Why do we shame celebrities but not ourselves? #notokay
I had another post on fashion scheduled today, but reading Belle’s vow to never buy Ivanka Trump products again, I thought I’d do this post on the spur of the moment instead, especially when asked by Kelly Oxford to share a sexual assault story that is #notokay.
Here’s my story, which I’ve written about before of how I was sexually assaulted and that it is #NOTOKAY …..
I am not an American but I can’t help but follow its politics, and I do not agree with any politician who doesn’t support basic core human rights, no matter if I live in that country or not.
I will not be recommending Trump’s items again either, but I just wanted to touch upon this point that while it is admirable we’re skewering Ivanka Trump by her supporting her father and his wild theories and promises, remember that while Americans and the world thinks that this man cannot win, that George W. Bush won …. TWICE….when no one thought he would.
Just keep that in mind.
Moving on to the point of this post…
Why do we feel comfortable shaming celebrities like Ivanka Trump for her values, yet we don’t look at ourselves as being culprits?
See, there’s a guilt we all carry and should carry with purchasing items from companies that not only harm our bodies, our children, but our environment and other nameless, faceless masses of citizens of Third World countries?
It’s because it’s easy.
It is a single, individual face we can recognize and put as the face of the problem.
OUR SOULS ARE FOR SALE
It is easy to take a look at Ivanka, see this privileged blonde woman stand up and be okay with her misogynist father supporting that women deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, molested and raped….
….yet after ranting anonymously (or not) online, and writing wonderful op-ed articles denouncing the whole Trump machine, we go out to stores like Wal-Mart or even Dollarama and purchase our comforting Kraft Dinners made by Mondelez, filled with orange powder that they dare to call “cheese”, and toss a few armfuls of cheap, colourful “affordable” clothing into our carts made in Bangladesh, India, and China, while finishing off with a nice McDonald’s run full of food that obviously makes us feel sick after eating it?
It’s just not Ivanka, it could be anyone really.
Martha Stewart, Kathie Lee… tons of people (only women mostly, and strangely & perverse observation) have had their public personas propped up on pikes and paraded around in to be shamed.
(I am envisioning Cersei in Game of Thrones right now – Shame! Shame! Shame!)
We vote with our money every day, don’t we?
I am absolutely not a saint in this regard, having a childhood fondness for Oreos (I ate a few and got so sick I had to throw them away), and long-time readers know how long I have struggled to avoid buying such items (as I blog on a Macbook made in China by Apple), and I am by no means perfect, but I am trying.
I struggle with this because I feel guilt.
I feel shame each time I buy something and have to go through a whole gamut of thoughts, thinking about whether or not it is ethical to do so.
Or even ethical to NOT do so.
Readers in the past have brought up EXCELLENT debate points about how if we don’t buy cheap crap from Third World countries, they have ZERO chances of making a living.
They actually pray for such factories to open so that they can make pennies a day to do something, anything to stop their families from starving.
Why do you think for instance, you see so many Indonesian and Filipina women working as nannies?
It saddens me each time I go to the playground, meet one, and ask them how THEY are and what THEY want.
I hear lots of stories about how they couldn’t find work back where they were from, so they decided to do what their mothers and grandmothers have done, and become nannies for families around the world; mostly concentrated in Asia, but I see a fair number of them in my ‘hood, pushing around babies and taking care of children who are clearly not their own (blonde, blue-eyed, white).
I hear stories about how they leave their families back in the Phillippines with their grandmothers, and they send back money.
They send back money to feed and take care of their children, whom they only see twice a year if they’re lucky.
TWICE A YEAR.
They see their own children only twice a year, while having to take care of someone else’s family (like their own) full-time because they live abroad.
Can you imagine the pain they must feel? I can.
Furthermore, you may not know that a large percentage of that money (I think I recall half of it) GOES TO THEIR GOVERNMENT.
So even if you pay $1000 a month (or more) for a nanny (plus food, healthcare, expenses), half of that goes to the government, or at least close to half.
They don’t get to keep all of that money.
Maybe if they had a sweatshop there, they wouldn’t be abroad because even though you may be paying a lot for a nanny from those countries
But what can a consumer like me do?
Can I truly just stop buying stuff?
Can I stop buying completely unless I only buy ethically?
How do I know what I am doing is right or wrong?
Is it really also my problem that governments around the world (not just the ones mentioned in Asia as there are a ton from Africa too) are so corrupt that they allow this to happen to their own citizens, and they take kickbacks as well as profit off the blood, sweat and tears of their own kind?
If their governments don’t care, why do I?
You know what…?
Why do I care?
I don’t know.
This is something I’m struggling deeply with and still don’t have an answer to.
Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
My only response to this, is to struggle with buying anything at retail, and in terms of shopping mindlessly, to thrift more often for frivolous things like clothing.
I don’t need any more clothes, but I want them and I feel terrible each time I think and say that.
Maybe I am in denial.
But should I be punishing myself for the sins of others? Denying what I want?
Maybe I should think about changing what I want instead.
More food for thought.
But before we start telling celebrities off for their unethical, terrible positions against the core of human rights, those living in glass houses (bubbles?) should not be throwing stones.
Well-said! I struggle with the same issues, but remind myself that I must continue to try living as ethically as possible. Every little success we achieve will count in the overall scheme of things, even if in small way. Therefore, we must keep trying and teaching our children and grandchildren to care for both the welfare of others and our earth.
Regarding shopping, there are non-profits that I favor that carry fair trade products from all over the world (e.g., Ten Thousand Villages–you can check the website; also there is a small location in Vancouver, although not as nice as the one in Houston) that are great for buying unique gifts (e.g., beautiful scarfs, jewelry, pottery like tea pots, small and unique musical instruments used by other cultures–great for kids, handmade papers, etc.), all at very affordable prices. The volunteers in these stores will even print you a little description of the item, the artist who made it, and how important it is to support that particular community, which you can then include with your gift, and encourage others to start thinking of the impact their shopping may have on other people around the world.
Regarding our current political campaign, OMG, we better pray hard! A long time ago, I lived under both right-wing and left-wing dictators. People who have only lived in the U.S., and who only know this beautiful democracy, have no idea how to even recognize what a dictator sounds like, and the actions that such a person could take (e.g., at a minimum, no freedom of the press, jailing and or killing people who do not agree with him/her, neighbors telling on neighbors). We have plenty of examples around the world of dictators, and what the consequences have been for those countries and their inhabitants. Let’s hope (and yes, pray) that Americans will respond wisely as we get closer to selecting the next President.
I’m not American but I follow American news and I know what you are talking about, lots of people are talking about it on facebook and twitter. Shaming Ivanka is in my opinion an idiotic thing. No one is guilty of his/her family, because one thing we cannot chose: parents. We are our parents’ children not matter how much we love them or hate them, it’ s a fact. We may not like them but there’s nothing one can do about it. People who expect Ivanka to stand publicly against her father are at best naive, Who on earth would do that?! Besides, this whole debate about the Trump tape is a bit hypocritical. The man was taped saying bad things, common, each and every human being said (not to mention did) things they’re not proud of. Remember Seinfeld and the episode with George eating the cake in the bin? Reality is like this. We have all been there one way or another and maybe we hate to admit it, even to ourselves, but IT happens, it has happened and it WILL happen again. Fortunately, we won’t be taped and exposed and we won’t run for president, but the facts stay.
Trump has hired many women at top levels in his business and trained and educated his daughter to be successful and competitive in a men’s world. That is important to me and that speaks to me about him. I don’t give a $it on what he talks about with his friends. Was JFK a “better” person when it comes to women? Was Bill Clinton one? No, they were just not taped. Insignificant detail, for me. I can understand someone doesn’t like Trump (I don’t like him either but I don’t find Hillary exactly glorious, tbh, and I would never chose her just for being a woman, she would have to bring in something more substantial then her gender). I would have certainly respected her more if she had divorced her husband back then. If she did that she would be credible now against Trump and as a feminist, but she stayed and she went for this personal compromise which for me is far worse then what he blabla said 10 years ago.
As for buying or not from companies like the ones mentioned, I would say, if you like and desire their products, buy them and enjoy your life, buy them and use them because you have one life only and guilt should not be a part of it. For each person who stops to buy for such reasons there are thousands of other consumers who couldn’t care less, so the battle is unbalanced and you cannot win. I would avoid a company if their products are lousy, but not for “ethical” reasons. Al these far trade, PETA, ethical buying, green life etc are just ways to make people feel guilty and put their money to other companies, not necessarily better companies, just better marketed.
You say that Trump thins women should be 2nd class citizens, yet he doesn’t advocate stoning or killing them on the whim of their husbands as do the muslims that Hillary supports and wants to bring into the U.S.. as well as having taken money (quite possibly in return for favors granted during her term as Secretary of State) from those regimes. So as a U.S. citizen, I certainly don’t mind you having an opinion and interest in our politics, but please judge each side equally harshly.
Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial
Given how globally interconnected our economies are, it really is difficult to ethically source everything we buy. Unless I am specifically aware of questionable practices by a company or industry (e.g. diamonds) I will try to buy used first but won’t admonish myself if I need to buy new. I assuage my guilt by giving to charity since that seems to be a much easier task.
My, such a lot of questions in this post, almost like you were trying to solve the world in 1500 words or less :P.
On a more serious note, I would like to perhaps re-frame these questions a bit. A lot of them start from the point of view of me/them. Such as “what should I do for them?”. There is, in my opinion, a better way of thinking about it and that is “what should I do for me?”.
It’s not a egocentric “me”, but rather a recognition that at this point in time, the borders of nations are somehow less important than they were a century ago, and that we are all one specie, one people that we call planet Earth our home. We can travel from New York to Malaezia in about 10-12 hours, we eat each others foods and watch each other shows, how can we still think in terms of Americans/Asians/African/European? We are, in my opinion, part of the global vilage and we are, slowly but inexorably, moving towards a global culture. Whether this is good or bad is debatable, but it IS happening and it IS accelerating.
I’m Romanian, yet I’m reading your Canadian blog, I have a shamefull addiction to KPop drama and I love eating Chinese food. So rather than relating to people Congo or Bangladesh as “Others”, I consider them my neighbours. And I’m thinking, what is best for me and my neighbours? Do I want them to be poor? Would any of us, by choice, live in a neighbourhood full of poor people, being the single rich person there? Wouldn’t we need to hire bodyguards and always feel unsafe? Do I want their backyard to be poluted? But wait, wouldn’t that make my backyard poluted as well? Would I want them to be abused by police, or their state, or to be hurts by thughs? Would I be safe if they are not?
By allowing that others are us too, we are going to start making the world better for everyone.
There is an answer to why people shame celebrities but not themselves:
-They don’t see them as people, but with more abilities and less weaknesses than regular mortal beings.
-Celebrity worship is stupid. And celebrity hating. Both methods make these people MONEY. So WHY give them money when money is hard to come by?
-Deep inside people are scared because in the U.S. EVERYONE knows or at least believes the country is a good place to live. And NO ONE WANTS THAT PLACE TO GO TO HELL.
-If the fears are real, instead of bashing and wasting oxygen while shaming people, energy should be spent elsewhere, like crafting a plan B (possible immigration? or moving to the countryside?) until the situation improves.
-We can all assume that we will make the most ethical choices in a given situation. But the actual choices we make can change once we are in an ACTUAL situation. That is because all decision making in life is made with hindsight, with limited views on what the other options are.
-Globalization is good and bad. It helps and harms others interchangeably. But it gives OPTIONS and CHOICES on how to improve a rotten living situation or a country’s economy. So globalization has to be used WITH CARE..