my red pill experience- an open letter

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I saw this quote tonight on Tumblr, and I had to share:

Not being racist is not some default starting position. You don’t simply get to say you’re not a racist; not being racist — or a sexist or a homophobe — is a constant, arduous process of unlearning, of being uncomfortable, of eating crow and being humbled and re-evaluating. It’s probably hard to start that process if you’ve been told that every thought you have is golden and should be given voice, and that people who are offended by what you say are hypersensitive simpletons.

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.

This is a perfect summary of the long path I’m currently traveling. It’s a journey I began after taking a course called Racism in America, which was the most powerful semester-long experience I’ve ever had.

Confession: Before this course, I was that white girl. I was the girl who thought she was so clever when she commented on the unfairness of having a BET without a WET. I was the girl who gave a presentation in high school on why affirmative action is no longer necessary in our “post-racial” America. I was that girl.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to apologize for being that girl. I’m beyond ashamed of who I was, what I said, and any pain that I might have caused because of it.

The professor of the Racism in America shook me out of the placated hypnosis that my own privilege had created, and opened my eyes to the nasty, ugly way that the world really works. The ways in which people in this country are still beaten down and actively oppressed because of the way their bodies were created. I saw the lie that is “liberty and justice for all”, and I was revolted to think about how glibly I had participated in such a system.

I’m not a good enough writer to describe what it’s like to have the familiar world pulled down around you and replaced with an entirely new one. If you’ve seen the Matrix, you’ll understand when I say this was my red pill experience. I couldn’t close my eyes anymore to the statistics, the studies, the actual testimonies of living, breathing human beings whose suffering was hidden in plain sight.

First it was racism. Then the other scales fell from my eyes as well: ableism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and my own personal poison, sexism. The lessons started in the classroom, and they’ve continued online. I’ve been fortunate enough to find several online communities where I could read the testimonies of people who are on the receiving end of all that is wrong with our society, and they have taught me so much. They’ve entirely reworked the way that I see the world, and while it’s much more painful this way, I would never want to close my eyes to the reality of the world again.

I’m not here to write a lesson on privilege of any form. I’m a strong believer in the idea that someone with privilege shouldn’t be giving the lessons, they should be receiving them. There are plenty of resources on the subject written by people who live racism/transphobia/homophobia/etc every day, and they’re the ones you should go to if you want to learn more about these subjects. If you want to learn about sexism, well, stick around, because I’m sure I’ll be writing about that frequently 😉

Instead, I just want this to be an apology, and a promise. An apology for any harm I have caused, or am still unwittingly causing. I’m doing my best to learn and change as fast and as sensitively as I can, but I’m afraid that sometimes I learn by sticking my foot in my mouth.  I promise that, if you help me check my own privilege, I will do my very best to not make the same mistakes again.

I want to be the best ally I can be for social justice, and I hope you’ll find that I’m a very eager, if imperfect, student.

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in defense of arguing online

I saw a graphic online recently that I really wish I could find, so that I could share it here and make my blog more visually appealing, rather than just paraphrasing what the graphic said, which is what I’m actually going to do:

“Wow, I’m going to reevaluate my political and social beliefs based on that argument I just had on Facebook”- said no one ever.

I’ve seen a lot of people express that same sentiment- that debating political topics on Facebook is pointless because no one approaches the debate willing to do anything but defend their own position until their fingers fall off. That it’s not about listening, or dialoguing, or compromising; it’s about holding your own in an online shouting match and then walking away feeling smug because your grammar/arguments/logic/facts were superior to your opponents. That the anonymity and/or sense of distance that the internet provides entices people to be more vicious and hateful than they would be if they were talking to someone in person.

And unfortunately, that’s frequently true. (I’m as guilty as anyone else when it comes to this.)

But it doesn’t have to be.

I have a confession, which isn’t very surprising if you know me at all: I love debating issues on Facebook. Or Twitter, or the comment sections of blogs, or wherever.

If it’s done right, I think these websites are great forums for healthy, respectful debate. I mean, think about it. If I start a discussion about taxes, for example, on Facebook, I’ve opened up the debate to all of my friends and family who follow me, rather than just whoever happens to be in the room when I start ranting. I know you all run the spectrum of politics from fascist to communist, which means that there’s a good chance I will get a variety of opinions from people who have vastly different perspectives on life and experiences to draw from. And with the internet at our fingertips, we can easily find and provide evidence for our arguments.

And I know that people can come away from these debates with a changed perspective on the issues because I do it all the time. To be fair, I’m much less willing to hear what you have to say with an open mind when you attack me, refuse to address the issues I’ve raised with your perspective, or generally behave like a fool (but I think everyone’s like that). And, like most people, there are some subjects that I know I’m just not going to cave on (you’re not going to convince me that my place is in the home, or that birth control is a sin, for example), and so I try to stay away from debates that deal with those topics, since I know I’m not capable of fully participating in a civil exchange of ideas there. (But I’m not perfect.)

But I have changed my perspective on many issues after talking to people on Facebook about why they had a different opinion on an issue than I did. They opened my eyes to opinions that I hadn’t previously considered, and I walked away from the discussion with a more nuanced view of the world. And none of it would have ever happened had I not jumped into a Facebook debate. (I don’t know if I’ve had the same effect on anyone else, but I hope I have!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, yes, talking about politics or social issues on Facebook can frequently devolve from civilized conversation to a shouting match that would make Jerry Springer proud. But if we could just behave ourselves, and be nice, I think talking politics on Facebook is a wonderful thing. Honestly, people use social media for so many silly things (pictures of food, anyone?) that to mock people for using social media as a way to discuss the most important issues of our day seems silly itself. And for those who are willing to debate with an open mind (which should just be common courtesy for debates in the first place), the rewards can be innumerable.

I don’t have anything to add, except:

“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” – Matthew 25:34-36

Whatever

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching…

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when will I learn?

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Guys, I tried.

I really did.

I was going to sit this one out, I promise. I was going to let everyone else talk about the issue, debate it on Facebook, post the links to articles written by other people about the issue, and sit back and watch it all from the comfort of my disengaged recliner.

It was going to be my noble exercise in keeping my mouth shut.

But the more I saw posted, the more frustrated I got. And the more frustrated I get, the harder it is for me to keep from commenting.

So I caved.

And here we are.
Lauren’s Thoughts On This Whole Chick-Fil-A Debacle

1) Dan Cathy has a constitutional right to say whatever he wants, and to think whatever he chooses, about marriage equality. (And for the record, as if this needs iterating, I vehemently disagree with him.)

2) The fast-food eating American public has every right to take the public comments of a restaurant’s CEO and use that knowledge to help them decide how to spend their money. Regardless of how conscious you are of this, you do vote with your money, and all the more power to the people who realize this fact and use it to help create a world they want to live in. There are worse factors you could use in choosing where to eat lunch.

Bottom line? According to our Supreme Court, how we spend our money is an extension of our speech, and freedom of speech works both ways. It strikes me as odd that people are defending Dan Cathy’s right to voice his own opinion on gay marriage against the boycotters who would dare to voice their own opinions on the issue. The whole conversation seems ridiculously ironic, in my opinion.

I do think this conversation goes much deeper than where we choose to get our chicken sandwiches from, and what side of the debate we fall on can say a lot about our position on marriage equality and LGBT rights. It’s a satellite battle in a culture war, and shouldn’t be dismissed like so many people are doing. What high-profile, powerful people think about who should have what rights in our country matters, and we should be paying attention. What you do with this knowledge is your prerogative, and the only bad response is the one that is disrespectful to the people who take this seriously.

One last thought- It might be tempting to react defensively or with pride in our position, but it is so important that we treat this matter, like all things, with love, humility, and understanding. Especially for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

So yeah, yet another trending topic that I can’t keep my hands off of. When will I learn?

what’s saving me?

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I follow a blogger named Sarah Bessey, who is in every way the blogger I want to be and am not. She takes the mundane, the quotidian, and so naturally turns it into poetry that you can’t ever again see her subject as being normal. She doesn’t argue, or persuade, she celebrates and revels and in doing so, she makes you want to see life from her perspective.

When I saw that Sarah was hosting a synchroblog on what saves you, I knew I had to participate.

Because, you see, I have needed so much saving this summer.

These past few sweltering weeks have been almost unbearable at times. My work has demanded and exhausted every bit of me that it can take. I’m an extrovert, which means that my best hope for rejuvenation comes in the form of my friends, but I haven’t seen anyone this summer nearly as much as I would like. That goes for Chad too, since our work schedules have us spending far more time apart than together. I wake up tired, struggle through my day, come home, and crash. It doesn’t help that we’re in election season now, and so the time that I could spend relaxing frequently involves being bombarded with evidence of how our world will go to Hell if I don’t get off the couch and do something.

I’ve written, and rewritten this next part so many times that I very nearly just gave up on this project altogether. What is saving my life? What makes waking up every morning bearable, when I would much rather destroy my alarm clock and ignore the world until something better comes along?

I’ve come up with and scratched answers like hope, patience, trust, perseverance. All true, all sappy, but none conclusive. Because honestly, it’s not about virtues, it’s about people.

It’s the kids at camp who remind me about why I really love children. The little boy who kept climbing into my lap to sleep during nap time, no matter how many times I put him back on his mat. The girl whose love for comic book movies spawned a conversation that lasted the whole bus ride to MOSI. The boy who sweetly and quietly follows instructions while the rest of his cohorts develop very selective hearing. The girl who knows more about “sharing and caring” than kids twice her age, even if she’s too young to be able to fully articulate her opinions.

It’s the family and friends whose time and company I crave so deeply that I can feel it in my bones.  It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with solitude; I have had plenty of practice being alone. It’s that I am revitalized by being around people- I am an ENFJ, after all. Also, it’s that my friends and family are fabulous human beings, and time spent in the presence of such fabulousness is far better than time spent away from it.

Lastly, in the sense of how badly American politics makes me want to wear sackcloth and pour ashes on my head, it’s the people for whom I fight who keep me alive. I always try to fight as an ally rather than a savior, but I fight nonetheless, and it’s that fight that keeps me focused. When I would rather stick my head in the sand and cry enough already!I remember that the fighting is the only hope that so many people have for a better life, and I fight on. I have the privilege of reducing some issues to semantics or exegesis or theory, and that alone would be enough to cause me to throw in the towel and give up on humanity. But I want to see a better world for my neighbors and for my future children, and focusing on them keeps me going.

I guess, in the end, a virtue has saved me this summer. It’s just as sappy, and sounds just as cliche as trust, hope, and patience, but in a period where I have danced precariously close to despair more than once, it is the only thing that has been able to pull me to safety every time.

Love.

gun control

I strongly debated whether or not I wanted to touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, and I almost made a different decision.

Gun control.

Whew.

If that’s not a loaded (I swear, no pun intended) topic, I don’t know what is.

And the thing is, this is one of the few political topics (abortion being the other) where I can understand both sides so well that it makes me incapable of choosing one. Also, I know precious little about the issue other than what I’ve learned from my husband and father-in-law, both of whom are card-carrying NRA members.

So this post isn’t going to be about me expounding on my vast knowledge about the subject, and explaining why I’m right and you’re wrong. Because I know when I don’t know enough to make opening my mouth a good idea, and this is one of those times.

Instead, I have some questions for people on both sides of the aisle, and I am hoping my friends can (CIVILLY, PLEASE?) enlighten me. With as much logic, and as many facts and statistics, as possible, because that’s what really gets me going 😉

For my pro-stricter-gun-control friends: A common gun-rights argument is that making guns illegal, or harder to get, really only means taking guns from law-abiding citizens and ensuring that the only people armed are the people who were willing to break the law to get the guns in the first place. I hear this argument derided by liberals frequently, but honestly, I’ve never heard an actual counter argument, just comments to the effect of “anyone who believes that is an idiot”, which frankly doesn’t do a whole lot to educate me. Can anybody explain the liberal position on this?

For my anti-stricter-gun-control friends: America is a very violent country, and the gun-related crimes and deaths in America are many, many times higher than they are in any other part of the world. Gun-control supporters have suggested that making guns less accessible would help curb these crime statistics, and while I’m sure you disagree with that solution, I’ve never heard this side of the aisle propose an alternative solution to our violent crime problem. It’s entirely possible I’ve just missed it, so my question is: do you acknowledge that guns are a factor in the crime rate in this country, and if so, what, if any, solutions do you have to helping bring our crime rates down to more closely resemble the rest of the first world?

Like I said, I’m not playing Devil’s Advocate here, I honestly just have questions that I would like answered. And if you’d like to make a comment on the issue that doesn’t directly answer my questions, that’s fine. These are just the two biggest issues I have with both sides.

Just please, be civil. I’m coming to you asking for help and enlightenment, not condescension or anger. That being said, have fun! 🙂

update on graduate school- 1

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I have about a month left until I start graduate school, and everything is finally starting to feel real. I feel the same way that I felt in the weeks before my wedding, watching everything that had only been a fantasy up until this point crystallize into reality.

In the past, I would secretly pull out the title of graduate student when no one was looking and roll it around on my tongue, testing it out before quickly setting it aside, careful not to jinx myself. It was a title I’ve wanted since high school, even more so than college student. To be a grad student, in my eyes, was to be a college student that people took seriously. I know that’s not actually how the world works at all, but it’s how I felt (and feel).  It’s what I spent my entire college career working towards, with only the certainty that nothing is certain when it comes to graduate admissions boards.

Now, I’m signing paperwork and getting my own office (my own office!) and finalizing my TA work schedule and I am so excited.  I understand that once the glamour and excitement wears off, there is going to be a lot of hard work and there will be many times when I doubt my ability to handle what’s in front of me. Just like in marriage. And I plan to blog about those times, too.

But I’m finally starting to understand, to really grasp, what everyone means when they say that the best things in life are worth the work it takes to earn them. No dream worth pursuing is going to be found at the end of a smooth road, and my dreams are no exception.

And I’ll be honest- I’m not entirely sure what dream lies at the end of this journey. There are so many ways that this road can diverge in a yellow wood. One close friend of mine described me as a pirate- someone who isn’t content with finding a single port in life, but who must constantly travel and sample from all that life has to offer. I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t know where I’ll be in five, ten, fifteen years, and there are times when that terrifies me. But I am confident that I am taking my first steps in the right direction, and that’s all I can do at this point in my life.

So in a month or two, I might be whining on this blog about any number of grad-school woes. But for now, I am excited down to my bones for this chapter in my life to start, and I’m going to celebrate that feeling. 🙂

in which i try to deal with some anger issues

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“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” — attributed to St. Augustine

I have been an angry person this summer.

Part of it, I firmly believe, has to do with my work schedule. I’m working long hours at stressful jobs, and when I come home at night, I am spent in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion is probably not the best way to set yourself up for a cheery disposition.

But an even bigger cause of this sudden anger problem has to do with my recent foray into social justice. Not that I haven’t always been at least tangentially interested in the subject, but my knowledge has been snowballing over the past few months from the understanding that things aren’t how they should be into a heightened awareness of the deep, permeating injustices in the world.

And let me tell you, friends. Such an awareness will make you angry.

I get angry when I see the way that minorities are told to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, when the only boots in the picture are the invisible boots of white privilege that are pushing minorities down in the first place.

I get angry when I see the way women are treated around the world- beaten, abused, raped, tortured, murdered- and how the response from otherwise decent human beings is to laugh it off or ignore it.

I get angry when I see the statistics on LGBT youth who are living on the streets because their parents kicked them out of their homes.

I get angry when my medical needs are viewed as nothing more than a headache for potential employers, as if their annoyances trump my health.

I get angry when the people who lash out at women for ending their pregnancies are the same people who wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help those women had they made another choice.

I get angry when, instead of working to curb the damage that we humans are doing to this earth, we refuse to accept that anything needs fixing

I get angry when your abstract opinion of “freedom”, religious or otherwise, trumps the very concrete problems of people who desperately need healthcare reform.

There is so much more I could list, but I’ve made my point.

I’m so tired of feeling angry. (I’m also just tired, but that’s another story.) I don’t want this anger to define me; I don’t want it to affect my ability to love people, even if I disagree with them, and I don’t want it to tarnish my ability to enjoy the truly beautiful parts of life. I want to be happy, I just don’t know how to look past these awful, awful problems that I see in the world that make me mad.

I’m also tired of being too tired to help solve the problems that bother me the most. The best solution to my anger would be to turn it into momentum for social change, but when I get home at the end of the day, I’m lucky if I have enough energy to make dinner for myself, let alone join a revolution. My general fatigue is spiraling into compassion fatigue, and that’s the last thing I want to happen.

I suppose one solution would be to stick my head in the sand, ignore it all, and spend my time watching cat videos on Youtube. But that isn’t in my nature, and I think it’s disrespectful to all of the people who can’t ignore these realities, because they’re living them.

I believe, as one of my favorite bloggers recently put it, that a lack of anger reveals a lack of love. If you’re not angry about the harm being caused to your fellow man and the planet you live on, then what does it say about your love for either? But with that anger should come courage, the second of Hope’s daughters, which makes positive change possible. And right now, I just feel like I’m spoiling Hope’s first daughter and neglecting the second, because I don’t have the energy to nurture two children, and anger is easier than action.

I know I’m not the only person who feels this way- I see it come up a lot on some of my favorite blogs, and I’m sure some of you must have felt this frustration too. How do you cope with anger at the injustice in the world, especially when you feel like there’s nothing you can do to change it? How do you keep anger from eating you alive, and harness it into a force for good?

Or is this just me, dealing with what might seem to be the extremely delayed arrival of my teenage angstiness?

Maybe things will get better once my schedule frees up and I’m back in a college environment, but until then, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.  I am so tired of living in this limbo of awareness without action, anger without outlet.

The Fault in Our Stars

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“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

Interestingly enough, the book that this quote comes from, The Fault in Our Stars, is just that type of book. It was written by John Green, one of the two VlogBrothers, whose Youtube channel is an excellent way to kill several days’ worth of free time if you ever need to.

At one level, the book is about teenagers with cancer, and on a whole other level, it is an endlessly quotable, wonderfully entertaining expose on the human condition, the futility of life, and the heartbreak of love. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is one of the few books that repeatedly brought me to tears, despite my best efforts to remain emotionally detached (I read most of this book in the presence of other people, and I’m not good at crying unless I’m by myself).

My evangelical zeal for quality literature commands me to recommend this one wholeheartedly. It’s still only available in hardcover, but it’s worth the money.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to try and cope with that emptiness I feel every time I finish a good book.

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?” – John Green

Good comedy and bad comedy

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(Warning: this post deals extensively with rape and sexual assault. I’ve also linked to some videos that have some adult content in them. f you think that this might be offensive or harmful to you in any way, I suggest you not read any farther).

I love comedy.

It’s arguably my favorite genre of any creative medium, and the harder it makes me laugh, the better. And, pardon me for bragging, but my tastes in comedy are pretty widely accepted to be decent; be it my love for Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation, my fangirl obsession with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, or the fact that I could watch Anchorman and 21 Jump Street on loop without getting bored for a long, long time.

(Not that I’m a comedy elitist; a well executed poop joke can bring me to tears in the best way possible.)

One of the things I love most about comedy is how subversive it can be. The heart of comedy is to take something we’re familiar with and turn it on its head. So it’s not hard to take that basic premise and use it to point out aspects of society that are ridiculous, which can be a powerful tool to get people talking about real social issues that might lurk beneath the surface.

A great example of this is Louis C.K.’s skit on being white.

He tackles the hugely problematic issue of white privilege in this clip, but he’s funny enough that you don’t feel like you’re being lectured at, which (at least for me) makes you more receptive to the message.

Or take Wanda Sikes’s bit on rape:

Molly Ivins once said “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful… when satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar.”

I stand behind that 100%. Humor in the hands of a bully is just much less appealing than humor used to point out how ridiculous the bully is being. It may technically still be humor, and it may still be the Constitutional right of that bully to make those jokes, but thinking that a bully’s jokes aren’t funny doesn’t make me a stick in the mud, it makes me a decent person.

On to Daniel Tosh, and this recent event at a comedy club, where a woman stood up and protested against the rape jokes he was making. Tosh’s response was to suggest that gang-raping the woman (I really don’t feel like she qualifies as a heckler) would be hilarious. He has since half-apologized for the event, and a whole lot of comedians have disappointingly come to his defense.

I’m not here to single Daniel Tosh out. He’s not the first to make jokes off of rape, and I know that he makes his living by generally being offensive and crude. That in no way makes it right, but I would rather focus on the larger issues at play here. And to do that, I’m going to quote this fantastic article that Jessica Valenti wrote for The Nation:

Those supporting Tosh are outraged that anyone would dare tell a comedian how to be funny. (There’s also been a lot of “if you can’t take the heat” sentiment aimed at this woman, given that she heckled Tosh.) Many of his defenders insist that his joke—and other jokes about rape—are simply edgy and controversial, which is what a comedian is supposed to be.

But here’s the thing: threatening women with rape, making light of rape, and suggesting that women who speak up be raped is not edgy or controversial. It’s the norm. This is what women deal with every day. Maintaining the status quo around violence against women isn’t exactly revolutionary. 

It’s also telling that the vast majority of people defending Tosh’s comments are men—and that they’re being incredibly sexist in their responses to boot. I’d ask these guys why it is they’re so virulently fighting for the right to tell rape jokes. Why is it so important to them that Tosh be able to “joke” about a woman who loudly criticized him being gang raped? (Video blogger Jay Smooth asked a similar question about Gwyneth Paltrow’s using the “n-word.”)

Rape is a very real fear for most women. One in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape or sexual assault in their lifetime. Even worse, it’s estimated that only 16% of rapes will ever be reported, and only 25% of reported cases will ever have arrests (to compare, the arrest rate for aggravated assault is about 50%, and for murder it’s about 79%).

As a woman, this has very real implications for how I live my life. It means a self-imposed curfew after dark, unless I have someone else to come with me. It means that if I have to go somewhere by myself after dark, I will have an escape and/or self-defense plan outlined for as many scenarios as I can anticipate; this means, for example, if I’m in a night class, I’m less focused on what the professor is saying than I am on making sure I can get home safely. It means I can never fully relax at a party, because someone somewhere might try to put something in my drink or pull me into a dark corner. It means that strange men are now all Schrodinger’s Rapists. It means that I am far more conscious of how I look and dress than any man will ever have to be, not because I want to look sexy, but frequently just the opposite: if someone attacks me violently, I don’t want the police writing off my case because I was “asking for it“.

I honestly don’t think a lot of guys really understand how this works for the women in their lives. For them, rape is something that happens to a particularly easy test or a video game, and it’s something you do triumphantly. A lot of men are actually rapists, according to the legal definition of rape, and have no idea, because of the way we teach men and boys about sex and women. Which is a whole other post entirely, but one worth doing some research on if you even remotely care to educate yourselves on this topic.

I’m not asking anyone to become a hardcore feminist here. I’m not calling for Daniel Tosh’s show to be pulled off the air, or anything like that (although an actual apology would be nice). This is actually a great learning opportunity, to point out why exactly we think jokes about traumatically violating other people are edgy and subversive, when, in reality, they’re some of the least edgy and most obnoxious jokes out there.

So I just ask that, instead of rushing to Daniel Tosh’s defense with the knee-jerk reaction of “lighten up, it’s just comedy!”, please just consider the possibility that the people who are offended by these jokes aren’t thin-skinned prudes with no sense of humor. They might be (and, in fact, are) responding to these jokes from a different perspective than yours, one that it wouldn’t hurt you to get familiar with.

And, like Jessica Valenti said, if you can’t get past that, “If you are this attached to jokes about raping women—if they mean this much to you—it’s time to look inward and think about why that is.”