The Quick Fix: Disability in Media

It’s July 2011 and the teaser trailer for the final instalment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy has just been released. Theories fly from every corner of the internet. There is a brief moment in the mini-trailer in which Bruce Wayne is seen with a limp and a cane. Are we seeing the after-effects of his back being broken on Bane’s leg? people wonder. Will the movie spend a portion of its screen-time focusing on Wayne’s life after his ordeal with Bane? Does he have a cane for a completely different reason, a mark of passing time and changing bodies that will complicate the plot arc of his return as Batman?

Now it’s 2013 and we all know that none of those theories were correct. We see Wayne limping around with his cane for a few scenes before Alfred tells him he needs to suck up all his angst (and mobility issues) and be Batman again. Wayne slaps on a ~~**MAGICAL KNEE BRACE**~~~, his mobility issues disappear, and are never mentioned again.

Oh, and then of course he gets his back broken. But don’t worry guys, he’s put in a prison-pit-thing and in a montage of working out and grunting and pained expressions, he’s all good again! But it was HARD! It did take WEEKS! Maybe even MONTHS! Wait, some of you were sort of expecting it to have some kind of lasting impact? Pfft, sure OKAY, yeah we’re going to make Batman disabled YEAH RIGHT GUYS THAT’D JUST BE STUPID.

Let’s go back in time a little more. Avatar was by no means a groundbreaking movie in any sense other than its computer generated imaging and special effects. But it most certainly was a very popular movie. A movie in which the main character is disabled, but spends the vast majority of screen-time trying to escape from his disabled body. Despite his disability, the main character still manages to spend most of the movie in not only a totally-abled body, but a super-abled body. As the main protagonist, we are of course meant to relate to him and be sympathetic to his feelings. If we were in his place, we think to ourselves, we would want to escape too. We don’t blame him for running off wearing his avatar. After all, we’d do the same, wouldn’t we? A whole lot of people saw that movie. A whole lot of people were supposed to sympathise with those sentiments.

In the fifth season of Supernatural, Bobby is paralysed from the waist down and becomes wheelchair-bound for basically the entire season. The fact that his disability wasn’t fixed by the end of the episode, or even the next one, gave me hope for the potential it presented. We got to watch Bobby coping with and working around the necessary changes in his life that came with being disabled, and at times it even made us think about accessibility as he struggled to do the things he used to be able to do and go places he used to go with ease. But in the end, with a wave of Crowley’s powerful demonic hand, Bobby literally gets up and walks out of his wheelchair, perfectly healed.

Supernatural does, of course, have a smaller audience than either of the aforementioned blockbusters. And in each case, the way the plot point of disability is dealt with and the way the character responds to their disability makes a lot of sense. After all, Batman is supposed to overcome anything, a soldier WOULD understandably hold a lot of resentment towards his body becoming wheelchair-bound, and Bobby is a similar personality type to that of a soldier. Many disabled people in the real world voice frustration with their bodies and even feelings of being betrayed by their bodies, etc. Those feelings are real, and they are valid, and they are legitimate.

But the fact is, these are not the only movies and TV shows portraying disability in this way, and they do not exist in a vacuum. Disability is repeatedly portrayed as an obstacle for the character to overcome, a burden for them to bear with great reluctance until the writers save them with a totally convenient magic cure. Characters are repeatedly portrayed as wanting to escape from their disabled bodies, and we are meant to sympathise with those feelings. When a type of body is constantly portrayed as being a disadvantage, as being something less-than-perfect, something that people strive to escape, that has real implications for people who have those bodies in the real world.

The use of the “quick fix” for disability in these media means that the long-term effects of living as a disabled person never have to be dealt with. It means TV show writers and movie makers can wash it off the whiteboard and carry on with the plot without a hiccup and without having to factor in a new aspect of plot or character. It means the makers of these shows and movies never really have to deal with the realities of having made a character disabled, they don’t have to deal with the complicated issue of yes there will be accessibility differences now and other uncomfortable, inconvenient, but totally important plot and character changes.

If Being Disabled isn’t like, totally the character’s entire identity and their entire point of existence, then it seems to be considered a barrier and an annoyance that should be swept away as soon as possible. But it severely limits the plot and character possibilities when we never get to see a person honestly and realistically portrayed as disabled. When disabled people are only ever either A Lesson to Be Learned or quickly fixed before it makes anything complicated, that’s an entire group of our population being completely erased and overlooked. And, as we should all know very well by now, that is a dangerous thing to do.

I am in no way an authority on disability rights and issues, and I in no way intend to be one. I have only recently started learning about disability; over the past year I have started following blogs and other online media regarding both mental and physical disability rights and justice. Because of my place of privilege as an able-bodied and neurotypical person, I have unfortunately had the option of not thinking about disability rights for the majority of my life. I am now making the effort to learn about my privilege, and share my awareness with other able-bodied people. I find that voicing my basic understandings of new concepts, flexing my writing muscles, giving a new topic some air-time in my writing, helps me to develop my understanding of said topic. Thus, this post is not meant as some Look I Know Everything About Disability Issues Aren’t I a Cool Ally kind of strutting, but as an exercise to help my little seedling of awareness sprout some more leaves.

If you want some help sprouting your own little seedling, here are some of the blogs I’ve been following (some are about physical disability, some are about being non-neurotypical) and of course a Scarleteen article for good measure:

http://icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com/

http://blog.cripchick.com/

http://feministsonar.com/

also just this whole tag: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/disability+rights

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/politics/no_big_deal_sex_disability

On Violence

Edit: Okay, this is just to make clear that I totally love Idle No More, and this is in no way a critique of what they’re doing or how they do it. I’m also not all like YO LET’S ALL START A VIOLENT REVOLUTION RIGHT NOW FUCK YES. I’m a big proponent of non-violent methods of protest. But I think it’s important not to immediately shoot down other kinds. I’m just trying to make people think a little bit before making grand, sweeping statements from some imagined moral high-ground. Now, with that in mind…

 

“I believe violence is NEVER the answer,” a girl announces proudly from the front row of desks.

We’re sitting in our squishy, height-adjustable, swivelling office chairs in the new building on campus, discussing decolonization and resistance movements in our Indigenous Studies class. Each desk has several electrical outlets installed, conveniently placed for our laptops (mostly MacBooks) to stay charged during the three-hour lecture. It’s minus twenty degrees Celsius outside, but we all have our jackets off in this comfortably-heated room with double-glaze windows.

“Non-violent methods are more productive.”

We read an article by Frantz Fanon, “On Violence”, about the decolonization movements in Algeria. Decolonization will always be violent, he says. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. But nobody seems to agree with him.

Non-violent methods are more productive?

That’s easy for you to say. That’s easy for any of us to say, sitting in our expensive room on our expensive computers completing our expensive undergraduate degrees. We’re cosy. We’re comfortable. Violent resistance is a theoretical abstract that is just so wonderfully easy to dismiss.

Don’t we need to consider the fact that maybe we can so self-assuredly say that “violence is never the answer” because we’ve never been put in a position where actually, maybe violence is the only answer we have left? Maybe deciding that “violence is never the answer” is much more straight-forward when we’re not faced with immediate, actual, physical violence? Maybe, just maybe, sitting in a university classroom in Canada and deciding that violence is never the answer is a bit different from the conclusion you might come to if you were living the experience of being actively, violently colonized.

Canada WAS actively and violently colonized, and the colonization of Indigenous peoples is ongoing and still violent, albeit in usually more covert, indirect, non-physically violent ways. I’m not dismissing that. But the idea that violence is never the answer — coming to that conclusion so easily and assuredly — often comes from a place of privilege. The privilege of thinking of state-endorsed violence as an abstract concept. We’re not faced with imminent physical danger as we sit in our classroom.

And it’s not that there aren’t people living in those situations who don’t still think that violence is not the answer. It’s not that thinking that violence is not the answer is only EVER a privileged opinion. It’s not that it’s a less legitimate opinion. It’s that those of us who live comfortable lives need to stop to wonder why that’s such an easy conclusion for us to come to, why we so immediately dismiss anyone suggesting violent resistance as “wrong” or “irrational” or somehow “behind the times”.

We value non-violent methods of protest so highly, and we consider them so much better than violent methods. If someone says “yeah actually, violence is sometimes called for,” we consider ourselves much more progressive and liberal and just nicer people than them. They’re advocating people KILLING people!!!!!!! Aren’t they?? HOW COULD ANYONE ADVOCATE THAT. They must be right-wing psychos! Or extremists! Why would they not see that sitting down and talking out our problems is just so much more civilized?

Civilized.

Another of the activists whose work we’ve been reading for this class, Taiaiake Alfred, talks a lot about resisting the colonialist framework; he says that trying to work within the framework, to try to get the government to recognise Indigenous people’s rights, is completely futile. To work within the colonialist framework (“Aboriginalism”) basically lends that framework legitimacy that it doesn’t deserve. Trying to make a place for yourself in that framework helps to support it and ensure that it stays in place. So, Alfred suggests, to effectively decolonize, Indigenous people need to break away from that framework, create their own, to stop from depending on the colonial systems.

People in class didn’t argue with that. Taiaiake advocates for non-violent means of decolonization, and everyone likes that. Idle No More comes up in the discussion, of course, and people think that it’s great that the movement is non-violent because then the media has no ammo to discredit them. They have to be viewed as legitimate now!

Legitimate.

There’s something underlying this discussion that doesn’t come up, and it bothers me, but I don’t say anything because I can’t quite think of how to articulate the feeling of yuck. But as the conversation goes on, the idea starts to form and by the end of class I am uncomfortable and I can identify why that is.

The professor asks a question that brings my issue into sharp focus.

“Who defines violence?”

“The colonizer.” We all know the answer. Gosh, we’re so self-aware. But nobody takes this further, nobody applies this to the assumptions and claims that we’ve all been making throughout the three hours of class. Non-violent means of resistance are always better. Violence is never the answer. Is it a coincidence that all of us, brought up in the West, in a colonialist school system, in colonized countries, unanimously agree that violence is never the answer? Why do we all agree?

Maybe because that is exactly what we are taught. By the colonial system. The colonial system that gets to define even the meaning of violence. The colonial system gets to decide what counts as violence, who’s a terrorist. But not only that; it also gets to decide that “violence is never the answer”. Because why would a colonialist system want anyone to think otherwise? Non-violent means of resistance can be a lot easier for a colonialist state to ignore. Do I think that non-violent means are NEVER effective? No, of course not. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason we’re all taught that violent resistance groups are wrong and bad and irrational and taking things too far.

We learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and “I have a dream”. We’re taught that Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are peace-loving, non-violent leaders of protest movements. Look, they are good! They are just, and their movements are successful! They are how protest leaders and movements Should Be!

Martin Luther King Jr. made many more speeches than just that one. How many of them have you read or heard? A lot of them were just as — if not more — stirring, inspiring, and effective… and also a lot less white-colonialist-friendly. A lot less “non-violent”. Same goes for Mandela and Gandhi. There were also protest movements that were explicitly violent, or a lot less dedicated to being non-violent, that we are taught are BAD BAD BAD, WRONG. TERRIBLE. Maybe we’re only learning about certain resistance leaders, and very particular parts of their histories and opinions, for a reason.

Maybe the colonialist state is choosing how we define and think of “good” resistance and “bad” resistance.

As I said, people in my class like Idle No More because they are non-violent and thus can’t have their acts misrepresented by the media. So people acknowledge that the media has an agenda, that when a resistance movement can be discredited, it will.

But nobody points out that the whole idea that a protest movement MUST BE NON-VIOLENT to be considered legitimate, is in itself a colonialist system’s means of discrediting a portion of resistance movements.  Somebody pipes up and says that being non-violent means that the colonizer will be more likely to listen. Hence why violent resistance movements are unproductive.

Maybe those who advocate violent resistance don’t care about being misrepresented by the media. Maybe they don’t care about the colonizer being more likely to listen. Maybe that’s because so far, the colonial system has come up with an awfully large number of reasons not to listen. The media, as extension of the colonialist system, will always be able to find ways to discredit a resistance that is inconvenient. So maybe working within the colonial framework of non-violent-is-the-only-way-to-go is futile. Because the colonial system is defining how people are even allowed to resist it. We’ll only listen to you if you say it nicely. No shouting! Stop being so aggressive! Maybe we’ll start listening if you’re more polite! Say please! Say thank you! Say “sir”! It means the colonizers get to move the goalposts and forever decide that your resistance efforts aren’t legitimate enough. Aren’t civilized. And so they don’t have to listen to you.

So maybe those who advocate violent means of resistance are fed up with that and are choosing to ignore the framework that non-violent = good, legitimate, worth listening to and violent = bad and irrational.

After all that, it might sound kind of contradictory of me to say that I’m NOT arguing that violent resistance is the better or only way to go. I am just questioning the assumption that the opposite is always the case. Think about the major social revolutions that have occurred; there was a lot of non-violent protest. I have a dream, and all that. But, alongside it, there was ALSO a lot of violent protest going on. Maybe instead of looking at it as the violent resistance being wrong and unnecessary and it was the non-violent portion of the resistance that won people all those rights and recognition under the law, maybe it was both at once. Perhaps both methods of resistance are necessary to achieve decolonization?

Doctors Aren’t Always Right and Other Life Lessons That Never Get Learned

It seems an unfortunate truth that a lot of us learn how-not-to-be-an-asshole far too late in life. So I have compiled a list of resources and some discussion on the lessons I’ve learned in mine, and hopefully this will help other people on their way to not-being-an-asshole, too. Even if you think you’re not an asshole, you may be surprised. I know I have been surprised to learn that I was an asshole (and very well still may be about something I am currently unaware of), so don’t assume that you know whether you’re being one or not.

First and foremost is the strangely prevalent idea that our doctors (and professors, anyone with a “Dr.” in front of their name) know EVERYTHING EVER and are not possibly biased at all, or are not possibly behind the times in certain areas. Doctors are weird superhumans that are infallible, and if they say something is true, then it absolutely must be, no questions asked, and if you disagree then gawd you’re so stupid thinking you’re better than your doctor. But doctors are HUMANS, and they most certainly DO have biases. Say, for example, perhaps one of the most prevalent biases in the medical community today, fat stigma. WAIT, DON’T POST AN ANGRY COMMENT TELLING ME HOW FAT HAS BEEN *PROVEN* TO BE A DISEASE AND STUPID FATTIES NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR THEIR OWN GOOD BECAUSE THEY ARE *KILLING THEMSELVES*.

I find the idea that doctors know better than everyone else — and if they say something is a medical condition then by golly it IS and who are you, stupid music major, to think you know better than DOCTORS — particularly strange because doctors do not focus on social justice. And receiving sensitivity training is in no way comparable. Doctors are not experts in issues of discrimination, so they can be just as thoroughly unaware of their biases as anyone else. These biases, as with any other human, can affect their research, their diagnoses/treatment of patients, everything — biases affect our view of the world, that’s the point. And since doctors are not immune to this, having studies that “prove” something does not make it True Solid Facts Totally Infallible Shut Up. Even if the data collection for a study is conducted properly, the studying of the data and trying to form conclusions, cause-and-effect, correlation, etc, can be coloured by our prejudices. That’s why there are some studies that support one side of a debate, and there are some that support the other side. It’s not that one side is just totally making shit up. But people can come to different conclusions and even get different data if they have underlying prejudices directing the way they’re approaching their research.

And even if we are unwilling to let go of the “doctor knows all” mentality, there are doctors who don’t believe that fat = UGH SO UNHEALTHY YOU ARE GOING TO DIE EARLY IF YOU DON’T LOSE WEIGHT. So why do we all believe the ones that do?

Health At Every Size
Health at Every Size Blog
21 Things to Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People
My Fat Body is ME
The Fantasy of Staying Exactly as I Am
Fat Stigma at the Grocery Store

On top of that, there’s a current social trend to be as totally frickin’ culturally insensitive/ironic-racist as possible. This ugly creature rears its head in the form of the trendy “Navajo” clothing at, oh say, every major retailer ever. Hipster headdresses and warpaint, comebacks of racist team logos, and the ever beloved COMPLETELY BLATANTLY-BUT-SOMEHOW-NOT-BLATANTLY racist halloween costumes. And of course popular media, but we all know that’s not a new trend. People have all sorts of reasons as to why any of those things are actually a-okay, but they never seem to stop to ask themselves why they feel the need to come up with such strong defences. Why is it so hard to just stop doing whatever it is?

Racism has always had the fiercest defence, and people seem to raise their hackles pretty quickly as soon as the term “racist” comes into a conversation. But I know I have learned to really think about who something is coming from, and who I am in relation. As in, I am a white middle-class girl. Who the fuck am I to know better than anyone else whether something’s “really” racist or not, having never been on the receiving end of that form of oppression? I don’t mean that white people can never tell when something is racist. But if you don’t think something is racist and someone who is part of a group that experiences racism — who knows first hand what oppression looks and feels like — is telling you that something is racist, you bet your ass they have a better idea of what racism looks like than you do. So maybe ask yourself why you are so unwilling to hear what they have to say.

Because chances are, they’ve already heard what YOU have to say. White people get their voices heard all the time. But how often do we hear the voices of people of colour, not silenced, not stifled, not interrupted?

The Angry Black Woman
Native Appropriations

But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?
Racebending
The Danger of a Single Story (video)

In the same vein, I STILL hear jokes about “Justin Bieber is a girl!” haha, super funny. Not at all. Considering the vast amounts of violent crimes against trans* and other non-gender-bindary folks that are still occurring, IN OUR COUNTRY, HERE AND NOW, I would expect people to stop with transphobic jokes already but hey, that’d be not-asshole-y. And if everyone was not-an-asshole, cissexism wouldn’t be a problem to begin with. Feminism isn’t immune to this shit either; some feminist circles are also transphobic — some very blatantly, and others through constantly equating/linking women with vaginas (vaginae?). Hey, newsflash, not every woman has a vagina. Why is that still news? And another newsflash-that-shouldn’t-be, making jokes about male-identified celebrities really having vaginas is transphobic, plain and simple. Cut that shit out already.

A Conversation With Isis King and Janet Mock (video)
Gender Bitch
Genderbitch on Tumblr
Not Your Mom’s Trans 101
Art of Transliness
My Genital Affirmation (video)

Obviously there are many, many more lessons in how-to-not-be-an-asshole that everyone needs to learn. But alas, I must save it for another day, as the words pass 1000 and the night grows old. So I will leave you with this information for now; the many links will hopefully bring you hours of joyous self-assessment and/or just some interesting stuff to read if you’re already down with all this. And some day hence, I shall return, with more lessons that I have learned and want to share with you. Until then, adieu!

A Quick Word On Hoodies and Trayvon Martin

Everyone’s doing it, I know. Buuuuuuuut sucks to be you, so am I :P Even though I know I’m a liiiittle late to the game. But still. Some quick thoughts on this:

So I’m sure many of you have already heard about the Fox News presenter’s opinion that wearing the hoodie was at least partly responsible for Trayvon Martin’s murder. And as you’re all awesome, I’m sure you all rolled your eyes at the utter stupidity of it all.

It’s just yet another case of victim blaming. That the conversation of whether hoodies count as “suspicious attire” or not is even taking place is completely ridiculous. Then again, the conversation about whether a short skirt means a woman “wanted” to be raped is fucking stupid too. It’s because it’s pretty much impossible to be a “perfect victim” — someone will always find a reason why something happened to YOU (and the implied — not THEM). Because YOU did something wrong. They come up with the clothing bullshit… but really the answer goes more like this.

This is what you did wrong:

1. You were black
(“he looked suspicious! In a hoodie on a dark night, anyone would have been scared by that. He should have known better!”)
or for rape:
2. You were a woman
(“She’s such a slut, she was drunk and practically begging him to! And did you see what she was wearing?? She obviously wanted the attention”)
in cases of rape of men:
3. You’re not manly enough
(mostly focusing on excuses about “he didn’t fight back (enough)!”, special focus if he were a gay or trans* victim — not-so-subtly pointing out all the ways the victim didn’t conform to [the ridiculous expectations of] society’s “masculinity”)

A crime will never be entirely the perpetrator’s fault in everyone’s eyes unless it’s like… a middle-class hard-working straight cis white man who never did anything bad (that anyone knows of), wasn’t down a dark alley or anywhere suspicious, wasn’t drunk, was wearing plain old jeans and a t-shirt, and fought back — extra points if he died doing what is considered to be a heroic job (police work, etc). And if he fills out all of those expectations, he is of course no longer a victim at all, he’s a tragic hero who lost his life far too soon in this unfair world.

Though middle-class straight-A-student innocent blondie prepubescent girls come very close in the hierarchy of the “perfect victim”. But she still remains a victim, not a hero — the tragic angel.

But Trayvon Martin was black. And apparently that makes it a little less bad. It makes his own murder a little bit his fault.

Oh wait no I mean HE WAS WEARING A HOODIE GUYS, WHAT A DELINQUENT.

___

more reading:

Crunk Feminist Collective: On Appropriate Victims: More on Trayvon Martin and Others

The Angry Black Woman: Black in America

Tiger Beatdown: Obstructed Justice: The Death of Trayvon Martin

Letter to a rape joke

Sorry for being dead, I’ve had a sudden rush of performances to prepare for, which has been… interesting. Here’s a relatively-quickie-but-goodie for y’all just to, you know, pretend I’m actually still alive.

I was subscribed to the very-popular raywilliamjohnson on youtube up until relatively recently. I started to take issue with more and more of the things he was saying until I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided I’d let him know why it was that I was unsubscribing, even though I knew the chances of him reading the message would be minuscule considering how full his inbox must be. I took the time to write out a message to him, only to find that he doesn’t actually accept private messages on youtube from anyone except members of his friends list. I thought, okay, I’ll check out his website. But there was no contact information there. And no private messaging available on his facebook account.

So my revocation of my subscription went unexplained, and I’m sure he couldn’t care less, but it meant the chance of him having a possible lightbulb moment – or the beginnings of one at the very least – was nonexistent. Despite the fact that ray is unable to receive this message, I decided to share it anyway. With you guys! YAY!

 

***

Dear Ray,

I know that one person’s voice rarely makes a difference. Especially around the topic I’m about to cover.

I love your stuff, I’ve been subscribed to your channel and facebook page for several years now. I know that you’re a great guy; and so I hope you’ll actually read this, and maybe even think about what I say. I know it’s asking a lot because you must get about a bajillion messages every day and it’s impossible to take everyone’s opinion into account.

But look. I think you’re awesome, but lately I’ve been finding I can’t bring myself to laugh at your jokes. You made two domestic violence jokes in one video, and your latest facebook statuses about “epic” sexual harassment…

Yeah, yeah, I know “omg get a sense of humour”.

I work with victims of abuse, rape, sexual assault and harassment. I have friends who have been assaulted and/or raped. Those jokes are about real people. They’re about real people I know; real people I’ve worked with and helped through horrors, nightmares. The worst parts of their lives. And when I hear people make jokes about the torture these people have been through…

It doesn’t make me angry – I’ve no anger towards you. It makes me hurt. A lot. I can’t even imagine how it makes the actual survivors of those crimes feel. Especially since everyone makes these jokes.

They are heard every single day by people who have suffered through it.

I think everyone needs to start thinking about how that must feel.

Sense & Sensitivity

“oversensitive”

This is such a delightfully useful term. It’s a quick, simple, thoughtless way to dismiss other people’s feelings and experiences that seems to be a favourite among people today. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to consider changing your behaviour or your attitude – when you label someone as oversensitive, you are erasing their experience. It is a term held dear by the privileged.

If someone tells you you’re being racist/sexist/heterocentrist/whatever-ist, or something you said makes them uncomfortable… well that runs the risk of making you actually consider the consequences of what you’ve done, now, doesn’t it? But if you say to yourself “they’re just oversensitive”, that’s an amazingly quick way of putting it aside. You don’t have to reconsider your worldview when people are just “oversensitive”.

It’s a judgement term. Because it never applies to you. Like slut is for sexual activity – a “slut” is someone who’s having “too much” sex in your opinion, thus you are never a slut… “sluts” always have more sex than you. Oversensitive is just someone who is “too” sensitive… someone more sensitive than you.

Are they oversensitive, or are you just insensitive?

Why do people not consider that second half of the equation – themselves? Because that’s what using the term “oversensitive” is all about. Erasing your responsibility for your own actions and interactions with other people. It moves the problem from you to them, so that you never have to change.

Oh hello there, privilege.

How the Grinch murdered christmas with a huge meat cleaver

“You don’t have to be in the pews every sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate christmas.”

Apparently?

Or some shit?

Yes, we all know that Rick Perry is an asshole and not worth an ounce of attention, but I’ve been hearing this sentiment a hell of a lot this holiday season (no, let’s face it – this christmas season, considering the specific type of people I’ve heard this stuff coming from). Not just from the likes of Mr. Perry. People complaining about how PC the world has become, you can’t even say “merry christmas” anymore! And although I think that yes, calling the beloved pine tree with a star on top a “holiday tree” is going overboard, I think people getting riled up about this are missing something very big. Missing it because of their privilege.

OH HOW DARE YOU, WE DON’T HAVE PRIVILEGE.

Okay, first things first – we should call a christmas tree a christmas tree. But I’m of that opinion because… that’s a tradition specific to christmas; no other holidays (that I’m aware of…?) use the pine tree as a symbol of their holiday. So it’s pretty pointless calling it a “holiday” tree when it’s specific to one particular holiday. Which actually sort of brings me to my next point.

People renaming things the “winter holidays” instead of “christmas break”, cards saying “happy holidays!” or “season’s greetings!” instead of “merry christmas”. BLASPHEMY, THIS IS A WAR ON CHRISTMAS! But take a moment to look at those cards. What imagery is still used on the huge majority of them? They may read “happy holidays”, but they make it very clear which one they’re assuming you’re celebrating. Pine trees, silver bells, baubles. And those “winter breaks”… what days are they perfectly placed around? Every year without fail, do you happen to get december 25th and 31st off? Because I know that this year not all of the days of chanukah fell within our winter break. I know I can certainly see whose celebrations we’re prioritising, and I’m no detective.

And speaking of the 31st. Are people forgetting what calendar we’re on? That not every culture or religion uses the january-through-december structure for their years? And yet it’s the christian calendar that is standardised throughout most of the world, in the governments and businesses. It’s just taken for granted that stores will be closed on christmas, on easter, and that you’ll have those days off from work or school. But what about ramadan? What about all the days of chanukah? What about the endless other holidays that nobody really hears about because of this standardisation of christianity?

And by the way, this might come as a huge surprise, but there aren’t actually any Speech Police out there stopping you from saying “merry christmas”. Go ahead and say it. Though you’d be a bit of an asshole if you assume that just everyone you meet happens to celebrate the christian holidays. So guess what – maybe it is a better idea to say simply “happy holidays!” to people you don’t know. Instead of showing your wonderfully ingrained christian-centric worldview.

So yes. Go ahead and celebrate christmas and new year’s, and shout “merry christmas you buzzkilling bastards!” from the rooftops. Because nobody is stopping you. And before you open your mouth to moan about how christmas is being stifled by all those PC jerkwads out there, take a moment to remember upon which religion the entire structure of your day, your year, your life is based.

And since nothing is original, this has of course been talked about elsewhere in the blogosphere. I enjoyed this post: http://fanniesroom.blogspot.com/2011/12/tis-season.html