Death to “Banter”

Just a quick rant about one of my least favourite words today. See Edit II to read about what happened to a teacher’s protest on the subject.

In the last few years, “banter” has become an increasingly common excuse people trot out when they’re talking offensive crap and want to be let off the hook “because it’s just bants”.

Another meme that really needs to die on its arse ASAP

The claim tends to be that it describes “joking around with friends”, teasing people and such like, and indeed if it were restricted to groups of like-(small)minded people maybe it’d be fine. But in my experience it seems to mean something else entirely. Namely, while addressing people you do not know, “I want to be a dick here, leave me to it”. Why would someone request that, though?

Traditionally, when people say horrible things, we can remain silent, laugh along, or challenge them. More recently, these challenges tend to be met with calm down, love, it’s banter. This is just the latest iteration of a long-standing silencing tactic; your feelings on this matter are unimportant, my right to speak without consequence takes precedent, you are overreacting and should be quiet.

People like to say “no subject is off-limits in comedy” and the get a sense of humour line is itself quite funny. If you seriously think that parroting some of the oldest, most pervasive forms of discrimination found in our cultures (whether it’s sexism, racism, homophobia or whatever) is in any way edgy or indeed at all funny, it is you who is lacking a sense of humour. These “jokes” are not innovative or clever, they are as old-hat as they come.

“Banter” is simply a get-out-clause people use to protect their “right” to offend, remain ignorant, dismiss others and uphold the status quo that benefits them. Lol none of these things affect me, so I can joke about these issues that I’ve never thought for 5 seconds about and make fun of you chumps who have to deal with it! Get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich #bants

It’s truly pathetic that people think they can hide their sense of entitlement and desperation to fit in under one such revealing word.

So, next time you hear someone say it and they’re not just taking the piss out of this idea (if my favourite facebook group hadn’t been closed I could show you a truly comedic example of the supposedly humourless feminists, punning away on banter like masters; murder on the bantz floor, the unbearable bantness of being, Das Bant… you had to be there) do tell them to shut their stupid mouths and grow up.

I’m glad when I was at university the word hadn’t really taken hold yet – I wouldn’t go back to that culture if you paid me anyway (despite rather enjoying the course) but it would’ve been even worse if all the binge-drinking, cock-waving, bank-of-mum-and-dad-money-burning children had been throwing that wannabe excuse for their behaviour around as well.

For example

Another thing I’m glad I’m not involved in at all: football. I tried, I did. So many people talk about it so much of the time, it’s impossible to live life without having some unwanted info thrust into your awareness. But lots of us just do not care. One of the reasons I was never able to enjoy it is that it’s institutionally sexist.

A prominent example of this is the current coverage of the Premier League chief exec Richard Scudamore’s emails, and Musa says it best:

When accused of sexism, there is often an effort among men in football to infantilise themselves: what you might call the “boys will be boys” defence.  “We’re just kidding”, so the argument goes, “chill out”.  However, it’s strange to see these men rely on a defence of youthful irresponsibility, and in the same breath expect to be trusted with billion-pound budgets.

Indeed, LADS, why be satisfied with leading so basic and immature an existence? If the essence of that defence doesn’t offend you somewhat, well, it’s a bit of a chicken/egg concept – how much of that attitude comes from our surroundings? Can we counter it?

A mole in a group called Football weekly extraaaaaaa sent me a screenshot of a discussion – here are my picks of the TOP BANTZ. Burn it with fire.


Please do add your own examples of the Banter Fallacy and how irritating you find it below.

Edit: related

Edit II: On a serious note, a teacher got so fed up of children using banter to excuse horrible behaviour that he tried to address the situation and has been forced out of his job as a result. His conclusion: adults resist change to a staggering degree.

Edit III: “Teenage Boys Are Too “Scared Of Banter” To Talk About Their Feelings” – people often accuse feminists of ignoring the issue of high male suicide rates (perhaps it’s just that they weren’t wanting to talk about it at the time because the topic was something else) – but suicide prevention is important, and the causes for men are real and need tackling. So there’s another reason to bin this thing.

13 thoughts on “Death to “Banter”

  1. A contribution from Ele, while she can’t remember passwords:

    “Wish I could find a video of this comedy song I saw, called “Banter”, picturing exactly what you describe. Here’s a description of the sketch from Chortle:
    “Next up ‘Pancreas’, an earnest singer-songwriter in knitted tank top who could have come from a distant branch of the Mumford family tree, singing a melodic ballad about bullying disguised as ‘banter’. The character is a long way from creator Pippa Evans’s best-known alter-ego – the unhinged American rock diva Loretta Maine – but is fully-formed with a strong line in songwriting. Even if the subject matter was a little old hat, the packaging was superb.”…/musical_comedy_awards_2014…

    I think Pippa Evans is linked to the Sunday People’s Assembly too?”

  2. Nick D

    If banter is a cover for a wrong headed (eg sexist or racist) viewpoint – then of course it’s wrong.

    If people know you’re joking and don’t really think that, however – it is a cornerstone of British humour and should be embraced. You see it in the House of Commons – and long may it continue.

    When we can truly joke about anything freely (race, gender, sexual orientation) – safe in the knowledge that it is a joke – and the person making the joke doesn’t hold those views – because that is inconceivable; then we know we will have reached a true state of equality.

    In the mean time – those making such jokes do need to make sure those present realise they’re joking.

    If you are a woman and a man makes a sexist joke – don’t get mad, make a sexist joke about men back. Either he is a sexist and he wants you to get mad – or he’s joking – either way a sexist joke is the best reply.

    1. Aimee

      But.. sexist/racist/whatever jokes rely on tired, unoriginal and false stereotypes and so are not funny at all? Best response to a ‘joke’ of this kind is to look blank and tell the person that you did not get the punchline, could you please explain? Watching someone fumbling over words explaining why a woman should go back to the kitchen/can’t drive/whatever goes to show how unfunny these things are. Also, the braying MPs in the House of Commons as a source of quality humour..really?

      We will have true equality when there is no need to fall back on completely untrue stereotypes to attempt comedy, because if we have achieved this equality there will be no more generalisations based purely on gender/race/orientation. Bonus, we will see more original and genuinely funny comedy.

  3. Photography sites are often plagued by those who use the anonymity of the web to ‘banter’ viciously. I have quoted your graph (with attribution and link of course) to support in my battle against this.


    ‘“Banter” is simply a get-out-clause people use to protect their “right” to offend, remain ignorant, dismiss others and uphold the status quo that benefits them. Lol none of these things affect me, so I can joke about these issues that I’ve never thought for 5 seconds about and make fun of you chumps who have to deal with it! Get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich #bants”

  4. Pingback: Misogynatheopocalypse, chapter 982734ty billion | Cubik's Rube

  5. Gibbo

    bore off… you can only be offended by something if you choose to be. lighten up or stop watching comedy and listen to james blunt instead.

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