I came across a meme the other day created from a tumblr post. It’s not the first time that I have encountered this particular sentiment, but I wanted to address this topic because I’m tired of seeing sentiments like the one I saw in that particular meme.
I’ve edited out the image on the meme (it was Benedict Cumberbatch for the record) because the image doesn’t really make a difference. It’s the words on that express the sentiment that I would like to address, so here it is with my own question in response:
The dictionary definition does focus on hurt feelings and seems to support the statement above.
“Causing someone to feel resentful, upset, or annoyed”
– Oxford Dictionaries
Focusing solely on the emotional aspect, I have some questions:
- Why do people seem to find it enjoyable to cause others to feel resentful, upset or annoyed?
- Why do people seem to find it entertaining to mock others for having emotions which are an inherent part of the human experience?
- Why do people insist on upsetting others when they could quite easily choose not to?
But this isn’t only about hurt feelings.
When a group of people states that something is offensive to them, they’re not simply talking about hurt feelings; they’re talking about being harmed.
People who hold privilege don’t seem to realise that when you’re hated, dismissed and generally dehumanised due to the fact that you belong to a minority group, it isn’t really about being incapable of controlling your emotions. It’s about the fact that you have to face constant reminders that you are seen as less valuable than other people.
Yes, it hurts. The hatred that I see for people like me hurts, it is constant, and there are children growing up today who can feel and see it too.
If you have never experienced that level of hatred, you don’t get to talk about people who are incapable of controlling their emotions because you have no idea how much effort goes into not reacting emotionally to every single hate-filled thing that is shoved in front of us on a continuous basis.
People who want to diminish and dismiss hurt feelings should really stop and try to imagine what it would be like when doing something simple like going grocery shopping serves as a reminder that you are not welcome to participate in society unless you change almost everything about you.
Lately, I’ve been consciously moving away from using the word offended because people dismiss the harmful nature of their actions by mocking hurt feelings.
I am no longer offended. I’m harmed. I’m dehumanised. I’m outraged. I’m not really surprised though.
Mostly, I’m really confused about why people seem to think it’s ok to continue upsetting other people. There seems to be an empathy problem there, and it’s definitely not mine.