So, Jewel had an interesting post yesterday. There are a few (and update) more out there. And a twitter hash to boot. Social issues and our ability to connect with other people about them is challenging when you’re face to face. Let alone of the vast spaces of the interwebs.
I’m a white male, 6’1, Canadian, educated and aside from some words of encouragement, self-made. I do well for myself and my family. I am lucky in that my upbringing was in a more white-collar environment (though tinged with a decade-long bitter divorce between parents), which certainly gives a different view on, well, everything. My wife’s family is very blue collar and while some are educated, I would not assign that to school or reading but to life experience. One is uncomfortable with change, the other doesn’t even want to think about it.
And these are the people who are related by blood and within an hour’s drive!
Now imagine the social differences I have with someone in another country, someone who went through hell and back (and may still be there), or someone who lives in a more “socially advanced” culture. Doone has a recent article that focuses a fair bit on that. It’s really hard to empathize with someone half a continent away, with a different upbringing and set of values. What might seem minor to me might be a massive issue for them, and vice versa. Until you walk in their shoes, it’s damn hard to pass judgment.
And we get to the more recent blogo-deddon around a clearly disturbed individual who took the subject to the extreme. The messages are all over the place, but most boil down to the objectification of women.
Now, looking back before the interwebs, the message has pretty much always been there. The 50s are notorious for keeping women in the kitchen in their ads and Mad Men reflects that pretty damn well. Today though, while the message is perhaps less oppressive, it is massively more sexual. It is also incredibly more pervasive. What I mean by this is that 15 years ago, you could shut off the media. Today’s youth (and let’s be honest here, the issue is largely there) is constantly bombarded by these messages. There’s no relief. It’s one of the reasons I cut cable TV and why I personally select the media my girls consume.
I am seriously glossing over the topic, but I am ill-equipped to debate it. What I can do however, is include that mindset in my active conversations and postings. For example, I’ve mentioned that I like Bioshock Infinite and while Elizabeth is not the main character, in a way, she is. The Last of Us’ Ellie is pretty much the same. Lara Croft is a powerful woman, with a more rugged approach than sexual. Red in Transistor is friggin’ awesome. There are plenty of gender neutral games as well. That’s a message I can transmit, not only to the people reading but to my kids.
I can also discuss this topic openly with my wife. It’s not a 5 minute conversation, granted. It’s an entire culture shift. But it has to start somewhere and it might as well be here.