Ripples in Culture

Article may contain triggers

 

 

When I was growing up, I always thought about in history how interesting it was that these major events happened and how it shaped and changed our culture. I always wondered about how people felt about it and what they thought. How their public view differed from their private view and if it changed their world view. I often asked my dad about these events and what he thought of them. I liked comparing how he saw the world and thought of the world and how it differed from how I saw the world. There are certain moments in history that change our society and change us, moments where the world stands still.

There have been many moments like that over the past couple of years for me and for many other young women. I have felt paralyzed many times while watching the news. One of these moments was waking up and finding that Trump was in office after painfully watching the polls and hoping that the last few states would pull through. Another was sitting on my bed, crying with my mom as we watched Hillary’s Concession Speech. The most recent one was, interestingly enough, at the bar on a Saturday night as I watched the news play that Kavanaugh had been inducted into the Supreme Court. I stood there in shock, open mouth turned to close mouth as I turned to my boyfriend and said nothing, just a series of exhales.

(Photo by Luis Galvez)

The most surprising thing to me about this news was what I thought in a series of clips after. I was shocked and disappointed. At first, I was just shocked thinking, “Oh, no” and I found myself saying in my mind, “Well, he almost raped her. He didn’t actually.” Both these things, both the swearing in and my first few thoughts were terrifying to me. I began to contemplate the thoughts I had and even thought about them in depth the next day. Why did I think that? Why was that something that crossed my mind? Why did I easily correct myself after it though? How is this still something I could think as a woman and as an educated woman?

And then I realized that my first thought was not something that I actually thought or believed, but something that I have been subliminally conditioned to believe. That though I attended a “good” school, in a “good” neighborhood and was pursuing higher education I was not, and am not excluded from the “rape” culture of our society. We are bombarded through magazines, ads, social media, music, television, movies and so many more aspects of our culture to think that objectifying women is okay--that certain actions are permissible if they meet and reach specific criteria. We glorify sex but don’t take the time to teach young people how sex is so much more than a physical act. We fail to teach consent and by default fail to teach true respect toward each other. We teach children to say “sorry” but not why they are apologizing. We tell them to hug and make up but not to ask if that person wants a hug. And these children, these young people we teach, will eventually become adults, adults who vote, who hold jobs, and adults who create our culture.

(Photo by Benny Jackson)

Someone said to me, about Kavanaugh, “It doesn't’ affect us directly,” but it does. This affects our society, our culture, our politics and what we represent as Americans. It shapes our culture, and we are the ones that create that culture by the choices we make, by those we vote into office, by what we say on the streets to what we share on social media. It makes me wonder and makes me think what the ripple effects this will have into the future. It makes me hopeful for change. It makes me scared for a lack of change. It makes me hopeful for conversation. A conversation that will be open and honest, reflective and revolutionary. One that will gift belief to survivors and change into policies--respect to fellow humans and education to all.  I hope that someday my kids come to me like I came to my parents and ask, “How did that even happen?” That they will be in disbelief that that's what life was even like.