The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Category: Forum Page 2 of 6

The Mainstream Media Madness

The mainstream media in recent times has been described as out of touch, biased, and a factory for producing fake news. In this tumultuous era of politics, these labels fracture the sanctity of the “Fourth Branch of Government,” whose duty is indispensable. The media is supposed to be the watcher on the wall, observing, reporting and holding those in power to account. The question to be answered is whether the media is fulfilling its mandate or whether it has been corrupted and is being used as a tool for those who foster division and discord. From a Millennial’s point of view, the media seems to mistake neutrality for journalism, which results in it being out of touch and indirectly advancing harmful ideas.

In the halls of the great media giants, especially those who claim to be nonpartisan, there is a misconception that neutrality is objectivity. Let us look at the recent government shutdown, but through the lens of the pre-Trump years. Back then, CNN, MSNBC, and others would either portion more blame to the Democrats for a shutdown or use their favorite term “both sides.” This is a type of defense mechanism to shield them from the wrath of conservative outlets such as Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the corrosive Breitbart News. For whatever reason, the actual journalists feel compelled to cower in some cases to the loud, mob mentality of the far right outlets because God-forbid if they were ever called biased or liberal. This was seen in a comical display after the second presidential debate back in 2012 when Barack Obama clearly won his bout with Mitt Romney. A CNN poll clearly showed Obama winning the debate by 7 percentage points, however, the fact that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer twisted his tongue when describing Obama as having a “slight, slight edge” is unbelievable. He then went on to say that once you look overall, it is “pretty much of a draw.” In political circles, a 7-point lead is substantial and in this particular case, when so many other polls confirmed a win, one wonders why CNN sought to be neutral.

They do it so that they are not labeled as liberal, because, for some reason, they care so much about what the extremes have to say. Oddly enough, they did the same thing during the 2016 Presidential election cycle and were still unfairly labeled fake, liberal, and “lamestream” news by conservatives. He-who-must-not-be-named stripped the mainstream media, minus his extremist friends at Fox News, of the air of trustworthiness and objectivity.

The disease to please has largely died with the ascension of the new president, as the mainstream media quickly realized that their duty and call to action has never been stronger. At the moment, they are one of the most important institutions in our society as we are on the precipice of slipping into a world where craziness is the order of the day. However, even with their increased attention to detail and a noticeably more vibrant urge to call it as it is, they still remain out of touch. The mainstream media has declined in popularity, as new media, powered by strong and outspoken online voices have taken root in the ear of an entire generation. Online sources such as The Young Turks, The David Pakman Show, and social media platforms in general, have filled a gap due to their accessibility and authenticity. The status quo is shaking in its boots as these vocal alternatives cut through corporate bias and establishment control. One of the reasons Hillary Clinton was defeated was because her opponent was able to get millions of views worth of free media coverage.

Ultimately, that fever and excitement is the same force that allowed Bernie Sanders to almost close a 60 point gap between him and Hillary Clinton, and it is the same force that pushed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the forefront of the Democratic Party. People crave authenticity, and whether you are boasting about sexual prowess, or calling for health care to be a right, it cuts through the mainstream media’s groupthink syndrome

Social Movements

As men, there is no question that we need to be talking about toxic masculinity, confronting its harmful influence within ourselves, and striving to be better to those around us. These conversations both with others and within ourselves are necessary, but difficult, as we are compelled to reflect on past actions that have hurt others. Men who refuse to have these dialogues may get defensive and angry when the topic is brought up. This refusal may explain why so many men have lashed out at Gillette’s recent commercial condemning toxic masculinity and urging men to hold each other accountable for their actions. In response, many have pointed out that the commercial brings up valid critiques of behavior that oftentimes is socially acceptable.

However, the debate around the Gillette commercial has sidelined discussion around a concerning topic: the Gillette commercial was, ultimately, an advertisement. Even though the advertisement’s impact on sales cannot be gauged yet, the controversy surrounding it has made the word “Gillette” more commonplace in everyday discussion. Search interest in Gillette reached an all-time high after the video’s release. Some may say that the intent of the message was not primarily to generate sales, but if this were true, then why not release it on behalf of Gillette’s parent company, Proctor and Gamble, instead? That name has much less brand recognition than that of Gillette. Use of a recognizable brand name and a modified version of Gillette’s slogan: “Is this ‘the best a man can get’” exposes Gillette’s financial motives in creating the commercial.

I can already hear the counter-argument as I write: “So what if Gillette had a financial incentive? They are being socially responsible by supporting the #MeToo movement!” Although I could respond by saying that it’s unethical to profit off of social movements, there are still serious issues of power and influence that bubble beneath the surface. We need to ask who is and who should be controlling the conversation surrounding not just toxic masculinity, but social movements in general. It should be people who are fighting against sexual violence, people who are fighting for a $15 an hour wage, people who are fighting against racism in the workplace. It shouldn’t be corporate elites deliberating in a Boston boardroom. If we allow corporations and elites to control the discussion around social movements, we allow them to steal the movements’ soul, to co-opt the movements themselves. If this should occur, movements will be unable to attain their goals because corporations are directly linked to capitalism and the power structures of patriarchy and white supremacy.

If social movements will only be harmed by commercialization, how do we confront and defeat toxic masculinity? Unlike what the Gillette commercial would have you believe, the solution is not individualism. Although this fact does not give us men a carte blanche to ignore our behavior, we must realize that the true solution is to confront the tangible institutions and the elites that perpetuate this economic system and its oppressive power structures. That means we must stand up to Bates for its homogenous admissions practices, to the police when they refuse to investigate sexual violence, and to Gillette for profiting off a movement that was started by and for women of color, 12 years ago.

Longest Shutdown in History: All for Nothing?

When I was settling upon my article topic on a late Thursday night, the most protracted partial government shutdown in US history appeared nowhere near resolution. Besides racking up at least $6 billion in cost to the economy, the 35-day showdown between President Trump and the Democrat-controlled House had resulted in sleepless nights across single-parent households worried about making rent payment, young professionals facing a new stumbling block to building their credit score, and chronically ill patients thinking twice about refilling a prescription. Luckily, the uncertainty for over 800,000 federal workers and their families came to an end on January 25, after Trump agreed to sign a stopgap bill to reopen the government and allow negotiations to continue. Yet, even as the lives of affected Americans start to fall back to normal, the future of DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, H1B visa holders, and aspiring immigrants remains just as unpredictable.

If there was one silver lining in the whole shutdown debacle, it is that millions of Americans awoke to the following somber realization: our immigration system is convoluted, inefficient, and dangerously unprepared for the 21st century. Politicians across the aisle are all too happy to engage in pious grandstanding and name calling on immigration-related matters. In reality, however, Democrats and Republicans share copyright ownership for the current mess.

Over the years, Republicans have railed against America’s family-based immigration model and called for a more meritocratic approach. But actions speak louder than words: every time push comes to shove, the GOP shows itself unable or unwilling to tame the recalcitrant House Freedom Caucus. When the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill––a bipartisan piece of legislation that would abolish the nonsensical visa lottery, put undocumented workers on a path to citizenship, and usher in a merit-based immigration system––passed the Senate in 2013, the Freedom Caucus refused to even consider it because they would not stand for a vote on so-called “amnesty.”

Democrats, on the other hand, have repeatedly made clear that they would much rather stick to the status quo. The current system, which generally does not account for professional qualifications in selecting immigrants and makes one eligible for social security benefits the day a Green Card arrives in the mail, serves as a reliable source of Democratic support by bringing fresh voters to the New Deal Coalition.

Then there is a burgeoning notion in the most liberal of circles that immigrating to the United States is a right, not a privilege. Lady Liberty should welcome anyone and everyone, the argument goes, even if doing so clashes with security and economic interests of American citizens. No wonder the majority of Democrats have been oblivious to the idea of transitioning to a points system that would prioritize individuals with English skills, higher education, and employment prospects––the idea championed at different times by senators as ideologically diverse as Tom Cotton, Jeff Flake, and Chuck Schumer.

Trump did not get funding for the border wall. Democrats failed to secure protections for DACA recipients. Was the shutdown all for nothing? It does not have to be. Now that everyone has been reminded of the scope of chaos even a partial shutdown is capable of wreaking, it is time to put our partisanship aside and come together. Republicans should work to remedy the metastasis of populism and nativism across the highest echelons of their party. Democrats, who are increasingly adamant about adopting Canadian-style single-payer healthcare, German-inspired free tuition at public colleges, and New Zealand’s maternity leave standards, would benefit from learning a lesson or two from those countries’ merit-based immigration systems.

When President Reagan was asked why he agreed to a 5 percent tax cut when he had originally proposed cutting taxes by twice as much, he responded: “Half a loaf is better than none.” February 15, the new deadline to strike a deal, offers nowhere enough time to overhaul our 60-year-old immigration system through a comprehensive reform package. However, there is room for small progress. Perhaps we could extend DACA for a few years, replace the Green Card lottery with a scheme that prioritizes immigrants already in the US, and expedite the issuance of H1B visas and employment-based permanent resident permits, all while exploring more profound changes that would bring our immigration system in line with the 21st century standards. Trump is no Ronald Reagan. Pelosi is no Tip O’Neill. But the “half-a-loaf” strategy remains the best and only way.

Acceptance, Not Tolerance

“Political polarization” is often used as shorthand for the worsening state of politics in the United States. It’s simply assumed to be negative in connotation and in real life. Well, it isn’t. Politics is not a race towards bipartisanship; it is about survival and justice, and there are many instances where there is no middle-ground solution. In some matters, it is life or death, freedom or oppression, dignity or dehumanization, and people should be polarized against those who would marginalize them.

This is the state of our politics in 2019, and it is a fact we must live with. We should be polarized about locking Latinx children in cages, starving Yemen, and ruining our last hopes of mitigating climate change. These are not issues with which we can tolerate compromise; they can only go one way or the other.
Of course, polarization is much easier started than finished. Like it or not, we have to live together in the same country with large groups of people who enthusiastically support despicable policies. For some of people—as in those with much less privilege than me—this is an obvious reality. I have not faced any severe discrimination in my life, and far be it from me to claim any struggle that is not my own. Nonetheless, this dilemma has been weighing on me for years: how to live with entire states and populations who seem so diametrically opposed to justice?

The easy answer is anger and resentment, and both reactions are justifiable for many people. The labor of changing this country for the better should not and cannot be placed on the most vulnerable groups of people. Privileged people, like myself, thus need to start actually doing our part. That is where anger and resentment, in my opinion, are not optimum strategies. It is with this privilege that I must lift the voices of marginalized people and confront people within my own communities.

The question still remains as to what I do with such monstrous odds in a time of polarization. Realistically speaking, I can’t get anything done by picking fights with tens of millions of Trump supporters. With this dilemma, I have come up with a sort of guiding philosophy: acceptance that lacks tolerance.
I can only accept that I live in a country so diametrically opposed to what I can consider being justice, and that polarizes me. But polarization is not synonymous with animosity. The result of being diametrically opposed to the President and his surrogates is not antagonism, but activism. When I say I won’t tolerate Trump supporters, that does not mean I will refuse to try to persuade them to my side. Quite the opposite—we need working-class solidarity and the support of people from across the country if we want Medicare for All, affordable college, and green energy solutions.

But it also means that I won’t act as if I can look past their support for the Republican Party and its destructive ideologies. I can accept that they have different political views than me, but I cannot tolerate these differences and will actively work to change them. As an activist, I must work constantly and not compromise on matters that affect the existential and physical safety of marginalized people and the planet itself.

Once again, the burden of this admittedly broad call to action falls upon those of us who don’t have to actively fear for their safety when interacting with polarized parties. And sometimes, some groups cannot be persuaded and won’t be willing to join progressive causes, and those groups need to be defeated. We cannot let a lukewarm principle like “compromise” get in the way of real justice—we have to win.

MLK Day 2019: A Quick Review

Just last week, Bates College celebrated the legacy of one of history’s most iconic freedom fighters, Martin Luther King Jr., by giving students a platform to discuss issues involving race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and so much more. For three days I, along with most of the campus community, participated in events that not only reflected on issues marginalized groups dealt with in the past, but also examined how those systems were transformed into laws that restrict and take away people’s rights. More importantly, we also discussed solutions to dismantle these systems of oppression.

One workshop in particular had students imagine a society without prison systems. This workshop emphasized how the original idea for prisons was to protect citizens from “dangerous people.” However, due to American culture being white-washed, we have a very narrow lens for who we see as “dangerous.” Since Black people in the U.S. have been branded with negative stereotypes such as being inhumane or “ghetto” through media and laws, the automatic assumption is that there is always some criminal activity going on in the Black community. Thus, no one questions the mass incarceration of Black people. Not to mention how, because disability is seen as taboo in American culture, people with mental illnesses are thrown into jail instead of receiving the help that they deserve because no one wants to assist them. In short, the workshop highlighted how the prison system is a place to put people who aren’t deemed as socially acceptable. Instead of protecting citizens, we as a society are using prisons to take away the rights of so many innocent individuals. Students then found several alternatives that focused more on rehabilitating those who need it and not just because they don’t fit the status quo.

Now, you can’t talk about MLK Day without talking about Sankofa. Sankofa has always been an amazing addition to MLK Day because it highlights the talent in the people of color community, as well as the companionship they can find in one another. You get to see different styles of dance and hear people singing their hearts out to their favorite celebrities. I think that in a world that is serious most of the time, it’s nice to take a step back and realize the beauty in life. People of color are so much more than their skin tone, or gender, or sexuality. They are also dancers, singers, artists, poets, and orators. They have the ability to reach their goals just like their white counterparts, which is what MLK really wanted to make people see. MLK not only spoke about equity when it came to resources, but also about people bonding over common passions and loving one another for the talent they had to offer.

Overall, MLK Day gave me and many others the opportunity to sit back and realize that we as a society still need to grow. We have overcome so much, but it’s still not enough because people are still being oppressed. But we have the power to change that

Trump and the Squandering of US Soft Power

Superpowers come and go. They conceive their political hegemony through violence, assert their dominance with military braggadocio, and fight for survival until their last breath. But the United States, I have always thought, is a different kind of superpower –– gentle, persuasive, and more likely to endure the tide of history that unforgivingly washed away the Roman, British, and Soviet empires. Even with the rise of China and repeated muscle-flexing by Russia, the United States remains the world’s foremost economic and military actor. American nominal GDP of $19.39 trillion is greater than that of the bottom eight of the world’s ten largest economies combined. Constituting less than five percent of the global population, Americans generate and earn over 20 percent of the world’s total income. With an unrivaled annual defense budget of $716 billion, over 6000 nuclear warheads, and an extensive network of allies and strategic partners, the American military is consistently ranked as the most powerful and logistically prepared in the world. Though quantitative indicators are certainly worthy of consideration, we should also acknowledge that they are incomplete. American influence operates in much more subtle and sophisticated ways: captivating minds of people around the world in a way that cannot be quantified or fully documented on paper. Even in the most socially conservative of countries, teenagers are voracious consumers of Hollywood productions and pop music. Chinese and Russian elites tirelessly decry Uncle Sam’s actions but send their children to American schools and universities; for one, Xi Jinping’s only daughter is a Harvard graduate. Every time there is a major political or humanitarian crisis, the world eagerly awaits what American politicians and experts have to say. The US standing on the global arena is thus as reliant on values, culture, and the ingenuity of the American people as it is on our fiscal-military prowess. Unfortunately, President Trump has repeatedly made clear that he is willing to practice the latter but not the former component of American global leadership. He has repeatedly suggested that the US should leverage its economic and political dominance to craft more beneficial trade deals, cajole Mexico’s government into paying for the wall, and get our NATO allies to meet their spending commitments. In light of this Trumpian diplomacy, I cannot help but ask: why not use some of the most persuasive tools in our arsenal –– America’s historic commitment to human rights, freedom of the press, and representative democracy –– to encourage nations of the world to embrace better versions of themselves?

Yemen in Crisis

The conflict in Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and it is being funded by the United States. In March 2015, an international coalition of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened against the Houthi rebels in accordance with the Yemeni President. In the years since the coalition began, air strikes, blockades, and funneled weapons from global superpowers has led to 22.2 million out of 29 million Yemenis in need of medical assistance. This crisis is not only leaving millions of civilians vulnerable to violence, but it is violating international humanitarian law. Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, and now it is a battleground for competing countries to exact military and global dominance. Naval operations blockades have been set up on all ports in the Houthi-controlled northern area, which is where 80% of Yemen’s imports are delivered. The Saudi-coalition’s defense for this blockade is that they are attempting to block the funneling of arms from Iran to the rebels and that this depreciation in resources will cause the rebels to retreat and order to be restored. The reality is much more complicated. From May to August of last year, commercial imports fell 30%, leading to depreciation in national currency and putting millions out of a job. Most Yemenis people have not worked for full pay in two years. Every 99 minutes, an air strike occurs, and every 10 minutes a child dies from war-related causes. These airstrikes have hit residential areas, marketplaces, civilian boats, as well as medical, educational, cultural, and religious sites. The dismembering of the country has left 2 million people internally displaced, 2 million children without education, and 16 million with a lack of access to basic health care. With so many fallouts of the blockades, one must question the legality of this blockade and how it is tolerated by the world powers. Until recently, many world powers supported the Saudi-coalition in Yemen. The rebels are members of a Shiite Muslim tribe, and with the support of Iran, they are creating political distress in the Middle East. With the presence of terrorist groups in Yemen, as well as the Houthi rebels, superpowers like the US and UK have sided with the perceived antagonists of the free world: Saudi Arabia. However, on December 18th, 2018 the US symbolically withdrew from the coalition in response to the killing of the dissident columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, in a Senate vote of 56 to 41. Their plan is to formally address the possibility of sanctions and the cutting off of arms sales in the new year. When international laws are violated, civilians suffer. In such a poor and geographically compromised area, Yemen’s civilians have faced their biggest enemy: starvation. With the naval blockades and the government of Yemen’s disregard for civilian life, millions are left to rely on international relief organizations. An estimated 8.4 million people are severely food insecure with 12-13 million at risk of starvation. According to the UN, “over 150 relief organizations, including eight UN agencies, are working around the clock to provide food, shelter, nutritional assistance, protection services and much more to millions of Yemenis whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict.” However, these organizations are faced with dozens of impediments, including collapsing health facilities, access to water, and sanitation services. They are even being prohibited from shipping medicine to the country by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The countries of the world cannot tolerate this violence any longer. To do so would not only break international humanitarian laws but would enable such egregious crimes to take place in the future. The Senate needs to make a formal decision about our nation’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi sparked something in the US government, and the spark must lead to a flame of change if there is any hope of ending the crisis in Yemen.

A Thesis Critiquing… Thesis

As is a mandatory right-of-passage for all seniors, I completed my senior thesis for my Politics major last December. Since deliberating in February 2018, I had gone through several iterations of my thesis question, read at least several hundred pages of articles and books, and ended up with sixty-six pages of final draft material. Through endless hours of meticulous reading and dedicating (without exaggeration) every day and night of my Thanksgiving break to revisions, I bound my physical copy on December 6. Surrounded by my closest friends, I was trembling from breathing the deepest sigh of relief of my life; I had done it. My thesis journey was by no means exceptionally difficult, especially when compared to those students working on high honors and with original data. Nevertheless, from my first hour of initial research in Ladd to the very moment I printed the last page of my bibliography, I couldn’t help but wonder: was it all worth it? To write a thesis is, for us undergrads, a privilege in many ways. It is a perfect writing sample to send to future employers, allowing us to synthesize the courses of our majors, and forcing us to break apart what makes for a compelling argument. But as it is currently run, a thesis argument is catered to an academic audience. Thesis is by design meant to simulate an upper-level dissertation we might encounter in graduate school, be it for an MA or even a Ph.D. To be sure, academic writing is often insightful and very important to advancing our understanding on higher ideas, but it is anything but accessible. In this vein, senior thesis prioritizes neither a creative approach to writing nor one that is especially multifaceted. Our thesis question and the summary of our subsequent argument needs to be incredibly specific and constantly follow a precise academic writing style. You’re probably familiar with the common expression, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I don’t buy that. If my Politics major has taught me anything, it’s that good questions and arguments don’t have easy answers. More radically, one answer doesn’t need to be indisputable to be useful. Politics, the humanities at large, and even the hard sciences need to reconcile that the real world, the one outside of Bates, is full of the questions and puzzles that should be answered in ways that aren’t reduced to sixty pages. At the end of the day, these opinions are my experience and my experience alone. I knew long before senior year that I was not naturally adept at academic writing and was not much of a debater. I am still proud of the thesis I wrote. But as I said, I prefer my opinions to be general and constantly evolving, not fixed into a precise, packageable statement. In many ways, my critique of senior thesis is more a critique of academia itself, and the blame for that can’t possibly be put on any lone professor or university. However, I have come to the personal conclusion that thesis needs to be changed. That which would replace thesis, as it currently exists, is up for debate. The simplest solution would be to make it voluntary by removing it as a requirement for graduation. Perhaps capstone projects and interactive research within the local community or abroad could be given greater funding and institutional support. We could even remove the argumentative foundations of thesis and instead turn it into an exploratory exercise. I by no means have the answers to these questions. That’s the point. We don’t need to immediately and conclusively have an answer to solve and explore a problem. We are a tiny school and a close-knit community. We have the time, resources, and interpersonal rapport to come together and find new ways to foster intellectual rigor as we bid our seniors farewell.

Donald Trump’s Solo Endeavor Into Madness

Oops. He’s done it again. Donald Trump’s ever-resounding presence in front of our national televisions was at its finest last week. During his national address to the American people this past Tuesday, January 8th, President Trump tried to convince the country about the benefits of the creation of his border wall. As we all well know, Trump has been adamant about border security since the early beginning of his campaign back in 2015. Offensively describing Mexicans as “drug dealers,” “criminals,” and “rapists” has distinguished Trump as by far one of the most protectionist world leaders in recent memory. President Trump continued to live up to his less than sterling reputation by clumsily addressing to the United States about the importance of building a wall. While watching this speech, like most of Trump’s speeches, I was less than thrilled when hearing what he had to say. With all his smugness, insecurity, and aggressiveness, I find his rhetoric less than pleasing. However, it is with this speech where I discovered something rather unique: he was clear. Trump’s delivery was succinct and well-organized. It was almost as if Trump was confident in what he had to say and, for a change, believed that his policy was actually going to work. Maybe I’m wrong and I’m giving our President more credit than he deserves, but I feel as though Trump truly believes that the border wall might give him the notoriety and the respect that he has longed for. At any rate, it is interesting to see this new dynamic in Trump. It’s almost as if he knows something is going to happen and that we don’t. Or maybe, on the contrary, he is happy that he is finally creating some sort of legislation to be debated on. Now, more importantly, what Donald Trump actually wants out of this border wall is completely unreasonable. In his speech, President Trump claims that the wall is going to cost $5.7 billion to build. Trump said that building a wall would cost less than the 500 billion dollars worth of illegal drugs that he claims flow between Mexico and the U.S., and that it would protect American lives. While both of these goals are for sure admirable, I feel there are other, more plausible ways, to deal with the issue of border security. $5.7 billion can be used in many different ways rather than just a wall. Despite this, I almost forgot the most important part of Trump’s border security plan, the one in which he claims that Mexico is going to inevitably pay for the wall. As he has said this since the beginning of his campaign, Trump wants Mexico to pay for the border wall based on new trade deals and international relationships. Not only has this part of Trump’s border security plan produced major controversy, it has unsettled several members of U.S. Congress including Democratic leaders such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Senate minority leader Schumer and current Speaker of the House Pelosi, in their national address rebuttal, kept the headlines concerning the ongoing debate about border security rolling. Not only for economic reasons but for moral reasons, both Schumer and Pelosi have criticized Trump for neglecting many more important ways of dealing with border security. But like Schumer and Pelosi, we can only wait and see in the coming weeks the fate of Donald Trump’s national agenda for border security.

R Kelly and a Reckoning with Men

In the age of #MeToo, we as a society are starting to reevaluate how we view rape by holding accountable the people who have committed or who continue to commit the criminal act. One person in particular that has recently been exposed is R&b singer R-Kelly and his numerous accusations of rape and pedophilia. Although R-Kelly has contributed immensely to the R&b genre and the music industry, in general, for over twenty years (known as the unofficial “king of R&b”), he has ruined the lives of numerous under-aged girls using his star power as a scapegoat. After releasing smash hits like “Bump N Grind” and “I Believe I Can Fly”, R-Kelly was at the peak of his career, and many families saw this. Many families believed that R-Kelly could help their children reach the fame that he was able to achieve. However, they were gravely mistaken. Although R-Kelly promised that he would produce people’s daughters and make them famous, they only thing he did was rob those children of their innocence. The television network Lifetime recently delved deep into the dark, twisted story of R-Kelly’s life in a six-part documentary series. It highlighted how R-Kelly both verbally and physically abused the under-aged women by starving them, attacking them, raping them, etc. The documentary series was made to give a voice to a group of women who were promised fame and fortune, but ended up getting years worth of abuse and people telling them that they’re lying or that their story doesn’t matter. Now you would think that this documentary series would change the public opinion on rape culture. But this documentary series did the exact opposite. There are still so many people who support R-Kelly. So, I guess the question is “why?” “Why do people still stand by a man who has destroyed the lives of dozens of women, and how can people blame the victims for a situation like this?” It is because so many of us grew up in a household that preached the rhetoric “boys will be boys,” which allows boys to make mistakes and be forgiven, despite the effects it has on others. Boys are taught that in order to know right, they must experience wrong, while, in comparison, girls are taught that they must be perfect at all cost. Boys grow up believing that if they make a mistake then it will be fine because people will forgive them and accept that they will learn eventually, while girls must learn to walk on eggshells at an early age in their lives. This idea evolves when these boys become men and they are allowed to, theoretically, do whatever they want because it’s a “learning experience.” Meanwhile, women are taught that their purpose is to support the man if he’s wrong because he has a lot of pressure on him. By teaching women that they are nothing more than a support system for men and teaching men that their job is to make mistakes in order to get better, we as a society allow men to not think about how their actions affect others. This was seen through R-Kelly and how he used under-age girls for his own personal pleasure. He saw nothing wrong because he thought he deserved those girls and society made it acceptable for him to go after anything he felt he deserved. People are defending him because they were taught that men should be able to seek out anything that they want. If we want people to see the error in their ways, we as a society have to teach men that their actions have consequences. If we as a society stopped excusing men’s irrational behaviors and actions, then they would respect other people’s lives more and think twice about their actions. If people realized that a woman’s life is just as important as a man’s life then more people could see how R-Kelly dehumanized these young ladies and took away their lives.

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