Fears of bullying and violence and discrimination have led many schools to adopt very strong policies against teasing. And lord knows most of us could probably dredge up a painful school year or two when the taunts of classmates made our lives hell. In our important relationships, we are encouraged to avoid poking and instead honestly share our feelings. And don’t even get me started on the workplace… I mean, you’d be hard-pressed to defend teasing, right?
Hmm, during a difficult discussion with my sister about some serious tension between us, I said, “I think at least we can both agree the real problem here is you are a bitch.” She laughed.
This is part of the point of a great New York Times article in defense of teasing. The arguement is that while bullying and harassment are acts of aggression, other forms of teasing can actually serve to build bonds between people, alleviate tension, and allow us to deliver messages to each other in a less direct form. For example, couples who teased each other during discussions about loaded issues came away from the conversation feeling closer than couples who engaged in only direct discussion. And teasing can also help signal what behaviors are okay, and help establish social status. By prohibiting kids from teasing, we are discouraging an important kind of social interaction, one that can even help teach us not to take ourselves too seriously.
At least that’s the case made here, and me and my bitch sister would probably agree. But what do you think?