Thursday, August 28, 2014

Monday Musings (on a Thursday) with a Mavenista~ Thoughts on Responsible Perception

I had every intention of writing about something different today, 
but then I saw something that stuck in my craw. 
Then I saw something that disturbed me.
 Finally I learned something from a friend 
that I would never have known 
without a little guidance from the urban dictionary. 

Amazingly they are all related,
 though as I tell you about them separately 
you may wonder how in the world they possibly could be,
 but they are, 
and it was all too much for me 
not to use this platform to make a commentary about it.

First thing this morning, my Facebook feed
 told me about a viral video that had been shared on a friend's timeline. 
I am curious and the wonderful anonymity 
that Facebook allows me 
lets my stalker tendencies run amok. 
 This is the video...

So aside from the very obvious lack of vocal talent present in the video, 
and the overall seemingly positive message,
I find one of the lyrics questionable.  
I have both daughters and sons so these words gave me pause.

" If you only knew what I could see, 
You'd understand why I need your modesty."

Wait a second. Are they saying what I think they saying?

Have they just made what they think of me my responsibility?

That is two steps shy of saying that a girl was asking for it based on what she was wearing.

Guess what guys, (and girls)
 last time I checked, 
you are responsible for your own thought life- not me.

That is not to say
 that I didn't encourage my older daughter 
to wear appropriately modest attire
 that was suited to whatever event or environment she might be in. 
I certainly preferred her to be covered 
and more importantly comfortable, 
which modest attire tends to be, 
more so than things that are short, tight, or revealing. 

Guess what though, 
the concept of modesty is very cultural. 
What we consider extremely modest in this country 
could be considered indecent
 by some cultural standards in the world today.

So is it always the girl's responsibility 
to never go out
 unless covered head to toe, 
lest some poor unsuspecting young man 
be tempted into impure thoughts
do we teach our sons
and daughters
that their perceptions are their own responsibility
and that those thoughts are controllable for most of us.

Of course, media 
would love to help teach us 
what perceptions 
we should be having 
and therein 
is where the problem mostly lies. 

Despite generations of messages 
teaching us about gender equality 
and female empowerment,
the messages were always mixed,  and still are,
telling us that in order to please our male counterparts
and other women as well, 
we would have to be sexy but modest, 
smart but subservient,
thin but healthy, 
and a whole slew of other 
often contradictory 

It's enough to make a girl go insane, 
and a guy too 
since he most likely
has no idea 
what he's really supposed to think
 about a girl 
or how to treat her
 after all the years
of media brain washing.

 this is not an essay on the merits of feminism, 
just an observation 
on how skewed 
the world  has really become.

This leads me to the second thing I saw on Facebook today 
that disturbed me so much I was shaking and crying.

It was a video of men with machine guns 
systematically killing other defenseless men 
who had been tied up and placed face down in the dirt side by side.  
It was not a simulation,
 it was real documentary footage and it was horrifying, 
and it was on Facebook for any and all to see. 
That video I will not link. 
I wish I hadn't seen what I did see 
and I didn't watch all of it.

it took years for Facebook and Instagram 
to allow perfectly innocent images 
of women breastfeeding their babies
 to be in the feed without removal. 
You can literally show
 a video of people being shot in the head, 
but God forbid 
we see the nipple of a nursing mom 
or a three year old little girl in the bathtub- 
of course
 if the girl looks closer to 16
 and is wearing pasties 
then it is a-ok! 

The final thing that caused a blip in my radar today 
was a euphemism from the urban dictionary 
that I did not know existed before today. 
My friend did not know before today either
 which is why she shared about it. 
She did not define it, 
but instead let us go look it up
 for ourselves at our own discretion.
I will be just as classy and only link it for you. 

Suffice it to say
 that it references things 
a person is supposedly 
willing to do,
 or asking for 
if they are wearing a particular item of clothing- 
what some would consider 
modest clothing, 
mind you.

"If you knew what, I could see, you would know why I need your modesty"

 or should it be

"Your perception of me, is once again my responsibility" 

Even though your perception and information may be in fact seriously flawed?

So what's my point? Do I even have one, you may be asking.

I do have a point and it is this...
This is a very mixed up world and time in history.

It's also an exciting and wonderful time in history 
because even the least of us
can make observations and find incongruities in this world,
and then find a voice 
and a platform 
to begin a conversation.
A conversation
 that more and more people 
will be able to hear 
and join in on 
because of the remarkable time in history we live in.

Of course, there are those who want to join the conversation 
not with the aim to discuss, 
but ultimately to persuade, dominate, and control.
Don't let them.
Don't let their perceptions
 be your responsibility- 
get them to think! 
Keep observing,
 keep conversing,
 keep finding new platforms.
As photographers and artists, 
we have a wonderfully unique position
 to do just that,
and our images 
can be worth 
so much
than just
a thousand words.

If this post got you to thinking and
if you happen to be in the L.A. area this weekend, 
you might want to check out this show 
before it closes- which is this weekend. 

Why do we censor some things and not others?

Love and Blessings.

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