So, the other day my father was saying some nasty things about the news anchor on CNN mostly about how no one wants to listen to anyone with that ugly face and then switched to another unnamed news channel and proceeded to tell me to shut up so he could listen to a man who… was not pleasing to the eye. When I asked why the woman’s face invalidates what she says, but the man here is not invalidated by his looks, he cursed me out and raised to volume to a preposterous level even using profanity. I let it go, but then just now he brought it back up shouting reams of more profanity and storming out of the room when I had asked him about something entirely unrelated. Maybe I hit a nerve the other night. Maybe systemic sexism is actually a thing. Maybe we all have to be aware of it.
Then this happened. This whole Melania Trump debacle. I have no words about the scandal itself except it seems designed to create controversy, but the type of controversy it creates doesn’t have to be in the hands of it’s creators. Simply put, I have seen so many people say such horrible things about a woman and assume it’s okay because their friends are mostly anti-Trump. This is never okay.
I rarely go onto my mother’s Facebook, but there I was sharing baby pictures and I stumbled upon something she had posted. My mother is an avid Hillary supporter. She comes from a time where the idea of a woman president was nearly unthinkable, indeed she couldn’t even wear pants or shorts to school in her day. She thinks the Republicans are funny and that they mock themselves- which, let’s not get into the whole rick rolling conspiracy of Melania’s speech. There is that cleverly cut video mashup of Melania and Michelle both giving the same speech side by side and my mother happened to have reposted it. I mean, of course she did- what Democrat isn’t up for the giggle of seeing another Trump camp fail, but then I read the comments. There were numerous snickers and giggles on there, lots of name calling and words like “mail order whore” Don’t think the Trump supporters didn’t get in there with their own barbs because the internet is nothing if not balanced in crazy irrational emotion led comments, but the overall sentiment was a snickering cascade of defamation at this woman who did nothing more than look beautiful and go out and deliver a speech. She was not bitchy, she was not slutty looking, she was not committing any sexual acts or receiving payment for them. I could not fathom why everyone was suddenly so comfortable denouncing her.
On the whole, the past few days has given me pause. We hear many young girls talking about how we no longer need feminism these days and how discrimination no longer exists, but perhaps the narrative needs to change. Perhaps the idea of what sexism is in the media is lost on most people because it is so subtle and because they feel so demonized for being called out on it these days. I am not a perfect person who has never said something petty about another girl as an easy slur, but I strive to be better than that. It is easy to attack a woman because it is something universally understood. It is much harder to attack an ideology because it is a complex and nuanced philosophy that requires understanding and analytical skills. Sometimes we are tired, sometimes we haven’t yet fully grasped what is upsetting us about something, sometimes we don’t even know what is upsetting us just that something is and cheap shots are there for that purpose, but they are just that cheap, meaningless, empty. Cheap shots do not really count because they don’t matter. They don’t illustrate the underlying issue at hand and we hide behind them because sometimes we are afraid to look at those dark parts of ourselves.
We cannot afford to hide the darkness anymore. It is only through confronting the actuality of what we feel, think, and believe that we can transform any of that into useful energy.
It seems grandiose to say we are creators of worlds, but it is true. What we think, feel, and believe is how we approach the world. It is how others interact with our own ideologies. Every word is important.
I will not be calling Melania a bitch, a bimbo, or a whore- or any other word- because she made a speech. I will not be calling any other woman whose ideology I am not in line with terrible names. I won’t even be calling those girls who were nasty to me at karaoke last week dumb sluts. I won’t be doing it because it gives them an out. Being a female and being called derogatory sexual names is par for the course. If you do something that makes you not a nice human being, then you are not a nice human being- you don’t get to write off that criticism as easily as you would just being called the array of terms generally thrown against women as applicable because of our possession of a vaginal cavity. It also doesn’t apply as a blanket term the way slurs do. I am actually required to figure out why I am upset with you first.
Stop being so lazy people, stop using slurs.