You’ve been profiled

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Apparently, this is how to deal with racist, sexist and homophobic talk in the classroom. And it probably is – my insights into possible classroom management strategies begin and end with a lollies and/or a Taser. This chap Greg seems like he’s on the money. 

What’s more interesting to me is how this article ended up in my facebook feed. It was recommended by a friend, sure, but so are many other articles I read. This one however comprises a growing body of similar articles about the management of bad interpersonal behaviour appearing in my feed. I’m told that racist and sexist talk is on the rise, and, miraculously, so is the number of personal accounts of it appearing on my facebook feed. 

I’m also told, by way of framing, that this kind of behaviour is on the rise because of Trump (and/or Brexit). The idea that Trump is causing an increase in sexist, racist behaviour is stated as a given. In response to this new Trump-caused permissiveness, many women are submitting accounts of (especially) sexist treatment and abuse. Most of these accounts however, happened well before Trump scaled the greasy pole. So whar is driving this new, ‘I got groped’ internet trend?

It’s framing. Trump has become an easy catalyst for what is probably a long overdue bloodletting about groping. Why? Because it characterises him as a scumbag, on terms that almost everyone can access. No-one likes to feel impugned or assaulted, but everyone has an opinion on constitutes the experience.

Dig deep, women, think hard about all those times you’ve been assaulted. Now connect them with Trump.

On these terms, Trump is irrefutably a scumbag, an orange kernel of hatred, seeding abhorrent social injustice amongst ordinary Americans. Oh sure, I’m also told that Trump mobilises and capitalises upon the economic anxieties of predominantly white, poor people. These anxieties however are not demonstrated through personal testimonies that appear on my facebook feed. They are outside the frame of reference. 

I have no strong inclination towards either candidate, but I’m not prepared to believe that the appearance of Trump has unleashed a national, spittle-flecked descent into entitled pervery. I think, by and large, that people were probably just as racist, sexist and badly behaved as before. What’s changed is that white, middle class women have been told to feel insulted. That’s new to them. Black women are welcoming them in and handing out trail maps*. Being insulted by something simple like sexist behaviour now comes with a clear, personal connection to a candidate. In terms of marketing, it’s low hanging fruit.  

Overall, I think this is a classic example of framing and facebook tailoring my feed. It doesn’t really matter to me, as I get most of my information about the US election elsewhere. So, facebook, if you’re listening; 




*Not necessarily because they experience more sexual harassment, but because they definitely have, and continue to experience racial harassment.

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