This morning, I was posting comments on a friend’s Facebook status, when suddenly every single argument I had against the objectification of women in American society were distilled down to three “rebuttals” by a so-called friend:
- Even women in Muslim countries are objectified
- You live in South Africa, the rape capital of the world, so don’t pretend to be ignorant
- You are blinded to reality and have become more and more anti-American
Ah, yes. American Exceptionalism. How could I forget that the U.S. is a shining beacon of democracy, liberty, and freedom of all individuals? Oh yeah except it isn’t. Anyway, here are my responses to these three comments:
Even women in Muslim countries are objectified
Right, except we weren’t talking about Muslim countries. We were talking about the United States and the social issues therein. The entire article was discussing an issue happening right now in the U.S. So why would you even mention Muslim countries? Did I mention them? No. Did I make any sort of a statement about my religion at all? No. So why even bring it up?
You live in South Africa, the rape capital of the world, so don’t pretend to be ignorant
Here comes the arrogance again. Because I’ve lived in South Africa for 10 months, I’m now an expert on social issues here? Look, I live in a suburb. I don’t travel outside of my neighbourhood often. I interact with my husband’s family and a woman’s forum at the local mosque, and also with other parents at my daughter’s school. That is literally it.
I don’t have anywhere near enough understanding to explain to you or anyone else how to go about buying a used car in South Africa or how to choose one bank over another. My knowledge here is very limited and it will probably take me years to even get to a good outsider’s understanding of what is going on.
And yet you want me to stop and address the insanely high levels of rape in South Africa in a comment thread that is discussing objectification of young girls in America? That demand is absolutely, totally, and completely absurd, and it probably originates from the ubiquitous propaganda in America to “prove” what a great country America is.
So the levels of rape in the U.S. aren’t as high as South Africa? Whoop-dee-freaking-doo. Here, let me pin a medal on your chest that reads Thank God for Mississippi. Yep, thank God for South Africa. We don’t have to even worry about the rape of women here in America because women in South Africa have it worse.
This kind of thinking gets people nowhere. You don’t go and examine how your society is doing by comparing apples to oranges. Why don’t you instead compare your levels of rape to other “first world” countries, like Japan, France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, and so forth? In fact, while you’re at it why don’t you compare maternity leave, women’s pay, mortality rates of infants and women, pollution, food waste, socialised medicine, and other markers of “civilised nations” in this post-post-modern world.
You are blinded to reality and have become more and more anti-American
This right here is why it was relatively easy for me to leave the country of my birth and start life somewhere else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a critical look at your society and pointing out the issues therein. In fact, there is something completely wrong with sticking your head in the sand like a big ol’ ostrich and ignoring issues while you rant and rave about how “America is the best place to live on this planet” and other such nonsense. Yet every single time I point out the parts that needed improving, my loyalty is questioned and quite often my religion is invoked as the source of my “anti-American mentality” (as it was today).
Pointing out the truth about the issues being faced in American society is not “anti-American”. In fact, speaking out about wrongs is one of the dang freedoms we’re supposed to have according to the first amendment which guarantees us freedom of speech. It’s our duty as citizens to point out when things are going wrong, or at least that’s what I was brought up believing.
The reality of living in America today is that you are expected to be quiet about the real social problems and instead get on your computer and rant about Republicans vs. Democrats, or why Sanjaya made a mockery of American Idol, or any other expression of discontent with the Bread and Circus Corporate Machine and not with the government or society at large. I refuse to buy into such a shallow way of life so therefore I am “anti-American”. Fine, so be it.
Look, every nation on this planet has pros and cons for living there. Sure, some nations have way more cons than pros, but you can’t only point out the cons of the other and the pros of your own nation and declare that you’ve got it the best! That’s just asinine. And while I’m not going to say America is a demon or the worst nation that ever existed or blame modernity for everything, I’m also not going to be silent and pretend that America is the huge saviour the entire world needs, or blame everything on Liberals or Republicans or the price of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And I’m certainly not going to censor what I have to say so that you can go to sleep at night with your illusions of patriotic superiority intact.