Friday, January 16, 2015

Kindergarten day one: real or pretend?

OK, first of all, let me say that I have nothing against Penny from The Big Bang Theory and truly meant to defend her right to be or act like a bimbo or a housewife or a theoretical physicist, especially if she is funny.  So let it go, Bob.

The thing with Penny from the Big Bang Theory and with many many other people, is that they are playing and they think they are real.  There is nothing wrong with playing, but it is important to know "real" and "imaginary."  Remember kindergarten?  That's one of the standards.  Real.  Pretend.

And so Penny from the Big Bang Theory plays at being a housewife.  Cool.  Then there are those who play at being homeless.   Or black.  Or blind.  Or in a wheelchair.  I suppose they believe they can develop empathy if they experience something.

But here's the thing: that's not how it works.  That's not how any of this works!

Empathy is the ability to sense the feelings and experiences of another.  It should lead to compassion. It shouldn't lead to the smug sense that you KNOW how it feels to be (fillintheblank) and can now be the impassioned spokesperson for the underprivileged.

Maybe if you are particularly non-empathetic you need to actually experience something, but then it is your experience not theirs.  And it is going to be different.

If you dress in a dirty $300 parka and sleep in the park instead of your home in order to experience homelessness, you are not experiencing homelessness.  You are camping.

If you roll around in a wheelchair to experience paralysis, but can get up and open the door for yourself when you choose to do so, you are not experiencing paralysis.  You are riding in a wheelchair.

Any time you can wash off your black face, take off your blindfold, get up and walk home, you are not experiencing, you are playing.

Maybe you will have an aha! moment, and that's cool.  Use it.  But empathy comes from listening, hearing, seeing, feeling, without being.  You don't have to literally walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

If you are privileged, and you probably are in some way, be aware of what you have been given.  And use those gifts to help other people.  Even if you aren't exactly sure of what others are dealing with --- listen, then help.

And keep your hands, feet, and other objects to yourself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A special kind of stupid

It takes a special kind of person to stand on the shoulders of giants and say, "Really, this is the view? I've seen this."

And that is what Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (of Big Bang Theory) and many other women like her are saying when they say, "I am not a feminist."

Mrs. Sweeting even said it herself, albeit with a shrug:

"It's not really something I think about," she told Redbook magazine for its February issue, on newsstands Jan. 6. "Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around ... I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that's because I've never really faced inequality," she said.
And so you slap the women who did face inequality (and still do, Don't be stupid, girl.)

Cuoco-Sweeting, 29, who married husband Ryan Sweeting, 27, on New Year's Eve last year, said that she cooks for him "five nights a week: It makes me feel like a housewife; I love that. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but I like the idea of women taking care of their men. I'm so in control of my work that I like coming home and serving him," she told the magazine.

News flash: it is a hell of a lot more fun to cook five nights a week and dress in slutty underwear when it is your choice and not what you have to do. She plays housewife, but she isn't someone who is responsible for the daily drudgery of housekeeping without a creative (sort of) outlet of acting or something else, without a choice.

Kaley and everyone else need to send a great big thank you to all the women who did take the chance and fight the battles so we can play a housewife or a stupid slut. and so we can truly be actors, writers, doctors, and anything we want. Men need to thank these women for freeing them from the restrictions of cavemen mentality. We need to thank the men and women who broke free from Victorian role playing and gave us the privilege of saying (no matter how delusionally) "I have never really faced inequality."

And every damn body who benefits from the fights of those women (and men) needs to stand up and say, "I am a feminist." And if you want to be a feminist who wears slutty underwear and cooks every night, go for it. NOW you have the choice.