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Teasing/Joking vs Bullying

November 11, 2019

This is a subject that is very near and dear to me. Throughout the writing of a presentation I was reminded how often in my life I have had cruel and hurtful things said to me under the guise of teasing or joking. You know how that goes, a person says something mean to you and then follows it by “just joking, just teasing, just kidding”.  Somehow, it’s STILL all on me, because I am taking it wrong.

This is one thing we need to get rid out of in our life experience. The reason I say that is because BULLYING is unacceptable. There are huge campaigns to try and remove that behaviour from everywhere possible. However, here is a problem, I don’t think most people realize that these kinds of statements, followed up by … JUST KIDDING, JUST JOKING, or JUST TEASING, is bullying. It is just done from a more subtle place, but it has the same impact.

Some things that have been said to me over the years, followed up by those tag lines, are;  

“Oh … you are such a princess” … you know I’m only kidding.

“Oh my god you talk a lot” … I’m just kidding.

“You’re not really going to wear that are you?”… I’m only teasing you look fine.

All of these above phrases have been said to me, and they are all hurtful. Not helpful, and not amusing. They were intended (subtly or not) as judgement and as control (passive/aggressive perhaps?) and to make me feel “less than”. 

The definition of bullying according to the dictionary is: seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable). 

The definition of teasing is: to disturb, or annoy by persistent irritating or provoking especially in a petty or mischievous way. 

As you compare them, they are in the same vein.

So, how about this as a call to action. Let’s treat each other the way we would like to be treated. Let’s not tolerate those backhanded comments, that are mean and nasty, even though they are followed up under the guise of teasing/joking. They are mean and bullying and it is time they stop.

What are your favourite “just joking” experiences? 

What are some things we can do to call out this behaviour, and let it be known that we don’t accept it as appropriate? An example might be when someone does this to stop and say … I’m sorry I do not find that as teasing, it is hurtful, and I would appreciate you no longer doing it. Let’s share, so we can make sure more and more people are aware! 

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