When are words alone enough? When is it time to actually put your money where your mouth is?
There have been so many terrible, horrible, awful examples of toxic culture in the news lately. Reasonable people should be able to call these incidents out, and the person or company who committed the offensive act would listen, engage in discussion, and possibly (hopefully!) reflect on their misstep and change how they act or speak down the road-you know, like not calling women sluts or telling children to dance like “you can’t afford me.” There wouldn’t be a call for censorship, and authentic learning and growth would happen. Sounds nice, right?
But we’re not living in a reasonable culture anymore; it’s toxic. Signing a petition or writing a letter isn’t always enough when the people who feel entitled to pollute the airwaves, billboards, internet, and magazines just aren’t listening. They don’t care that what they’re putting out is causing harm to children, making sure that women are still seen as objects, or assuming that all men crave titillation at all times. So, what’s a reasonable person to do?
Sounds like it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. How? There are lots of ways. Here are only a few:
- Support people, organizations, and companies who promote healthy sexuality and relationships, empowerment, and respect by purchasing their goods and services (music, clothing, magazines, etc.), or donating your time or money. Let them know that what they’re putting out into the world is appreciated and valued.
- Stop supporting people, organizations, companies who promote toxic imagery and ideals. Stop buying their music, clothing, or magazines. Don’t tune in to their show.
- If someone says or does something to promote toxic ideas and they won’t listen when you speak up, follow the money. Talk to their sponsors. Talk to people who buy their products. Let them know why you are taking your money elsewhere. Show them that profiting from exploitation and harm is bad for their bottom line.
Of course some people will claim that options 2 and 3 are on a slippery slope leading to censorship, but that’s just not true: “A campaign to get sponsors to drop [a media figure] is not censorship. Advertisers pay to be associated with media figures whose image reflects well on their brands. In fact, these firms have a duty to their investors to advertise in ways that enhance their corporate image.” People can say whatever they want, but you don’t have to pay them to do it. You don’t have to tune in. You don’t have to agree with them.