Life-isms

Aretha Was Onto Something

I’m a fairly voracious consumer of podcasts. I love them.

There was one podcast in particular I used to listen to (I won’t name it) that was centered around issues women face–essentially a feminist podcast.

Now, I don’t consider myself a feminist. I’m not a feminist for the same reason I’m not a Republican or Democrat (or a member of any other political party). There some ideas I can support, but not all, and I’m uncomfortable aligning myself with a group that only partially describes what’s important to me.

That being said, the content of this particular podcast was so fascinating and often covered interesting perspectives the social worker within me loved.

However, something about this podcast was very unsettling to me, and for months I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly bothered me.

And then one episode the hosts offhandedly made a remark about my religion, implying a need for equality for women of my faith.

Although this idea isn’t something I agree with, it doesn’t bother me as much when other members of my church support it–to each her own. But hearing it from someone not of my faith made my blood boil.

I remember just fuming. Feminism should be about supporting women as they think for themselves, form their own opinions, and then make decisions. Feminism should not be about telling women what to think and what their opinions and decisions should be! If someone tries to convince you you’re oppressed, that in itself is oppression. But again, I’m not a feminist, so maybe I’m missing the bigger picture.

After this incident I stopped listening. And then it occurred to me what had been bothering me all along. Although the content was great, along the way the hosts mocked any womanly role they felt was antiquated. It wasn’t overt, but they took on this awful fake British accent whenever they talked about cooking or cleaning or caring for the children. Implying these things are so below the modern woman. And it’s fine with me if they have that opinion. What bothers me is the disrespectful way of expressing that opinion.

Anyway, when I realized why this podcast bothered me, I had sort of an “Aha” moment. On social media–particularly Facebook–I found myself bombarded with things that made my skin crawl, not because of the opinion itself, but because of how the opinion was expressed. And so I started cutting it out. Whenever someone shares an opinion in a cutting format (however valid), I block the source (regardless of whether or not it aligns with my own opinions).

This experience was an interesting lesson on my role as a media consumer and also better informed the way I express my own opinions. There is so much mocking of other opinions on social media, and it’s engineered to create a stir. Unfortunately Facebook rewards this kind of behavior–the more comments (read: arguments), likes, and shares the greater exposure it gets. Unfortunately, respectful expressions of opinion don’t really go viral.

The exception being when all Aretha is askin’ for is a little respect.

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