Labels And How They Deepen the Divide
by Olivia Pan
Recently, Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario decided to remove scales in their gym, becoming the target of outrage, primarily from conservative media outlets and conservative twitter users. According to Bruce Marshall, the manager of wellness programs at Carleton, the decision to remove scales was made to help students stop fixating on weight and focus more on health. Marshall told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the decision was not based on student input but was “in keeping with current fitness and social trends.” Anyone who has any interest in fitness or knowledge about the battle to curb obesity knows that this is, and has been, a trend in fitness for years now: forget the number (weight) and get healthy. We all know the size 2 chick eating one bag of Cheetos and drinking coffee all day. Her insides look like the underwater tour of the Titanic. So yes, focusing less on weight and removing scales has been kicking around as a strategy for health and weight loss for years.
The entire right-wing media onslaught directed at Carleton for the removal of scales being about fragile “snowflakes” was a fraud. It had nothing to do with snowflakes, millennials, or liberals. It was about one health professional following a trend that advocates not fixating on your weight but helping you focus physically and mentally on your health. In this case, the media agenda was to divide by making the left (who they assume are young) seem weak or unable to cope, thus making the right hate the left even more and vice versa.
According to USA Today College, the term “snowflake” is “used in a derogatory way to suggest that people—often, but not always, young people—who take offense to anything from political policy changes to offensive comments are as weak and vulnerable as a speck of snow.” The term characterizes liberals as fragile and weak, unable to cope with the realities of life or any type of dialogue or actions dignified as “politically incorrect.”
Recently, I read that Arkansas Republican Sen. Kim Hendren introduced a bill to the state legislature to ban the works of historian Howard Zinn (civil rights activist, author, professor) from all schools that receive public funds. In short, he wanted this well respected and to some, controversial, historian’s words and voice silenced in all public school districts of the state. Wow, I guess snowflakes fall all over the map. Howard Zinn did not incite hate or violence, and yet his works about American history from the perspective of another’s point of view, other than a white man’s view, was too much for this delicate conservative snowflake and his supporters.
Sen. Hendren is not alone, lest we forget the enraged Starbucks customers frothing at the mouth that their mocha latte did not have the proper Christmas cup (a Christian theme on their $4.00 cup of coffee). So, I guess we have snowflakes on both sides of the aisle.
I am tired of millennials and/or liberals being stuck with this derogatory term of “snowflake.” Many liberals (so-called snowflakes) are women, minority groups or members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is nothing fragile about a young teen, threatened or bullied throughout high school because he is gay, who then comes out to a family who disowns him, forcing him to make a life somewhere else with no support. There is nothing fragile about a single working mom sexually harassed at work who must decide to quit her job or feed her kids that week. There is nothing fragile about a poor, young person who attends a rich university struggling to comprehend the privilege and wealth of their peers, and not having enough money to hang at the coffee shop. There is nothing fragile about a young black male being profiled again and again in stores or on the road, learning to deal with that harassment with intelligence and dignity. These are real people that I know and there is not a snowflake among them. They are by definition tough cookies, each and every one. They have been through it and in it and have become stronger for it.
Let’s realize that the labels are meant to divide and, in the case of the Carleton news story and others like it, to manipulate. All liberals are not running away from things because they cannot cope. All conservatives do not deny climate change or are like Trump. We have to stop being manipulated and start separating the sound bites from the reality of who we really are, what we represent, and how we can all commence a dialogue. If conservatives want to continue to use that derogatory term of “snowflake” for us liberals, then they are going to have to explain how their own elected President is fighting with everyone from the cast of “Hamilton” to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let’s throw away the labels. They are akin to the name-calling of grade school children and take energy and truth away from the important issues facing our democracy.