We Can Change Culture

2 Oct

I believe we can change culture.  Period.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of conversations, read a lot of articles, that have revived an old concern of mine – why do we focus on accepting culture as is and simply teach resistance?  Pornography, violence, fast food…you name it.  The argument goes like this:

There’s no way we’re going to change it.  It’s here for good.  All we can do is teach people to resist.

I’m a both/and person.  I believe we should increase resilience in kids.  I believe we should teach media literacy.   I believe we should strengthen protective factors.  I believe these strategies are relevant and effective.  AND I believe we should work to change systems and society.

What happened to systems and social change?  It’s possible.  It’s the foundation from which I operate.  It’s the heart of nearly every social justice movement.

So why do people who say we should dismantle the criminal justice system also argue that we should accept that violent pornography is here to stay?  Why do folks who say we must do away with the educational system say all we can do about the media is teach media literacy?  It doesn’t make sense – only doing away with systems in one case and simply teaching people to deal in another.

CUTLURE CAN CHANGE.  Culture WILL change…if we try.  It seems easier and we feel more successful when we teach resistance.  It’s easier to tell women to stay inside their homes to stay safe than to change the way men are socialized to be violent against women.  It’s easier to tell people “don’t eat that” than to take on agribusiness.  But it doesn’t work and it’s not real change.

Why do we talk about rape culture if we don’t believe we can change it?  Giving a presentation about it isn’t going to do much.  Telling people it exists and how to avoid it isn’t going to do much.   Changing the fundamental aspects of culture that allow it to thrive is.  So why talk about it if we don’t believe we can do that?

The other day I was in a meeting in which a woman referred to “the queers.”   Seriously?  That’s NOT OKAY.  And you know why it’s not okay and every single person who heard that knew and said it’s not okay?  Because culture has changed.

My neighbors smoke.  You know why I literally stop in shock every time I smell cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment?  You know why I immediately think “you can’t do that!” whenever I see a person in Oregon smoking within 5 feet of a building?  Because I lived in California where tobacco culture has changed.

There are countless examples of how culture, subcultures, and mini-mini cultures (okay, I made that one up) have changed for the good.  It can happen.  It has happened.  We don’t have to hang our heads in defeat and teach people to simply look away.   “The world isn’t fair.  Deal with it.”  Really?  I prefer, “the world isn’t fair.  Let’s change it.”

I believe culture can change.  Exclamation point.

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One Response to “We Can Change Culture”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. We Can Change Culture: Part 2 « - October 11, 2010

    […] our last blog, I asserted that we can change culture.  More than that, I argued that we MUST change culture to […]

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