I have become hyper aware of living in the twitter-sphere recently. Social media is great because it allows us to filter who we follow and what we see. That can become a problem, though, when we look up and the real world is acting very differently to the people who we are surrounding ourselves with online.
Last year I, along with the rest of the world, followed the US election campaign with bated breath. Based on my Twitter feed, Trump didn’t have a hope in hell of winning. How could he? Who would vote for a misogynistic, sexist, homophobic bully who was basing his campaign on discrimination and lies? Come November 8th, I got a nasty shock. My liberal twitter-sphere did not prepare me for the possibility that Trump would win because no one I follow would have voted for him. In fact, they spoke out against him and campaigned for Clinton.
It wasn’t the fact of Trump winning in itself that scared me. It was what it said about the state of the world. Trump winning meant that there are a vast number of people who agree with him that women are objects, gay marriage is immoral and immigrants are terrorists. It meant that there are a vast number of people who want to live in a more conservative world and not a more progressive one; who want to put minorities back in a box and maintain a white, Christian, male hegemony. It meant that the world is more conservative than I thought it was. It meant that the world is more conservative than it should be in the 21st century.
Of course, my faith in humanity has been restored by the women’s marches around the world after Trumps election and by the people who stormed America’s airports after Trump announced the Muslim ban. I am so grateful for the fact that I am not alone in disagreeing with Trump’s fear-mongering and hate fuelled speech. I am so grateful for all the people who are standing up against it and fighting for a fairer, more democratic world. I just thought that we were further along in the process and that the fight was hard enough without an obstacle like Trump standing in our way.
Last night, my partner and I were watching TV and my twitter-sphere betrayed me once again. As we flicked through the channels, as you do on a Saturday night, we came across a British show called “Take Me Out.” On this show, women dress sexily and stroke a man’s ego in the hopes that he will pick them for a date. I was horrified. This show perpetuated so many negative ideas. It suggested that a woman’s role is to look sexy and smile, that her worth is based on her looks and not her personality. It suggested that men have the right to choose from a line-up of women (if the roles were reversed and it was a woman choosing from a line-up of men, she would be deemed a slut). It suggested that a woman should put her time and energy into finding a man as if being chosen for a date is the most important indicator of her value.
Now, I have nothing against women getting dressed up however makes them feel good. I do, however, have an issue with the idea that women have to dress to impress men and that a woman has to look a certain way to be wanted. I watched the show in my pyjamas with crazy hair and a cat on my lap and watching it made me feel as if I was somehow unworthy of my partners love because I wasn’t dressed up to the nines. I should never have been made to feel that way. No woman should. I was so shocked that something so blatantly sexist is still allowed on TV in 2017.
There are people out there who will say that I am being too sensitive. They might say that Trump isn’t that much of a setback – he might never do half of what he said he would. They might say that a show like “Take Me Out” isn’t that bad, it’s just a bit of harmless fun. They will tell me to lighten up. Here is my response to those people:
No, I will not lighten up. I will not hide the fact that sexism, racism, homophobia and religious intolerance – intolerance of any kind, in fact – are unacceptable to me. I am not being too sensitive by demanding that every human is accorded value and respect and denouncing anything that doesn’t do so. It doesn’t matter if Trump doesn’t get the chance to do everything that he said he would. The point is that he is saying it and encouraging other’s to adopt the same beliefs of hatred and supremacism. Shows like “Take Me Out” are not just a bit of harmless fun because it is teaching young girls and women that their worth is based on their looks and whether or not they can turn a man’s head. It is teaching young boys and men that they have the right to any woman they want and that she exists to please them, stroke their ego and look nice. It is not ok that this is still happening in 2017.
My Twitter feed is still full of like-minded people and I still don’t always see the full picture of the world – I don’t want my day filled with hatred, discrimination and intolerance. The events of the past year, though, have made me very aware of the fact that we are not as far along as I hoped we were. There is so much more education to be done, so much more to speak out against. Now is not the time to be quiet and accept whatever direction the world is going in. Even if we just use our voices in our own homes and own communities, we must use of voices. We need to educate ourselves, read diversely, understand our history and lives beyond our own. We need to start telling the world to wake up and get with the program. We aren’t standing for anything less than equality anymore.
The world may still seem like a far too conservative place in 2017 but maybe we needed it to be. Maybe we needed our eyes opened so that we are not lulled into complacency. Maybe we needed a wakeup call.
Let’s not waste it.