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Royal Tour Caribbean: My Thoughts

This is your heads up that this post is going to be long (like really long cause I have a lot to say). It’s going to cover two main thoughts I’ve been having this week that I wanted to get off my chest. Since this is my opinion, I do want to start with a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: We all have life experiences that inform how we think about and view the world and no two people are ever going to agree one hundred percent of the time. Therefore, I want to start by noting that this is my opinion and my perspective. You are welcome to disagree with me or have a different opinion, in fact I think the ability to share different perspectives and opinions is one of the best things about social media and the internet. I encourage everyone to think critically and form their own opinions rather than copying and pasting what someone else has said. However, if or when you disagree, you have to be respectful, courteous and treat everyone with basic human decency. With that being said, lets jump in.

Part 1: The “Society Hates Teenage Girls” Theory

It's important to start with the fact that, for me, royal watching is a hobby and a brief escape in a world that sometimes feels too overwhelming. I would equate it to people who follow sports, people who knit, sew, paint, or movie buffs. It’s a form of entertainment that takes you out of the real world for a moment. It can offer a mental health break or it can be an outlet for stress or frustration. It’s supposed to be fun, uplifting and positive.

Again, this is how I personally feel about royal watching and I know others feel differently. Just like there are some people who don’t like sports or don’t enjoy watching movies or find painting or knitting to be boring; I know there are people who don’t like the royals. And that’s completely fine!

There are plenty of things I don’t enjoy doing that tons of people love. For instance, you will never find me voluntarily flinging myself down a cold, snowy and icy mountain on a piece (or two) of plastic strapped to my feet. There is pretty much nothing I can imagine being less fun, but, I’m aware there are tons of people who absolutely love it. Despite my personal feelings it would be a massive waste of time or energy to discuss all the reasons I don't like skiing or snowboarding or why I don't enjoy it because it's stupid to focus on things you hate.

You are allowed to have opinions; you are allowed to not like things and you don’t even need to have a reason for it. You can honestly just decide that you don’t like something and move on. What you do not get to do is decide you don’t like something and then spend a significant amount of time, energy, resources or money trying to ruin it for other people. And you definitely do not get to hate on or bully people for liking something you hate. We can enjoy different things; we can have different interests and that’s completely okay.

Now let’s take a few steps back to explain the title of Part 1.

I want you to think about Boy Bands (N*sync, Backstreet Boys, One Direction 5SOS, etc.), tv shows about teenagers, the makeup industry or Young Adult romance books or films. Now picture the people who are fans of these things, real fans, dedicated fans, the ones who go to the concerts and signings, those who never every word to every song, the ones who go to midnight movie premieres, the ones who buy products to emulate their favorite characters. Now come up with three adjectives to describe them. Maybe it’s something like hysterical, shallow, obsessed, vain, crazy, conceited, weird, or basic.

Now I want to do the same activity for fans of sports (football, rugby, cricket, polo, tennis etc.), video games, music, cars or even sneakers. Think about the fans who go to games or matches every week and can share all of statistics for their favorite players, who have extensive record collections, who can name every model that Ford made in 2010, whose sneaker collection is immaculate (no creasing). Maybe those adjectives are passionate, dedicated, interesting, knowledgeable, cool.

Hopefully, most of you can see where this is going now. The adjectives used to describe those two people are probably pretty different despite the fact all of these things are just hobbies. They are just valued differently in our society because we don’t see buying season tickets as a waste of money but going to a Harry Styles concert is.

The title of this part is based off an op-ed I read several years ago that was literally titled Society Hates Teenage Girls, and honestly, it made such an impact on me. This article basically communicated something I had felt for so long growing up as a woman but didn’t know how to express; the interests and hobbies of girls (no matter what they are) are inherently undervalued, mocked and hated by the rest of society.

It articulated that even when girls take an interest in things typically ‘masculine’ activities (sports, video games, cars) they are seen as ‘faking’ or just doing it to seem different or cooler than their other female counterparts. When boys take an interest in traditionally ‘feminine’ activities they are mocked and ridiculed, though not to the same extent that the girls are.

The notion of “society hates teenage girls” is basically that when something is targeted to women; it is seen as trivial, unimportant or shallow. It’s essentially saying that this thing you like (whatever that may be), that brings you joy and makes you happy is stupid and you should be embarrassed for liking it. It gives boys an easy way to mock or bully girls. It even pits sisters against one another because there are plenty of girls that will avoid certain interests to avoid being branded as basic or shallow; some girls can join into the pile-up against a certain hobby or interest in order to avoid being ridiculed themselves.

Don’t believe me? Story time. When I was a pre-teen/teenager a little-known movie franchise came out called Twilight. I’m not ashamed to admit (now) that I loved it. We aren’t going to get into the quality of writing or the cinematic experience because honestly, those two things are usually used to discredit it and at the end of the day it was a romance franchise. It was getting people interested in reading, it created a community both online and off, it was entertaining and it made a ton of money. Pretty much everything a studio could want or hope for in a successful film franchise.

However, people mercilessly attacked it. They criticized the writing, the characters, the plot, the actors, the fans. Nothing was off limits. Society treated Twilight, and anyone who liked Twilight as piranhas. While I wish I could say that I didn’t care, that I ignored the haters and allowed myself to enjoy this piece of media that I found entertaining, I didn’t.

My classmates, people I had been friends with, even people I looked up to all took jabs at my love of Twilight and it honestly ruined it for me. I would only read the books on Kindle so nobody could see I was reading it, I ditched the Twilight calendar my parents got me for school, I even skipped premieres I had been incredibly excited about because I knew photos would be posted online and I didn’t want anyone knowing I liked this thing that everyone reviled so much.

Now let’s be honest here, there’s not really any good reason people hated Twilight as much as they did. It was a book and film franchise; it wasn’t encouraging kids to do drugs or murder people. It was escapism in the same way that Marvel or Pirates of the Caribbean is but people weren’t running hate campaigns against those franchises.

So, what is the point of this and what does this have to do with the royals? As I said earlier, it’s fine if you don’t like something or someone. That is your right. But other people are allowed to like it, they are allowed to find it interesting or entertaining or whatever else and that’s not going to hurt anyone or anything. There is this idea I see a lot from anti-royal troll accounts that is: If I don’t like something, then no one can and I am allowed and entitled to attempt to ruin this experience for someone else.

It's not only completely illogical and ridiculous but its frankly deranged and malicious. We can have adult conversations about important topics related to the royals, and we should. However, this trend I am continuing to see of “I hate this thing so I will continue to bombard you until your experience is ruined and you hate it to” is disgusting. It plays into this idea that I’ve talked about previously that the world is black and white. Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

For anyone that think that by supporting the royals you have to hate other people and if you support other people you have to hate the royals, I have good news. That’s not true. I’ve said this so many times before but if you like the royals then focus on them and lift them up. If you don’t like certain people, then just don’t pay attention to them because there is literally no point in focusing on or spending time on things you don’t like and frankly its weird when people spend so much time just mindlessly hating things. The same thing goes the other way. If you like other people and don’t like the royals, then just don’t pay attention to the royals.

Nobody is forcing anyone to follow or like or pay attention to or spend their time or energy on people or things they don’t like: they are making that choice. I’m about to be way more direct than I normally am but it has to be said. If you are actively making a choice to try and ruin someone else’s experience because you don’t like what they like: You are an asshole.

If you read any of this and think "I'm just calling out the history" or "the British people pay for the monarchy" or any other vague excuse here is a reminder for you: The monarchy, as it exists today, has no real power and it is a purely ceremonial role that is funded by the Sovereign grant. If we were having this conversation a century ago, you would have a point. However, as it exists today, you don't.Trying to wreck something someone likes is not cool and it sucks that you are choosing to spend your energy on attempting to ruin other peoples days.

And with that, here is part 2 (I warned you this post was going to be long)

Part 2: People aren’t a Monolith

For anyone who perhaps blacked out Summer of 2020 (congratulations, that was not a fun summer), monolith was a popular word seen all around the internet. It’s a word that has two meanings and I will be focusing on the second definition of it: a large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform.

It’s basically the notion that people in some group or region all think the exact same way or have the exact same views. They are completely united in their thoughts, opinions, beliefs and feelings but, of course, this doesn’t exist.

However, with social media and the basic psychological desire to confirm your own bias (i.e., confirmation bias) it’s really easy to create a bubble. These bubbles can convince people that their viewpoint is the only viewpoint (or at least their views are the majority) but this isn’t always true, in fact it’s usually not. I do not pretend to be immune to this, because I’m not, but I do make an effort to seek out view’s contrary to my own and I always encourage everyone to do the same.

Basically, what these bubbles do is boost people’s confidence in sharing their opinions, because it’s way easier to say what you think when you believe that the majority will agree with you. This quickly becomes dangerous because it drives people with different ideas further from one another and also makes it more difficult to accept that there are still plenty of people who don’t agree with your viewpoint. It’s one of the reasons, in my opinions, fights happen via social media so much easier. When someone firmly and truly believes they are right and they are in the majority, it’s easier to dismiss contrary ideas as uneducated or uniformed and go for the attack rather than taking a moment to figure out why someone feels that way and what the thinking behind it is.

Now, are some people just uneducated or uniformed? Of course. But rather than going in for the attack, it can be an opportunity to educate in a non-judgmental and non-condescending way. People naturally want to learn; we all want to be better and do better which is why we need to remember that every one’s view point and beliefs are based in their unique lived experience and no two people have the same lived experience. Therefore, no two people are going to think exactly the same.

We are well aware that within a sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, race, ethnicity, gender or country there is a ton of nuance. It doesn’t matter how similar or different people are from one another because even if you surveyed a demographic of bisexual, cisgender, Jewish, Afro-Latina women from the U.K., there would be hundreds of differing opinions from that group because no two people think the same way or have the same beliefs.

We are all unique human beings with unique thoughts and opinions and beliefs and to pretend otherwise is frankly ridiculous. We have no trouble acknowledging that there are political divides in countries like the U.K., Australia, France, the U.S., Germany, Spain, even Russia and I could go on and on. If we are able to acknowledge there is not consensus among all people in these countries, why then do people want to act like everyone in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas think, act and believe the same thing. Spoiler Alert: They Don’t.

Before continuing, I want to make one point very clear: If Jamaica or any other Caribbean nations want to become a republic that is 100% their right and everyone (including the palace) would support that decision. It is their decision and their decision alone and nobody outside of said country and its citizens have a say in it.

That being said, I saw accounts online being downright hateful to the Jamaican people who decided they wanted to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday. I saw people blatantly manipulating images and videos to fit the narrative of what they believe Jamaicans should think about the monarchy or do about their relationship with the Queen. Let me reiterate the above point so there is no confusion: It is their decision and their decision alone and nobody outside of said country and its citizens have a say in it.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for people to imagine that, while some Jamaicans, without a doubt, prefer pursuing a Republic, some others enjoy the monarchy and were excited by the chance to meet royalty. Neither side of this issue is “right” or “wrong” it’s a matter of opinion and it’s something that Jamaica gets to decide for itself.

But the vitriol, the blatant lies and frankly the erasure of any nuance from the debate online last night was incredibly troubling, especially considering most of the people spreading this were not Jamaican. Royals have always faced protests in the Caribbean, especially in regards to colonialism and reparations for slavery. It is rumored Prince William will address some of this in his speech tonight so I, along with so many others, will be interested in what he has to say.

Sidebar: It should be noted that no matter what William says, some people will praise it and some people will criticize it so please listen to his speech directly to form your own opinion before reading articles that will no doubt be filled with others’ opinions on the subject. If you do elect to read articles first, please (at the very least) seek out Jamaican journalists, commentators and opinions because frankly, their voices matter way more than royal correspondents, international journalists or social media accounts (including mine!).

Despite what the media and certain (non-Jamaican) opportunists would have people believe, every Royal to visit the Caribbean has dealt with protests. I can guarantee right now that there will be protests next month when the Earl and Countess of Wessex head to the Caribbean. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Sussex, and even the Queen have all dealt with similar demonstrations.

But all of this is to say that no two people, and certainly no country, are aligned on any issue or topic. Even within families who grew up together with similar experiences all agree all the time because that’s not human nature. People aren’t monoliths and there are going to be some people in Jamaica who are for a Republic and there are going to be some people in Jamaica who are for the Monarchy.

Neither side is right or wrong and neither side deserves the hate I saw last night. Both sides deserve to have their voices heard and for people (especially people outside of Jamaica) to listen to both sides fairly and without bias. It is Jamaica’s decision and Jamaica’s decision alone. The narrative around this conversation is, however, incredibly problematic and (to be frank) an echo of the colonial sentiments Jamaicans are fighting against.

To insinuate that every person in Jamaica believes the same thing or has the same views is to take away each Jamaican’s unique identity and world view. In my own country, there are topics where the vast majority of people are in agreement (about 70%) but it would be ridiculous not to acknowledge the minority opinion as well, no matter how much you disagree with it. The entire point of democracy is that everyone’s voices are heard but with the goal that the will of the people (i.e. the majority) end up triumphing.

I have not yet had the pleasure to visit Jamaica but from what I know of their history, culture and people and what I have seen thus far on this tour, I have no doubt that Jamaicans will do right by their country and their people.

This last note (obviously) does not apply to any Jamaicans (no matter where they live in the world) but rather to those people campaigning against the monarchy or for those who just don’t like William and Catherine. If you truly care about Jamaica and the Jamaican people, elevate their voices and stop talking over them. Let the people of Jamaica decide and keep your personal opinions and views out of it as it does not apply to you.

I personally love the royal family (I mean, obviously, I have a blog about them) but I am incredibly aware not everyone feels the same and I’d never presume to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. Anyone non-Jamaicans who are seriously confident enough to try and speak on behalf of all Jamaicans, stop.

The Jamaican people have a voice. It is incredibly evident that they are intelligent, strong, determined, passionate and beautiful people who can and will do what’s right for their country and their citizens. Stop speaking for them and over them and, if you have a platform, pass the microphone because they are not children, they can and will speak for themselves.

For anyone who made it this far, Thank You! I (clearly) had a lot of thoughts that I wanted to get off my chest so I appreciate you taking the time to indulge me. Now I will go back to covering the tour and will be posting everything about William and Catherine’s visit to Jamaica by Friday!

If anyone from Jamaica or of Jamaican descent happens to read this, first off Hi! Secondly, if there is anything said here you disagree with, if you feel anything is incorrect in regards to your country or if there is anything you want to add, please feel free to DM me on Twitter! I am always looking to learn more and meet new people. Thanks

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