Husband Slammed for Failing To Defend Wife After Friend Makes 'Brutally Honest' Joke

A husband has been criticized for failing to defend his wife after a friend made a "brutally honest" joke about her appearance at his birthday party.

Comedy is subjective but context is also crucial to understanding why someone might find something funny or not. The woman at the center of a gag shared to Reddit may have more reason than most to feel aggrieved, after finding herself the butt of a particularly distasteful joke.

In a post upvoted over 15,000 times on the "Am I The A**hole?" subreddit, her under-fire husband acknowledged his "guy friends are brutally honest and make jokes and tease all the time."

"My wife knows how they are, so no surprises there," he added. However, even with this knowledge in mind, most people thought they crossed the line with their latest gag.

According to the post, it all happened when his wife, who is a make-up artist, returned from the toilets having stepped away to "get her makeup fixed."

Just as she returned to their table, one of her husband's friends, Austin, was heard saying: "Damn, you look like you just got out of the cancer ward with that heavy makeup on your face!"

While his friends "started laughing," the husband said he "just stared" at his wife as she got "very upset" and began to hit out at Austin, telling him "how awful he was." Soon his other friends got involved and, in the husband's own words, there was "much commotion" after which he told his wife to "calm down and take a seat."

Though Austin insisted "it was a joke," the man's wife expressed her unhappiness at the gag, at which point her husband said, in front of everyone, he felt she had "overreacted."

Angry at his response, she decided to go home while the "party was cut short" by the argument. Undeterred, he continued to criticize her response when he got home, telling her she "shouldn't take everything seriously knowing how great she always looks."

But his wife was not convinced, telling him he let his friends "insult her" and failed to defend her "integrity" by not speaking up. The internet agreed.

"These are your friends, not hers so, the 'brutal honesty' and 'jokes' should be aimed at you, not your wife," Consistent-Leopard-71 wrote. "You definitely should have defended your wife, your friend was needlessly cruel."

Scorchie-Song agreed: "Brutal honesty is another way to say bullying when it's habitual. It's fine if someone genuinely needs a wake up call for how they've acted, but as a standard way of communicating unfiltered thoughts it needs to be tempered with tact."

Suck_Oooooh said the whole concept of "brutally honest" humor was flawed. "A lot of this is just saying rude insults thinking you're funny," they said. "Too many people watch comedians and model their behavior on how these guys talk."

Other users like MlleLapin were alarmed by the joke's reference to cancer calling it "another level of cruelty." "I mean who uses the struggle of cancer patients as an insult," they wrote.

Stop_spam_Calls was baffled. "Are we supposed to laugh at people who have cancer and try to wear makeup, or should we laugh at your wife for being passionate about something?" they asked.

StephJepman added: "I work on a cancer unit and I'm not sure what this 'joke' is about. If someone made that joke in front of me, I would have shut that s*** down."

Research has shown the important role men can play in shutting down offensive jokes made by other men by challenging or reacting negatively to it and, conversely, how little influence women have in this regard.

In a study conducted by the University of Sydney's School of Psychology, a group of men were asked to choose from a series of pairs of jokes that included one sexist and one not specifically offensive to women.

Male participants were led to believe they were interacting over a computer with one male and one female student. In truth, they were simply engaging with the computer and a series of fake reactions to the sexist jokes.

The idea was to see if these reactions influenced whether the participant opted to send the sexist joke or not. While the results showed that the men tested were not influenced by the woman's response, they highlighted how sensitive they were to another man's reaction.

So, if they were led to believe that the man they were speaking to objected to a particular sexist gag, they would not put it forward. This happened time and time again, leading researchers to conclude that jokes of this kind have a "male bonding" function and are often used to impress other men.

The story follows on from that of a man who was branded a "control freak" after attempting to order rare steaks for every woman at his table while eating out with friends.

Elsewhere, another husband sparked fury after deciding to go out for dinner with his friend rather than his wife on his birthday.

A woman upset with a man.
Stock image of an upset woman and a man - a husband has come in for criticism after failing to defend his wife from an offensive joke. Getty/nd3000