the kid and the community’s wish to not be called with such label will morph to something that will scorn those who they think is ‘not manly’. It will then bear further contempt to all those who choose to become gays and lesbians. Ang mga bayot ug tomboy (The gays and the lesbians) will then be an object of ridicule and scorn.

The cycle then goes on and the culture of hating gays and lesbians will viciously continue.

As much as it is humorous, joking about gender preferences in the neighborhood and the television – even by gays themselves – is damaging. I am guilty of this too because I still laugh at these jokes, though. Jokes like these are not very helpful, especially that there is still a strong stigma about gay and lesbian gender preferences in the country. Respect and tolerance is yet to be achieved.

There’s also the primitive jokes (pardon my terms) about mental illnesses and disorders. It really leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to make fun of those who have been bearing such trials, just because the mockers themselves were fortunate enough. This is all the more difficult to families who are not just putting up with them, but is trying their best to take care of the patients.

Depression is also not something that people have because of choices. It is a mental illness and not something that can be cured by a simple laugh – not even by getting laughed at because of it. Responses that people with depression often received is bullying. It further causes the victim to shut himself or herself from the world, do self-infliction, or at worst, suicide.

No, it’s not because he does not have the balls. He is depressed. And most do not understand it. Instead, they make fun of it.

Because of the fear that patients have to be laughed at, more people refuse to seek help.

Pimples, waistlines, and weights and generally, being judged by their physical appearance is also a source of struggle for women, as I said in my previous column, Beauty and Fear. While being a woman is hard because of the remaining discriminations associated with their sex, as if being pressured to fix their faces isn’t heavy a burden enough.

Being called ‘pizza face’ because of the cystic pimples a girl has been battling with due to her hormonal problems scars not only her face but her ego, her self-esteem. She is forced to become like all other girls rather than become her own unique self. He is even ridiculed for not being able to go with the flow.

There’s even the simple jokes that goes "You’re like a girl" or "You punch like a woman," which are highly sexist. So what did you mean about women and the way a man acts, anyway? That women are soft? That they are easy to cry? Or that they are physically and emotionally weak?

Sigh. Can we talk and laugh about something else? We have yet to chance the popular structure of jokes here in the country to one which is sensitive and still preserves respect.

We have to stop the culture of verbal oppressions that stems from simple day-to-day conversations.

For now, this is what is funny to the majority who do not understand: Something that does not like look, think, and act like them is hilarious, weird, inferior – and unlikeable. Their responses vary from ridicules to bullying, harassment, or ostracism.

What for? To bolster their own ego, identity, and self-worth.

And that is not funny.
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