We live in a society where so many foul things are accepted as norms. But instead of talking about it or doing something about it, many of us dismiss it and even label those who care as being too sensitive. “This is life, sweetheart, grow up.” Which is funny, because as a grown up, we are supposed to recognize that there is a problem instead of passing judgement onto those who care enough to do something about world issues. Many of you will see my points as ignorant, insignificant, and/or totally unnecessary. That’s okay, but I implore you to finish reading it before you consider it all a bunch of crap. After all, how can one pass judgement onto something one doesn’t fully know about? Oh wait, we do that everyday. Carry on wayward, friend. Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to politically encompass the world’s imperfections in one post or to provide any concrete answers.
The point is to make me uncomfortable with writing it and you uncomfortable with reading it because we’ve remained too stagnant for too long.
Gender Stereotypes and Inequality
Over the previous years we have been calling more attention to the media’s portrayal of women. We build women up according to certain standards, and we tear them down when they don’t meet all of them. We tell them they’re not good enough, or we tell them they’re too much. We tell them that life is a competition between other women, a race instead of a journey. We positively reinforce women stepping over others because that’s what they need to do to achieve their aspirations. We tell them that they are inclined to specific gender roles and we sometimes ridicule those who break out of them.
Let’s not forget about the men. The stereotypes of masculinity is also an issue, which is often overlooked and sometimes even overshadowed by the feminist movement. That’s right, folks, men have their own issues to deal with too. The media can be detrimental to a men’s self-perceptions and health just as much as it can damage a women’s. Because of the promoted gender roles and expectations, men are being taught to be strong, apathetic, and dominant. We tell a guy he can’t cry because emotions are just another form of weakness (ew). We tell him he needs to be strong and he needs to provide because if not, he’s a failure and true men just do not fail. We depict violence as “manly” and danger as exciting while portraying the objectification of women as a norm. In fact, we’ve gotten to the point where objectification has come to be seen as a right. After all, a guy will be a guy and nobody would want to rob him of his fundamental rights like they do with women and their wages, am I right?
We’ve become a culture that has justified rape with victim blaming- the woman (or man) was asking for it. We think we found a plot twist: people actually want to be raped. Now, consent is another thing; when someone is intoxicated and/or isn’t of the right mindset, taking advantage of him/her is still wrong (shocker). Stop justifying the rape culture because there is honestly nothing worth excusing.
Racism and Stereotypes
I understand that racism is a huge debate that has been ongoing for centuries and I will gladly recognize that we have progressed in this movement throughout time. However, I will not support the idea that we are done improving and that racism no longer exists. Sure, it may not always be so bluntly displayed as it once was in the past, but racial tension is still an issue in many facets of life.
Just because you may not be experiencing it personally doesn’t mean it’s not real.
People may not all be culturally competent, but having cultural sensitivity is something that is necessary and yet is defeated by the stereotypes, bitterness, and even feelings of hate directed towards another culture. I’ve seen good people with good hearts unintentionally pass verbal unwarranted judgement on a victim based on said victim’s racial factors. I know this even more so because I’ve been a perpetrator as well. But lately I’ve noticed that the way some people have been handling racism has been wrong and is in fact being counterproductive. Putting down one ethnicity to elevate another one isn’t smart nor right; it’s ignorant and does more harm than good. I believe that there is such a thing as white privilege, but attacking white people for the color of their skin is counterproductive and quite frankly, ironic. If we were to invoke change, we need to work together and acknowledge that there are still racial struggles and inequalities. White people need to stand by people of color and vice versa.
Nothing is so black and white (no pun intended); there’s a whole lot of gray and I realize saying that society is the problem isn’t getting down to the root cause of these issues. I believe that the root cause is ignorance and those who have more power in our society to re-shift our focus and redefine our norms are either blind to it or are choosing to ignore it. But no, we cannot just pass the blame onto them because individually we have the power to redefine our own beliefs and thoughts regarding these issue. Likewise, we all have the ability to speak up about it. Awareness, especially when spread through our individual lives and the media is a good place to start, even if it means being vulnerable. After all, writing is a socially accepted form of getting naked in public. Exhibit A: this post.