It’s funny … when it’s not you














I bumped into a blog post that tickled me. It was about a restaurant making fun of vegans, and the backlash that followed. Basically, the White Moose Cafe made some sarcastic comments on its Facebook Page, the comments were re-posted by different vegans groups, and then everything went to hell.

I read the entire exchange with a smile on my face. Probably because I’m not vegan, so I could see the funny side. Except … what if I was vegan? Would I still find it funny? What if that Facebook post talked about women, or black people, or fat people? Would I still be laughing? Would anyone?

It’s an unwritten rule that it’s okay to bash *minorities by volume* but never the other way round. Hence, we have fat jokes, and black jokes, and feminist jokes, and even Irish jokes. But when the bashed hit back, it’s not taken with the same vein. No one takes meninists seriously. Reverse racism isn’t considered an actual thing.

I once made a comment about how white people can’t jump – or dance. Then I wondered how different that was from saying Africans have intrinsic rhythm. Or that black people are naturally good at sports. Or that women are softer than men. How is one set of statements bad and the other is not?

It was explained to me that ‘the privileged cannot cry foul when the minorities attack them.’ That a man – or a white person, a thin person – can’t claim discrimination because the world already favours them, so it doesn’t count. The damage, apparently, is in the power dynamic, and the power dynamic is decided by society and context. That’s why, for example, a video about a little girl forcing a little boy to marry her is hilarious. But … a video about a little boy forcing a little girl to kiss him … is not.

Is that all there is to it though? Is it really about context and the shape of society? Or is humanity just so basic that anything goes if it’s happening to someone else? In an ideal world, we could all feel each other’s pain. Then maybe we wouldn’t hurt each other as much. Unfortunately, this world is far from ideal, and we can only try to see the other person’s point of view. Then maybe this world would be far less fucked up.

♫ Same love ♫ Macklemore ft Mary Lambert ♫

♫ I ain’t too proud to beg ♫

Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power – Jada Pinkett Smith in her Oscars Facebook video.


Art is interesting, because it says different things to different people. Jada made that quote *pointing* in a speech explaining why she’s boycotting the Oscars this year. I don’t know much about showbiz and activism, but her words stuck with me. Probably because I placed them into a different context.

As a woman, I often want men to do stuff for me. Like send me a peach rose on Valentines’, or buy my favourite book, or carry something heavy for me, or simply do the dishes. Because I’m often seen as a strong, independent woman (must be the purple dreads), they don’t naturally do these things for me … unless I ask.

I always assumed this was all about me, but it’s really not. In conversations with couples, I realise that many women are bitter because they want their men to do stuff for them – and vice versa. Guys, for the most part, are pretty direct. They will ask you to iron their shirt, or cook ugali, or spend some time at home.

Women, we’re alittle different. We want you to do stuff … but we want you to WANT to do it. And this doesn’t just apply to our men. It’s equally true for our kids, our neighbours, even fellow women. I want him to WANT to do the dishes. I want my kid to WANT to help me with chores. Guys don’t much care if you’re enjoying what you’re doing or not. They’re just cool if they ask you to do it and you agree.


It gets even more complex. As much as we hate to admit, men and women are different, especially in the things we want, and the ways we communicate them. So, for example, a guy I know was puzzled at how overwhelmed I was that he came to help on moving day – without me asking.

To him, it was no big deal. He had some free time, he knew I was moving house, he figured I could use a few extra hands. He doesn’t get why it was such a big deal to me. I was similarly puzzled at his level of … gratitude … when I bought him a beer. I mean, it’s just a beer, right?

Because men and women are so different, we often don’t know what the other wants until they tell us … or until we ask. That’s the thing though. It can be pretty hard to ask for what you want. You can feel like a loser. You can resent giving up your power. Or, like me, you can say, ‘If s/he really wanted to do it, I wouldn’t have to ask.’

I agree with Jada that asking for anything, especially acknowledgement, affection, or love, lowers your dignity. But sometimes, we’re not really asking for love. We’re asking you to show it in a way we understand.


For some girls, love is fixing her car or changing her light bulbs. Not because she can’t do it herself, but to allow her to feel like a girl and admire your biceps. For some guys, love is seeing her in a traditionally feminine outfit, especially since he knows how much she hates wearing them.

Asking for something like that can (and does) hurt your pride, but getting it leaves you feeling warm, appreciated and loved. When it comes to matters of the heart, in the right context, trading pride for love can be a pretty cool thing. And they don’t even have to enjoy doing that thing for you. The fact that they’re willing to do it just to make you happy is the greatest show of love that exists.

Now … don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you should coerce a loved one into doing something they’re not comfortable with. All I’m saying is if it would make you happy, it’s okay to ask. It might feel like it, but asking for something that makes you happy doesn’t make you a loser. And no, you don’t get to punish them if they refuse.

♫ Change the record ♫ Melanie Fiona Ft B.o.B ♫

One-way love


An ugly word

That looks beautiful on the page


I’m trying to be grown up

To keep reign on my affections

Because few things hurt as much

As giving love

That cannot be returned


Except …


For giving love

That can be returned

But won’t be.