When Did The World Become Such A Scary Place

When Did The World Become Such A Scary Place

Just an optimist's view about a pessimistic world.
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Growing up, I never kept up much with current events. I did not watch the news as much as I claimed I did, and I wasn't really interested in talking about the rest of the world's problems when I was so fixated on my own. I was a teenager; of course, I was wrapped up in my own menial issues and drama. None of my peers seemed to care, so why would I? Coming to college, I was immediately surrounded with others who DID keep up with what was going on, who DID care and who were actually adamant about it. Professors insisted the importance of keeping up with current political, social, worldly events. So, again, I kept up with and began to care about the same things as my peers, as is the nature of peer pressure. But the more I started watching the news, reading things people report online or even the things mutual friends post online, the more I noticed how scary of a place the world actually is.

It's always been this way, at least, according to the history books. Things have always gone wrong and been seemingly impossible, in our country and around the world, but we always seem to bounce back and we're "good" for another 6-10 years. I'm sure I'm preaching to the amped-up choir when I recall that lately, we haven't been bouncing back as fast as we'd like. Not because of something we did but because we keep getting bombarded by these disasters on our own soil and beyond. People Are being killed in the streets in our own cities, cops are being gunned down, bombs are going off overseas and we are hearing the echoes right here at home; Nice, France, Turkey, the list goes on. And it's on our TV screens every day.

Being a communications major, I've taken a lot of media classes. I used to believe very passionately that the media toyed with their video clips and their headlines to make the world seem like a scarier place than it actually is. To strike fear into the hearts of people all over the world so that they have no other alternative other than to live in fear or build a metal bunker in their basement where they eat Campbell's Soup all the time and have their eyes glued the news stations for updates. (For my other communications majors out there who may have a test question on this it's called Mean World Syndrome).

While I still think the media produces a rather skewed version to try to get its viewers to believe that we live in a "mean world" (and that they cause HUGE problems in our country and in other places, but that's another article for another time) , I think, unfortunately, we are living in a scary, cruel world.

Unless they are happening in our own backyards, then all we can do is sit back and watch and read about it. It's a helpless feeling. To be on the other side of the world or the other side of the country and have no way of helping someone else escape tragedy. We feel angry, which is just what the people who commit these heinous acts of terror want us to feel. At one point in these past 2 hellish weeks I saw a celebrity post a picture on Instagram about how fear wouldn't win – we wouldn't allow it. At first, I thought to myself: "Brie Larson, fear is winning. It's been winning for a while. There's nothing we can do." It irritated me, for really no reason. But the more I thought about it, the more "right" she became in my eyes. But I still wondered: "Brie Larson, how do we not let fear get the better of us? How do we not let them win?"

As I'm sure you guessed, Brie Larson of Room didn't answer me. But, I did get the answer when I saw a group of new students at my school's freshmen orientation. They were so hopeful looking, so happy, so enwrapped in their own world. Sure, they could be very interested in current events or they could be like me when I first started. But they were still choosing to be happy and, it looked to me, like they still had an optimistic view about their futures in the world they live in.

The best thing we can do - other than speak out for those who have had their voices stifled – is to just live like freshmen. It sounds ridiculous, I know but hear me out. Enjoy the little things in life – even if it's just playing a video game where you catch little pocket monsters and get some fresh air while you do it. Hold on to the people that matter to you – your parents, your friends, roommates, brothers, sisters, shoot, even if it's your orientation group. Never let those people forget even for a second how much they mean to you and how much your life has improved them coming into it. And, whether it's your religion/faith, a life philosophy, or your own moral compass, never ever stop believing in what you believe in. No one can take that away from you, no matter how hard they may try. Do these things and maybe, just maybe, the world may stop being such a scary place.



Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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