Don’t desensitize derogatory remarks

by Kalah Siegel

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The other day I came across an Instagram page called “Azteccuties.” It features multiple candid pictures–particularly from behind–of girls who are unaware they are having their photo taken. Whoever runs the page then posts the photos and comments on the girls’ assets.

I recognize that this page probably reflects the actions of one extremely strange, socially inept individual and a handful of creepy followers. However, my problem is with the reaction that average people seem to have to rude, degrading situations such as Azteccuties.

A friend of mine was in one of the photos on the Azteccuties page. She was completely unaware that a photo and caption commenting on her body had been taken and posted online. When I asked her about it, her response was mild. She found it kind of creepy, but not that alarming.

Processing her reaction made me realize that as a generation, women can be extremely desensitized to demeaning remarks and circumstances if it has a funny or complimentary context.

In this case, the person behind Azteccuties was able to hide his or her misogynistic tone behind flattery. He or she doesn’t seemingly insult any of the women in the photos, but rather “praises” the girls’ God-given gifts. There’s a fine and sometimes unclear line between acceptable compliments and objectifying remarks. This formula makes it hard to recognize when offense should be taken. [quote]As little girls, we’re trained to take compliments with a smile and say “Thank you.” Apparently, we really needed to be taught when to say, “No thanks, you can keep your compliment, creeper.”[/quote]

Humor is another vast corner for sexism to hide. I’m personally a fan of the website Total Frat Move. Its articles take a perspective on college life that I find funny.  However, when you look closer at the articles, some of them can be seriously offensive to women.

There seems to always be at least two or three photos of scantily-clad women on the front page, and many of the articles don’t address women in the highest regard. One recent Total Frat Move article titled “5 Apps I Wish Existed” talked about some “ideal” phone applications that would benefit the life of the average college male.

The dream apps included the “Leave Me Alone” app, for a way to effectively kick a girl out of your bed the morning after a one-night-stand. “The Cling” app will help you give a girl the hint that she’s crazy and should leave you alone.

The author of these articles presented his topic in a funny way that college students can relate to. Many people would have to actively think about the underlying message of this article and articles like it to understand why it’s not a laughing matter.

This brings me back to my original point. Our generation is desensitized to the messages of sexism because they are oftentimes disguised. We don’t stand up to misogyny because we don’t realize there’s a problem.

The ability to recognize that there’s a problem is key. Usually you can pick up on something being a little off by a gut feeling. Don’t just brush it off because it’s small or insignificant. If only one person is uncomfortable with a situation, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

For example, on the Azteccuties Instagram page, some people admit it’s kind of creepy but not creepy enough to find it strikingly inappropriate. Creepy is creepy, no matter the degree. If you have an uneasy feeling about something, it’s probably not right.

The second step to putting down discreet sexism is to stand up for yourself and your gut feelings. You don’t have to cause a scene. It can be as easy as refraining from supporting what you disagree with instead of going along with it.

Ask to have your picture taken off Azteccuties and don’t retweet that funny, sexist article. The little steps may seem insignificant, but they can have a huge impact if everyone were to take a baby-step stand.

I love this generation because we are accepting, forward thinking, bold and unique. There’s no room for the attitude of inequality, no matter how subtle or masked it is. This is our generation’s time to make an impact, let’s own that.

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