- white people are not the bad guys
- Christian people are not the bad guys
- Republicans are not the bad guys
- straight people are not the bad guys
- cisgender people are not the bad guys
- rich people are not the bad guys
- men are not the bad guys
- racist, bigoted, homophobic, ignorant, selfish, and / or rude people are the bad guys
dear social justice bloggers
It can be really, really easy for people in a more socially valued group than you to be racist/homophobic/etc by default, because of how hard some things can be to see when they’re all around you, always have been, and don’t cause you problems directly.
And it can be really, really hard to get away from the subtler forms of it.
And there’s a certain power dynamic that can take place when you’re interacting with someone who is from a more socially valued group than you are.
And sometimes, it can be nice to take a break from having to deal that that dynamic.
This stuff is complicated.
plus, if you feel the need in order to point out that you’re not “one of the bad guys” instead of actually dealing with the people who *are*… you’re probably one of the bad guys.
and even if you’re not, you should be getting mad at the actual bad guys, not the people who are mistaking you for one of them. maybe you should question why they’re making that mistake in the first place.
I didn’t read this as an instance of “we’re not all like that!”.
It kind of reminded me of how… I really don’t like all those “allistic people” reaction gifs and stuff. It bothers me having this stuff attributed to neurology rather than values. It’s… autistic people do that too, and not all nonautistic people do, and —- there’s some disconnect there that really, really bothers me.
But there’s also something there that’s important. It’s complicated.
There’s something important and complicated that’s bothering me here, too. I don’t know if it’s the same one that you were thinking of, but I wanted to write about it. This is just… word dump, I have to get it out somewhere and it doesn’t have to do exactly with the original topic but it gave me incentive to write it. If it’s too long for you to read now or you don’t want to, then you don’t have to.
(Disclaimer about this: I am a person who voluntarily identifies with terms like mad and crazy sometimes, to describe some things that go on in my head. Most of the time I am not like that these days. Most of the time I am nowhere close to it. But it happened to me in the past and still happens every once in a while. Basically my thoughts break with reality and I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t, and I think things that are impossible are possible. But I recover from those things more quickly nowadays than the first time it happened to me. Because I know what to do now. Because I have friends who have been through similar things and helped calm me down when I had paranoia attacks and things like that. I do not want pity at all. I do not want people to think of me as a sad, suffering victim or to think that I want that. And if I ever attacked anyone when I was crazy, in any way, I would apologise for it later when I was in my right mind. But I wanted to make that clear so you can read all of this knowing that.)
There’s a thing I’ve wanted to write for a long time. But when I even try to start to write it, everything becomes twisty, contorted, thrashing, wild-feeling like a hurricane. Winds pick me up and words and ideologies whirl round and round in them and grab me and catch me and pull me this way and that and slam into me and slice and cut me. Imaginary phantoms of my fears appear as people whirling around in it too, shouting endless ideological retorts to everything the moment I start to think about how to talk about it in words.
This kind of thing happens to me when a twisty thrashing boiling contorted mess of thoughts has been stewing in my head for years and I thought for most of those years that the only way to say it was to find a way to explain it in words, that would satisfy the ideologies of the people with the ideologies. To just slightly move them around a bit to suggest a world where I could fit into them and “play the game” too. And then I realised eventually that trying to “play the game” would make me crazy, after a while, unable to distinguish paranoia from reality. I’m not joking about how it would make me crazy. My brain just can’t function that way so it starts trying to collapse everything all over the place in a desperate attempt to save me by pulling me out of it. And there’s like an explosive reaction between that and the places where I can still barely understand ideologies, that turns into paranoia.
Even making words for this is hard. It feels like there’s a huge gravity pressing down on me. The gravity of having to suppress my emotions as I write it.
Anyway… I have seen many examples of people who argue too vehemently that they “aren’t one of the bad guys.” I don’t say those people are the bad guys because I don’t believe in seeing things as good guys and bad guys. But I’ve seen examples of “people who argue too vehemently that they aren’t one of the bad guys” who are obviously part of the problem and have the problematic attitudes that are being criticised in a certain thing, and get really defensive about it. There’s a certain knee-jerk way of doing it that they have. Like, “Well of course you shouldn’t do that to women, but you shouldn’t do that to ANYONE.” When talking about problems that disproportionately affect women.
And I also agree that people who obsess on arguing that they “aren’t the bad guys” should go instead and prove it by doing or not doing certain things, and dealing with other people who are doing and not doing certain things. But only because it’s a better way to deal with the problem. Because doing or not doing certain things will cut down on injustice and unfairness, even if it’s just little chips off a much much bigger block, but every little one helps.
But there are places in the SJ community that are so insular and like… someone compared it once to some kind of monster that goes around devouring everything it can, and then when it can’t find anything more to devour, it starts to devour itself. There are places in the SJ community where people’s obsession with “we are the good guys” as opposed to “we are not the bad guys” (and there is a difference) becomes so extreme, that they start to view the entire world in terms of finding new “wrong things” to seek and destroy. So that after an initial start of criticising things that are wrong and should be criticised, and then moving on to things that are debateable but still not bad to talk about (like one person says “this thing offends me” and another person says “but it doesn’t offend me” but it doesn’t blow up into a huge debate about whose opinion has to become the “official community opinion”). That everything turns into a completely remote, up-in-the-clouds, totally ideological war of finding new things and words and ideologies to declare to be “wrong.” Because after talking about the necessary things, it seems some people literally DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO with themselves besides find more and more things to be “wrong” and reworking and reworking their ideologies endlessly to make more and more and more things “wrong.”
And it’s not just people outside the group or allies who come under fire. But members of their own group, being judged on their “purity.” And their “purity” to be a member of the group is judged on the words and ideologies they use.
This kind of thing has run me out of the trans community in many places. As a person who is a member of it, I mean.
And this stuff can also make it, in a couple of places, so a group or individual person can’t have allies ever, as far as I can tell. Like what some people seem to want is this total xenophobic insularity between their community and the rest of the world, because no ally can ever be “pure” enough for them, so they must reject the idea of allies period. And they cherrypick by holding up totally random people, some of whom might not even ever have really been allies to the community but just said something about the community that was wrong at one point, and say this is why we can’t have allies.
And this stuff can be combined with enormous amounts of… what I’ve seen being called “anti-ideology ideology.” When people try to combat harmful ideologies by making up their own ideologies, which are often even more twisty tangly contorted than the original ideologies. And if you point this out and suggest maybe it’s not the best approach, some people will do a lot of patterns that all seem to come down to stamping their feet and shouting “IT’S NOT AN IDEOLOGY BECAUSE WE CREATED IT. THAT MAKES IT TOTALLY DIFFERENT.” Or some similarly weird/nonsensical thing.
Anyway, what I was trying to say that got lost in all the hypergraphia (but I think still said some things I had been trying to say for a long time)… is that in some situations, it’s actually right to say “If you have to keep insisting you’re not one of the bad guys, you probably are doing some of the things that are problematic.” And to tell people that instead of continuing to argue that they aren’t one of the bad guys because they don’t do this that or the other thing, they would do more good by really looking into themselves to see if they do have these problematic attitudes, or point it out to other people when they see those problematic things. But this DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN DOGPILING, and in fact I think it should NOT. I think one of the reasons dogpiling often does more harm than good, is because after a certain point the dogpiles start to be made up mainly of people who are all out to prove their “goodness” by dogpiling and copying and pasting each other’s language and arguments, and so on, because they’ve been told “if you say you’re not one of the bad guys you probably are, so you have to be one of the good guys instead.” It’s not actually about fighting against injustice any more.
So yes. Repeatedly arguing that you’re not one of the bad guys is not a good way to end injustice and wrongness. Not doing things that are parts of the wrongness is a better way. But there is a problem, a thing that doesn’t get mentioned, that I’ve never seen mentioned, that took me years to figure out, partly because I thought (under normal circumstances) that if I had never seen anyone else mention an idea I had, it must be wrong.
This problem is that backing off from the “I’m not a bad guy” arguments and going and doing or not doing certain things instead can’t be the same for everybody. Some people have to do it differently from other people. Because of how they are. Because of how their brains are wired. Because they have PTSD fucking around with their interpretation of whether people think they’re good or bad. Because it might just be the way they are.
And huge swathes of the SJ community seem to believe that “doing the right thing” rather than “doing the wrong thing” must be a group activity. That you must join their groups. Use their words. Use their ideologies. Reblog what they reblog. That a person cannot just freelance do the right thing, or do the right thing in an unusual or atypical way. That staying away from other people might actually be best and healthiest for them.
And this is a problem for me. This is a major problem for me. Because I am one of those people who found the hard way that I had to freelance do the right thing. I’ll talk more about this part in a post later. Part of it was that when I first found people talking about privilege in groups, which was years before the SJ community existed like it was today, I seriously thought they were a bunch of brainwashed self-flagellating cultists who had lost touch with reality. And it wasn’t just about PTSD stuff and believing at the root I was bad in every case. I thought the same thing about some of the people talking about kinds of privilege I didn’t have.
I am not saying I believe those things now. I do not believe now that people who talk about privilege in groups and talk about wanting to “face their privilege” are a bunch of brainwashed self-flagellating cultists who have lost touch with reality. I’ll say that again to make sure no one misreads it. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY MORE. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY MORE. I WAS MISGUIDED AND WRONG IN BELIEVING THAT. I think some people get overzealous in the wrong way but not the way I saw them as, back then.
But then, some instinct kicked in. I didn’t go into those groups to argue that I was not one of the bad guys, or that some other group (men, straight people etc) were not the bad guys. At that time in my life, I was spending MOST of my time spinning round and round in that whirlwind of ideologies and words and phantoms. Because no one had ever told me there was any other choice. But some instinct kicked in. It told me things beneath words, which are the truest and most important ways for me. It told me to back off from those places. It told me that if I went in, the whirlwind would spin me around faster and faster and faster until my whole world was nothing but spinning and words and ideologies and phantoms and madness and rage.
It told me that while I should think about some of these issues, in cases where people talking about privilege made me feel “bad,” I had to back off and think about them under words. If words like privilege and callout made me have knee-jerk reactions when they intruded into my thoughts, I should try to replace them with other words that meant the same things for me, so I could deal with them more easily. (This is not a new thing for me. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, when “unwanted” words started to intrude into my thoughts and make me panic, to the point where trying to block them out caused me to develop severe OCD.)
It told me that I had to dive deep. Dive deep into the realest places in my thoughts. Where words either don’t exist, or are there but don’t work the way they do at the surface. If I wanted to think about privilege and my privilege and other people’s privilege and pointing it out and how to deal with it. That this was not the right way for everyone to do it, but it was the right way for ME.
The result was this.
I did not get involved in big debates and flamewars about what now gets called SJ stuff. I did not throw myself into the “SJ boot camp” approach.
I only got a few times to the point where my head was a whirling mass of words and ideologies slamming me round in circles all day long, where I started to lose the difference between reality and paranoia.
And then. I slowly began to come back. To the world where people talked about these things.
I didn’t post much about it directly.
I just watched.
I listened to people who told me that you didn’t have to understand the world through words and ideologies. This helped me to trust my instincts. And use my own ways of understanding the world even more.
Slowly, people began to seem less scary.
Slowly, I began to be able to believe that people who started their posts with “(Person with type of privilege I have), this isn’t about you” did not want me dead and that the answer wasn’t to run off and slash the fuck out of my legs with a steak knife.
(By the way don’t even start on “privileged tears.” I wasn’t crying when I did this. I wasn’t anywhere even remotely close to crying. I did not want pity. I was furious over the idea that anyone WOULD think I was crying like a spoiled little baby who wanted pity. I was just triggered and raging at the thing in me that made me respond this way, and hoping that hurting my body would make the emotional shit go away.)
Slowly, I began to be able to read through things slowly, thinking to myself “I agree with this, I disagree with this” to myself but not say anything.
Slowly, I began to be able to approach people whose views of the world weren’t all the same as mine, without believing that their secret hidden goal was to destroy me mentally.
Because I listened to my instinct when it pulled me away gently from things that were making me do the emotional equivalent of thrashing around and trying to beat the hell out of myself and everything around me whether it had to do with the issue or not.
So I think very strongly that some people need to “freelance” their understandings of this stuff. Or if not totally on their own, with other small groups of similar people, as long as they don’t get into groupthink.
And it scares me in ways I can’t describe when people suggest that this might be a bad approach or that no one should ever do it. Because it SAVED MY SANITY. At the time, I did not have the cognitive skills to understand what people were talking about and that they were not calling me bad. (And yes I was an adult, who did not have those cognitive skills.) I had a wall of PTSD sitting between me and my ability to perceive some things clearly.
And of course I get defensive sometimes. Of course I feel like I’m being attacked sometimes when I’m not. No one ever DOESN’T do those things. But I can think about and talk about this stuff in a way now that won’t make me go paranoid, or fill up my head with words that make me think they want me dead. And that can also involve coming back and being able to see where I was wrong about some things.
There are still discussions I don’t read because they make me unhealthily defensive. There are discussions where I think the people “on my side” are the ones who are wrong about some things.
But if you are the kind of person who gets easily snatched up in those word and ideology hurricanes. Even if you are not mad or crazy or mentally ill or whatever term you use for what your head is doing.
It is okay to drop out and “freelance” your understandings. Just as it is okay to back away from words if you are a kind of person who periodically needs to do that. It is okay to not participate in every social justice everything ever, while continuing to mull over what you see around you.
Not everyone can arrive at understandings of things in the same way. Not everyone SHOULD.
It is okay to come to understandings in ways you have never heard anybody talk about before.
Sometimes your instincts are right and the voices shouting that if you back away you are “bad” are wrong.
The real test is in whether you can come back later without getting whirled around all over the place in the way you used to, while understanding what people are getting at in many cases even if you disagree on the fine points.
And if you can’t be in the SJ community at all for cognitive or other disability reasons, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. You can understand all these patterns both good and bad that work in the world, while being outside of it.
I’ve said as much as I can so I should probably end this before my words don’t make sense at all any more.
If you don’t know your community’s history, if you don’t make an attempt to reach out to people who were in it in the past (and this includes us needing to reach out to people who were in it before us as much as anyone), you will just end up reinventing the wheel over and over and over.
When you could have used all that time you spent reinventing it on getting advice from people who have been here before you.
I mean I know there are times where “reinventing the wheel” can be a source of personal pride (hey! we had peaceful socialism with minimal government in our system despite growing up in a society that thinks hierarchies and punishments are the only way to keep people in line! we think that’s pretty cool.) And I could get how some group could be proud, for similar reasons, of a communication system they’d built up from scratch even though others had done it before them. Maybe it’s not reasonable, but when you’re told your identity is something to be ashamed of it’s something to hang onto.
But I think one of the reasons we feel alienated from the plural community these days despite people in some places thinking we’re some kind of leaders in it (which we never tried or wanted to be) is because we really don’t want to talk any more about stuff like “how do you find out who all is in your system” or “how do you deal with problems with memory.” After spending years modding MLs and Livejournal communities where these questions got asked and discussed and answered over and over. And yet these places where they get discussed are so sundered from each other online, people coming into one for the first time can have no idea any of the others even exist.
I think part of it is that like some others have pointed out, it can feel really fucking soul-killing to have people challenge you on your existence over and over and over again. And offline life intervenes. There are a lot of systems we met back when we first joined the community, who we know damn well are still plural, haven’t integrated or anything, but they got busy with other stuff and have almost no online presence/activism/what have you any more as a result They have jobs, or they have kids, or they have chronic health problems where managing them becomes a full-time job in itself.
All of these things happen to non-plurals too, obviously. But it’s easier to drift away from a community knowing that if you come back to it it’s just going to be more of the same, being challenged on your existence again and again, the same old tired arguments. Not really knowing who’s your ally and who hates you on principle because they think you’re the “wrong kind” of system despite your actually having a lot of experiences in common. So you just throw yourself into your life outside of the plural community, and sink into that, and know that if you do come back it’ll just be the same old deal with people thinking your life apparently consists of sitting around 24/7 thinking of “ways to be special” and that you apparently have no obligations to anyone or anybody or bills to pay or kids to take care of or health conditions to manage and are, I don’t know, living like Paris Hilton or something. And there’s this thing in the plural community in particular where it can get to feel like All or Nothing— you either spend all your time defending your existence, or might as well not be in it at all. And you just want to drop out of that “choice” and find a way to balance your online presence in The Community with all the other stuff you want to do in your life, but it feels like that isn’t an Acceptable Option in a lot of places.
But then you see the newbies come in discussing all the stuff you discussed ten years ago and you think “there has to be a better way than this.” But you just don’t have the energy to do it, the time, the spoons, whatever. You feel for the people who are dealing with this stuff for the first time, but you just have no energy to do what you want to do, to reach out to them and point them in the direction of where this has been discussed before. Not even to just slap together a webpage with links to useful discussions on questions that people ask a lot. You just can’t. You’re out of energy, out of motivation, too busy with your own immediate survival, whatever. And it hurts. But you don’t know what else to do, other than to just sit around and be annoyed at your community for not being more cohesive even though you understand perfectly why it isn’t.
Waiting hours for a cellphone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student’s invention. She won a $50,000 prize Friday at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds.
Everybody, remember this face.
Remember this name.
If this becomes a commonly used & highly lauded discovery, at some point a White guy is going to take credit, even if he has to word it like “Improved upon a previous…”
No no no
Remember this brown girl.
welcome to Liv’s Happy Superfun Time Trans*/Queer Resource Giveaway!!! i’ve (almost) reached 400 followers and i figured i should do something useful with my blog if that many people are watching me have mental break downs and reblog pokemon and bubbline all day. giveaway ends June 15th, 2013!!
- don’t have to be following me i don’t really care all that much but it’d be nice if you want to/like my blog
- sorry guys but this is for PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS TRANSGENDER*/GENDERQUEER/AGENDERED/SOME VARIATION OF GENDER THAT IS NOT!!! CISGENDER! i’m giving away resources for those who may not have proper access.i’d be really happy if you reblog as a signal boost but make sure you COMMENT on it saying “signal boost” or something like that so that i know you’re not reblogging it for the actual giveaway
- 1 like and 1 reblog and that’ll be counted as 2 entries but that’s it!! i don’t think it counts as any more if you do it more than once so
- have to have a valid address or po box or somewhere safe that i can send you your shit. i’m willing to ship/mail just about anywhere
- don’t be an asshole!! that’s about it for rules
what you’ll win!!!
- 100$ worth of any resources you might need as a trans* individual!! i’ll buy you a binder, bra inserts, packer or stp, makeup, clothes, i’ll send money for hormones shots, anything worth 100$ that you might need. we’ll message back and forth first to see what you need as a unique awesome individual!!
- also as a special bonus, i’m a musician so i’ll write a song for you and post it on my youtube channel! i’ll write it about anything you want (you, your friend, your lover, your pet, your favourite tv show, whatever you want)
so yeah!! happy reblogging~*~*~ if you have any questions please ask me!!
what would piss off the nay sayers more, the fact that their gay or interracial?
omg they’re both so cute
i’m going to start referring to men as “our husbands, fathers, and sons” whenever i talk about issues that affect them.