I went to a dance performance a few weeks ago… a wonderful company, wonderful performance. Very avant garde. There was split second nudity (ok, ok, the audience got mooned, it was meant to be shocking, surprising and hilarious and it was) and in one dance there was what I perceived as twerking and some very sensual movement between dancers. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. Possibly because it was a black box theater and we were extremely close to the dancers. Possibly because my own students (teens and pre-teens) were sitting in front of me. Possibly because the performances were so real.
Anyway, I mentioned my discomfort to my friend on our drive home, and then my friend mentioned something about being offended. Not that she had been offended by the performance but that one of the dances had the potential to offend.
And that’s when I realized I don’t get offended any more.
I need to clarify: yes, the performance at times made me feel uncomfortable (good art often does) but I still loved the performance. I was not offended. And I rarely get offended. Especially by art, but I also don’t get offended by political statements, religious beliefs contrary to mine, or when my friends don’t invite me out with them.
Ok, maybe a little bit on the last one.
I think people spend too much time being offended. And by offended I mean, feeling wounded by someone else’s words or actions, as if they were made against me, as if the offending party is targeting me.
Don’t misunderstand. There are plenty of people who are targeted for various things, and perhaps they get offended. And that’s ok. But I’m trying not to be offended, and I have a few reasons why:
1) I grew up white, upper middle class, and my parents paid for my college education.
I had and have a lot of privilege. I’m not generally targeted because of my race, economic status, or really anything about me. I don’t have much to be offended about when I have all the opportunity in the world. I hope I can use that to help others that might not have the same privileges, and I can’t really help if I’m wasting time being offended.
2) Offense is a waste of time.
If something angers me to the point of offense, I find myself spending a lot of time obsessing about it. What generally works better is identifying why I’m hurt, not going on the defense, and moving on.
3) Most things that could potentially offend me are really just sad.
If someone says something unnecessarily mean to me, or if I hear someone talking bad about my religious beliefs or even if someone says something misogynistic to me or in front of me… it’s honestly just sad. It saddens me that someone would have a reason to be mean-spirited, that they don’t understand my faith enough to at least accept it or that they would still say sexist things in 2014. It’s just sad. I have no reason to be offended.
4) There are enough people getting offended out there. Me adding to it won’t help.
see: internet comments. And have you ever heard of someone changing their mind, worldview, or habits over internet comments? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
What about you, do you get offended?