Monday, April 11, 2016

Unintentionally offensive

I can be pretty offensive at times and I accept that. (No, that's not the end of this post)

Hey, it's that girl from that show I didn't watch!
I assure you, if it's loud and overt then it's deliberate and intended to shock and appal, usually for comedic value.

However, in recent times I have noticed that I have become unintentionally offensive as well, and that has come as a bit of a surprise to me. Not the least with how often I seem to do it.

I was brought up in a family where racism and sexism were not acceptable and not tolerated, which was convenient, because none of us were sexist or racist.

Education was the key, and not just at school!

We had, and still do have, friends from all nationalities, background and walks of life. My family is made up of men and women, foreigners and locals. People with different life experiences.

But you know what?

I was brought up mostly in the 70s and 80s.

Guess which one is me?
What was good and proper back then; tolerance, understanding and acceptance, has changed.

The transition from the overt sexism/racism of those times, to the subtle or permissive sexism/racism of the 2010s and beyond, has, to a certain extent, snuck up on me.

Recently, I have been watching the excellent series 'American Crime Story - The People vs OJ Simpson'. A dramatisation of the trial from the 90s of the OJ Simpson case where he was charged/accused of murdering Nicole Brown (his ex-wife) and Ronald Goldman (a gentleman in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Excellent Series about a Non-Excellent person
The trial was twisted to become a racial issue rather than a murder case, largely thanks to Det. Mark Fuhrman. He used the 'n' word but denied it. It was then proven he used it a bajillion times, and all hell broke loose in the trial.

So, during my post-viewing video searches, I checked out youtube and found an interview with the Detective and Oprah Winfrey.

Det.Mark Fuhrman - kinda ruined the OJ Trial
The topic got to racism and whether Det. Fuhrman was a racist because he used the 'n' word.

He of course said no, but the added bonus was Oprah asking both Fuhrman and her audience the following;

"If you tell a racist joke, are you a racist?"

and

"If you laugh at a racist joke, are you a racist?"

To both of those, the audience and Det. Fuhrman said, "No".

Oprah agreed. I agreed as well.

But, that was 1996.

It's now 2016.

In twenty years, things can change.

In fact, in twenty years, things have changed

My answer to Oprah's questions today are very different, but still start with "No...".

"If you tell a racist joke, are you a racist?"

and

"If you laugh at a racist joke, are you a racist?"

No, but what kind of message are you sending to other people when you laugh a that this kind of shit? That it is okay? What you are doing by not calling this stuff out as 'offensive' or 'inappropriate' or 'not funny', is allow it to persist. You allow the attitudes to remain.

Not everyone is a racist, but if you don't call out inappropriate racist comments when they are made, you are contributing to racism being acceptable to others. You are perpetuating the "softness" some people feel about racism, like "it's okay if I'm not picking on someone directly".

It's simply not.

The same goes for sexism.

It's no longer enough to say "I'm not sexist, because I never pick on women".

Good on you sport, that's a great start, but you know what, not making demeaning comments, rape jokes, 'get in the kitchen' jokes, the sorts of  ridiculing things that people often say about women or girls, to women or girls or men or boys, is actually how the current and next generations get this shit out of their habits.

"Come on man, "I'm only having a joke."

Lol - Not funny
Yeah, not so much anymore.


I'm not racist or sexist or a homophobe or whatever anti-something sentiment there is...

...but...

Am I allowing these attitudes to remain thanks, in part, to my blase approach to my language?

It seems as though I am.

So it's time to stop, not just for the good of others, but for the good of me!

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