I feel like I really should be writing about the anniversary of 9/11, Hurricane Irma and the psychology behind not evacuating or updating the Unproductive, Malignant, Narcissist WATCH with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s inadequate and pathetic attempts at “leadership” and refusal to open his Florida properties as hurricane shelters since Mar-a-Lago has come through everyone so far without so much as $17 million dollars of real damage, just fraudulent damage. But…
One thing about being a blogger is that you get to write about what’s on your mind. Sometimes that is timely and related to the news of the moment, and sometimes it is more personal and related to what is going on in your life. Like my last post about my excellent twitter adventure.
Since it is a social media thing, it follows the social media pattern. An intense number of reactions immediately following it, tapering slowly, and then falling off sharply only to have odd moments of revival.
My thoughts also follow a predictable pattern. Since I am a brooding ruminater by nature, I will be thinking about something long after everybody else has forgotten about it. I will also be thinking about things that most people just let go by without, seemingly, a second thought. My unfortunate snarky tweet is just one such thing.
So here’s my thoughts: (1) Most of the rebukes were surprisingly gentle. I suppose it is because most were from women? I was assured repeatedly that women are indeed different from men, so it’s fair to say that? Many were even thoughtful and expressing either through question or hope that I was joking. I am really grateful for that gentleness. (2) Jokes told out of context are difficult to get. Humor is about timing and context. It is well demonstrated that the people exposed to the joke who are inclined to act in the direction of the humor (racist, sexist, other oppressive humor) are more likely to act on it at their next opportunity. A prime example is the shoot the hurricane “joke” perpetuated on Facebook. My tweet falls into the same category, and I’ve written extensively about prejudiced norm theory. And, (3) men need to give up on much of our sexist jokes, phrases, language, and other symbols of dominant sexism just as I’ve written white people need to give up on racist imagery, symbols, and terms. White people don’t get to say nigger or make jokes about slavery and men don’t get to say bitch or make jokes about domestic abuse.
I think that in a truly egalitarian society such things aren’t necessary, but we aren’t egalitarian. We won’t be egalitarian until the dominate classes of people whites, men, and white men give up the institutional, structural, and interpersonal tools of establishing and maintaining dominance and oppression. One simple way to reject the interpersonal is to reject the interpersonal actions, behaviors, and mental processes that perpetuate it.
Given my past as the son of a single mother divorced in 1968 and living in poverty for many years after and knowing full well the sexist nature of the world by watching how my mother and family were treated, I get the oppressiveness and violence of sexism in all its ugly forms (institutional, structural, and interpersonal) better than many. I’ve lived that oppression and violence while being fully conscious of it. And, yet, I still make stupid mistakes like the tweeting.
Part of the problem is that there are people out there who will take my tweet as affirmation of their own sexism, but there are people who will take it and the responses to it that smarting off to sexist statements and sexist people is affirmed.
Oh, shit, is this what my mother meant? Crap, I am thick. Don’t you HATE these moments in your life?
So, I am super grateful that many of the people rebuked me gently and not with the full-throated vitriol that the social media environ is known for. But, that is not enough. Such behavior just advances the coarseness of our society and dialogue. No matter how often I tweet my apologies and links to my posts about it, few will see the apologetic tweet and fewer will read the post. It’s gotten 25 views as of this posting, which in its 24 hours of existence is only slightly better than my average. Just like the fellow with the shoot the hurricane event, he can’t take it back and someone could very easily be severely injured or killed because of it. Luckily, the only casualty, so far as I know, is by already battered ego. I mean, when you’re me, your ego takes a beating every day for some stupid thing you’ve done. If it weren’t this, it would be something else. There were a plethora of stupidity that I expelled into the world over the weekend, so take your pick. What’s one more?
To me, these are important ideas to put into the public discourse inadequate as it feels to be writing blog posts in the maelstrom of a twitter feed.