If you ever wade into the comments sections, you’ll know how easy it is to despair at the world.
An article on the gender pay gap will show you some people denying it even exists. A compilation of statistics about violence against women will have commentary ranging from the victim blamers to the what-about-men derailers. If you see a video about children and gender stereotyping, there will almost always be people complaining about the idea of gender neutrality. An article about racism will be peppered with remarks from those who think it isn’t an issue (or worse, those that embrace it). The same goes for anything online that is shared to do with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism or any other form of human bigotry.
I’ve been there!
I have waded that far into these discussions that I had to take time out because it was too upsetting. It’s far too easy to get stuck in the quicksand of willful ignorance, devil’s advocates and those that choose hate. And I am just one person who has a stab at these conversations from time to time. Far less than I used to. There are other people who invest hours and hours of their time trying to turn the tide on these things, one comment section debate at a time.
Even as a silent observer, it can be hard to read along. There’s something distressing about knowing that hate and ignorance like that even exist. It’s hard not to think that people are generally awful and leave it at that.
Don’t give up.
You could spend a couple of hours online and be forgiven for losing all faith in humanity. But here’s a thing that I keep reminding myself of:
Progress is slow. If you see an article, for example, about a child being raised without gender stereotyping, allowed to explore what they like without restriction, there will be those comments.
Feminism’s gone too far! Letting a boy wear a dress will just make him gay! Girls just don’t like trucks and that’s that!
But look at it this way. A decade or two ago, was anyone this conscious of gender stereotyping and the harm it does? Were many people deliberately raising their children this way? Were people looking into the relationships between gender and wages or domestic violence? Think back to when you were in primary school. Remember, racism was totally socially acceptable. Ableist slurs were part of everyone’s vernacular. Casual homophobia was the absolute norm. We are so hurt by the negativity that sometimes, we forget there’s been so much progress.
Progress: Gradual betterment; especially the progressive development of humankind
Progress is slow. It is gradual. It might not always seem like it, but it is happening. If there was no progress, no one would even be talking about these issues. We’d be stagnating instead of clashing. Participate, where you can. But look after yourself, too. And take heart, because change is slowly happening.