Lately there’s been a lot going on in the news and media dealing with the three social issues that I like to think of as the most important social issues to grace the last century and a half. It’s not that these issues haven’t been around for a whole lot longer than that–they’ve been around since the beginning of social construction in civilization. However, in the last 150 years, these issues have come to the surface and been tackled time and again in the rising time of modern, western, and industrial civilization. You can probably guess the three issues I’m talking about: Race, Sexuality, and Gender Equality. And though we’ve reached a time in history when it seems that people can live in free and peaceful harmony and equality, there is still so many things left to be said and addressed. I worry profusely for those who think otherwise. Articles like this one, from Fox News, makes it clear that there is still a long ways for the world to go before we really reach equality.
When we play this pointing fingers game, this blame-game, this “who’s right and who’s wrong?” game, I know the world’s vision of rights, equality, and justice is still skewed. After all, equality is not about turning the hate from the oppressor to the oppressed, or simply switching the roles of these two, or even considering one side the “oppressor” and one side the “oppressed”; rather, equality is about just that–seeing both sides as equal, both sides as the same, and not sides at all, but rather one. We are all people; we are all of the same species. Time and biology and heritage has told us and shown us that we have our individual differences, but these cannot be generalized, not on more than an individualistic scale; I am no more different from my brother, or any other man than I am from my mother or any other woman; biologically or otherwise. I do not think that men are less than women, I do not hate them or think them less than me for being raised in the same paternalistic society that I was. In fact, I believe that most men, like most people in general, are decently capable of reasoning through the social constructs of our culture, and any society really, when they take the time to do so, and really take into account all points of view, in accurate measure. However, I also think that some women, just like some people in general, are just as capable of confusing the truth about equality with very well-spoken but woefully ill-directed opinions and observations about society. There is sexism, and racism, and homophobia prevalent everywhere; it happens in large scale (like the Trayvon Martin case–whether or not either side let race involve their judgement seems to be debatable; however, with the media and the response of the masses, the issue of race is still an undeniably large one in our society), but more often than not it happens in the small scale, in the comments, and the jokes, and the side remarks, and the small judgments we make everyday.
And I just think, what’s wrong with all of us? Why do we put up with all of the small stuff? The small stuff is what fuels the fire; the big stuff is just the consequences of that fire. And at the same time, why do we spit out all that small stuff?
I’ve been watching a lot of The Office lately; I know, you’re probably thinking “Oh, yeah, Michael Scott is pretty bad about all of that,” and while, yes, when Michael Scott opens his mouth, I hear a lot of shocking things that I would not be surprised to hear come out of the mouths of a lot of people, I was actually thinking more about how everyone in the office just kind of puts up with it, particularly Pam.
Don’t get me wrong, the reason I have grown to love the show so much is Pam and Jim’s love story, and I really admire Pam’s self-awareness, and her ability to go along with things and remain professional. However, it disappoints me and kind of frustrates me that she puts up with so much blatant sexism. She is clearly overtly sexualized by her male coworkers, and particularly by her boss, but I just can’t understand why she doesn’t stand up for herself. Yes, she does not go along with their sexism–if they request something of her that makes her feel uncomfortable, she defiantly says, “no,” but most of the time she just sits there and takes it quietly. Maybe she is just more mature than I am, but it frustrates me to no end how passive she is! And I wonder, are most people this passive? Is this why we just take the small stuff, and let it accumulate into the big, fiery disasters that are tragedies like the Trayvon Martin case?
Who knows, maybe I would be just as passive if I was subjected to the sexism, racism, and homophobia that occurs on a regular basis in the fictional Dundermifflin office. But I’d like to think otherwise, and I hope you do, too.