The Danger of a Single Story: The Remix

Hello Loyal Reader, 

 

Welcome back to another tour of Bennet’s mindscape. I’m here yet again to spit some

 f-a-c-t-s unto you for your enjoyment so sit back, relax, and get ready for a journey. There are moments in my life where I find myself viewing the same TED Talk over and over. Luckily it is one I’ve loved since I was in high school. The first time I heard it I was blown away by the insight the woman giving this talk had on behalf of the human experience. Everything she said was something I had always known deep down inside of me was true. “There has to be more”, I thought to myself. The “more” I’m talking about is what I’ll explore soon.

 Recently, I was required to watch this same video as an assignment for one of my education classes. Chimamanda Adichie is a well-known Nigerian author whose work spans from nonfiction, to short stories.  She’s also an over voice in one of Beyoncé’s songs where she talks about human equality, specifically, feminism and its definition which is, dope. Her Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” has truthfully rocked my world and continues to inspire me to look past my own assumptions and biases on behalf of other people living in the world. “What a great topic for an article, one that continues to explore the intricacies of masculinity” said me to me. So now, I give to you the danger of perceiving masculinity through only one story as well as other examples that I find to pervasive within societal dialogue. 

            What does one think of when one hears the word masculinity? Is it the macho man I seem to degrade in my articles? Is it something other? Adichie recounts the danger of perceiving people in only one manner throughout her video and I would like to do the same. When one paints “the other” in a specific frame, that is the frame “the other” will exist in, forever. I chose to direct this example towards “the other” because more often than not, we regard all people as being other than us. Furthermore, we cast ideals, assumptions, stereotypes, and words of aggression onto all people not just men. For as long as I can legitimately comprehend men have been subject to the same list of ideals, and I mean this quite literally. Who was staying at home keeping the cave tidy? Exactly. This is not to suggest that women have not been subjected to another list of ideals, trust me, I know they have. This conversation is directed to both the men and women who are still caught in societal assumptions that degrade their quality of life. Don’t worry, I got this. 

It is a requirement for men to inhabit some version of an ideal form in order for them to gain respect out of society, or at least this is how I feel. It is required that men be the strongest of the family, relationship, friendship, etc. To show any sign of weakness would be a blow to a man’s understanding of self-worth. It is required that men be dismissive when it comes to keeping tidy, being organized, being respectful. There have been moments in my life that I have had people come up to me and say “you’re just not like other guys” and as I take this as a compliment, I can’t help but wonder what this means. Am I some form of a man that no one has ever seen before? Or is the behavior I’m exhibiting so abnormal for a male to portray that it needs to be communicated to me that I am now “the other”? I understand this may be an over analysis of a well-intended compliment but it really gets me thinking.

This is the danger that Adichie and I are trying to make note of. There is never one story, there can’t be. Alright, imagine this. Someone has written a really good book, and I mean really good. Each character is different and look, someone just like you exists within the pages of this book. So you’re in this book, and all of the sudden someone makes an assumption on behalf of your favorite supporting character. Maybe it looks something like this: “Oh, don’t worry she’s a decent girl, she’ll take care of him. That’s her job right?”, or “He’s black so you know, just be careful”, but maybe it was something like “It’s just a word on the door of a gender neutral bathroom that has been used to oppress the presence of the African American culture, diaspora, and intelligence within the United States for hundreds of years, people use it all the time it’s not that big of a deal. Plus, this school will probably send an email about it and it’ll be fine” *cough, cough*. That book went from being really good to really bad very abruptly. These assumptions on the behalf of the other characters are not right, they are not just, and yet people sit by and let them float through the realities of our friends, brothers, sisters, classmates, peers, and neighbors as if they have no following repercussions whatsoever. Where is the danger in that? The correct answer is everywhere so I’ll assume that’s what you we’re thinking. There can never be one story. That is not how the world works and if it did, I hope there would be hell to pay. So please, the next time you characterize someone based on the story you’ve been reading, (more like force fed) correct the assailant and remind them that there can never be one form of the human being. To exist as a clone would be to never exist at all.