Today I would like to talk about being offended.
It’s very popular to be offended nowadays. There are several reasons for this. The most obvious reason is that many fucking offensive things are happening, particularly to women, on a daily basis. We have every right to voice our outrage about these issues.
The other reason, however, is that people want to be a part of the discussion. They want to show that they are participating, which requires an opinion on a subject. When in doubt, the opinion is universally negative. It is more desirable to say “I hate that thing” than it is to say, “I don’t care about that thing,” because hating gets us more attention than not caring.
Being offended is itself essentially a useless emotion. It can be useful if and only if the negative emotions we have about an issue are used in the process of taking charge and changing the world. If you see that a woman is being sexualized in a commercial, and you are personally offended by it, you might write to the company and demand that the commercial be taken off the air. You might even rally others to do the same, arguing that the commercial is demeaning to women and is detrimental to the image of women everywhere. Even if the company does not respond to your accusations, you have done a worthwhile thing by attempting to change the situation you didn’t like. What isn’t useful is sitting on your couch, watching the commercial and moaning about how offensive it is, before returning to your regularly scheduled episode of The Big Bang Theory. All you’ve really done is waste time and energy complaining about something you have no intention of trying to change, which isn’t what a grown ass woman should be doing.
The other potential problem with voicing offense is that, while you have every right to say something offends you, so do other people have every right to say whatever they want to say. That’s why it’s America™ – even complete assholes have freedom of speech, whether you like it or not. So by all means, exercise your right to protest, but acknowledge the fact that just because you didn’t like what someone said, does not mean that they have to be silent. Bro has just as much right to wear a shirt with bikini babes on it as you have to tell him that his shirt is stupid and he should feel bad.
Additionally, people have the right NOT to be offended, even if you think they should. If a fellow woman is not offended by something that you find offensive, that does not make you correct and her incorrect. A thing is only “offensive” as it relates to the reactions of the people experiencing it. Something that you find very disturbing may be totally fine to someone else, and we need to be accepting of that. Some women are not offended by catcalling. While I personally disagree and find catcalling abhorrent, I can’t tell those women that they should be offended. It is their right to choose how to react, and by telling them they should be offended, I am essentially telling them that they are too stupid to understand, and that my expensive education and I are better than them.
So remember: Your time is too valuable to waste it being offended, unless you are going to get up and fight for what you believe in. Happy fighting!