Harassment of Social Media and Misogyny

Harassment of Social Media and Misogyny

This article discusses the harassment Ashley Judd received on twitter after tweeting about basketball. She received so much hate and so many derogatory comments that she had to delete the tweet and decided to talk about her experience. Unfortunately, this is happening too often in contemporary society. Young girls and women are being sexualized on social media for anything and everything. Judd states that, “Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood” (cited in Alter). Females are constantly put down for no obvious reason. People took a stab at whatever they could: her body, age, intellect, appearance, and even her family (Judd cited in Alter). They needed to find any excuse to demean her. I’m not saying all men do this but often they take it upon themselves to use disrespectful names and phrases to talk down to women. Often these things are not meant to trigger a response, instead women are just supposed to take it. They are not talking to the women, but instead at them, like an object, as opposed to a human being.

Each day I learn about how harmful social media is becoming. The amount of misogynistic comments on social media in today’s society is unbelievable. The even bigger issue at hand is that there aren’t only sexist comments but racist and homophobic ones as well. Her situation also demonstrates that hurtful comments don’t occur just once or even twice but often multiple times. She was disrespected on a few different occasions. People are not afraid to say hurtful things over the Internet because they get to avoid the difficult face-to-face interaction that would most likely prevent them from saying these things. I think society would see a decline in hatred as well as malicious comments if social/mass media was taken out of the picture.

While she was on the topic of women being sexualized, Judd discusses the problem of rape culture. She expresses the realization that people blame the victim instead of the rapist. Who cares what she was wearing or if she was drinking, rape is rape no matter the circumstances. That’s the trouble with society: many people don’t see the problem with rape but instead see the problem in the victim. She tied this in perfectly with the original statement because in both instances the victim is being blamed rather than the person causing the harm. Another thing is how lightly rape is talked about. It’s an invasion of someone’s body; it is not a joke and should never be a joke. The people who joke about rape are the ones that are desensitizing the meaning of it. The worst part is that she openly spoke about how she was raped in her childhood and people still had the audacity to joke about and threaten to rape her.

As a female, I’ve grown up my whole life knowing that women were once oppressed and continue to fall below men. Equal opportunities are not given to women, which is something I still cannot comprehend. Gender equity is needed for cohesion of society to take place. I grew up learning from my mom that I am not responsible for doing all the cooking and cleaning in the house when I am married and that I am capable of fulfilling my ambitions. Sadly, not everyone is taught this but they should be in order to see change in society. A few years ago, the comment “go make me a sandwich” (a male commanding a female) was very popular among people my age. The era where women stayed home, took care of cooking, cleaning, and the children, is long gone. We don’t live in the past anymore, women are not responsible for taking care of their male counterpart. They are capable of achieving their goals and are not to be seen as vulnerable and compliant. Even as a joke, this statement shows us that society’s mindset is stuck in the past even though everything is progressing around us. Comments like these need to end or society will never move forward. This idea that women are only good for the “dirty work” is seen as androcentric. Men were capable of working for a living and so they were given the authority and power to dominate women, which is still taking place in many societies and needs to be changed.

References:

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time Inc. Network. n.p., 19 March 2015. Web. 7 April 2015.

<http://time.com/3750788/ashley-judd-speaks-out-about-twitter-abuse-and-rape/&gt;.

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Native Headdresses and Cultural Appropriation

Native Headdresses and Cultural Appropriation

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This article discusses the importance of honouring and respecting cultural symbols. Some cultures legally restrict some items from being replicated or used, therefore these items need to remain unused by those that do not have permission to wear them and the ones that are unrestricted need to be treated with dignity. The author focuses specifically on Native headdresses. They are very important to the culture and are often degraded by individuals who are not Native. They are only to be worn by Indigenous men who have worked hard for them or people who are authorized to wear them (Vowel).

Cultural appropriation occurs when other people disrespect the headdress by wearing it without approval (Scafidi). Often this type of clothing is worn on Halloween (Weston), which causes a number of problems. For one, it takes away from the culture because people don’t really know the true meaning behind why the clothing looks the way it does and they often don’t understand the cultural significance this clothing has. Also, dressing up as a Native individual dehumanizes them (Weston). They are not seen as human beings but rather fictional characters to imitate. The image Native people are stereotyped as is known as the “Imaginary Indian” (Crosby). Many individuals view all Indigenous people as wearing moccasins, feathered headdresses, war paint, and beaded jewelry. Often this is not the case, as there are many different tribes who have their own set of practices and ways of living. The majority of people who participate in wearing the headdresses are from Western culture, the culture that oppressed and forced Native people to assimilate to their norms (Scafidi). This makes the situation worse, even if people don’t realize what they’re doing. Colonialism exploited Native people and destroyed their families. The history of internal colonization within America makes the improper use of Indigenous headdresses an even more sensitive situation.

I found an article online that discusses the Bass Coast Festival’s decision to ban Native headdresses from being worn at their event. This event is a music festival taking place on “indigenous land” and the conclusion was made to show consideration for Native people (Freda). Celebrities wear cultural items, including headdresses and bindis, all the time without knowing any background on the culture. The problem is that when they do this, people who idolize them think it’s appropriate for them to do the same. The people who decided to ban headdresses at their festival are the people who are helping the situation and taking action to assist in eliminating cultural appropriation. We need more people in society like them to really change things but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

For a high school field trip I visited a Native Reserve. We were given a tour through their museum and they had exhibits showing many different aspects of their culture. We were also shown what was once a residential school and had a guest speaker talk about his own experiences. The part that confused me the most was when we took a picture in front of the residential school as a group and we were smiling. Why were we smiling in front of a place that had done such awful things to these people? It was all very odd to me, especially since we had just learned about everything that took place within them and how horrendously Native people were treated.

In grade 9, I dressed up as a “French person” for Halloween. I wore a black beret, a black and white striped shirt, and I drew on a moustache. Looking back on it now I wish I hadn’t done that because I was supporting the stereotype that most people imagine when thinking of French people. At the time I didn’t realize what I was wearing was disrespectful and I was partaking in stereotyping. Majority of people who are French don’t dress like that and it was ignorant of me to do. Reading this article really opened my eyes to consciously think about how cultural symbols are being mistreated because people don’t understand the meaning behind them and use these items to produce a stereotype of this culture.

I am intrigued to find out more about other cultures’ symbolic items and how special they are to different people. I would love to know the meaning behind them and what makes each culture unique from one another. I also intend to inform anyone I know who may be donning restricted items, or may be participating in stereotyping, that they should understand the culture before they do so and only wear what is unrestricted out of respect.

References:

Freda, Elizabeth. “Music Festival Is Banning Cultural Appropriation, aka Hipsters Wearing Native American Headdresses.” E! Online. n.p., 28 July 2014. Web. 9 March 2015. http://ca.eonline.com/news/563845/music-festival-is-banning-cultural-appropriation-aka-hipsters-wearing-native-american-headdresses

Vowel, Chelsea. “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” âpihtawikosisân. n.p, n.d. Web. 9 March 2015. http://apihtawikosisan.com/about/

Pictures:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/a-canadian-music-festival-has-banned-people-from-wearing-nat#.fql3ADYX

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/pharrell-apologizes-for-wearing-headdress-on-magazine-cover-20140605

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/07/Here_is_why_wearing_an_American_Indian_headdress_is_not_hip_/

Film Review of “Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program”

Film Review of “Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program”

Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program (2012-2014)

Cast: Various actors and actresses

Director: Various directors

Genre: Biography, Documentary, Fiction, and LGBTQ

LivesWorthLiving_WebBanner

The films within “Lives Worth Living” were compelling and thought provoking. They all seemed to display the common correlation between mental health illnesses, and gender and sexuality conflict. One of the films was about a woman who had anxiety and was gay and couldn’t talk to her crush without shying away or acting strange. She hid behind her anxiety in fear of being rejected. Finally, she decided that she would be honest with herself and her crush so that she could overcome her anxiety and live her life how she wanted to without feeling burdened. Immediately I thought about young adults in contemporary Western culture feeling nervous and uneasy asking out their crushes, then I imagined how someone in the LGBTQ community and/or someone with a mental illness would feel doing the same. Not only is there a fear of being rejected but also a fear of being judged and shamed for their sexual orientation as well as perhaps not being physically able to as a result of their mental health. Everything piled on top of one another can make these individuals feel helpless as they wrestle with the weight of the world on their shoulders. This film positively portrayed the outcome of conquering fear, and mental health illnesses, and I hope it inspires others struggling with the same issues.

Another film that stuck out to me was about the main character, a man who was deaf, who enjoyed swimming in the pool alongside another man. He spent most of his days alone and isolated from others. At the end of the scene, the other man who he swam with used sign language to talk to him, and they kissed, and swam together. This film really touched me because the whole time I was watching it I felt sad that he was alone and was searching for someone to be with, when really he had someone all along. It warmed my heart that the other man put effort into learning sign language for the man who is deaf because it showed how much he cared. This was really a great example of overcoming society’s belief of heteronormativity.

Overall, these films were truly inspiring and genuine. They expressed real-life situations, not just Hollywood-esque movie scenes that don’t accurately depict the lives of queer individuals and what they deal with. They can truly be helpful for and give guidance to those tackling similar obstacles. The films seemed to be expertly made and kept me intrigued throughout.

The film that I’m focusing on was about a man who desired to be a woman, and so he dressed in drag and performed on stages. When in drag he was known as Phatima Rude. The scene that stood out to me the most was when he was alone in his van talking directly to the camera about personal events that took place in his life, and he struggled to speak without crying. Throughout the film you witness this confident, bold individual but when he cries about the hardships in his life you get to see a different side of him that is not seen until that moment. He shares intimate details about defeating his drug addiction and the moment he almost removed his own genitals because he wanted to be a female so badly. It made me think about all the people that go through the same challenges, and who have the ability to emerge stronger than ever to take on their lives. He expresses his gender identity through makeup, the way he dresses, and they way he behaves. It goes to show that gender is entirely socially constructed (Aulette and Wittner), and that gender-expansiveness is quite plausible, especially now in contemporary society. Female and male are not the only gender possibilities in 21st century culture, and these are known as sexual binaries. There is an array of gender choices that many people identify with and Phatima is a quintessential example of these variations.

When I walked into The Screening Room, naturally I looked around the room to see who else was there viewing the films. I found it interesting that there were quite a few older adults there because it seems as though older people, more than others, are opposed to the idea of being homosexual, queer, transgender, etc. This is likely because they grew up in a different era where it wasn’t very common to be any of these. Many of them grew up learning that traditional and conventional practices were what to live by. Personally, I think individuals in today’s society are becoming more accepting of others who do not express “normal” gender or sexuality because it is something they grow up understanding. Usually it is something that is seen as natural. I like knowing that there is hope for the future in terms of accepting other people’s gender and sexuality choices, even though there is still a long way to go.

References:

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds: Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.

http://www.reelout.com/event/lives-worth-living-shorts-program/