Friday, April 17, 2015

A Little Forethought Goes A Long Way

So, Michael Buble posted a photo of an unsuspecting woman in short-shorts on his Instagram with him smirking away in the foreground as her cheeky-cheeks winked cheekily in the background. He even dressed the post up with some hashtags about her hungry albeit beautiful bum and it turned out to be the internet news of the day. A lot of people are perplex about why this is a big deal, a few are wondering where the cries of 'body-shaming' are coming from, and some are wondering why his post has garnered such attention, especially when the post was intended to be complimentary.

After removing the controversial picture, Mr. Buble posted a statement about how he would never intentionally be 'insulting to a human' and how he thought women should be 'loved, celebrated and respected'. Well, I call bullshit, and this why what he did is unacceptable, rude, sexist and disconcerting (to me, at least). 

1. A lot of opinionated folks feel the only reason Mr. Buble is getting flack is because he's famous. In a lot of ways, this is correct, mostly because if an average Joe posted a photo of some unsuspecting woman on his Instagram it wouldn't have gone viral. Most people don't have over a million people on their Instagram accounts, or nearly eight million on their Facebook fan pages, which is where the picture appeared. An average, bonehead dude wouldn't be able to reach a million people with a press of a button, so one might think with the sheer girth of his social media platform, Mr. Buble (and wife) might have used their heads and thought, "Hey, maybe this isn't a good idea?" But they didn't. Of course, this doesn't mean they shouldn't be held responsible for the tripe they put into the world, right? 

2. After addressing his popularity, let's take it away - because it doesn't actually matter when you think of the underlying issue. The fact that he is a world-famous singer has only allowed us to shed light on the complete lack of privacy we live with. In the world of social media, it is easy to wave goodbye to our privacy, and this story simply proves we are a poor clothing choice and a share button away from being the next viral sensation. This doesn't change the fact that it actually isn't okay to pass along pictures or information of other people. As humans, it'd be nice if we respected each other enough not to take covert snapshots and share them to our social media followers ... unfortunately, this isn't the case. Simply put, if you want to share your own lives, clothing, children, work, then feel free, but exposing someone else without permission is a violation of their privacy. And it's wrong. No matter if you are Michael Buble or not. 

3. What bothers me most about this picture is the poster actually thought it was complimentary! I suppose the logic correlates with when men catcall women from the side of the road. As if this woman should be happy that her 'humps' are plastered all over the internet, that she should be thrilled because a celebrity found it attractive, and that she should accept his 'beautiful bum' hashtag with pride. Because nothing makes you feel better than being objectified, right? Who wouldn't want to be turned into a piece of meat and thrown to eight million rabid fans? And yet, I noticed he didn't say these things to her face - maybe because to have said them to her would have been super disrespectful. Well, that's just confounding, right? 

The core of the issue is that the objectification of women is so rampant most of Buble's fans (which are predominately female) jumped to his defence, claiming he was being 'nice' and 'flattering', and very few seemed to see the flip side - the extremely common oppression of women and acceptance of sexism. Even more irritating is Buble's claim of lack of intent. So, you didn't mean to be chauvinistic? Oh, I guess all is forgiven then. It's the 'boys will be boys' mentality, and quite honestly, it's getting pretty damn old. Imagine if this was your daughter. The girl in the picture could have been fourteen, for all we know. Horrifying, right?

And some people wonder why we still need feminism. Because every day we facilitate this type of behaviour, excusing it and condoning it. 

4. Alright, let's say the man just didn't think, and he honestly does love, respect and celebrate women, and he was just being funny ... One must ask the question: has he never been on the internet before? Has he never read comments on YouTube or Twitter? Did he seriously think this picture was going to be met with the same (cough) love, (cough) respect, and (cough) celebration he posted it with? (The coughing is because the words were sticking in my virtual throat and causing me to choke on the irony) This might be a newsflash to Buble, but the internet isn't exactly a nice place. People are mean, usually just for the sake of being mean, and he put this woman on display, holding her under a spotlight for the masses to critique. Now, I only read a handful of the comments, but I was disgusted. People were calling her fat, asking if she was blind, saying she clearly forgot her pants, and there were even utterances of 'whore'. Not only was she body-shamed, but her intelligence was called into question, and all I kept thinking was, she looks far better than I would in short-shorts.     

5. And through all the harsh comments and abrasive observations, there was a very unsettling theme of her responsibility. After all, she went out in public in the shorts, she was begging for the attention, she knew she looked good, and obviously she brought it on herself. Let's all call this what it truly is,  victimization and our ever-present ability to blame the victim when they are taken advantage of, violated and exploited. 

More annoying are the people who are asking WHY she wore shorts like that out in public. First off, it's Miami, I hear it gets hot there. Second, maybe she went for a run and they rode up a bit, or perhaps she has a huge wedgie and didn't feel a restaurant an appropriate place to pick it. Hell, maybe she wanted to show off the obvious hard work she puts into her body. The truth is, it doesn't matter the reasons behind WHY she put the shorts on and went out - she doesn't deserve to be plastered all over the internet and mistreated for wearing them. Whether or not we want to admit is, rape culture is pervasive in our society and it's evident when things like this happen. This woman is a victim of her privacy being violated, and is on the receiving end of sexism.

In the end, a little forethought goes a long way, especially when your platform can reach millions. The truth is, these types of things happen all the time, to women every day, and instances of sexism and exploitation are readily accepted to the point where a lot of us don't even bat an eye. From where I stand, if you truly love and respect women and want to celebrate them, then perhaps allowing them privacy would be a great first step. And I am talking to other women too. We do the exact same thing. Heck, it was Buble's wife who snapped the picture in the first place! This world is already so hard, how about making it a bit easier by thinking about how our actions and words can affect those around us. Make each post count.