Over the past year, my Facebook has become a dumping ground for the hoards of links to political and feminist articles that I find interesting. On my list of Facebook likes I’ve followed the NO H8 Campaign, Transgender Student Rights, SlutWalk, and Planned Parenthood Action. My newsfeed is often overflowing with feminist activism, full of enlightening and fascinating information for me to share with all of my friends. So, a lot of the time, it’s easy for me to forget that not everybody is on the same page as me when it comes to equality.
But then the stalker-esque newsfeed reminds me when Facebook “friends” of mine post things like this:
The picture above is similar to one I stumbled across on my Facebook newsfeed this past weekend while browsing the internet at 2 o’clock in the morning. My initial reaction to the image was one of annoyance — it wasn’t the first time I had heard of the master key vs shitty lock analogy. But after the annoyance waned, I was left extremely frustrated and felt the need to say something.
There was a lot I could have said. I could have pointed out the general tone of slut-shaming that the message promoting, or the overall sense of policing women’s sexuality. The idea that a woman’s inherent worth as a human is somehow tied to the number of bed partners she’s had. Or, even worse, the simple dismissive tone of a valid point about the double standards that continue to exist in today’s world when discussing gender.
Instead, all I commented on the image was “no”.
Why? When there was so much I could have said about the intrinsic misogyny and sexism that a childhood friend of mine was sharing? Mainly because I knew that even in the world of Facebook, my justifiable anger at the meme would be dismissed as me overreacting and taking the so-called joke too seriously. As well, there was the fact that, at 2AM I doubted that my frustration would be welcomed.
Shortly after I posted that comment, my friend sent me a private message asking me what I’d meant by my succinct comment. I wish I could tell you that the discussion went well.
The conversation went from bad to worse, with my childhood friend trying to prompt me into admitting that I thought the photo was funny. I didn’t, I never have, and I still don’t. When that tactic didn’t work, he went on to claim — exactly as I first suspected — that I was overreacting to a silly Facebook meme that shouldn’t even bother me in the first place. And following that dismissal of my opinion, he chastised me and remarked on how he never overreacted to the supposed thousands of statuses on his newsfeed claiming that all men are jerks. In the end, the debate devolved at that point until we were both too angry to progress the conversation any further or concede to each other’s points.
Ultimately I’m okay with that though. What the experience reminded me was the importance of not being silent when I witness casual sexism taking place around me — no matter the time or venue. I don’t think it would have been better if I’d chosen to be non-confrontational and ignore the photo, because for me, seeing somebody I know perpetuating such statements? Reminded me of why I post all those feminist articles to my Facebook profile in the first place. Because it’s still relevant and it’s still necessary. And I’m not going to apologize for that.
The whole situation also reminded me that, my Facebook? Can be a place that keeps me happy and motivated and not bogged down by any sexists. So that childhood friend of mine may have gotten defriended, but I went and added ShoutOut! JMU to keep my newsfeed inspirational. I think it was a worthwhile trade, don’t you?