There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see an example of someone online spouting some ridiculous rubbish as if they are revealing some deep truth. I’m not talking about differences of opinion, I’m talking about instances where the briefest moment of reflection would reveal to all but the stupidest person that what they are about to post is utter bullshit. So why don’t these people think before they post? Well, it’s not like they get punished for their stupidity. And they have role models in major media outlets and political parties who *should* be punished when they spew deliberate lies but never are.
So why should anyone care about thinking before they talk shit? Here’s where I start to sound like an idealist. You become a better person when you apply thought and consideration to everything you do. You don’t have to agree with me. Believe it or not, I’m actually mature enough to accept the fact that there are people who see things differently to me, place importance on different things and want different outcomes from life. But if I can take apart your bullshit with a single sentence then you need to shut the fuck up.
My latest bout of frustration was triggered by a young man on Twitter who declared that feminists think all vaginal sex is rape. I’m not naming him because I’m not trying to start a witch hunt, I’m trying to start a conversation. My first impulse was ignore it – not worth bothering with that level of stupidity. Then he followed it up saying how since watching a video that told him feminists think all vaginal sex is rape he’d given up on people. I get annoyed when my twitter stream is polluted with shit like this. Obviously an easy step for me to take would be to unfollow this guy and in many cases that’s what I would have done. I was pissed off at his ignorance but I was also giving him the benefit of the doubt, assuming he could be reasoned with so I responded (in what was quite a restrained way for me) tweeting: “you know you’re talking utter fucking horseshit, right? That is NOT said by feminists. It just isn’t.”
His response was to link to a blog that was the source of his ire. The blog was obviously written by a seriously damaged individual. Or maybe by a dude who’s trying to discredit feminists. Or maybe by a female so desperate for notoriety that she’s fallen into the trap of thinking all attention is good attention. Whoever writes it, it’s drivel and will tell you nothing meaningful about feminism. And being able to trot out actual real humans who believe this sort of crap and identify themselves as feminist is pretty much meaningless. I can give you members of major political parties who seriously believe that a subterranean race of shape shifting lizard people hold every position of power on earth. Does that mean they speak for every other member of those political parties?
Here’s where someone who doesn’t think (him) is vulnerable to someone who does think (me). When someone says/does something I disagree with I don’t simply focus on their words, I consider their motivation. I also consider what they actually said, not what they think they said or what they want me to see.
This guy has mentioned a video but given a link to an extremely obscure blog written by someone who calls themselves a “radfem”. There’s no way this guy has randomly stumbled on this blog so I ask him for his source and he points me to a video made by a well-known anti-feminist neckbeard on on YouTube (who I won’t dignify with a link). This video makes the same ridiculous assertion: because I have found something written by someone claiming to be a radfem it is legitimate to make the all encompassing statement that “feminists” think this. And the comments are a truly horrific parade of hate and bile. For every “get real, this is in no way representative of the feminist movement” there are dozens of “YES IT ARE! FEMIBITCHEZ JUST HATES MENS!”
This is where motivation becomes important. What was the video makers motivation for his statements? He isn’t an unintelligent person. I’ll go out on a limb and say he knows the statement “feminists say all vaginal sex is rape” is a lie. So someone who is capable of intelligent discourse makes a deliberately misleading and inflammatory statement that he knows will whip his reasonably large following into a frenzy. Why? A quest for notoriety? He really hates feminists and doesn’t care if he has to resort to lies to score points? He’s a pathetic, insecure loser who needs to convince himself that all of his failings are someone else’s fault? Maybe a combination of all of these, who knows?
But if you’ve repeated this lie (or similar lies) without thinking, what’s your motivation? The young man who triggered this rant acknowledged (when I pulled him up) that the statement “feminists think all vaginal sex is rape” is untrue. But he tweeted it. Multiple times. And he enjoyed the video. So what’s the motivation for spreading unfair stereotypes without any critical thought? People of all genders, races and creeds are guilty of doing this at some point so don’t get defensive and point out someone else doing it*. You can’t control other people’s behaviour – you can control yours. And using someone else’s bad behaviour to justify yours is a cop-out. The fact that you can point to someone on a different part of the political/racial/gender spectrum who is also saying/doing fucked things doesn’t make you any less fucked. That just means you’re both fucked.
So there’s my challenge for 2014: THINK! Think more. Don’t stop thinking. Acknowledge your error when someone points out your lazy thinking or total lack of thinking. You’ll never know everything so stop pretending you do. As soon as you think you can draw a line under any topic and stop thinking about it, that’s when you start moving backwards. Thinking isn’t always easy. It isn’t always comfortable. But it’s always the right thing to do. Think more. And bullshit less.
*A BRIEF NOTE: I know it’s possible to argue that I’m doing the exact thing I say you shouldn’t do – trying to modify someone’s behaviour. What I’m actually doing is attempting to start a conversation. If you obsess over this one point you’re aren’t clever – you’re insecure and the challenge to think and take responsibility scares you. Grow the fuck up.
P.S. Did it spook you to realise I knew what you were thinking?