We've come a long way in terms of being sensitive to other people (depending on your definition of "we"), but there is certainly always room for improvement. Just looking at half the things that passed as humor 20 years ago would make most people cringe.
While some might feel we've gone overboard in our sensitivity, others will say we haven't gone far enough. While mocking others for their heritage, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is generally frowned upon these days, it's not always clear where we draw the line. There seems to be a few holdouts in terms of things that are still OK to do and groups that are fair game for stereotyping and cultural appropriation. For example ...
4Bashing Skinny People
TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images
Fitness enthusiast Maria Kang posted a photo to Facebook of herself in workout gear alongside her three little boys with the caption "What's your excuse?" The post quickly went viral, and not in a good way. She was criticized for fat-shaming and being a bully.
A few months later, Kang was temporarily kicked off Facebook for saying plus-sized models posing in lingerie were normalizing obesity. Kang's Facebook account was reinstated two days later, but her post wasn't and she received a warning that she better adhere to the community standards or face a possible permanent ban.
If you're asking why I don't have kids: it's just that I don't like them much.
What Kang said about plus-size models wasn't exactly nice or necessarily true, but a ban seems a bit much, especially coming from a site that has no qualms with letting users upload beheading videos. There's obviously pressure that women (and yes, men) feel to meet some kind of perfect standard, and that standard always seems to be changing. Which could be good or bad, depending on how close you are to the new ideal.
Thanks to celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, the curvy backside has been enjoying a surge in popularity for some time now. So much so that three hugely successful pop songs about well-endowed bottoms were released in the span of just a few months last year.
In "Booty," J.Lo teams up with Aussie rapper/potential racist Iggy Azalea to sing the praises of, you guessed it, their big booties. The song is basically a PSA for loving your body and has a generally uplifting "feel good about yourself" vibe.
So that's nice! Next on the booty brigade is the catchy "All About That Bass," by Meghan Trainor.
For the most part, Trainor sings about loving yourself the way you are, and even when she calls out "skinny bitches," she does give the "just playin'" disclaimer. However, through the entire video a tall, thin brunette is being mocked for being a "stick-figured silicone Barbie doll" and unattractive to men.
Just pause for a second and imagine if Taylor Swift started singing about how boys prefer her awesome pert ass, while dancing around a chubby chick eating a cupcake ... the Internet would explode.
Nicki Minaj also has a booty-praising track. "Anaconda" takes Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" and punches it up with lyrics from Minaj.
When Nicki Minaj raps:
Yeah, he love this fat ass
Yeah! This one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club
I said, where my fat ass big bitches in the club?
It sounds good, but then ...
Fuck those skinny bitches
Fuck the skinny bitches in the club
I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the muthafuckin' club
Fuck you if you skinny bitches, what?! Kyuh
Well, that escalated quickly. What's with the hostility? Attractiveness isn't a zero-sum game. There's room at the table for everyone. Size-shaming in popular culture is evident on both sides of the spectrum, but it seems to get a huge pass when "skinny" is on the receiving end of the scorn.
3Assuming the Irish Are Brawling Drunks
The Washington Redskins have been facing lots of criticism for using a name and mascot many consider inappropriate. Even after the U.S. Patent Office revoked their trademark protection, deeming the name offensive, and in the face of some pretty damning comparisons, like the ones being made in this video ...
... team owner Daniel Snyder is digging in his heels. Instead of appealing the ruling, Snyder is suing the Native Americans who complained, and so far, the NFL has sided with him.
The NCAA is bit more proactive about weeding out potentially insulting team branding. In 2005, they instituted a ban on "hostile or abusive" nicknames or mascots, forcing several teams to part with questionable monikers and mascots.
When coming up with an appropriate team name, let South Carolina be your guide.
The University of North Dakota, not happy with the prospect of losing the "Fighting Sioux" as their mascot, filed suit against the NCAA. In their claim, they charged that if the ban includes all racial stereotypes, why is Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish" OK?
It is curious that "Fighting Irish" seems to not be a problem, even though their mascot is an angry-looking Leprechaun-like figure poised in a bare-knuckle boxing stance. The NCAA sidestepped the question with something along the lines of "because no one's complained yet," which sounds totally legit, and I'm sure has nothing to do with the millions of dollars Notre Dame funnels into the NCAA coffers.
The stereotype of Irish as drunken marauders goes beyond one sports franchise masquerading as a college. Soon, retail shelves will fill with typical holiday-themed/future landfill items, but these will be propagating the "Irish are drunks" stereotype, and few will give it a second thought. Stores like Spencer Gifts offer things like a shamrock adorned Drunk-o-Meter hat and a "Drink till you're fuck'n Irish" sippy cup ...
... for Plastic Paddies keen on celebrating Irish culture in the most boorish way possible.
Recently the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the nation's largest Irish Catholic fraternal organization, asked Walmart to remove shirts with phrases like "I may not be Irish, but I can drink like one" and "Blame the Irish for my behavior" ...
... and, most disturbingly, a shamrock-festooned maternity top emblazoned with the festive yet inappropriately mournful "Irish I could drink."
While the AOH desire to see "their culture celebrated, not used as an excuse for aberrant behavior" is an admirable one, their opinion appears to be in the minority and one definitely not shared by the world's largest retailer. This was apparent when Walmart finally responded to the complaints with the corporate version of "Erin Go Eff Yourself."