Last night, after watching that Procter & Gamble Olympic ad proclaiming themselves the “proud sponsor of moms” while flashing cleaning products across the screen, I updated my Facebook status to reflect my opinion that the ad is sexist and that it angers me.
A friend commented, “Robyn, you know you and I have relatively similar politics, but you really should stop being offended so often. It can’t be healthy.”
This is not the first time someone has mentioned that I should, essentially, lighten up. That I should stop getting upset every time someone says or does something that isn’t perfectly in line with my apparently exacting standards of correct speech and behavior. But I would (and am about to) argue that I get upset because I really don’t think what I’m asking of people – to be thoughtful and deliberate in their speech – is really so hard.
So, yes, I admit that I am offended quite often.
I am offended every time I see an ad that could be a domestic violence PSA but is instead showing a beaten woman because somehow that will sell a handbag. I am offended when I see women’s bodies degraded, with black eyes and contorted limbs, for the sake of fashion, considering that a quarter of all American women will be the victim of intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
I am offended when I hear my friends, who would never dream of discriminating against a black person or even saying the word “nigger” out loud, call something “ghetto” and somehow ignore the racist implications.
I am offended whenever someone says “that’s so gay” and reifies the status of gay people as less than. I am further offended when I call that person out and s/he tells me that language is evolving, or that they’re not really trying to equate gay people with something negative, or that they didn’t mean gay as in homosexual gay.
I am offended when those same people and their parents are the ones standing in line at a Chik-Fil-A to show the world just how much they are committed to denying the basic right for everyone to marry the person they love, and then claiming they have nothing to do with LGBT children killing themselves or dangerous bigots in Nebraska carving the word “dyke” onto a woman and then setting her house on fire.
I am offended by the othering nature of Asian fetishes and of people in men’s rights forums claiming that women from developing countries just know how to treat a man better than us uppity American bitches.
I am offended when I hear someone say they got “gypped” when they mean “ripped off,” further perpetuating the negative stereotypes of Roma people, who continue to be persecuted pretty much everywhere they go.
I am offended when boys are taught that real men are strong, tough, macho, and don’t cry, because rigid gender norms hurt us all.
I am offended when I read about how porn culture has resulted in girls as young as 8 years old getting bikini waxes.
I am offended when someone says they were “Jewed down,” and when they don’t even recognize why this Jew would be upset by the stereotype they’re promoting.
So, yes, I suppose I am frequently offended. It’s because I’m paying attention. Why aren’t you?