Hey World. Stop Censoring Revolutionaries. They Create Change!

The notion of a revolution, a revolutionary, or a revolutionary idea is an uncomfortable one. While decades later we cite examples of the founding fathers of America breaking away from British monarchy rule for democratic freedom, Martin Luther King speaking out in favor of African Americans having the same rights as white people, women protesting to have the ability to vote, an even as far back as Jesus Christ of Nazareth daring to tell the pompous religious zealots of his day to “love one another” which meant associating with commoners, during those times they were the outcasts.

They were not popular, they were not heralded as the progressive thinkers or great leaders. Instead society attempted to trample on them, kill them, stone them, laugh at them, and in essence, censor them in every way. But hey that was then, and this is now. It doesn’t happen anymore, right? Wrong!

Let me tell you why I feel, as editor of a website which is dedicated to inspiring and empowering my generation of women, that censorship is both alive, yet helpful.

I am currently studying a journalism subject online, my first time studying again in ten years. I failed my first essay because it wasn’t “scholarly” enough! I am being allowed to re-submit it but to be honest I am really struggling to find the reason why I don’t want to do it. Where the hell dos “scholarly” writing ever becomes relevant in the real world? Answer: it doesn’t! Do you think Perez Hilton became so popular because he was scholarly? No! Did E.L James, J.K Rowling and and Stephanie Meyer become worldwide hits with their books 50 Shades, Harry Potter and Twilight because they wrote in a manner that made bespectacled academic types approve of their writing styles? Hell to the no! I am all for education, but it has to go beyond just creating unrealistic and outdated rules that aren’t relevant in the real world. So it got me thinking about the notion of conforming and censorship.

With the digital age we are so immersed in, speaking out can be great, and it can also hold great consequences. If you say something bold enough, there are bound to be plenty of people who will disagree and make you feel like you wish you never spoke up in the first place because of all the drama you caused. This could be enough to censor you and make you “fall back in line”. I have to admit, I have been through this then I have to remember why I am doing what I am: to cause a ruckus in a good way and to challenge the unthinking majority.

I heard a female evangelical pastor speak over the weekend about individualism. Sure, it was on a spiritual level but she, Bobbie Houston, presented it in such a way that made me love God even more and forget comparing myself to others. She spoke of the importance of being yourself. The less we compare ourselves to others the better, why? Because when we do, we have a much greater chance of living out our destiny. I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others sometimes so this spoke to me a lot. If we spend less time trying to live up to other people’s ideals and boundaries, we will be so much more fulfilled because we can truly do the “thing” we are supposed to do. This has nothing to do with religion, by the way. It’s a universal truth.

I also watched ‘The Fifth Estate’ on the weekend and it really stirred something inside me. The story of Julian Assange and his vigilante leaking of private government information to the public via his Wikileaks website was intriguing. Sure he was reckless and often times a little crazy (who isn’t?!?) but the heart of his purpose was to empower the people with information. He was revolutionary and should be more applauded for what he did, rather than just listen to the propaganda media who teach us to think he is crazy, deluded and harming people with his actions.

At the end of the movie, the editor of the Guardian who helped Julian leak the US Government War Logs from Afghanistan, said something pretty profound, after the climax showed Julian being shunned by his friends for potentially putting innocent people in harms way. He talked about how back hundreds of years ago, British Parliament debates were secret. Eventually the people wanted to know what was going on behind those closed doors and people started to protest to have this information be made public. The debates began to be leaked into society and it was a huge scandal!

Yet today, parliamentary debates are not only public knowledge, but they are televised! In fact, criminal court cases are televised. So perhaps Julian’s actions will force a radical change in the way governments, agencies and the media pick and choose information they want the public to know. I think it’s fantastic that he chose to ignore the rules and forge on ahead with something he knew was right and will change the world. Yes, he.changed.the.world!

One more example which I want to add to this group is designer Petra Collins. She recently made news because of the t-shirt she designed for American Apparel featuring a depiction of a vagina menstruating. While the tee is not particularly to my taste, she was making a point about how sexually violent and derogatory images of women are totes normal, but this isn’t. Well something else happened after that. She posted a pic of her unshaven bikini line on her instagram, and instagram fricking deleted her account!

Petra Collins Bikini

The picture isn’t that bad, but what’s worse is all the slutty, tasteless, nearly-nude pics that get uploaded EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY to the social media app yet this is the one that gets banished? I initially didn’t pay much attention to this story as I didn’t think it was for me and didn’t really want to give it more publicity than it already had. But then I read an article she wrote for Oyster Magazine, and knew there was something different about this story.

Her focus was censorship and the female body. “I wasn’t shocked at the reaction I received from my t-shirt. I’m used to being told by society that I must regulate my body to fit the norm. I’m used to the fact that images of unaltered women are seen as unacceptable.” she starts off by saying.

I now count Petra Collins as a revolutionary 21st century feminist because she is daring to challenge the unthinking majority and not back down in her plight to change how women are viewed in the media.

“I wasn’t surprised when TMZ requested to interview me about my t-shirt but then cancelled because the image was “too explicit for television” – whereas during Rihanna’s abuse scandal her beaten up face was broadcasted hundreds of times. I’m used to seeing women being degraded, slut shamed, harassed for what they look like. Even the most powerful women in the world are measured by their appearance and constantly ridiculed for it.”

“I’m used to hearing the top played songs on the radio tell me  “I know you want it – just let me liberate you”, “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful”, “Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it”.”

“I’m used to seeing cover after cover featuring stories about a popular celebrity being fat-shamed during pregnancy.I’m used to seeing reviews of an award show performance that critiques a female singer for being “slutty” but then fails to even mention the older male behind her. I’m used to reading articles about whole towns harassing a rape victim until she’s forced to leave. I don’t want to be used to this.”

Couldn’t agree more Petra!

“These very real pressures we face everyday can turn into literal censorship. This cannot continue to be our reality. To all the young girls and women, do not let this discourage you, do not let anyone tell you what you should look like, tell you how to be, tell you that you do not own your body. Even if society tries to silence you keep on going, keep moving forward, keep creating revolutionary work, and keep this discourse alive.”

But at the end of the day I realized something important. We aren’t all meant to revolutionize the world. If that were so, the word “revolutionary” wouldn’t exist, we would all just be considered normal. So while I am sick of society telling me, telling all of us we need to fit in, conform, get in line, dress right, look right, study this, act like that, etc etc, I know that these attitudes have to exist so that we can rebel and fight against them.

Censorship can have its advantages, we don’t want our young kids being allowed to watch graphic violence or pornography, so it definitely has its place. But when it comes to censoring the different, the unique, the individual, and shaming us into thinking that’s now how we are to live, then that’s a problem.

If we didn’t have revolutionaries and rebels in the world, we wouldn’t have Disney, Virgin, Apple, Oprah Winfrey, Facebook, Michael Jordan, Einstein’s theory of relativity, women on television, female presidents, female CEOs, civil rights, women’s rights, and the list goes on. Do any of those names, brands or movements ring a bell? They all were born out of the need to change and create better futures by thinking deeper.

So in conclusion, I will re-submit my damn essay and re-write it the way this journalism teacher is asking, as I do value and promote education. But I am not going to allow any failure or setback stop me from being who I am uniquely created to be by God. I encourage you all to do the same. Find role models and mentors who can steer you in the right direction without having to compromise who you are along the way.

And if this website is unpopular because we don’t gossip, bitch, talk trash or promote superficiality, then I guess I am on the right track 🙂

 

 

Asha

 

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