Hopefully everyone who has encountered me on this forum has realised that the vast majority of things that I say are intended to be humourous (not necessarily funny, but calling on some, mostly low-level, forms of humour.) Anyhow, I just found out that someone on my course was recently offended (like, proper offended) by some off-the-shelf automatic joke that I made (y'know the ones that just pop up for an easy joke?) which I don't remember making because I make them all the time. Now, I'm not the sort of person to apologise for being myself, but I do think some form of apology about me being me is in order. How do you guys think I should handle it? I do kinda get the sense that, had no-one warned me that this was the case, I would have just belittled and dismissed her being offended......because.....well, I've never been offended in my life.
Argh! Damn people with feelings and sensitivities!(snowman)
I think you need to find out exactly what this person was offended about - is there any chance you could have offended her on racist/sexist/religious grounds, even without meaning to? If so, you need to know what it is you said, so you don't make the same kinds of joke again. If your comment was really innocuous and the person is being over-sensitive, then you probably should still apologise for unwittingly offending her, not for the comment itself.
My own opinion is that, with the exception of a couple of really, hugely obvious things, which I think virtually everyone would see as plain wrong, being offended is a choice, unconsciously made or otherwise. Whether someone decides to be offended by something or not is generally up to them, and just because someone is offended, it doesn't mean you should necessarily apologise for what you said. Perhaps you could express regret that what you said has offended them, but, unless what you said falls into the "obviously wrong" category, then I don't really see why you should apologise for saying it. Of course, it's hard to say more without knowing what you actually said, but that's my opinion.
I agree with the two previous comments. But I think I'd also add that it's worth weighing up the effects of bad feeling from this person - even if you think you haven't really said anything that bad and they're being over-sensitive, if it could cause problems for your research group or for how you mix with other students in your department, it might be worth just being the bigger person and expressing the regret about offending them (buit not necessarily actually apologising for the joke) just to clear the air. I know my department has so many people from so many different cultures in it that it's really easy for seemingly very minor things to get misunderstood and blown out of proportion.
======= Date Modified 24 Jun 2010 12:09:48 =======
I would like to add just this
'If you feel an insult Laugh at it', 'If you can't then ignore it' 'if you can't even do that then you probably deserve it'
The subject above seems to be a respected member of the 3rd category. It takes guts to laugh at your own mistakes and you cannot ignore something which overwhelms your conscious all the times.. But, I will never use this as a test.
A person who thinks has touched the perfection would not tolerate such jokes or a severely self centered normal human being.. For people who have any kind of abnormality are the ones we should be careful about not to insult as this jeopardizes their confidence..
Thanks for the replies guys!
The actual joke was some off-the-cuff dry-as-sawdust remark, like:
Me: I've got some pubs lined up
Her: What about clubs?
Me: Nah, only slags go to clubs
Her: I go to clubs!
Me: Explains a lot
It wasn't a targetted thing, it wasn't a trick, it was just one of those jokes that pop up. I probably shouldn't have said only slags go to clubs - true - but the group of people we were with weren't club people, so it was easier just to dismiss clubs. In retrospect, she did actually go off in a bit of a huff after that, but it wasn't obviously related at the time.
Anyhow, acting like the true man I am, I haven't dealt with it today and have put it aside to fester....which, it turns out, it had already been doing for a week or two before I even found out.
I'd like to think that was just cheeky humour; it was very blunt though, as in wham! You didn't mean any malice but obviously she didn't see it that way. Something I've learnt is that some people gel and some people, erm, don't. She's obviously not the last person you'd want to be on a desert island with - and I'm sure the feelings are mutual. So, apologise when you get the opportunity and take things from there.
Larrydavid, I hope I'm not witnessing a transferance of guilt, or something, here. Your powers of making sweeping generalisations and 'creative' writing are considerable, but I find your comment to the OP every bit as insulting as the level of offence you have taken from the joke. It was a joke, an ill timed and badly received joke, but no harm was meant. Lets not make things personal. :-)
======= Date Modified 25 Jun 2010 10:12:06 =======
EEErrrmm Slizor, I'll offer my perspective here, as a woman. If someone I worked with said that to me I wouldn't be offended, but I would think they were an idiot, and would be avoiding trips to the pub etc with them at any rate, life is too short, and there is lots of good telly to be consumed. You, however, are not an idiot, as we have all witnessed over the time you've been posting here, so perhaps it would be better if you advertised your non-idiotness more effectively.
The term 'slag' is often used in a genuinely bullying way, and is a way of making women feel dirty and wrong for having a sexuality. Some women have been genuinely traumatised in the school yard, or by abusive partners (I know a woman whose partner accused her of being a 'slag' and also beat her regularly, and randomly, but with he excuse that she wore a short skirt, stayed out 'too late' etc, etc). So, what to you may seem an off the cuff comment or joke, could easily tap into some trauma experienced by a woman (or a man if his mother was treated this way), and it's just not worth taking the risk. I think there are certain words in our language that should only be directed, even generically, with extreme care, and in extreme circumstances, if ever, and 'slag' is one of them, I won't mention the others because this forum is a nice place and I don't believe in spreading it around. Nasty things happen to people, that is a fact of life, and 'slag' is part of the amoury of nastiness, and even if you didn't intend your comment that way, by the law of averages it is likely to be responded to as a verbal hand grenade at some point if you use it.
It's wonderful for you that you have never been offended, but some people are not lucky enough to be so free from wounds and scars, so it pays to take care even if you cannot empathise completely.
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