On Thursday night, speaker Milo Yiannopoulos came to UCSB to say that feminism is cancer.
I think what goes unnoticed a lot of the time is, as a nation, and increasingly as a world, we are democratic in more ways than just our electoral system.
We decide who we want to see, listen to and follow. This is true of politicians, but it is also of comedians, bloggers, speakers, artists, YouTubers and Instagram bloggers.The problem is these people we so intently follow, listen to and watch are not people we necessarily like, relate to, believe in or understand.
Maybe these figures provide shock value. Maybe they seem interesting to us because their lifestyles or beliefs are so different from ours. Maybe we envy them. Maybe they are just pretty to look at. Maybe we like to laugh at their stupidity because it makes us feel more intelligent.
Either way, in too many cases they are not people we like or even are like.
This discrepancy is so monumental because when we are listening to these people that we select, we are giving them a platform, a microphone and funds and all when we don’t even necessarily like them!
Do not fall under the ignorance of thinking such people do not realize what they have been presented with. They know, and they capitalize off it. The reality TV stars know their behavior is incredulous, the corporate hippies on Instagram know their flowy pants look good and Milo Yiannopoulos knows the power unpopular opinions hold over college campuses.
People like to voice their opinions. They like to assert their voices and views.
College, specifically, is a liberal protest waiting to happen. It makes sense. We’re young, energetic, loud, passionate and opinionated.
As such, someone like Yiannopoulos is given an easy platform.
The conservatives on campus are just given a megaphone, finally. Because let’s be honest, we don’t hear from their side of the spectrum here too often. Even though many of the conservatives on campus may not have fully agreed with Milo, they were excited for a voice, a platform.
The problem is these people we so intently follow, listen to and watch are not people we necessarily like, relate to, believe in or understand.
Therein lies the problem: that someone like Yiannopoulos is needed.
We look up to these loud, interruptive and provocative figures like Yiannopoulos, who, yes, make us mad, but in doing so give us a platform — through their platform — to talk and be bewildered and impassioned.
I found Yiannopoulos’s most important and illuminating point to be his declaration of a desire for the world to look a little more like a “living internet comment section.”
People like Yiannopoulos and his beloved Trump have platforms that we, as the mass public, have gifted them.
However, in internet comment sections, we too have platforms where we voice things and talk about things and say things we are too scared to say in real life.
If we would please ignore everything else Yiannopoulos said, but listen to his desire to make the unsayable sayable, then perhaps we would stop giving platforms to people like him because we would have no need for an extraordinary figure to break the norms. We would be used to hearing them because we would be talking and discussing and living life like it was the comments section.
Perhaps if the word “feminism” was part of our normal discourse we wouldn’t be appalled by a large sign screaming that “Feminism is Cancer,” because then we would have already heard it a million times from the annoying boy in the back of our class.
Milo stated that the artists, journalists and news reporters of today can’t say much because of linguistic taboos and as such we have gotten the art and books we deserve.
On this, I agree. Do we want our culture and our social conversation to be bland and easily cooperative and then instead have loud public figures who make us uneasy?
Wouldn’t it be better if we chose to listen to ourselves and make our own art and communication dynamic?
Milo Yiannopoulos said that feminists are all fat.
We can ignore that, but the only way we can tune people like him out of the public sphere is if we listen to something else he said:
“More speech is better than less.”
We can only drown out our provokers with our own voices. We can decide to give ourselves the platform.
Anjalie Tandon feels that not all is lost when listening to people we may disagree with.