Tuesday, 10 December 2013
After last night's meltdown/breakdown on twitter, my brain feels like a bowl of cold porridge. I guess I want to talk about what happened. The thing is I'm not proud of last night, I was irrational, angry and inarticulate, so I said some shit that was hurtful in response to being hurt myself. I'm sorry for hurting people, but I'm still angry about what others did to me as well.
Last night? Was yet another reiteration of the fact that people like me basically don't matter in the social justice cause. That is what I was being told last night even though those saying it might not have intended or even realised that was what they were saying to me. I am tired of it, I think your struggles matter, so why do so many of you treat me in ways that make it seem like mine don't?
I am tired of the following behaviour in SJ circles:
1. People refusing to accommodate anyone's limitations in understanding, grasp of tools or struggles, while at the same time expecting everyone to accommodate your anger.
I mean get it, you're angry about about oppression, you have legit reasons for that anger and yes,it means you may say things that are problematic about other groups. But when you expect anything problematic you say out of anger to be handwaved away while demanding that you get to jump all over anyone else for the same or for say communications issues?
We all need space to struggle, I respect your anger and I do think it makes saying problematic things partially understandable though not excusable, I still think that when you've cooled down, you should acknowledge what you said was problematic. That however never happens, it's always "I'm angry so it's okay". If you don't have to accommodate my problems articulating, why do you expect me to treat your anger as making hurtful shit okay?
2. Deciding others articulating their pain is emotional manipulation.
People in pain are not concentrating on emotionally manipulating you, they're generally more focused on the pain. I don't take your articulation of pain as emotional manipulation, kindly extend the same respect.
That accusation is kinda ironic given one could deem the accusations of not caring about the mental health of others leveled at me to be "emotional manipulation". Because they could be taken as being used to shut people up which would be emotional manipulation.
3. Moving from "Having X privilege means people getting this stuff I don't" to "Having X privilege means X group experiences Y privilege in N ways".
No, just no.
You get to articulate your experience of your oppression, you cross the line when you decide your discussion of privilege can dip into how others experience oppression especially oppression you don't face.
How our oppressions work? Are ours to articulate. You want to talk about what you don't get? or privilege in those terms? I'll support you to the hilt, you want to articulate how I or anyone else experiences oppression without listening to us about it? You're being part of the problem and people are entitled to say that.
4. Deciding that we have to agree with you on every point or else.
The world is not dividing into wonderful social justice warriors who agree with you 100% of the time and mean old bigots. When you say something oppressive in the course of talking about oppression, people saying they agree with what you said about your oppression but pointing out the comment you made that was oppressive? Not disagreement with everything outside of it you said.
I agree Hugo is an abusive shit, I however don't think Hugo's abuse justifies all the ugly oppressive shit said about mental health in response to him. Disagreeing with the oppressive things said about mental health in response to his abusing of people has nothing to do with defending him. It has to do with the fact that oppressive mental health stereotypes said in response to privileged abusers with mental health issues is still ugly oppressive shit that impacts all mentally ill people.
It's important that we believe even those we dislike or outright despise when it comes to oppression, abuse and mental health issues. Someone can be both a raging abusive shit and an oppressed person. Their oppression doesn't justify or excuse their abusive behaviour, but nor does their behaviour erase their oppression or justify reinforcing disbelieving anyone about their oppressions.
So yes, I do care about how Hugo abused WoC, but I also care about believing people when they say they're having a breakdown. Also distrusting Hugo's honest and reinforcing disbelieving people about mental health issues are not the same thing. When you do the latter, you don't get to say it's the former and therefore okay.
5. Disbelieving people simply because we aren't popular.
Just because you dislike someone doesn't mean that their concerns and issues don't matter. We all matter, there are plenty of people I can't stand, their oppressions still matter to me.
6. Acting like your privilege isn't an issue.
Your privileges make you as much part of the structural oppression of others as anyone else. I'm tired of people who stick their oppression in front of the privilege as a smokescreen. Your privilege exists, stop pretending it doesn't.
7. Basically assuming that everyone around you is a straight, rich, able bodied, cis, white, man.
This takes two forms, either people assume others have all the privileges until others justify how they're oppressed. Or as I've noticed increasingly people assume that having a privilege they don't confers all the privileges on someone; Especially when it comes to race.
If I woke up as a straight, rich, able bodied, cis, white, male I would be very fucking surprised. Yet it seems that a good chunk of the time I am treated by some SJ advocates as if I've magically become one without me or the world for that matter noticing.
Last night I got accused basically of being privileged in areas I'm not because I disagreed with someone in the same group. I don't recall saying to anyone they weren't mentally ill because they disagreed with me over it, probably because I didn't, but people said to me I wasn't a minority because I disagreed with them. This is still a problem even if you dislike me or disagree with my viewpoint.
8. Tone policing via "you must be perfectly social justicy to point out X problematic shit I said".
Nobody is a perfect social justice advocate, we're all floundering around trying not to be oppressive and to tackle oppression. If being a perfect social justice advocate was required to point out problematic shit? None of us would be allowed to do it.
In short, I don't need to be perfect to point out problematic shit you said, just as you don't need to be to tell me I'm saying problematic shit.
9. Treating any clash as if only one sides asshole behaviour matters, typically the side that isn't you.
If something problematic they say matters, so do the problematic things you say.
Personally I'm not perfect, I say problematic shit all the time, but frequently it's in response to problematic shit being denied as being problematic shit. Not that it justifies my fuck ups, but if you're going to stand there complaining about what I said because I'm frustrated and triggered as hell after two hours of you problematically defending problematic things you/someone else in your group said? You might want to acknowledge why I'm upset as well as how upsetting whatever ignorant shit I said was.
This especially applies if the statements you're defending are being defended on the basis of "People get angry about their oppression, so you shouldn't get upset about oppressive things they say while angry". Other minority people are allowed to be angry as well, it's not a privileged solely reserved for one minority.
So yes, basically I fucked up but there was a whole lot of fucking up to go around and while I'm sorry for my fuck ups? I'm not sorry for pointing out the fuck ups of others or that we ALL matter including people like me.
I want better than this shit. I want to work within a framework of social justice that doesn't believe oppressive shit is okay if you have the 'right' oppressions. I want responsible social justice led by people who acknowledge this shit. I want to work with people, not get screamed at because I told them to take their daggers out of the backs of people like me. I want a social justice where we have equal right to be ignorant and hurtful, but where we're all expected to face up to it, to tackle it and to at least try not to be ignorant and hurtful in future. I want a social justice where we can address problems without it turning into a bloody wankfest because only certain groups of people can be told they're being problematic.
I want a social justice where I can say "X is a problem" and get a discussion that respects everyone's needs, not "How dare you say X is a problem".
I'm sorry for some of the things I said, but I'm also sorry that we don't have better than a flawed framework.