Why is bigotry always overlooked when speaking about the overly sensitive?
Recently I had an interesting conversation with my best friend and like most of our conversations it quickly mutated into a fiery argument peppered with the occasional swear word. The focus of our heated discourse was ‘overly-sensitive people.’ She held onto the belief that our generation was constantly complaining about things that didn’t matter. Her arguments focused on how we engage in frivolous temper tantrums about things that are ultimately inconsequential in our day to day lives. From people wearing clothes of another culture to the seemingly endless stream of non-issues that seem to permeate our mainstream media; her argument highlighted how a lot of people, especially those of the bourgeoisie, engage in slacktivism that only seeks to stroke their ego and doesn’t actually help anyone.
While I did share some of her concerns especially her viewpoints on how corporate media tends to focus on outrage culture and shock value rather than actual policy that effects the working class. I found myself disagreeing with her assessment of the ‘overly-sensitive.’ I took issue with who is placed under the umbrella term of ‘overly-sensitive.’ I made the argument that nobody really ever calls homophobic, racist or bigoted people ‘overly-sensitive,’ instead we relegate them to those aforementioned terms. However, make no mistake, these people are overly-sensitive, they are whiners or snowflakes or whatever other name the internet has created. Why is it that people who can’t stand the thought of two men getting married aren’t ridiculed for being overly-sensitive people? Why is it that judging someone for some arbitrary feature such as skin colour isn’t seen as overly-sensitive? I say this not to diminish the term ‘homophobic’ but instead to highlight a growing trend I see where we isolate bigotry to one definition and forget everything else it encompasses.
While writing this essay I conducted a little experiment.
I asked a myriad of people, both male and female, about “what do they see when they think of someone who is overly-sensitive?” The most frequent response was “a feminist.” I found this response simultaneously informative and interesting as it cemented my belief that the window of who is ‘overly-sensitive’ is extremely narrow. Bigotry seems to get a pass. Now you may be wondering why you should care about people not seeing bigotry as a part of the ‘overly-sensitive’ crowd. Well, let me attempt to explain. Things that are deemed ‘overly-sensitive’ on the internet are usually not liked that much. In the hive mind of social interaction, overly sensitive equals politically correct and politically correct equals bad. Something or someone being seen as ‘overly-sensitive’ usually translates to ‘hey this thing is really fucking wack and we’re just going to ignore or mock it.’ For this reason I think it is important that we place bigotry under the umbrella of ‘overly-sensitive’ because in my own opinion nothing makes you more ‘overly-sensitive’ than judging someone for their race, sexual orientation or gender. So the next time you hear the term ‘overly sensitive’ being used, question its’ use and who it is being used against. Ask yourself, why is bigotry always overlooked when speaking about the overly sensitive? While I characterised my conversations with my best friend as arguments I often find that her and I learn from each other. Without her I may have never reached this conclusion so if you’re reading this, thank you.
While I only briefly touched on the topic of feminism, it’s a subject I would like to explore in the future (he said, shamelessly plugging a future article) especially its’ effect on music and art in general as well as the validity of its critiques since it covers such a wide range of viewpoints. If I were to end this article on any sort of grand statement it would be that we should all strive to question the terms that we use and to who those terms apply. By challenging the language that we use, we can gleam a better understanding of people and ourselves. Question language, in the hopes that you may find an answer.