On Vulnerability, Responsibility, and Humanity

On vulnerability, responsibility, and humanity

Maybe I’m old-fashioned at my ripe age of 28. Maybe I’m nostalgic for the golden years of the 90s, when the music was better, the pants were baggier, and my biggest concerns included whether or not the OJ Simpson trial would broadcast over my Saturday morning cartoons.

Whatever the reason, I’m not sure what’s going on with the world these days.

The country’s culture has changed, which is to be expected, but I wouldn’t say it’s for the better.

No, I’m not super conservative. I’m not mad about dubstep, nor am I worried about my eyebrows being “on fleek” (even though I’m still not completely sure what that means).

But let’s talk about Kim Kardashian for a minute.

As most people know by now, Kim recently endured the harrowing experience of being robbed at gunpoint in Paris. Her husband left his show in the middle of “Heartless,” citing a family emergency. That sounds like a terrifying experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

And the trolls came out. They said:

Kanye West had no right to leave his show, despite the fact that his wife and the mother of his children was bound and gagged on another continent. Kim Kardashian was just mad that the limelight wasn’t on her for two seconds, so she’s probably pulling a “Ryan Lochte” and this is all a big hoax.

Next came the social media defenders:

Kim Kardashian didn’t ask for any of this by flaunting the multi-million dollar ring she was wearing that very night, nor by disclosing her location and the fact that she was alone that night on social media. She can do what she wants.

But here’s the thing – she can’t. None of us can.

I’m not sure where this idea even came from in the first place. In what world can we all just do as we please? When was that ever the case? Have we gotten to such a point of entitlement that we honestly believe that this is a thing we can do without consequence?

That said, “shaming” is out of control. People are fat shamed, skinny shamed, slut shamed, parenting-style shamed…you name it. The lines between criticism (constructive or otherwise), compassion, advocacy, and reality are all blurred. It’s as if we’ve forgotten how to be humane to one another, claiming that our freedom of speech gives us the right to say horrible things to people. And if they get offended? Well, that’s their problem.

Obviously.

We’re trying to live in a world where we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. We’re trying to ignore the fact that what we put out into the world is exactly what we get back. Most importantly, we’re trying to operate on the grounds of how we think things should be and not how they actually are.

Now, I feel like I should preface this next part with a disclaimer: I do not condone victim blaming.

The naivety associated with comments like, “She can wear what she wants,” and, “She can post whatever she wants to post on Snapchat,” is baffling to me. People who say things like this don’t seem to understand the difference between “should” and “can.”

People shouldn’t rape women or steal from one another, but they do.

This whole life, including the ways in which we carry ourselves, is about mitigating and assessing risk. We (females) can stubbornly pretend all we want that our breasts aren’t sexual objects, but you’ll never hear a man making the same claim. It’d be nice to be able to wear a super cute, albeit low-cut shirt, but you should expect to attract excessive male attention with it. It’s human biology (one of the unbreakable laws of nature). So, don’t be surprised if some of them can’t resist what you’re putting out there. If you keep poking a bear…

The argument is always the same, though – men should be stronger than their animalistic urges. People should know better. We should be more civilized.

Should, should, should… 

The recent comments made by presidential-hopeful Donald Trump only serve to drive these points home. Without getting too political, his comments illuminated one of the constant principles of our world – survival of the fittest. The strong will overpower the weak because they can. The weak, then, have to work to make themselves less vulnerable to this, perhaps by strengthening themselves in other ways.

As a very small female, I learned this early on in life. The way I present myself to the world is how I’m perceived by others. The fact that I’m small and young-looking doesn’t mean I get to use that as an excuse when people treat me like a child. It means that I have to work harder to be taken seriously, that I have to assert myself in group settings to have my voice heard, and that I avoid situations, whenever possible, where there’s a higher likelihood of physical harm coming to me.

The bottom line?

Be smart, be self-aware, and be realistic!

No one’s telling you not to live your life in your own truth. But for your own sake, be careful. And whenever things happen to you, pointing the finger and placing the blame doesn’t do a lot of good. All we can do is consider our own actions and if we could have done anything differently (the answer is almost always “yes”). Hopefully, our future selves will benefit from a little introspection.

Just remember – the only one you can control is yourself, so take action where it counts.

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