Can We Like Things In Trump's America? Maybe.
Several weeks ago, Ashley Spinks asked if she was "Still Allowed to Like Things in Trump's America." She said:
"Few television shows, or books, or songs on the radio—or politicians or public servants, for that matter—are perfect, and feeling guilty about finding joy is tiresome. "
Contemplating whether it’s okay to like things in Trump’s America begs the question of whether it was ever okay to like those things. We are lucky to live in a time in which people are working tirelessly to show us some of the problems in our society. This fatigue Ashley mentioned is shared. It’s collective.
As Ashley writes of the TV shows she and her boyfriend share, “I don’t want to deprive him of those pockets of peace in his life, and I’m not sure it accomplishes anything. I think it just makes us tired, and that in itself is dangerous. There’s so much more work to be done, work that feels more important than splitting hairs over Netflix dialogue.”
Becoming tired is dangerous because it can cause apathy. However, all things in business and politics start local, so splitting hairs over Netflix dialogue might be one of the most important things we can do.
Constantly watching shows that are blatantly wrong is tiring. It is tiring to be vigilant about how we spend our time. It is also tiring to explain and defend our humanity to anyone, let alone those closest to us.
Maybe Donna from West Wing is tired of not getting the promotion, raise, or recognition she deserves. Maybe the women in Silicon Valley are tired of the sexism and lack of venture capital funding. Maybe autistic people are tired of their neurodivergence being used as the butt of every joke or exploited for amusement or monetary gain in.
"Recently, we’ve been watching less and less of “his shows,” likely as a direct result of my inability to refrain from commentary while we 'Netflix and chill.'"
In an attempt to uphold our values through the media we consume, maybe "Netflix and chill" can turn into "Kickstarter-backed show and chill," or "personally-funded documentary and chill," "web-series and chill," or "student film and chill." It takes more work to find these movies and TV shows, but luckily there are many online publications that have already done this for us. Maybe it means we change the way we pay for media and go back to individually purchasing shows and movies over subscriptions services.
While we may feel powerless, a way to take that power back is to be more deliberate with how we spend our money, allowing us to resist by existing. We do need breaks and downtime, so choosing that respite wisely allows us to avoid experiencing anxiety over whether we are perpetuating oppressive systems or compromising our personal values for the health of our relationships while trying to relax.
Feeling guilty for finding joy or peace in the oppression of others is the inner impetus needed for us to grow and change. I don’t think it’s our job to make anyone else a better person or feminist. All we can offer is grace, compassion, and maybe some encouragement while they go on that journey themselves. Hopefully, the boyfriends of the world eventually can’t watch “their shows” either because they disgust them, too.
I’ve seen a quote circulating online, and as far as I can tell is attributed to a tumblr user by the username of soultired:
“Men who want to be feminist allies do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space that they have in society and make it feminist.”
There can still be comedy, drama, and political television shows created by men that don’t marginalize other people or perpetuate harmful and untrue narratives in order to make a profit. More importantly, there are already comedy, drama, and political television shows created by women that are worth consuming.