Not Up for Discussion: Discourse during the Trump Administration

 

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Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

 

While on a brief phase with Tinder (I know, I know), I encountered a situation that made me quit the app. I was talking to a person, let’s call him “Bob”, when I mentioned that I was a feminist. He took a bit to respond, but, essentially, stated that he had a “principled stance against feminism.” This is a major deal breaker for me (anyone who knows me, knows that I am pretty vocal about this aspect of my life) and, I told him so. Instead of dropping it and unmatching me, though, Bob said, “Here I was, thinking this country needed more discourse.” I did not respond, but his comment did get me thinking. Should we have a discourse about this? Or, are some things simply not up for discussion?

 

I concluded the latter. I thought to myself, you know, I do not feel like explaining to this random Tinder dude why I deserve rights and, frankly, I do not care to know why he thinks I shouldn’t. Obviously, discourse can be helpful in certain situations. I cannot deny that. Some examples include sorting out where to go to dinner with your friends, a debate about the legitimacy of the Electoral College, or deciding if a thesis statement has strong evidence. All of these are fine things that probably require some type of discussion. But, an issue I have noticed from the months leading up to the election until now is, people generally think it is okay to have a discourse about anything. The problem is-- some stuff is just morally (even, factually) correct and incorrect.

 

I will return to my first example: feminism. There should not, under any circumstances, be a reason why women do not deserve human rights. So, in theme with that, there is no legitimate argument for the negative side of this debate. Oh, you think feminists are hurting men? Spoiler alert: they aren’t, and if you think women being treated like humans violates you in some way, check yourself (looking at you, Bob). When I give a platform to a “principled stance against feminism,” I grant it authority and put it on par with my argument. It is violent to give oppressive opinions voice in any manner of speaking. The same goes for issues of racism, homophobia, etc. It is not cool nor edgy to say some people deserve less human rights than others. Even the term “devil’s advocate,” inherently implies an association with something evil and immoral.

 

You may be asking yourself, “Okay, Grace, I get it. But does that mean I should never engage with oppressive attitudes?”. In short, no. It certain situations, you should speak up. If you see people behaving in a harmful manner, do something about it. Advocate your cause. The issue arises when you pause and think, I wonder if I should hear what this neo-nazi has to say? Because, sure, freedom of speech exists and people will say whatever they want, but that does not obligate you to hear them out. Be aware of what’s going on and the hate oppressive groups spread, but do not give them a platform. Trust me, it’s in everybody’s self-interest.