A recent episode of “Two Broke Girls,” The CBS sitcom had a gag in it that suggests domestic discipline is much closer to mainstream America than I ever thought. A character’s mother-in-law demonstrated her newfound acceptance of her daughter-in-law by saying that she will send her the paddle she used to spank her son. Big Laugh. The daughter-in-law replied, “It’s a good thing. I broke mine recently.”
Ok, it’s a stupid joke. The thing is that the audience laughed loudly. It didn’t twitter in embarrassment or remain silent. It loved the line. While that doesn’t mean husband spanking is a widespread practice, it definitely suggests that the concept isn’t unthinkable. Many jokes are based on surprise. The idea of a mother spanking her son is an established concept we all understand. The comic twist was suggesting that his wife would carry on the activity.
Those of us who practice domestic discipline chuckle knowingly. I was surprised that a prime time network (CBS) show would even include the joke, much less see it go over so well. That doesn’t mean it’s safe for Mrs. Lion to discuss my most recent spanking with her colleagues at work. But it does mean that if she did, they would understand what she was discussing.
Not-too-many years ago a joke like that would never clear the network censors. If it did, chances are that the audience wouldn’t laugh. The concept would be too shocking. People tell jokes about things that represent twists on ordinary life. Husband spanking is close enough to mainstream to be funny. Today’s punch line is tomorrow’s everyday practice.
The underlying concept of a female head of household has been fodder forever. Jokes about nagging wives and milquetoast husbands are part of countless standup routines. But a disciplining wife and a virile, disciplined husband are new to the comedy lexicon. The male character is portrayed as a over-sexed, hairy guy. That makes the spanking joke even funnier when the audience considers that he would allow himself to be spanked.
I’m not making more of this than I should. It is just one joke on a sitcom. But in order for that joke to work, the audience has to understand and accept the context. It’s because it’s easy to imagine a wife spanking her husband. It’s funny because the idea is unexpected. It works because while strange, the practice isn’t a social taboo.
That’s what impresses me. I wouldn’t want to reveal that Mrs. Lion spanks me any more than I would talk about the fact she sucked my cock last night. Sexual, and now disciplinary talk, are not part of polite,social discourse. That’s what makes the joke funny. We aren’t shocked by the subject, but really surprised someone would mention it out loud. I call that progress.
Things are quiet in the lions’ den. Mrs. Lion’s knee doesn’t feel better and the orthopedic doc couldn’t learn why. I hope Mrs. Lion will pursue this further. I’m off on another business trip next month. This one is different. Mrs. Lion will join me during the week and we will spend the weekend relaxing and having fun. It’s very good to have a business destination that is actually fun to visit.