Last night, I finally watched the movie everyone has been talking about - Gone Girl. (Spoiler Alert) You know, the movie where the psychopath wife fakes her own death to punish her husband for being unfaithful. In all honesty, I had no desire to watch Gone Girl, but my boyfriend insisted that it was worthy of my time. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the movie. Ben Affleck is a much better actor than I remember, and it wasn't as predictable as I had anticipated.
Despite my general enjoyment of the movie, I laid in bed for hours that night feeling uncomfortable about the way the movie ended. Was it the cynicism surrounding the conversations about marriage? Was it the fact that the movie portrayed yet another woman who cried "rape" for revenge and a little attention? Or maybe it was just the lack of a happily-ever-after? I am a sucker for happy endings.
After pondering all of this at 4 a.m., it finally hit me. I was uncomfortable because I wanted to side with the character of the crazy wife who faked a pregnancy and destroyed her husband's life for her own personal amusement. The movie made it very clear that she was a liar, a murderer, and a manipulative, conniving human being with no morals, and yet, a part of me was angry because I didn't want her to be the bad guy. I mean, bad lady. After all, men abuse and rape women all the time without consequence, so why should we give so much attention to the few instances where the women are actually lying... right?
That opened up another can of worms - 4 a.m. worms are the worst. What about Jackie? The girl who claimed to be viciously raped by 7, or 5, fraternity brothers at the University of Virginia? Like most of you, I don't know all of the facts, but I wanted to take her side, too. After all, I am a woman. I am a feminist. How can I question the story of a rape victim? More worms. Trayvon Martin? Michael Brown? Eric Garner? I am an African American. I have seen my male family members harassed by police officers for no reason. I have been followed in stores. I have felt the need to prove my intelligence to complete strangers, as if my blackness somehow overshadowed my educational and professional accomplishments. As a result of the racial inequalities in this country, the police officers involved in the deaths of these young black men had to be racist... right? Oh man, more worms. Bill Cosby. This one was even more internally uncomfortable. Who do I believe, the black man who I adored as a child? Or the multiple women?
Then, the biggest worm. The king of the worms. What if I, Kiara Imani Williams, a logical, rational, compassionate, law student, make judgments based on my own personal identity? Do I always look to defend black people? Or other women? Or fellow Christians? But that's what I am supposed to do, right? I mean, I voted for Obama because he was inspiring, intelligent, and charismatic. He was everything I wanted in a leader. But is it wrong to say that I was also excited about the prospect of having a black president? Is it wrong that I wanted to have a president who kind of looked like me? Is it wrong for me to want a female president?
And what if everyone else in the world is also guilty of looking to defend people who reflect their identities? Do police officers internally long to defend other police officers? Do men look to defend other men? Do fraternity brothers have a yearning to defend other brothers?
Now, the purpose of this post is not to encourage people to take sides. The media is saturated with grossly biased views disguised as facts and pragmatism. Like most of you, I don't know all of the facts in any of the horrific incidents i've mentioned above. I've refrained from speaking out on most of these issues in fear of saying something wrong. I believe there are real racial issues facing minorities in this country that will tear us apart if not discussed. I believe sexual assault is a national issue that should not, and cannot be tolerated. But how are we supposed to get to the bottom of these issues if we are clouded by our own personal identities?
I don't mean to suggest that it is not possible to condemn those who are like you. In fact, it happens all the time. But why does it feel so... uncomfortable? I can personally admit that my racial, ethnic, gender, and religious identities play a role in my decision making. I cannot say that this is inherently bad, but it is something that all of us should be cognizant of while framing our opinions on controversial issues. Maybe the subtle presence of self awareness will be enough to prevent the emotionally based, logically flawed arguments that many of us feel tempted to make when the media draws a line and we are asked to choose a side. Or maybe it will change nothing. Either way, my New Year's resolution will be to make a better effort to see both sides of every situation. And if I fail... well, there's always next year, right?