I’ll admit: for much of the past 25+ years that I’ve been on this planet, I haven’t always been the most conscious or passionate about social or political issues. And a large part of that was sheer lack of awareness, or lack of education.
It’s really only been lately that I’ve been diving more into the social & political world and becoming more energetic about and fueled about some of these related issues, from the issue of equal pay to the uproars about Planned Parenthood funding, from talk about issues involved non-cis-het people (a phrase which I had absolutely no idea what it was about a few years ago!) to feminism, racism, sexism, and the like.
I never spoke about these issues, even if some of them were in the back of my mind. But lately, all that’s changed, and a huge part of it is due to education on my part. I’ve become more educated about these issues, and with proper education, it’s helped open my eyes and make me more concerned about some of these things.
And a lot of the time, I do see people pop up on my Twitter feed or Facebook feed who have completely different viewpoints from myself. Some of them are clearly very religious-based and those people are absolutely entitled to their opinions, so long as they are not causing physical harm to others. But few things frustrate me more than seeing some of these viewpoints that are based in absolute bigotry, in false facts or just in sheer disrespect for other human beings.
Take, for instance, the whole controversy surrounding the funding of Planned Parenthood.
Many of those who were posting anti-PP content focused on the fact that one of the services PP offers is the abortion – while ignoring the facts: only about 3 percent of their services are abortions, and NO federal funding contributes to that part of their services. Rather, much of the federal money funds services including STI/STD testing, contraception, cancer screening and other women’s health services.
But of course, the people posting anti-PP content aren’t interested in that. They’re interested only in spreading misinformation in order to further their own viewpoint, and all the meanwhile push for a bill that would further screen the way women live their lives and police their bodies, punishing them along the way.
That’s just one example where education is truly key. For several years, whenever I heard the words “Planned Parenthood,” I thought of one thing: abortion, which I was absolutely-and-completely-totally against. But as I became educated, I realized that it’s only a very small portion of PP, and that they provide many other services that, alongside with that, make them a crucial organization to women in this nation. (Of course, along the way, I also picked up some feminist knowledge & realized that it’s certainly not up to ME to police women’s bodies or lives!)
I’ve encountered some similarly biased or bigoted opinions when it comes to one of the newer issues to come to society’s forefront: the “transgender bathroom issue,” which really shouldn’t be an issue at all. I’ve seen so many people putting on a front of “concern” for “young girls” that really just masks their bigoted opinions of things they don’t understand, and it’s so incredibly frustrating to see.
Meanwhile, they show absolutely no concern about the transgender people who will be forced into situations where they could face violence. What about THOSE people? Nevermind the fact that the majority of the victims of hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women, or that transgender people, specifically those of color, are far more likely to face violence than their cisgender friends.
So how do we combat these things? How do we open people’s eyes? It’s incredibly difficult, as I’m sure so many writers, many much better than myself, have written before. But education is a huge part of it, and it has to be a first step. There will certainly be those who will shun your attempts at education and stand hard and tall with their bigoted opinions, but if we can even just reach ONE person and teach them, it’s worth it.
We have to try.