#4: Can we Change the World?

Can We Change The World?

Like millions of people, I was aghast at the outcome of the US election in November 2016. As a Canadian, it might seem nonsensical to have such a strong reaction to a foreign election. For me, it wasn't, as many people would have you believe, about liberalism or conservatism, left or right. It wasn't about a reasonable difference in political ideology or garden variety disappointment in an election outcome. It wasn't about being sad that a female candidate lost; far from it, in fact.

It was that for the first time, my worst fears about the existence of hate had become‚Äč really and truly evident. I knew that it existed, of course, but I had underestimated the scale of it. There's a lot of discussion and analysis about the election results and not all of them point to misogyny and racism and xenophobia. But I don't think it can be denied that these were a major factor in many circles. And for the first time, I felt real, genuine fear: fear that the enormous American cultural influence will negatively impact billions of us around the world.

And what I also realized, as truly humbling as it was, is that my privilege in life had largely insulated me from this fear for so long. The fear that so many other people from less privileged backgrounds see and feel on a daily basis had largely bypassed me until now. I'd felt anger, I'd felt injustice, and I'd seen and experienced firsthand how misogyny operates. But I'd never felt fear before, and I'm ashamed that it took this fear to really wake me up.

This project is overwhelming in its scope, and I suppose the pessimist would say that it can't be done, that it's too big: reshaping our culture by tackling attitudes of toxic masculinity. This attitude was so obviously a factor in the American election and is serving as a catalyst for the rise in outspoken extremism and hatred. This extremism was always there, but it seems like it has now been given legitimacy.

And it's true: this is a huge and daunting undertaking. But we have to start somewhere. And if this project can help change the conversation, can help be a positive light in a darkening world, or can help someone, somewhere, then I think it's worth it. If we've challenged the status quo in some small way, we've changed that tiny piece of our world.


Amber Pohl