We all have that one friend (or two friends, or however many) that worry more about the state of the world than we do. Unless we ARE that one friend, and then, God only knows how a person who worries more than you do would be able to function at all in society. I am NOT that one friend. I’m the one who invariably sits by and lets things pass while thinking “there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. It bothers me, but it’s not like I can do anything, so I just won’t dedicate much time thinking about it.” Yes, I’m a slacktivist. I care. I just don’t care enough to do anything other than vocalize my opinions when I have them and click “like” on Facebook when the subject comes up.
Now see, that kind of disappoints me. I used to volunteer to advocate for the rights of victims of domestic violence. I rarely get that opportunity anymore, seeing as how I’m now paid to work on the other side of the aisle. This doesn’t make me a hypocrite. That abusive partner is a victim of some kind of circumstance, too. And he or she needs help. And there are so many programs through the legal system that are set up to shepard the willing into counseling and rehabilitate them. And sometimes I come home at night needing to wash the day and the guilt off of myself because, every so often, we get the narcissist who believes that, despite the abuse he or she inflicted, he or she is the victim. Sometimes we get the sociopath who doesn’t see any wrong in his or her actions and does not empathize with the people he or she hurts. And sometimes we get the hypocrite, who will blame others and continue his or her behavior.
I always object when I see a meme making fun of Rhianna for being abused by Chris Brown. People always tell me that I shouldn’t take things so seriously. That I shouldn’t be spoiling their fun. That I need to get over my own personal experience, shove aside everything that I know about domestic violence and abuse, and just learn to laugh at the pain and misfortune of others. I once got really pissed off and said “Don’t you see that you’re angrier at me for trying to explain how this meme hurts attitudes toward domestic violence, and thereby victims of domestic violence, than you are about something that is ACTUALLY hurting them? You care more about laughing at others’ pain than you do about their pain.” I was told I was an obnoxious bitch and proceeded to say I accept that and move on. Since then, I’ve resigned myself to believing that no, I can’t make a difference. There’s no use in trying because people would rather laugh than face up to the truth of the matter: Chris Brown beating up Rhianna was not funny because she is a genuine victim of domestic violence.
I gave up. But I have a couple of friends who didn’t. Friends who actually read and support this blog and regularly circulate information, articles, and voice opinions on their beliefs. Like women’s rights. This is still a HUGE issue in the world today. We have it pretty good in America, but even so, we still have many struggles. Sure, we can pretty much wear whatever we want, practice whatever religion we want, and act how we want. But our decisions and emotions face a scrutiny that men’s decisions and emotions don’t face. And that scrutiny is used to discredit us. There is no equivalent word for “bitch” or “slut” to refer to a man. And any words we may try to use, they have effectively managed to turn into almost compliments. “Tool”, “douchebag”, and “asshole” are not character flaws, they’re just a clique you “bro out” with. When we call a man promiscuous in a negative way, we say “man-slut”. The fact that we have to even modify that speaks volumes.
Do I do anything about it? Not really, no. I read the articles, I agree fully, and I share them on Facebook. Then I go on about my daily life thinking about how lucky I am that I don’t suffer from these negative situations personally. This morning was different. This morning, I wanted to say thank you to the ladies who remind me that this is not a spectator’s sport. I do need to continue to speak up, to remind people that these issues are important, and I need to teach my daughter one day about how she should never let ANYONE convince her that she is less than. I need to find a way to do this without turning her into an arrogant, entitled, selfish butthead. But I need to teach her to see her own strength and to address it with a sense of modesty and civic duty. Because all women and all men have a duty to one another to be there for our fellow human, to help defend and even tout their equal rights. So thank you, ladies, for reminding me that my opinion DOES matter. And now I know exactly what I can do to help make things better in the future: my own children.