Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ignorance Is Your New Best Friend

Never would I claim to be the smartest person in the world, but I'd like to think of myself as fairly educated and open-minded. I know I'm only 24, so that naturally means I have an infinite amount more to learn, but I've been told more than once that I am wise beyond my years.

I attribute this to my family. With an older sister, it's like I have 3 parents, so I have a lot of people from whom to learn. In addition, I read, keep up on current events and educate myself on things. I know I have a long way to go, but I'm proud of where I'm at right now.

Not everyone is open though - there are a lot of ignorant, close-minded people in this world. And I feel like I've encountered my fair share of these folks.

I don't know why I should feel so shocked that there are idiots in this world. I guess when I was younger, I pictured adults as these people who always had the answers. I thought once you became part of the "real world" that your immaturity magically dissolved and that you evolved into a decent contributor to society. Adults are smart; they've got the brains....right?

Unfortunately, my idealistic view has proved to be not as true as I would have hoped. Case in point: Fox News is the No. 1 cable news network in America.

I don't care if people are conservative - I have plenty of Republican friends and co-workers, and I live in the second reddest county in California. My problem is with people who fail to pay attention and do the research, and so they subsequently end up supporting/not supporting various things that they don't even understand. Democrats do this too, of course. It's not about party affiliation - it's about self-education.

I gave a presentation on sexual assault to a college class a few weeks ago. I always request speaking to college students because these are people who are proactively seeking to educate themselves, and college was the time when I finally realized why feminism matters (oooh, feminism is a dirty word, huh? Look it up, people. It doesn't mean I'm a man hater. It just means I believe in gender equality). When I began talking about how victims of sexual assault are in no way to blame, even if they wear provocative clothing or drink, one student (a male) had a problem with this.

"Isn't it still a good idea to take precautions though?" he argued. "I mean, bicycle riders should wear reflective gear so they don't get hit by cars. And by not taking precautions, isn't it almost like poking a snake with a stick and wondering why you got bit?"

Oh, my. Where to begin.

I applaud this gentleman for engaging in the conversation and voicing his thoughts. I immediately responded by telling him that it's important to not victim-blame - by saying that victims should wear x, y, z and also not ever engage in drinking, walking around at night or doing laundry at a shady laundromat is ultimately sending the message that those who are assaulted must have strayed from certain "precautions." Someone in a burlap sack or nun's habit can be just as easily assaulted as someone in stripper's garb.

I don't think the guy ever really saw it my way (and I didn't dare express my disgust with his choice of analogies - rapists are just blinded motorists and defensive reptiles? Puh-lease). His comments made me realize just how far we have to go when it comes to people understanding the dynamics of sexual assault. I wish everyone would take a women's studies class, but I think a lot of it would unfortunately fall on deaf ears.

Then there are those who are ignorant emotionally. You know the type - the people who argue like this is third grade and those who haven't yet retired the ever-so-classic temper tantrum.

Now, I completely understand that people respond to things differently - not everyone reacts to difficulty with a cool as a cucumber attitude like my mom. But is stooping to low blows and "I'm so much better than you" tactics truly necessary?

I've had "friends" that appear even-keeled and sane, but the minute they are unhappy - BAM!!! True colors come out. This is why I've always said that you can really tell how much someone respects you when you fight with them - if they resort to playground-style name calling or refuse to listen to your side, then it might be time to let this infantile person go. Aging doesn't necessarily bring wisdom, and I know of people well into adulthood who fall into this emotionally ignorant category. Their emotions, their pain and their feelings trump all - it's like toddler self-absorption at its finest.

Then there's romantic ignorance. I guess you could argue that I fall into this category. I think this is the type of ignorance when you go into relationships with unrealistic expectations. I tend to expect a lot from guys - even going so far as to expect that once a guy likes you, he will continue to like you. Sadly, that's not the case. We are all unpredictable, complicated creatures, and with that comes changing your mind.

A person that used to like me has recently made it clear that dating me is not an option. I don't feel like I did anything wrong, but maybe it would have been better if I'd been more realistic. C'mon, Trace. A guy stops calling, texting and visiting. He doesn't say he misses you anymore, he doesn't make plans with you and he barely acknowledges your existence. This is crystal clear he's-just-not-that-into-you territory!

I guess that optimist in me will never go away. It may be ignorant to hope and wish for something wonderful to happen - despite all the evidence to the contrary. But if that's the case, then I plan on being an idiot for the rest of my life.

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