Archive for August 15th, 2010

Social Injustice

I am disappointed, internets.

I really expected better from you.

Now I don't know how to express my disappointment, except by blog post.

There’s a certain website that I like to go to. Generally, said site is a relaxing place, a place where I can hang with fellow hobbyists and bitch about things with them. I like that site. I like some of the particular places I hang out on that site. And yet, yesterday I got a sour taste in my mouth while perusing that site.

Person A on that site used the term “white trash”, which is not a term I use because it’s extremely classist and racist. Person B on that site politely asked Person A to not use that terminology, as they had had it applied to them and found it hurtful. Person A told them to go fuck themselves for being oversensitive. I then stepped in and voiced my opinion on the extreme disregard I was seeing for Person B’s feelings, and my dislike of Person A’s attitude, especially using the term “oversensitive” to diminish Person B.

Thus far, I have not had a response, but I’m certain it’s only a matter of time. And I’m certain Person A will tell me to fuck off as well. And if so, I will likely be spending a whole lot less time on that site in the near future.

One of the things about social injustice is that it will never go away if people sit by and do nothing. And I don’t mean people who are in the group who is being beaten down. Sure, I’m a fat activist, because I am fat, and it is a personal issue. But I also consider myself an activist against all sorts of other things as well. Which is not to say I’ve never done or said anything racist, classist, ageist, ableist or any other kind of -ist you can think of, but I do my best to not do or say them, and if someone says “hey, that is really not so cool” I try to listen and adjust my attitude accordingly. I have loads of privilege as a white, cis woman of upper middle class background, so I could ignore such things. And for a long time, I did. And I’m not perfect now, either. But I do my best, these days, to listen, to educate myself and allow myself to be educated when others are willing and able to take their time to do so. I examine my own behaviors and check my privilege when necessary (and it is, often). I do my best to work toward becoming better at treating everyone as equal.

So I won’t lie, it made my blood boil to see that person on that site being treated like crap. And it makes me angry when people on other sites or chats or forums say ignorant, hurtful things (like a gem I heard recently in a gaming chat: “women are just like regular geeks, except with menstruation. And emotions”). The thing is, there are often so many layers of privilege that people don’t even register the truth of what you’re trying to say. Or, they rankle because they kind of already knew they were wrong for saying it, and they resent you for making them realize it (I’ve had this reaction more than once myself, so I tend to recognize it in others).

Take the semi-infamous post over on Shapely Prose, Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t bother trying to comment, they’ve been closed since a few days after it was first posted. At any rate, this is a very blunt and accurate post about what it’s like to be a woman, being hit on by men in the modern world. It’s a post about how many women will humor men because they don’t know if said man is a potential rapist or not, even when they’d rather not talk to that man. The response to this post was so violent that the comments had to be closed after more and more men kept coming in and trying to shout that they deserved the chance to talk to women whether or not said women wanted them to, and similar sentiments. Many of those men simply couldn’t see past their privilege long enough to consider the basic point being presented, which was for any given woman at any given time, she has no idea which men in her vicinity might try to hurt her. That has nothing to do with what a nice guy they are, or whether they are genuinely interested in her as a person and not a piece of ass, and everything to do with the fact that in our modern culture, women as a whole spend a lot of their time feeling unsafe, especially if they’ve already been the victim of a sexual assault before. And I’m sure there were a percentage of those men who had forced their unwanted attention (not necessarily violently) on a woman before, and it rankled them to have that behavior called out.

There isn’t an easy solution here. You can only educate people who are willing to be educated. And you can only educate so many people before you start to feel like “wait, why the fuck do I have to educate them? Why can’t they just educate themselves?” And then there’s all the myriad ways people try to shame you and threaten you and coerce you into going back to the status quo. It fucking sucks to be an activist, sometimes. Hell, most of the time. It’s not really that often you get to see a real victory. Most are really just tiny things, that create more work for you to do, and are vastly outweighed by other events of fail. But what’s the alternative?

You can fight for equality, you can work hard to make the world a better place, or you can sit back and let people shame you, treat you like a lesser person, and otherwise walk all over you. What kind of choice is that?

Oh, and here’s an awesome blog post about how it’s nobody’s fucking business what you do with your life. I think that’s a good way to end this entry. ;D


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