Rebel Wilson: Police Brutality Is Not A Joke

I love Rebel Wilson. I thought she did an amazing job as Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect movies. She is funny as hell, and a killer singer. But last night, she did something that wasn’t so funny.

When presenting the Best Hip Hop video, she said “I know a lot of people have problems with the police. But I really hate police strippers!” In an attempt to make a joke about strippers, she trivialized the very real issue of police brutality and offended a lot of people who have suffered because of racist policing policies.

Just like we don’t make rape jokes, and we don’t make homophobic jokes, we shouldn’t be laughing about police brutality. To do so is to hurt the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and the countless others who have died at the hands of the police. Their deaths are not funny, not to their families and friends, and not to the people still fighting for justice.

I don’t believe that Rebel Wilson intended to do harm with that statement. It was misguided, and a bad choice, but she isn’t a bad person. I would like to think that this is a learning experience for her, and from this point on she can be a voice for the Black Lives Matter movement. But first, she needs to understand why trying to make a joke of police brutality is a problem.

The VMA’s and Cultural Appropriation

Last night’s VMAs drew a lot of attention, for numerous reasons. Whenever there is an awards show, the media focuses on what celebrities are wearing. One celebrity, Miley Cyrus, garnered a lot of attention for wearing what hollywoodlife.com called “amazing blonde dreadlocks!” The music star was praised for wearing a traditionally black hairstyle. Some might ask, what’s the problem? It’s just a hairstyle.

The thing is, dreadlocks aren’t just a hairstyle. They are an important part of black culture, worn traditionally by women of color. Instead of being praised, they are insulted. Just look at what happened to Zendaya when she chose to wear dreadlocks on the Oscars red carpet: A Fashion Police reporter, Guiliana Rancic, said that the young star must smell of “patchouli oil and weed.” When women of color choose to wear their hair in traditional hairstyles, they are shamed, made fun of, and sometimes ejected from groups (workplaces, the military, etc.) When Miley Cyrus chose to wear dreadlocks, she got all the fun of a “funky”, “eclectic” hairstyle without all the insults from the rest of society. That is cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation happens all the damn time. Another example would be when teenagers dress up as native americans for Halloween. They get to put on a costume, without understanding the culture behind it. They do not have to live with the history of the Native Americans, being pushed off their land and losing important parts of their culture. This is what makes cultural appropriation a problem. When someone who isn’t part of an oppressed group wears part of their culture, they are participating in that group’s oppression.

Now, cultural appropriation isn’t when you go to a friend’s wedding or other celebration and they invite you to take part in their culture. It isn’t attending a Native American ceremony and wearing a headdress when asked to. It’s about respecting that group’s culture and beliefs and history, and not using it to get compliments or a quick 15 seconds of fame, like Miley Cyrus did.

What You Need To Know About the Wage Gap

First things first, lets get one thing straight: the wage gap is a real thing. No matter how many people try to tell you otherwise, it exists, it’s thriving and it affects all women.

The wage gap is defined as the difference between male and female earnings. Report after report proves that women are consistently paid less than men are paid over their lifetime- 78% less, to be exact. What’s worse is that this pay gap has barely budged within a decade.

Women in every state experience the pay gap, but some states are worse than others. The best place in the country is Washington DC, where women are paid 91% of what men are paid; so, it’s still not perfect, but it’s a lot better than the worst location in the country: Louisiana. There, women are paid just 66% percent of what men are paid. How much the wage gap affects you also depends on your race. While white women make 78% of what white men earn, women of color earn even less (64%), with hispanic women coming in last with a measly 54%.

Simply because you are a woman, you earn less than your male counterparts. While it may not seem like that big of a deal on paper, think about how much more you have to work just to earn the same amount as men. Women work, on average, approximately 60 extra days to earn what a man earns in a year.

One argument brought up against the gender pay is that women make choices that affect their earnings. The Pew Research organization found that women were more likely to say they had taken career interruptions to care for their family, which in turn had an impact on long-term earnings. Approximately 39% of mothers have taken time off from work (with 42% reducing their work hours) to care for a child or other family member. 27% say they have had to quit work entirely to take care of these familial responsibilities. The problem here isn’t that women are choosing to take care of their families but rather the fact that they are being forced to choose between earning a fair, equal wage and honoring familial responsibilities.

It’s time for the wage gap to be closed, once and for all. We should be paid for the work we do, without that number being affected by our gender, our race, or our familial/marital status. We don’t want 78%- we want one. hundred. percent.

How to be a Feminist in High School

Being a feminist in high school is admirable and wonderful. To be aware of the many issues plaguing society, and to want to help fight them is a great thing, but sometimes being a feminist in the sea of misogyny and sexism present at most high schools is tiring and downright shitty.

High school feminists have to face things like sexist dress codes, because the mere sight of a female’s shoulder or bra strap is just so distracting to those of the male persuasion that they will instantly lose all ability to focus and learn. Your peers will tell you that being a feminist is why you’re single, because having respect for women makes you a “man-hater”. You’ll have to listen to people slut-shame girls for having sex, or calling them prudes for choosing to wait. You’ll have to overhear rape jokes constantly, and when you try explain why they aren’t funny, people will be very confused. You’ll have to sit through sex-ed that only focuses on abstinence, instead of educating young people about healthy relationships and sex.

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from being a feminist. The fact is, most high schools are hostile environments for feminists, not only for the issues above, but also because there is a culture of silence around the issues plaguing women. Not many schools offer classes in women studies, nor do they have clubs for students to learn more about feminism. This lack of education contributes to the many misconceptions young people have about feminism, and spurs harmful stereotypes, like the beliefs that feminists are  “man-haters”  and “bra-burners.”

Since high schools don’t offer their students this education, take it upon yourself to learn about feminism. Seek out classes at local colleges, or summer programs. Read feminist literature (some good places to start are Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit and Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay.) Use the internet to your advantage- explore blogs written about feminism, like the FBomb and Feminist Culture. Look up TEDTalks that focus on women and gender equality, like this one by Jackson Katz. Give yourself the education that your high school won’t give you.

Even though choosing to be a feminist is difficult, it is a worthwhile struggle. And when someone tries to bring you down for being a feminist, remember these words from Kate Nash: “Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs or a tan, and it does not mean you are a bitch or a dyke, it means that you believe in equality.”

The Broken Concept of Virginity.

Society obsesses over the concept of virginity. Young girls are inundated with the message that the determining factor in our “purity” and “cleanliness” is whether or not we have had sex yet. Placing so much importance on what is, in its essence, a social construct designed to perpetuate a culture of slut-shaming and rape culture is dangerous to young girls’ health and well-being.

The truth of the matter is, there is no medical or biological definition of virginity. There is no real definition of virginity. The dictionary says it is “the state of never having had sexual intercourse.” But the problem with that definition is that it doesn’t mean anything. Because “sexual intercourse” refers to penetrative sex. So what about all of the people who have plenty of sex that isn’t penetrative? Can they not lose their virginity? How “far” can you go until you’re engaging in sex? Does masturbation count? Oral? What about the use of sex toys? The truth is: Different people define sex differently. So this one definition we have of virginity doesn’t even work.

We’ve established that there can’t possibly be one true definition of “virginity.” So, why does such a concept still exist? It exists as part of a larger societal problem that stems from a desire for everyone to conform to heteronormative concepts. It diminishes the experiences of people who identify as LGBTQ* or other- clearly, women in relationships with other women have never had penetrative sex, so how could they ever lose their “virginity”? What about men who are in sexual relationships with other men? The concept of virginity erases their sexual experiences by continuing to perpetuate the idea that the only “real” sex must be penetrative sex.

Furthermore, the concept of virginity creates a society hell bent on slut shaming; or, more particularly, women shaming. Girls who keep their virginity until a certain age (perhaps until marriage) are seen as “pure” and “good”, whereas girls who lose their virginity earlier than society has deemed appropriate are seen as “dirty” or “slutty.” Why are we telling women that choosing to engage in healthy, consensual sexual relationships makes them dirty, when we tell men that doing the same thing makes them “cool” or “players”?

The concept of virginity serves another purpose: to add fuel to the fire that is rape culture. When we tell girls that they are “dirty” for having sex, we tell women who have been assaulted that the violence they have survived has marred them. Instead of helping them, society tells them that because a man felt entitled to their body, they are no longer “pure” or “good.” We wouldn’t tell a victim of gun violence that they are dirty or unclean for how someone chose to attack them; so why do say that to victims of sexual assault?

The broken concept of virginity is sexist, non-inclusive and contributes largely to slut-shaming in our society. By continuously telling women that their worth is determined by whether or not they have had sex, we reduce them to sexual objects instead of people. Virginity is a social construct that needs to be abolished if we are ever to achieve gender equality.

Why Rape Jokes Are Never Ok.

“Dude, that teacher sucks. She should get raped for giving me a C on that essay!”

How I wish I had just made that line up in my head for the purpose of this post. But I didn’t. This is one of many rape jokes I’ve overheard in my school hallways. I often hear my male friends laughing along when their peers joke about drugging a girl, or raping a teacher they find attractive. The fact is, these jokes aren’t funny. Not now, not ever. And here’s why.

Making sexual assault a punchline detracts from the seriousness of the matter. By cracking jokes, we normalize it. We tell victims and survivors of assault that what happened shouldn’t upset them, because jokes aren’t designed to upset people- they’re meant to draw laughs. Rather than laughing, we need to talk about the issue seriously. Sexual assault is becoming increasingly pervasive in our society. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs reports that somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes. Of these rapes, 54% of them go unreported. Why do so many women choose not to report what is, by law, a violent crime? Perhaps part of the reason is the prevalence of rape jokes.

When someone who has been sexually assaulted hears a rape joke, it further enforces the culture of victim blaming that they have no doubt already been exposed to. Rape jokes are a way to perpetuate the idea that men are entitled to a woman’s body, and if she doesn’t go along with his desires, well it’s her fault for whatever happens. After all, he’s a man, he just couldn’t help himself.  This ingrained belief of sexual entitlement is part of the problem. When you tell a rape joke, you add to this belief. You tell women that you getting a bad grade on an assignment is the same thing as being assaulted and physically harmed. You tell survivors that what they experienced is a laughing matter. You tell them that rape is funny…which it clearly isn’t.

Oftentimes, the person making the joke doesn’t actually understand why it’s wrong. That’s because this type of “humor” is so deeply entrenched in our society that many people overlook it. It’s in the television shows and movies we watch, the magazines we read, the songs we listen to… Just look at some of the lyrics from Blurred Lines, one of the most popular songs of summer 2013: “I know you want it/But you’re a good girl/The way you grab me/Must wanna get nasty.” It seems innocuous when you hear it on the radio, but when you really listen, Robin Thicke is singing a song that encourages male entitlement- since the girl is grabbing him, she clearly wants to have sex. Although listening to songs like Blurred Lines won’t turn a man into a rapist, it normalizes the issue of sexual assault. Society surrounds us with media such as this, constantly inundating us with messages that tell us women are less than men, and sexual assault is something to laugh about.

The fact is, rape jokes aren’t funny. Instead of laughing, we need to stand up and say something. So the next time you hear a rape joke, stop the person and ask why they think sexual assault is funny. Vice President Joe Biden said, “It’s not good enough not be an abuser.” It’s no longer good enough to say you’re not committing the crime, it’s not your problem- it is your problem. It’s everyone’s problem. It will continue to be everyone’s problem until there are no more victims of sexual assault. So use your voice to let people know: Rape jokes are not ok.

Stop Joking About Voting for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is currently first in the polls for the Republican party. There are people who are actually going to vote for trump because they think it is funny. This. Is. No. Joke. The man is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic businessman who cannot possibly lead a country built on the ideals of equality and freedom.

If you still think this is a laughing matter, take a look at these hilarious (my computer screen cannot convey the sarcasm dripping from this word) facts about Mr. Donald Trump…

  1. His first wife said he made her feel violated during sex, but dropped the matter after a divorce settlement.
  2. He quoted a tweet that said if Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, she can’t satisfy America.
  3. He said he would date his daughter if she wasn’t his daughter.
  4. Mr. Trump told a contestant on the ‘The Apprentice’ that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.
  5. His response to Meghan Kelly asking him tough, relevant questions about his attitude towards women was that she must be on her period.
  6. Trump gave out a US Senator’s private cellphone number out of spite on national television.
  7. Trump said John McCain, who was a war prisoner for five years, was no war hero because he was captured.
  8. There are people who scream “white power!” at his rallies, and they are there in support of Trump. That alone says quite a bit.
  9. Trump tweeted that because Barack Obama was a disappointing president, there wouldn’t be another black president for a long time.
  10. At his campaign announcement, he called undocumented mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals and rapists.
  11. Trump’s idea of Border Security is to force Mexico to build a giant wall.
  12. When told that his statement about rape at the border was inaccurate, he just said “well someone’s doing the raping!”
  13. Trump has the full support of a former KKK leader.
  14. Trump inspired a father and son to beat up and urinate on a mexican homeless man. His response: “My followers are passionate.”
  15. Trump wants mass deportation, and to bring an end to birthright citizenship, referring to these children as anchor babies.
  16. He wants to go back into the middle east, bomb them for their oil, and then take it.

The fact is this: This is no longer a joke. As a society, we can no longer support a man who makes such horrible comments openly, and is even proud of anti-immigrant, racist, homophobic remarks. PLEASE stop supporting this politician who stands for white supremacy, racism, and sexism. As a feminist, and human being. PLEASE. STOP.

To see the Twitter user who inspired this post, with full credit for the facts listed above going to her, please click here . She is an awesome inspiration, a feminist, and everyone should look up to her!