That's all it is. It's a laugh. A joke. A harmless way of poking fun at each other and - I'm putting my tongue firmly in my cheek here...... we're all in it together.
In fact, the second the Prime Minister thinks about it long and hard enough he will declare Prime Minister's Question Time - "just lads and bantz".
-The women don't matter of course. That's what it is across the House of Commons floor most of the time. Men trading banter. Unfortunately for the laughing audience, the majority of the time real people outside the chamber and excluded from the joke are dying all over the place - well outside the realms of political "banter". People are holding out on laughing at the food banks. People are passing on holding their sides as they try to hold on to their sanity as their women's refuge closes. But you keep up the bantz boys.
Back to where this started and gradually crept up on us. All of a sudden it is the benchmark of whether you belong. Can you banter? What is your banter like? Are you any good at it? Can you take it? Men all over Twitter, Facebook and The Red Lion are indulging in Banter. It is like when Norm enters the pub in Cheers. The king of banter takes his seat and the bantered fall before his feet. The banter is basically insults. Thrown fast and hard. A frequent "pooh" follows a particularly cutting thrust. It might be countered. A wound may be made but eventually all must laugh. ALL MUST LAUGH.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines it in a number of ways.
The noun - banter
Ok... move along. Nothing to see here. The grip this new form of "joking" has on our popular culture is nothing to worry about. It's been going on for centuries. It's relatively harmless.
But..... you know a feminist always has a "but" up her sleeve don't you? We aren't called 'Killjoys' for nothing! And really, the killjoy is the enemy of the banterer (?).
You can delve a little deeper into the historical definitions if you can be bothered...
Oh... so banter can be a form of deceit - possibly even criminal? Interesting.
To "banter folks out of their senses" - oh well that doesn't sound so pleasant now does it? Making people insane! Driving them "mad". Far less innocuous than "teasing" or "sharing a joke". We aren't all in it together if one party ends up unable to live a normal life are we? Or one commits suicide?
Or from the US we can see it is a challenge....
Hmm. Now there's a thought. What if a banter is not actually a "shared joke" but a "challenge" a "battle". What if the battle is against a specific set of people? What if those people are any oppressed group? People of Colour, Women, LGBT people?
What if the use of the word banter is used by aggressors to defeat an enemy? What if it was used as a weapon against those oppressed people? Oh dear. Now banter looks a lot less fun.
I think I can see the Prime Minister contacting the Daily Mail to say it was someone else's idea to call PMQs "banter" after all. It was that horrid Andy Coulson's idea perhaps?
The term has become one that determines a man's place in the pack. If you can sally forth with decent banter and leave your opponent open mouthed then the elbow on the bar becomes yours. The ears of the pride become yours. You win. You are the Alpha Banterer.
The danger is that this has extended. It has been absorbed by the ones who want to do a little more than "sally forth" with a pint of Stella. It has become something appropriated by males as something a little bit more useful indeed. It has become something you can use as a new tool against women ( and other oppressed groups - but I see it more often as a misogynists tool at present - and of course those misogynists are twofold abusers of Women of Colour)
Call them fat? Banter.
Call them a slapper? Banter.
Tell them to know their place, get their feet close to the sink, get raped, get slapped, get silent quick.... BANTER!
Oh what a gift! Just when men thought they were getting shaky with all this feminist stuff threatening them. Just when they couldn't say things which objectified women because they could spot it and call you on it. Just when the press were starting to take away your daily tits, stop you from calling women whores and prevent you from raping young women in hotel rooms without asking..... just then you were gifted BANTER!
Oh and my word have the men run with it. They love it. They say it all the time. They repeat it so often that to challenge it seems churlish, uncool, off point, outdated. A killjoy! Oh that very worst of things!
The thing that worries me. It's turning into the new "laddette" motif. Girls are doing it too. Women are turning tricks for the banterer (?) as in the nineties they would try to drink ten pints and hoarsely launch into football chanting. They are beginning to laugh at "banter" and take part. They are learning to see insults as "not really insults". They are learning to insult other women and call it by the man's term. "It's just Bantz babe. Lighen up"
Oh this is a blinder the men have played. I don't mean that metaphorically. Men are putting out the eyes of women with this term. They get to insult women. They can pull the strings of women and make them insult each other. They can make them smile through gritted teeth as they pull those strings.
Smile for the banter girls.
Misogyny is dead. Long Live The Banter.
The greatest trick the misogynist ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.