Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Attacking the Sensitive

So, I'm bracing for the conservative backlash that is bound to splash across my social media feeds today when pundits start lampooning a NYT op-ed by Daniel Pollack-Pelzner about Mary Poppins wearing blackface.

USA today is already covering Twitter's reaction (btw, really, USA Today?).

I expect to see a lot of people pointing and shouting at this example of "LIE-berals being TOO sensitive!!!!"

And yeah, I think the Mary Poppins thing is silly.

But this "too sensitive" thing, like the derisive use of "politically correct," is worth some attention.

Sure, there are times when people are being too sensitive (I'm looking at you Pollack-Pelzner).

However, there is a much longer history of guys like me telling other people, "Don't be offended. This is the way things are. You're being too sensitive."

Due to the accident of history, our cultural landscape was shaped by a lot of straight white dudes catering to all the other straight white dudes. If you find that statement controversial, I don't know what to tell you. The evidence is literally everywhere. And it's not just that the world is built to make us comfortable; it's also the absurd backlash to razor commercials, #BLM, #metoo, female science fiction writers, female game designers, black actors in comic book movies... Oh. My. God. The irony that these are the people accusing others of being too sensitive surpasses the level of satire.

But I get it. Because for people who are comfortable in a world built for straight white dudes (and that includes a lot of people are not straight, white, or dude-like), "this is the way things are."

And living in a moment when people are challenging the way things are can lead to some disturbances. In fact, it should disturb some people.

It disturbs me and my understanding of my world. I have to accept there are some things I do not understand as offensive, but those things offend others.

And when people assert themselves and expect to be treated with dignity, I may have to reexamine the way things are.

I may find that the world I thought of as so comfortable was actually a lot less comfortable for people I hadn't taken into consideration.

Making room and treating others with dignity is going to change my world.
It'll disturb my world.

There's going to be times when I have to admit I do not - and cannot - understand why someone is offended, because they have a point of view I am unable to share.

So, I have to be more careful with that accusation of "too sensitive." It may, after all, be me that has become too sensitive.