This past week, I violated one of my own cardinal rules of social media: Do not be involved in a political or ideological debate on Facebook.
You know how when you’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and you come across that status made in jest that is related to a social issue, but someone comments on it with a paragraph of opinionated politics that just kills the mood? Nobody likes that guy. That guy makes things awkward. But I was “that guy.” In my defense, the status was that of a male quite close to me and was slightly offensive towards women. Given my relation with this gentleman, I felt less bad about raining on his manly parade. Not to mention, as a feminist, I seized the opportunity to make sure the men closest to me understand a few things about being a lady.
The young gentleman in question updated his Facebook status saying, “OMG U GUYZ SEE THAT LAY UP IN THE WNBA FINALZ? Nah me neither nobody did.”
Now let me clarify one thing that I’m not sure I was able to convey in my one string of politically obnoxious Facebook comments: I know not a lot of people watch professional women’s basketball. What I was trying to convey is this: Female professional athletes are largely ignored by popular media. In doing this, my dear friend unintentionally perpetuated this misogynistic idea that a woman in a professional athletic field is a comedic anomaly. The back-and-forth comment fight was kept “fun” and danced the line around awkward by sticking light-hearted, unrelated jokes in between point-making but ultimately, I pulled out of the debate because I realized my point would not be perfectly made without getting serious — and I just wasn’t ready to go there. I realized if I truly wanted him to understand the offensive nature of his comment, I could have a reasonable conversation with him outside of a public forum — or write an article about it.
Let me take my feelings outside of the context of professional female athletics because — let’s face it, although I may have a sweet spot from the top corner of the key and a left-handed layup, my height just leaves me not cut out for the big leagues.
This status got me particularly fiery because the ideas behind it will soon be directly applicable to my life. Women in many professional fields are still tokenized, seen as anomalies or even “cute.” No, it doesn’t happen everywhere and does not apply across the board, and, yes, it is 2012, and thanks to countless women who’ve come before me, I have nearly every opportunity open to me in this country. But it does happen. And whether it’s conscious or not, something always hangs in the back of a young gal’s mind when she applies for jobs or even chooses a major: Don’t get too upset over anything because then you’re the “overly emotional woman.” These stereotype threats are subconsciously dictating our every move. But there’s nothing unusual about my and every other woman’s excelling in whatever we do. No one should be impressed that I can contribute to a political debate. I’m a human being, I’m literate and I have access to the Internet. And just because there aren’t hundreds of thousands of people tuning in to watch a woman play basketball professionally doesn’t mean the players don’t want to see their profession to be minimized or to be seen as something of a rarity.
Now I know the referred-to young man has read this and is thinking I’ve gone way overboard reacting to a light-hearted Facebook status. But it’s election season, and thus the season to take small comments out of context and blow them out of proportion in order to further your own agenda.
Now what’s this I heard about binders full of women?
Meagan Kelly is a senior in the College. RING BY SPRING appears every Friday in the guide.