An Incomplete List of Things I’m Not Okay With

1. When people, typically men, use the word “cunt.”

2. When people, typically men, use the word “bitch.”

3. When people, typically white people, use the word “nigger.”

4. When people, typically heterosexual people, use the word “gay” to mean stupid.

5. When people, typically men, use the word “slut.”

6. When people say that racism is over.

7. When people say “I’m not racist, but…”

8. When people try to explain to me why their offensive joke is actually funny, and I’m just not cultured or nuanced enough to understand it.

9. When people say that being mean is protected under free speech. It is. But that doesn’t mean you have to use it.

10. When anyone anywhere in any way implies that rape was the victim’s fault.

11. When people, typically white men, complain about affirmative action. Some people estimate that if we were to pay African Americans reparations for all of the economic disadvantage while we enslaved them and discriminated against them, the total sum would be greater than the amount of wealth that currently exists in America. I think we can take affirmative action.

12. When someone assumes that children don’t learn because they are “lazy.”

13. When someone says that poor people are poor because they are “lazy.”

14. When people do or say any of these things ironically. Irony belongs in literature, theater, and film. It doesn’t belong in real, intimate human interaction. Just because you’ve taken a Women and Gender Studies class, you do not have permission to use the word “cunt” ironically.

Turning the Other Cheek Turns Emotions Into Justice

I’ve always kind of struggled with the concept of turning the other cheek and all that.

Our God is one of justice, right?

The Lord works righteousness
And justice for all the oppressed (Psalm 103:6)

So why then are we not allowed to help with that whole justice thing?

A lot of people try to explain this away by saying that we don’t really know what justice is – that only God can judge. I don’t know about that. I know that rape, murder, and slavery are wrong. That’s a judgment. I think I am capable of judging. And we forget that turning the other cheek has to do with someone slapping you. Slapping is pretty wrong, I think. I know that I don’t like it when someone slaps me.

I’m in a Psychology of Gender class this quarter. In that class, we are learning about pro-feminist men right now. Pro-feminist men are men who actively support feminist women to push gender equality. I think pro-feminist men are pretty awesome. Feminist women are pretty awesome, too. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against oppression. But I’ve been thinking a lot about pro-feminist men. I’ve been thinking about how they don’t really have a lot to gain from gender equality. Men are on top. In fact, a lot of men fear that gender equality would mean loss of status for themselves. Pro-feminist men have to believe that gender equality is intrinsically more important than having a wife who stays at home or who is submissive.

There are studies out there that show that the shackles of oppression begin to fall off when members of the oppressor group begin to speak out for the oppressed. Sexism is most successfully combated when men correct their friends when they make a sexist joke or when men refuse to take a job that they have obtained based on sexist hiring practices.

Like most things Jesus taught, the turn the other cheek policy shows a keen insight into human nature. It’s easy to be angry when you have been attacked. It’s easy to clamor for justice, then. But mostly, that’s just emotion. When a friend makes fun of me, I am not mad because my friend has violated the intrinsically moral rule that making fun of people is wrong. I am mad because I was the subject of the ridicule. And if I say anything, it is easy for my friends to say that I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But what if I never got mad when people made fun of me? What if, instead, I made fun of myself?

Then, when someone was making fun of another friend, I could say something. Because people would say “Hey, Spencer is usually so chill about joking around. We must really be out of line if he’s not okay with this joke.”

That’s what turning the other cheek does. It creates a world in which people know that your emotions are not tied to your sense of justice.