Hate is not a Perspective

I’m studying abroad in Istanbul! I’m in Istanbul right now and will be in Turkey until June and I tell you this to put this story into context.

Istanbul From Space with Place-Names

Our whole study abroad group of Americans went out into the city the other night for us to get accustomed to the city and know the transportation. We wind up at a club around 11:30 or so and I don’t drink and I rarely dance. The bass music was jarring, but not any worse than I was expecting,even as it rocked its way up through my bones.

But it wasn’t the volume of the music that left me seething. It wasn’t the flashing lights.

It was the misogyny of the music and the music videos. Blasting in my ears was date-rape song blurred lines, songs about dicks and  grabbing hold of your own sexy lady for a night of manly fun. The songs were American, but I didn’t know half of them. Still, I knew enough to hear the words and feel violently ill. The music videos were just as bad if not worse. It’s nothing new for music and music videos to sexualize women, so I know this isn’t groundbreaking news. But, in any other situation I would have had the opportunity to leave. However, I’m in Istanbul. I don’t know my way down the block let alone the public transit two hour commute back to campus. I don’t speak much Turkish. So I stand and I seethe and no one approaches me until finally other girls in our group ask if I want to leave.

As we hail a taxi, someone comments on how the club was too empty. I say it was full of hate and misogyny. One  of the girls laughs, not a mean spirited  laugh, but an awkward laugh because she doesn’t know what to say and she’s amazed I’m being honest. I’m crying now from so much pent up emotions and a Turkish student who accompanied us to the club says he never thought of it from that perspective before.

He was trying to help, but hate is not a perspective you can validate or invalidate. Hate is a fact. Yes, you can choose to notice it or not, but that doesn’t make it any less real or impactful. But it’s simple to see hate as just a way of looking at the world: half full or half empty. In other words, if you choose to see a hateful world that’s your problem and your judgment should be adjusted accordingly.

This is why it’s so difficult to speak candidly about oppression against any marginalized group! Far too often you’re invalidated and told that you’re just misinterpreting the situation. Shift your perspective and suddenly the awful racist comment is just a joke. Or the sexualization of women (and specifically women of color) in music videos is just clever marketing for their target male audience. Suddenly you are the overly sensitive one, ruining the rose-colored glasses of those around you. How dare you see the world for what it is and want to make change.

But though I felt awful crying in front of people I met just the day before, I felt validated that I had stood up against hatred and did not shy away from telling the truth. Hate is currently an ugly truth of the world and it cannot be combated until it is recognized as a real problem that needs immediate attention. If anything, those who deny hatred and bigotry need to shift their perspective.



I’m Not Here for your Entertainment

As if I need an excuse to love P!nk any more than I already do. But the other day I received a message on my cell phone from my brother where he told me in simple speech:

I’m bored.  Entertain me.

It’s terribly insulting to know that someone you love only calls you when they’re bored. You become a child’s toy to be picked up and abandoned at will, serving the whims and happiness of another. This is the underlying message made to women daily, which just so happened to be proclaimed in its full sexist glory on my cell phone.

I called my brother back later that evening and told him that what he said was sexist and insulting. He apologized and he said he meant it as a joke. But even as a joke it represents ideas that are pressed into the brain that men and women may not even be aware they possess. I wonder if my brother understood why what he said was sexist or if I was just throwing out words that told him “you insulted me” without a good explanation as to why.

It was so easy to drop the subject then. He apologized. Why should I press the issue?

But I don’t feel as if I am viewed any differently by my brother or by men in general (if you can indulge me in a momentary generalization). The prevailing attitude remains that women exist for the purpose of serving men in any way possible. From the most blatant to the most subtle. And no matter the form it takes, it remains sexist.

So, for your entertainment I want to bring back P!nk who’s music is always a great reminder for me of a woman who has broken the mold and sings the truth about gender relations.