Well, the Oscars are over and they managed to make both conservatives and liberals mad. And yes, I have opinions, despite never having watched the awards ceremony this or any other year.
From what I can tell via Twitter, which is where I learn about things I don’t care much about, liberals are mad (justifiably) because the Best Picture award went to Green Book, a movie that transforms the true story of an exceptional black musician into a white-savior narrative seen through the eyes of his racist driver.
Conservatives, meanwhile, are outraged because somebody said the word “menstrual.”
Did I get all that right?
I found out about conservative outrage through this stellar tweet from Candace Owens — well, this tweet and the 46,016 people who had apparently liked it up to that point. (As I write this, it’s reached an even 50K).
Much like the Oscars themselves, Candace Owens exists on the periphery of my awareness. I don’t really know who she is, but I have a few friends who quote her a lot and admire her because she’s a young, smart, black woman who’s also a conservative Trump fan.
These American friends of mine — they’re the people who aren’t supposed to exist. They’re very smart women; they don’t call themselves feminist but they fully enjoy the benefits of liberation. They’re well-educated; they’re kind; they’re compassionate; they appear not to be overtly racist. They voted Republican, and they think Donald Trump, even if he wasn’t their first choice, is doing a good job. And they could easily be among the 50,000 people (so far!) who liked this tweet.
What did Candace Owens see in her one minute of viewing the Academy Awards ceremony? She saw a the end of a speech about the award-winning documentary short Period. End of Sentence, which deals with the stigma faced by girls and women in India around menstruation, and a project that attempts to dispel that stigma and make it easier for women to obtain sanitary pads. As one positive side effect, this makes it easier for teenage girls to stay in school.
I had never heard of this film before the Oscars, or more specifically before Candace Owens got her knickers in a knot over the phrase “menstrual equality.” As a result, I watched it today (it’s on Netflix) and it’s great. It does what a documentary should do: gives us a brief and insightful glimpse into an issue most of us probably didn’t know much about.
So how does the use of the phrase “menstrual equality” explain why Donald Trump won the US 2016 election?
Candidly, Candace: I haven’t the faintest clue:
But I can guess that Candace was turned off by the phrase because it represented a concept that disgusted her. She presumably menstruates, but she likely has excellent access to feminine protection, as do most North American women of middle-class and higher socio-economic status. So she has never probably had to think for one second about what life might be like for women who don’t enjoy that privilege.
Just as I had never thought much about it either.
For Candace Owens, that two-word phrase seems to have pushed a lot of buttons. People talking openly about things that should be shrouded in shame and secrecy. People insisting on equality. People speaking about issues that seem obscure and unimportant to her.
And because someone used that phrase during a Hollywood awards show, conservative America has risen up in protest to elect a government that will … what? Stop people from talking about their periods?
Like a lot of things people say on Twitter, it sort of falls apart if you try to analyze it.
But here’s the thing about these conservative friends of mine who love Candace Owens, who think Trump is doing a great job, who think the Oscars are full of self-absorbed Hollywood liberals who hate America. If you said to any of them, “Do you think it’s right that girls in India can’t go to school because they can’t access sanitary pads, or bathrooms in which to change their pads, and there’s so much stigma they can’t talk to anyone about it?” these woman would almost certainly say, “That’s terrible!”
And if you said, “There are entrepreneurs trying to make more affordable pads and get them into the hands of Indian girls and women,” I suspect they’d say, “That’s great!”
In fact, if (prior to the Academy Award) you showed the film Period. End of Sentence to many of these women, they would likely find it interesting, informative, and even worthy of an award. Maybe some would even donate to www.thepadproject.org . They’re big supporters of charity.
But now? A political line has been drawn around something that wasn’t inherently political. Now, because of Candace Owens’ tweet, at least 50,000 (and counting!) conservative American Twitter users likely think not only that “menstrual equality” is a weird phrase, but that Period: End of a Sentence is some degenerate liberal plot and that it’s “socialist” to care about girls in India getting access to affordable sanitary pads.
All because someone heard a phrase they didn’t like and didn’t understand, and instead of trying to learn more about it, reacted with a polarizing political statement on social media.
How often we all do that — hear something unfamiliar, something that grates or jars on us, and respond with a knee-jerk “Here’s Why The Thing Is Bad!!!” rather than a curious, “What is the thing? Can I learn more about it?”
As a card-carrying bleeding-heart liberal, I’d like to suggest that people on the conservative side of the culture wars leap to attack far too often when they should move towards curiosity. But the truth is, people on “my” side do it too. I do it. Shoot first, and ask questions later. Or, don’t ask questions at all.
And that’s a pain. Period.
5 Replies to “Candace Owens’ Question Period”
Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
Wow, what a great article asking us all to take a closer look inside and maybe, just maybe, consider our words before we make pronouncements. I will strive to really think before I chatter! Thank you Trudy.
Ms Owens is a right wing nut job who sees some redeeming qualities in a right wing wacko in the White House. Your comments are well laid out!
EXCELLENT post! I cheered that speech on, actually screaming at the top of my lungs! LOL (I’m a die-hard Oscar fan who has watched the show every year since high school) ;-D
Thanks for sharing this unfortunate tweet and your invaluable commentary! I commend your patience in being a die-hard liberal who nevertheless follows conservative friends on Twitter. I just can’t bring myself to do that. Sigh… it’s enough for me to have some in my facebook feed and many in my church family. Sigh… that alone raises my blood pressure periodically. So much so that I had to unfollow some of these people in FB during the election.
There’s only a few conservative friends I still follow, and mostly on FB. I’ve unfollowed a lot but there a few I keep following because they are rational people who seem to think things through even though I disagree with them, and I have ties with them that I don’t want to break. But I click “Hide post” on a lot of what they put out there.