Monday, February 23, 2009

Slide...

I have been accused of many things. I'm big on the subjectivity of reality, so I tend to own the things I have been accused of as other people's interpretations of my behavior, even if I feel they are false. If I can understand how someone would interpret me in a certain way, then I can understand their perspective and then YAY DIALOGUE!

There is one thing though, that I stand by whole heartedly and will never compromise on, that I am accused of regularly, either overtly or covertly, and that is being confrontational. In this vein, I have been told that I'm too militant, that I'm too angry, that I care too much, that I have a chip on my shoulder, that I'm too mean to listen to and that I don't know how to pick my battles.

I actually get that last one a lot, that I have to learn how to pick my battles. I don't know how to just let some things sliiiiiiiiide.

I tend to hear this complaint when I am making the person/people I am with uncomfortable for various reasons, usually tied either to the fact that I am challenging their perspective directly or I am annoying/angering someone else in the situation and that worries and/or upsets my friend(s)/family member(s). Now, in order to be fair to my spouse, this sentiment is not always meant in the same way. When zie says it, zie also qualifies that zie thinks I am over-extending myself and zie doesn't want to see me crash into a depression or exhaustion cycle. I know that some of my family sees it similarly. Even in those cases though, there is one concept that underlies every single motivation for someone telling me to just "relax." There is always the implication that whatever I am speaking about or against is just not worth the effort of being...excited about, angry about, worked up, or even just caring about.


*snort*


My question always ends up being why. Why should I let it slide? Because I can't change it? Because you don't care about it? Because its easier to ignore it? Because you would rather coddle someone who says something ignorant?

I have been told not to confront someone who casually use the word "faggot" to describe someone because everyone just wanted to get on with the chat we were having. When I called him out though, the majority of the people in the chat were behind me. He eventually threw a fit and left, calling me a troll in the process. (LOL IZE NOT TROLLIN' ROFL) My friend who ran the chat tried to get me to stop calling him out on his abusive language to avoid discomfort for this one jerk with a bigoted perspective despite the fact that the vast majority of the group was uncomfortable with his presence and his language. So why did his comfort trump all of ours? Why is kicking up a fuss in these situation looked down on, while someone who is using language that actually contributes to lower quality of life for actual people is supposed to be just left alone? Why is reminding people of basic rules of civility that we all should have learned in kindergarten a shameful act but insulting others protected as sacred opinion?


Underneath this and a laundry list of other situations like it, continues to flow that basic idea: some issues are not worth fighting for. ignore it and it'll go away. You are just one person, you have no real power. Submit to it cause its going to happen anyway.


I say FUCK THAT. Yeah, nothing will change if you sit on your hands and say nothing about it. These things don't just fade away on their own. How many times in history has something changed because the group of people negatively affected sat quietly and politely waited their turn? How many institutional oppressions have been solved by just letting it sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide? And before anyone starts, yes, calling out individuals is part of addressing institutional oppression. These institutions are built and informed by our society and have various cultures issuing from them. One of the ways to combat it is to let people know that this culture they have accepted is damaging to real people and that these people have the right to live their lives free of this damage. What happens when you call out bigots? They learn that their behavior is not accepted nor encouraged by everyone. What happens when we stay silent? they think there is nothing wrong and that people agree with them.

Silence changes nothing. Silence is one more way to be complicit in these on going structures. Yes, we must choose our battles. I have chosen mine. My battle is not to let hatred against me or those I love pass by unremarked upon. You think my battle doesn't matter? Keep it to yourself.

5 comments:

  1. I say FUCK THAT. Yeah, nothing will change if you sit on your hands and say nothing about it. These things don't just fade away on their own. How many times in history has something changed because the group of people negatively affected sat quietly and politely waited their turn? How many institutional oppressions have been solved by just letting it sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide? And before anyone starts, yes, calling out individuals is part of addressing institutional oppression.

    This is a bit truth that needs to be repeated over and over again. We cannot passively wait for change. You are futher right that far to many people daily witness injustice and say nothing for fear of making some uncomfortable. Hello if someone is openly displaying hostility towards a person based in an ism it them that is creating the poisonous atmosphere. We have been conditioned to be silent in the face of oppression and this is just one of the many ways in which our social imbalance is maintained. Good for you for speaking truth to power. More people need to do it daily.

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  2. Excellent post.

    Calling people out is where it starts, because how else will their perspectives be changed?

    The number of times when I should have spoken out are too numerous to mention; each time, I was quietly feeling more and more uncomfortable, either because it was something negative about me, or else because it was an opinion or -ism that I deeply oppose. I have grown better at speaking up, but the temptation to "let it slide" because I don't want a confrontation is often quite strong.

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  3. So much this. I've been getting a lot of "oh, you just need to have a sense of humor" lately, which makes me want to scream.

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  4. I do think picking your battles is important, but with one vital qualifier: only YOU are the proper judge of what is worthy of your effort and attention. Other people should not tell you what you should and should not worry about.

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