Since Jackie broke her wrist, I’ve been surprised by the number of people—both acquaintances and complete strangers—who feel moved to chime in with some domestic violence humor.
Interestingly, they’re about equally divided between people who think it’s funny to imply that I beat up my wife and those who think it’s funny to imply that she injured herself hitting me.
I guess these jokes are really old. I recognize some from cartoons that were old when I was a kid, and they are no doubt much older than that. But they weren’t the jokes that I grew up with: my parents didn’t make these jokes; neither did grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, or family friends.
I guess that’s the interesting part to me. Is this a class difference? An education-level difference? An ethnic difference? Or is it more narrow and specific than that? Perhaps these jokes are passed down in families (rather than across whole communities), and this is just a matter of our own family history.
I’d be interested in comments on this one. Was domestic violence humor part of the milieu when you grew up? Do you still hear such jokes today?
(Jackie, by the way, is doing very well.)
I remember seeing such humor portrayed on I Love Lucy and perhaps other tv sit-coms. If done very carefully, they can be somewhat amusing, but we always learned that Ricky really hadn’t hurt Lucy, so it was okay.
But in general jokes about domestic violence aren’t really funny because the subject matter isn’t really funny. It’s kind of like trying to make jokes about Nazis, Hogan’s Heroes and Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner notwithstanding. They were funny.
It’s much funnier to make jokes about incompetent managers. Now, THAT’S FUNNY! Oh, and crooked or idiotic politicians. Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell alone can amuse the entire nation and provide sincere belly-laughs EVERY DAMNED DAY!!!! :-)
I think it was a sort of mid-20th century blue-collar humor meme. Think Jackie Gleason of the Honeymooners with his trademark one-of-these-days-pow-right-in-the-kisser when he was upset with his wife.
I suspect this type of thing is generational, too. I, a late Boomer, was taught by Greatest Generation parents that a gentleman never hit a woman. The only violence I was exposed to as a child was cartoon violence. Domestic violence was obviously around, but it simply wasn’t discussed or portrayed.