I have not had the opportunity to watch Downton Abbey in a while. I enjoy it, but it is not my favorite show so I do not go out of my way to watch it. Tonight I viewed it on our local PBS station and (spoiler alert) watched fan favorite Anna suffer through a rape. It was sad and it was a punch in the gut. Afterward the station broadcast a live show (it does every week after Downton Abbey) with a discussion of the event. There was a brief intermission to allow for comments from viewers over the internet. One comment in particular stood out, especially since it came from a man.
The gentleman in question tweeted that it was controversial, and that he did not like it because it made him uncomfortable. I hear that word a lot. I read it too, especially when someone from a privileged group is forced to look at the pain someone from an oppressed group suffers. White people watch a documentary on police brutality in black communities and “feel uncomfortable. A debate is held about discrimination in employment and housing against the trans community and cis folk “feel uncomfortable.” A woman on a television program is raped, and men “feel uncomfortable.”
Well you know what? I don’t want you to “feel” uncomfortable. I want you to be uncomfortable. If you are not uncomfortable, then it follows that you are comfortable. It follows that you are comfortable with people killed for the crime of being the wrong color. You are comfortable with people being treated like second class citizens. You are comfortable with women being raped. That is something you should never be.
If you are more concerned with how the suffering of others makes you feel than with how it affects them, then you are part of the problem. When you tell us, with great vigor and outrage, then you are an important part of the problem. You are one of the people who wants to quash any dialogue about the hurts of the world. To you these problems are only problems when they are brought into the light. “Back to the closet you pesky oppressed, lest you upset the systems that keep me safe and sound.”
I hope more artists, more filmmakers, more documentarians, journalists, singers, and writers do their utmost to make you uncomfortable. They need to keep challenging your cozy little world. They need to make you feel it so you know it is unacceptable that this happens, rather than continue your caterwauling about knowing about it. You need to feel uncomfortable, because goodness knows those of us who do not enjoy your privilege are.