Are We Easily Offended?

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: “We aren’t allowed to say… anymore”. I’m guessing most of us have said “you can’t say that” (mostly to grandparents and older generations with questionable views), or changed a word we’re going to say to another more ‘correct’ one. But, is it the rules of what we can say that have changed, or simply what people will and won’t tolerate? Just because you “could” say it before, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should’ve.

Society has changed. People have more rights, and people are more aware of those rights. Yes, it’s still a predominantly upper-class white male dominated world (how fab). But people can stick up for themselves more. They know when they don’t have to “tolerate” or “deal with” being mistreated. They know how they should or shouldn’t be treated. For example, I should be treated like the gift to the world that I am. So, people know that they don’t have to listen to derogatory words used about them. They don’t have to put up with it anymore.

I admit, people do seem to be a lot more sensitive in the past, with people constantly choosing their words carefully to avoid offending someone or being labeled as discriminatory in some way. But is being aware of the effects of what we say necessarily a bad thing? Shouldn’t we have to think about what we say and how it will impact others? God FORBID having to think of the consequences of what you do.

Sometimes, people do just seem to want to look for hurt and malice where there is none, or as my ma would say “some people are while easily offended”. People need to be aware of whether the offence is the responsibility of the speaker or hearer. Someone can take offence even if nothing “offensive” was actually said. It’s like if you tell someone they look like their ma – it’s not offensive, but some people get offended by it. Not me though, don’t worry, Claire.

Even vegans are getting involved (how unlike them) with some claiming that phrases like “don’t flog a dead horse” promote and normalise mistreatment of animals. Even though the phrase clearly says not to beat an animal but okay.

There’s always extremists who take it a step further, and say that things which aren’t offensive, are. The problem is that this hides the actual issues with things people say. If you ask people to change words or phrases because they’re derogatory or offensive, then people will change. But if you demand unreasonable changes, then people won’t listen and they’ll not change anything they say.

People need to be more aware of the consequences of their actions. If you want to say something, fine. But if no one wants to hear it, then it’s not fine.

There’s a difference between when something’s unwanted, and when it’s wrong. Will I be offended if you call me ugly? No, because I got 100 likes on my selfie probably. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? No.

Will I be offended if you make a sectarian comment? Oh, honey, yes. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? You betcha.

Let’s be real, we’re not running out of words anytime soon. New words are constantly made up and added to our vocab (my personal fave is “yeet”), so if you can’t use a certain word, find another one. Preferably one that won’t make people angry. Or, better yet: keep your rude opinions to yourself. Problem solved!!

It’s pretty straightforward – if people don’t want to be called something, don’t call ’em it. Drake’s real name’s Aubrey, but he doesn’t like it (wonder why) so wants to be called Drake. So what do we do? We call him Drake. See how easy it is??

Even if you don’t agree with not being able to say a word/phrase without judgement or backlash, why not save yourself the bother and confrontation by keeping it tucked away in that lil brain of yours. Why make controversial comments and then complain you’ve had a backlash?

To sum: stop pissing people off.
The end.

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The “C” Word

Culture. Well, what other word would I be talking about? Tut TUT. Anyway, if you’ve been on social media recently (or Buzzfeed in particular), you can’t seem to scroll far without coming across the word. It seems that every time a song, music video, or fashion photography is released, it comes into play. All this talk of culture and appropriation got me thinking, what actually is culture? Well, let’s ask boy George, shall we?

What a man

Culture is: “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”

These “people” include races, religions, nationalities and ages – just because two people are from the same place, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have the same culture. A Parisien Islamic pensioner and Parisien Catholic teenager will obviously have cultural differences (duh).

So, culture includes what we do, think, eat, wear and how we act and behave. But where does it end? Is burning other nationalities’ flags “culture”? What about shooting people? Colonisation? Fast food? Not saying thanks to the bus driver? (Eugh, imagine) Is this “culture”?

How big do these “people, groups and societies” have to be for their behaviour to qualify as “culture”? Can any behaviour done by these groups by classified as culture?

A group of a certain race, religion, nationality and who support a certain soccer team shout sectarian and racist songs and abuse at matches (hypothetically of course, this would never happen). This is a group which share views and attitudes, and this is a social behaviour after all, so does that make it culture?

People seem all too quick to excuse a behaviour by saying it’s their culture. It eliminates their responsibility and shifts the blame. It’s not them choosing to act that way, it’s out of their control – it’s instilled in them, it’s how they were raised. Headers.

We need to stop using “culture” as a justification. Not only does this skew what people think is “okay”, it also undermines actual culture. If anything can be classified as a cultural behaviour, then it loses its definition. We lose the ability to distinguish and tell the difference between what we should deem unacceptable and acceptable.

As well as this, a group of people behaving a certain way and branding it “culture” creates a stigma and association attached the wider group they’re a part of. This results in stereotypes of nations, races and religions, having them branded and labeled as a whole. Spoiler alert: not all Irish people are alcoholics and drunks, despite what films repeatedly portray. Very badly, and usually with a Scottish accent, might I add (@ Gerard Butler- you brought our country shame).

Good.

Anyway, recently there seems to a rise in people defending and wanting to “protect” their culture. Even if said culture involves discrimination or abusive behaviour. So, why the desire now more than ever to retain it?

Well, we live in a world where cultures seem to be blending into one – shoutout to multinational corporations !! No matter where you are in the world, you can most likely eat the same things and buy the same brands. Globalisation means that sadly, small and local firms are being put out of business by the big dogs.

Don’t get me wrong, these companies allow us to pay less for products, order food despite not speaking the language, and make things more accessible. But what don’t they do? Pay tax, yes. But offer a sense of “home”. They offer it to visitors, but not natives of the country. Nothing screams ‘traditional’ like a Bershka or H&M. That’s the real reason I go on holiday.

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You can go abroad, walk down the city’s main street, and feel like you’re home. Same shops, same language (shoutout to English speaking countries for apparently being the only ones not to learn another language !!) and thanks to global warming, the same weather. How FAB.

In a time where everything’s blurring to become more similar, of course it’s important to preserve traditions and culture (ones that don’t harm others, just to clarify). Things that make us unique, things you can’t get or do just anywhere. But first, we have to stop using it as a scapegoat for acting like eejits.

How Social Media Has Helped Empower Women

Here we are again. Social media. Most of us have it, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Bebo (ah, those were the days). The list goes on. We rely and depend it on really on a daily basis, with so many of us glued to our phones. What did we ever do without it? TALK to each other? Perish the thought.

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Social media hasn’t just provided us with ways to connect with new people and interact with friends and families no matter when or where they are. It hasn’t just enabled the government to collect an abundance of personal data and keep tabs on where we are, who we’re with and what we’re doing. It hasn’t just given us ways to stalk our exes and judge their new partners. It’s also given women platforms and opportunities which have helped empower them, enabling them to speak up and be heard. Or ‘read’, rather.

Social media gives women a channel to speak out about their personal experiences and share them with others. From something trivial like what they ate for breakfast (who honestly cares?) to more pressing issues like their experience on the train that morning. That last one wasn’t a sarcastic comment (for once). Women are sexually assaulted on public transport on an alarming and disturbing scale. So much so that the British Transport Police have launched a TV campaign urging women to report it.

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Hashtags such as #TimesUp, #WhenIWas and #MeToo among others have provided women with a channel to speak up and share their sexual assault experiences. Women share things that they have kept built up for months, years, decades without telling anyone. So why are they tweeting about it?

Everyone has their own reasons, to generalise would be unfair. But here are a few common ones:

1) They feel as though they have a voice and their story is heard

2) It’s easier to type than say face-to-face. We’re all guilty of resorting to messaging rather than doing something in person, because you can to some degree reduce confrontation, embarrassment, and rejection.

3) The audience.

4) There’s a degree of anonymity which gives extra confidence and reduces potential embarrassment or fear.

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This was the least creepy ‘being anonymous online’ photo I could find

If you’re going to report an incident to someone, who do you go to? Your friend? Family? What are they going to do? They can’t (legally) punish the perpetrator. So, go to the police? What if they don’t believe you? Do you have evidence? Witness statements? Did you somehow manage to capture this on video? A signed confession and DNA samples? No? Oh. Well, then, hmm, that’s tough. How do you know you’ve told the right person? What if you haven’t, will the message be passed on?

Few women report incidences of sexual, physical, or emotional/psychological abuse. Sadly, the criminal justice system has failed so many of these. What do you do when you’re not being listened to and being ignored by those supposed to help you? Go elsewhere. So we go online. We tweet about. We tell everyone. Maybe we’ll be listened to when the problem is so big that it can’t be ignored. Do you think one woman coming forward inspired a national campaign about sexual assault on public transport? Sadly, the police want numbers. They want ‘big’ numbers. How many women have posted their experiences online? How many of them do you think would go to a police station and report it there? In person, a woman can speak about her problem. But thanks to social media, women, as a collective group, can shout about it.

Now just say the police do choose to ignore this (imagine that !!), even though they do have a ‘big’ number and evidence. Do you think Twitter can ignore it just as easily? These admissions are liked, favourited, retweeted and shared. Most likely millions of people have seen at least one of these entries. We all know that once something is online, it’s there forever (dun dun dun). Yes, that goes for those photos of you when you went through your ‘nobody understands me’ goth phase. And your full fringe phase *shudders* – don’t worry, we all had one.

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Why stop one perpetrator and try to change their behaviour, when you can try to stop and change the behaviour of a whole society? Social media is making a massive audience aware of these issues and incidents which have sadly become normalised, and a taboo. It gives a glimpse into others’ lives and what lets us understand and get an idea of things we may have had no idea even happened.

Being able to share these stories means that women can see that they’re not alone. Which, in a way is sad because it shows the scale of how many people are subjected to such horrendous behaviour, and how often it happens. Women can find support and reassurance from total strangers, people who have absolutely no loyalty to them. You know if you tell your best friend something that they’re going to have your back; so having strangers treat you this way is in a way more reassuring because they’re less likely to comfort or support you if it’s undeserved.

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So, despite the issues and negative impact social media has had on women in today’s society, some good has come of it. Good in the form of empowerment. Women have spent too long being silenced, so post a photo of your breakfast, take your duck-face selfies, share your experiences. You go gurl. *sassy click*

How to Act: A Girl’s Guide

Well, here are we again. A sequel to my How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide. I’d say it’s due to popular demand, but really I just have a lot of built-up feelings on the matter. This ‘guide’ is about how girls should act and behave. After all, there’s no point looking the part if you can’t play it, right? So, grab your notebook and a pen, and get ready for some valuable little tips and lessons.

 

General Behaviour:

Bat your eyes at any opportunity. It keeps your eyes clear of dirt and makes you look endearing. Not too much though, you don’t want to look like you’re having a spasm or twitch.

Smile. At all times. If your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling hard enough. Imagine you’ve got string attached to the corners of your mouth which is being pulled. In serious or sadder situations, ‘smize’ (smile with your eyes), because you should always appear bright and lively.

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Don’t show extreme emotions. You must remain calm and collected at all times. If you get angry, you’ll be considered a ‘bitch’; if you’re crying, you’ll only make those around you uncomfortable. If you’re too happy or excited, you’ll be considered loud and “in your face”. In case of emergencies when you accidentally let your emotions get the better of you (rookie mistake), blame it on hormones. Or your period.

Act ditzy. Men think it’s cute, and you seem more fun. Not too ditzy though, or you’ll be called an ‘airhead’. If you happen to be blonde, brace yourself for some really great jokes coming your way. In the rare case that you are in fact smart, don’t let people know. It’s emasculating and belittling. Why would you want to lower others’ self esteem? Don’t correct others if they’re wrong, either – it’s embarrassing for them. Besides, nobody likes a ‘know-it-all’.

 

Speaking:

Don’t raise your voice. This is sort of a mute point because you’ll only speak when spoken to, so you’ll be given adequate time to respond. If you’re not given an opportunity to respond, then your input clearly isn’t wanted.

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Don’t question anything. It only undermines people, you wouldn’t want to do that now, would you? The only questions you should ask are: “What?”, “Can you help me?”, “What do you want for dinner?”and “How was work, honey?”

Always support your partner’s ideas. Tell him that remortgaging the house to invest in capital bonds is a great idea. Why would you want to make him sad? Besides, I hear “Brexit” is doing wonders for the economy, so it could be a great time to invest.

Laugh at your own expense. If you make a mistake (which you likely will, you are a woman after all), the best way to recover is to make a little joke blaming it on your gender. Some favourites which never fail are: “Well, that’s what happens when you let me out of the kitchen!”, “I should’ve stuck to making sandwiches!” or “Too busy thinking about shoes!” If you make a mistake at work, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re getting paid 18% less than your male colleagues, so less is expected of you anyway.

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Physical Behaviour:

Cross your legs. Always sit with your legs crossed. Don’t ask why, you just do. You get used to the knee pain.

Don’t open doors. Stand outside and wait until someone else comes along and opens it for you. Don’t you know that doors are heavy? You could snap your little elbows.

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Look at this smart gal patiently waiting to get into work

Don’t carry heavy items, wait for someone to help you. It’s not safe, and men feel more masculine when they have to help. Plus, you could end up breaking a nail, yikes.

Don’t drive. You’ll be a horrible driver. You can’t parallel park and you’ll only spend the whole time looking at yourself in that wee mirror. Plus, airbags will take all your lovely makeup clean off your face. Now, wouldn’t that be a shame?

-Sidenote: There’s an impressive amount of stock images there are of women doing this. These are just my faves. And the few without ‘Shutterstock’ plastered all over them.

Ignore unwanted physical contact. Don’t confront others, they might harm you. It’s better to keep your head down, say nothing and walk away. You could report it, but would you want to get someone in trouble over a bit of miscommunication?

 

Work:

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Bangin’ tune, dontcha think?

Earn less than your partner – do not become more professionally successful. This means not applying for promotions or jobs which require qualifications. Not that you should have any qualifications. Better yet, don’t get a job. The home won’t make itself after all.

Don’t ask for a pay rise. You would get paid more if you deserved it. The fact you’re even allowed to work is privilege, don’t be ungrateful.

Don’t go for promotions either. You’ll never be picked as your male colleagues are much more qualified and better suited. You’d only be wasting your employer’s and colleagues’ time. Just get a job where there are no career building opportunities, problem solved.

 

Home (where you belong):

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Keep the house clean and tidy. Well nobody likes mess, silly.

Be maternal. You should be able to stop a crying child within 3 seconds. You must of course want children, a career is no goal for any sane lady. Your body was made to procreate and give life. It would be sinful to waste this.

Make a continental breakfast every morning. Ensure you have croissants, fruit salad, pancakes and orange juice ready on the table. Your family will only ever ignore these and have a piece of toast on their way out, but isn’t it nice to have choice? It’s not like you have anything else to be at anyway.

 

Eating Out:

Choose your food carefully. If you order something fatty or calorific, people will pull faces and make comments like “I like a girl that can eat” which makes it seem like you shouldn’t be ordering it. But, if you order something healthy like a salad, people will pull faces and pass comments about how it’s “rabbit food”. You can’t win, really. It’s safer to stay at home. I’m sure you make a lovely roast, anyway.

Which reminds me, don’t order “the chips”. You may want chips, but if you order them, people will say things like “Oh, you’re having chips?” “Cheat day today then?” “How many syns is that?”, order something else, like the salad. And have a few of your companions chips. I’m sure they won’t mind.

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Oh. Maybe they will..

 

There you go, folks. Now you know how to act like a proper lady! These are basically some of the things that women spend their whole lives being told. Think I’m being dramatic? Well I don’t. Then again, I’ve grown up seeing these ‘rules’ everywhere, so I don’t really notice them anymore.

 

Gender Roles Are Changing – So Why Aren’t Ads?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but I’ve barely had a chance to get out of the kitchen to do so.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “here we go again, another feminist rant”. Well, before you roll your eyes (they’ll get stuck up there, you know), hear me out.

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Who is the typical lead role in ads for cleaning products? Kitchen appliances? Childcare products? Yep, that’s right, a woman.

Why is that?

Studies have found that cleaning, housework and childcare duties are typically performed by females. So of course, companies are going to target that demographic; I mean, it would be silly to not target your primary users, right?

If we’re going to picture ourselves using products, the ads need to be relatable, and what other way is there than to be similar to the person using the advertised product?

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But, it’s a cycle.

Products are aimed at women because women are the primary users of said products. But women are the primary users because they’re always the demographic shown using the products.

These products are aimed at women, so women buy them. So they continued to be aimed at women, who continue to buy them. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Women will see these ads and think “oh, that’s aimed at me, I should be using that”.

Men will see these ads and think “oh its aimed at women, it’s not relevant to me” and thus not pay attention. And vice versa for male-targeted advertising.

If it’s not aimed at you and it’s not for you, why would you go buy it? I don’t see ads for chainsaws and think “hmmm, must get me one of those.”

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Ads don’t just sell products, they sell lifestyles and societal norms too. They create desire. To achieve the ‘desired’ lifestyle shown in the ad you should act how the actors are acting, use what they’re using, behave how they’re behaving. You should picture yourself as them.

It just so happens that the ‘desired’ lifestyle tends to consist of sexist and old-fashioned gender roles. Gender roles which reflect a sexist and old fashioned society.

But, things have changed are changing. More men are helping out around the house and with child care. Women are leaving the kitchen to go out to work and have careers. Men *gasps* make their own sandwiches.

Yes, our society does ~sadly~ tend to follow traditional gender roles – but maybe that’s because that’s all  we see? In a way, these ads reinforce the sexist and old-fashioned gender roles.

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Surely if cleaning and childcare products were targeted at males, then more males would use them? If you show women using home decor products and gardening tools, maybe we’d use them more because we would be able to see ourselves using these products? (I mean I personally wouldn’t but that’s not the point)

My point is, ads should be changing to reflect the changing society that we live in. Not reflecting the society we did live in. Do they not use PESTLE? Please tell me I didn’t sit through 5 years of hearing about PESTLE analysis to find out companies don’t actually use it.

– Brief recap: PESTLE is a ‘fun’ way to remember the components of external market influences; Political, Economic, SOCIAL, Technological, Legal and Environmental. My GCSE Business Studies teacher would be so proud. Basically companies are meant to analyse what’s going on in the world around them and be aware of changes, like yano, women being allowed to work and not being forced to be housewives? Wee things like that.

Companies and advertisers need to respond to these societal changes. I mean, why limit yourself to 50% of the population? Targeting both sexes gives you access to a whole other demographic. Double the potential customers, double the potential sales, double the potential dolla.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we have come on a bit from the old days of women in aprons baking pies and cleaning while their husbands are busy at work or ignoring their children.

There have of course been ads with women doing DIY, men changing nappies (yes, you can do it too) and cleaning, and- dare I say it, women working. But the sad thing is, these ads aren’t the norm, they’re the rarity.

I think we need to see less distinct gender roles in advertising (and in general, for that matter). After all, how can you expect society to progress if you don’t show what it could and should be like? Equality. Make that the ‘desired’ lifestyle.

 

If you show multiple genders using the products, then multiple genders will buy and use them. Then you can target multiple genders who will continue to buy and use them.

Like I said, it’s a cycle. But I think advertisers need to start pedalling.