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Getting Called Out: How To Apologize via Chescaleigh

In this video I talk about what it means to get called out, a recent experience where I was called out and had to apologize and 4 steps to making a genuine and successful apology. I hope you find this helpful and are able to use it in future call out situations that result in non-apologies.

Yeah… I don’t know. I kind of hate-recap it. I don’t hate it that much, but I just… I feel like I knew those people in high school, and I hated them in high school, and now they have a TV show. And I’m just like, good for you. You got a show. But then you’ve got the whole culture of “It’s un-feminist to criticize another woman, we should all just be happy that a woman is on television and leave it at that. You guys are just jealous.” So if you say anything that’s critical or against this, you’re automatically painted with that brush. But being a woman doesn’t mean that you’re absolved of any and all criticism — you can still fuck up, and still need to be called out.

But I think that the problem is that people really do identify with Lena Dunham, and so they feel that rightful criticisms of her are somehow a criticism of them — which it often is. I see a lot of the same middle-class, white feminists defending her because, to them, she is finally a chance to see themselves in a more unique, real role on television. She really is doing it for them. But it leaves so many people out of the conversation, and to paint Girls as finally being a story for everyone is so unfair.

I think that having to admit the things that Lena Dunham is doing or saying wrong also means looking at those things in yourself, and no one wants to do that. So it’s easier to defend her in saying that, if you criticize her, it’s because you have a problem with women. It’s the painless way out. And yes, a lot of people have gone in on her, but that’s because for months leading up to the show, they hyped it up so much as the show that was going to change everything. And personally speaking, I don’t think it’s lived up to any of its expectations. I don’t think that it’s nearly as funny as people have been saying, or as different. But again, it’s not a criticism you can make because it is “un-feminist” to make any judgments on it.

But just look at the marketing they do — a 45-dollar set of promotional nail polish, one for each girl on the show. You’re supposed to buy those as a fan. Who the fuck buys 45-dollar nail polish? And they did, like, free blowouts at this really nice salon. Who are they marketing this to? Like, this is not for me. Whoever this was directed to, it is absolutely not me. You are clearly targeting a certain type of person — they know what they are doing. And that’s fine, you have your demographic. But then don’t fucking turn around and tell me how universal your show is and how it’s speaking for everyone. Because it’s not, and you know it.

—  Franchesca Ramsey on Girls

(by Ngọc Loan Trần) I started having conversations on this practice of “calling in” after attending Race Forward’s Facing Race Conference in Baltimore, MD in 2012. Facing Race was a gathering of thousands of people working on advancing racial justice. The space was full of energy, commitment, and a ride-or-die-and-put-it-all-on-the-line mentality for making sure we’ve got our bases covered in this fight against racism and dismantling white supremacy.

What happens when thousands of people who all “get it” come together and everyone knows something about “the work”? We lose all compassion for each other. All of it.

I witnessed all types of fucked up behavior and the culture that we have created to respond to said fucked up behavior.

Most of us know the drill. Someone says something that supports the oppression of another community, the red flags pop up and someone swoops in to call them out.

But what happens when that someone is a person we know — and love? What happens when we ourselves are that someone?

And what does it mean for our work to rely on how we have been programmed to punish people for their mistakes?

This is a really fantastic article. Please, go read it. 

At its deepest, call out culture is unquestionably reductionist. It forces us to “take sides”, to pick a side and stick to it, or else, to be “called out” as traitors. Say I, as a Latina, an essential focus of my political identity, am also interested in Health Care rights, more specifically, in Mental Health issues. A blogger who focuses on Mental Health and disability rights made a bigoted statement about Latin@s. I generally love this blogger, but this one statement was really bigoted. Now, I will be forced to “pick a side”. I either stand with my fellow Latin@s (how could I not?) or I stand with the other Health Care activists who are not necessarily defending the shitty statement but trying to bring some much needed perspective into the whole affair. But no, I *must* pick a side and stick to it. Within the context of call out culture, I *must* show my allegiance to one cause and one cause only. Nuance and intersectionality be damned. Because, as we have established above, the person being called out is obviously “the worst person ever” and nothing they have ever said and nothing they will say from this point forward has any value whatsoever.
The problem with these kinds of social awareness types, who think that they can spot the subtle injustices of everyday social media banalities and the communities that support these evaluations, is that they give a voice to disingenuous and overly simplistic cultural criticism, and then allow us to rest once we feel superior to the cultural products that we consume. Without a more nuanced understanding of artistic and anthropological products to back them, these criticisms (Coates’ articles specifically are consistently re-tumbled enthusiastically by thousands of users) perpetuate a prevalent and juvenile negativity about our increasingly interesting media-saturated world.
Reasons you'll never hear me say someone needs to be "called out"

My problems with call-out culture are less theoretical (the ideas behind call-out culture are based in survival) and more practical- the actual practice of calling out is heralded by people who consider themselves leftists, activists, community-builders, and revolutionaries. And you can’t be any of those things if you foster and promote abusive behaviors- that is not radical, and it is not revolutionary. I know that leftists see ourselves as the proponents of a revolution which will be born out of necessity, and out of anger. But it also has to be a revolution of love and understanding and meeting people where they are. A communist, anarchist, leftist, anti-capitalist revolution has to stand for the love of the people and the producing class. It will do us no good to fight and fight and not understand what we are fighting for. THAT is at the heart of my own anarchist politic- a desire to spread love and allow people to live their lives as freely as possible, a desire FOR something and not just a desire AGAINST something. That cannot form a stable politic. It cannot support revolution. It cannot support human beings who are tired of being fed up and trampled on and hurt. People have been angry with capitalism for years, and that has not led to the global leftist revolution so many people crave.

And I get it. Life is hard, and we get angry. I’m black, visibly queer, read as a woman, not thin, and working-class. I get it. It’s hard to look at people who have “privilege” (an under-nuanced concept as it is) and not be angry when they do and say things that are fucked up. But if we are really interested in having discourse, in growing the left, in a viable leftist alternative, we have some movement building to do, and “calling out” someone does not accomplish that. Angrily yelling at someone, exposing their mistake for thousands of internet strangers to see, bitterly devaluing them and their experience, harassing them on the grounds that people who look like them have harassed you before- that does nothing but turn people AWAY. And when people react with that same anger and bitterness, that isn’t ~~~not checking their privilege~~~~ or ~~~ignoring the pain their actions cause~~~~. It’s just how people work. It cuts off that person’s engagement with anything you have to say, and rightfully so. Consider this scenario: you’re walking down street, maybe wearing something awful (something with a slur on it, something VERY culturally specific, etc.) and a random person on the street approaches you and begins YELLING at your face about how much of a piece of shit you are, maybe including a few words of explanation but probably choosing to continue yelling, calling you names, and drawing their friends over to join in the taunting. Of course you don’t respond by going, “Oh my I am so sorry! How have I hurt you?” Why would you? What you do is (if you feel safe) walk away, ignore that person, and maybe worse, come to associate what they were saying with that violence and irrationality. Now imagine that scenario played out, as it is hundreds of times daily, online. There is even less incentive to engage- you’re nobody. You’re a face a hundred miles away, possibly not even who you say you are on your blog. Why should I care what you have to say unless I started off actually trying to talk about it? I don’t even tolerate that behavior from children- as soon as I see that someone has gone past the point of being reasoned with or talked to, I stop engaging them. I do this with children, friends, colleagues, authorities. I refuse to engage someone who can’t do it without screaming.

And again. I get it. I fucking get it. I’m not talking about responses to actual, intentional bigots here- although I’ve already explained on my blog that that is almost never about the two people involved, I don’t blame people for tearing them apart. I mean harassing people who make an honest mistake, or ask a question. And as much as Tumblr’s left likes to talk about intersectionality, I think it’s pretty clear that race and gender take precedent over other forms of marginalization in the discourse here-  rich black people’s mistakes are forgiven (even though they have had greater access to academia, anti-capitalist discourse is often worded for college-educated people to read, even though they have had access to a world of ideas most poor people can’t) while poor whites’ mistakes, mistakes that may have been made honestly, are vilified and torn apart- though poor people in general have had much less access to any form of anti-racist, anti-capitalist discourse that is written in language they can actually understand. If the left is going to build, we have got to meet people where they are. We have got to meet people where they are and explain why they’re fucking up. Because most people don’t want to. Most people are doing what they think is right, are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

And call out culture leaves no room for that. Accidentally made a post that is casually cissexist? Scum of the earth. Made a post that said something racist without meaning to? Fuck you, you racist. I’m not saying all of us have to be down to educate people on a regular basis, but don’t pretend to be about it and then get angry when people ask you to- either say that you won’t answer educational questions or direct them to someone who will. Stop talking the talk of revolution and not walking the walk. Stop telling people to go to Google- which is a passive aggressive move that will probably lead people to bad information- when they want your particular input. Leftists have to TALK to other people, or our “revolution” will never be anything but an intellectual circle-jerk. And that’s not acceptable. Everyone has fucked up before, and everyone has said some shit that is just really embarrassing now that they know more. The ways in which we perpetuate harmful systems are more nuanced than “That person is a racist” and things like that.

6

Some photos from Seattle and San Francisco’s #YesAllWomen rallies! Come out today in NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago! The fury of women must be unleashed and heard from every corner of the planet! 

NYC - 3pm Union Sq.

Philadelphia - 4pm Clark Park

Chicago - 1pm State and Jackson

http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/yesallwomenlive.html 

people always say older people are more racist, sexist, homophobic etc. because they grew up in different times. but there are plenty of older people who were in their teens and twenties when the country was actually making more progress than it is now. people who grew up in an era of social change. it’s not about when they were born.

it’s basically about the inertia of personal growth.

because an object in motion tends to stay in motion, it’s possible to grow and learn and recognize our own mistakes when we are examining and questioning our own ideas and behaviors on a regular basis.

but an object at rest tends to stay at rest, so if we’re not questioning ourselves then we’re never going to learn or improve. and if we’re not questioning ourselves then we’re more likely get defensive when others question us.

if we’re not willing to admit when we screwed up and we’re hostile to the whole idea of changing for the better, we’re more likely to consider every call-out a personal attack, no matter how politely worded it is, and we’re probably going to remain stagnant forever.

so it’s not an age thing, it’s a stubbornness thing. and the reason you see it more in older people is because they’ve been stagnating for so many years that they have no desire to start the process of moving.

and they don’t even realize that it’s a process. they think not being *ist is a place to eventually reach and then you can just stay there, when it’s actually a moving target and you have to constantly be engaging with the world around you and engaging with your own assumptions.

you can easily end up being one of those people, regardless of what generation you’re from, especially if you have privilege which allows you to not notice when things are wrong. no matter when you were born, you have to actually put in the effort to not be one of those people.

call-out culture and "safe spaces"

some thoughts i’ve been having over the past few months after experiencing cyberbullying, cyberstalking, verbally violent and sexualized/racialized harassment, slut-shaming, etc. as well as continuing to engage in social justice work despite many people attempting to denigrate this kind of work within intersectional deaf/signing communities. 

on call-out culture:

i have been doing a lot of thinking on call-out culture in social justice circles and the concept of “safe spaces.”

i used to be one of the most fervent call-outers. when i saw comments or behavior that were subtly or obviously oppressive to other groups, i would be the first to pounce on it. i did this because injustice enrages me. it enrages me to see a person’s experience minimized and marginalized. i lashed out, out of fierce protectiveness. i am able to deliver my thoughts in razor-sharp ways. it was not for a long time that i started realizing that it did not go any good to “cut” a person back after they “cut” others. 

i now try to use a “gradient” in how i react to situations of varying injustices. because i see the reality of how love is abundant and healing, i try - and so damn hard, because it is intensely difficult to unlearn behaviors of dominance and degradation when we see it everywhere in so many forms (education, law enforcement, media, etc.)- to react with empathy and compassion, with asking questions, with pointing out what i am seeing and asking others’ thoughts on it, with sharing my reactions. if i am met with resistance in the form of defensiveness, excuses, i will be honest with saying this still upsets me, even though defensive feelings are among the most natural reactions. i am still learning how to take a breath before letting my upset feelings rush over. many people who are intensely defensive eventually, with a lot of time and some guidance from people who are willing to dive into transformative work with these persons, let their defenses shed and truly engage in critical thinking. but if i am met with ironclad defense, where a person makes a conscious decision to continue carrying out bigotry and oppression, then i revert back to the fierce protectiveness that i feel when i see people being trampled all over. but, i have added a few prior “steps” or processes before i get to that point. i do this because i do not want to allow internalized power and dominance to dicate the interactions i have with people- but i am honest with myself and others when i say it will take a long time and an uneven process to unlearn this. 

i believe, that in a culture so enamored with dominance and power, it is too easy for calling-out to become another aspect of dominance and power. you start to feel good when you call out a person. you start to feel good when you see them struggle and and freak out, because you think they deserved with all their oppressive shit. they cut you/us, you cut back. but why? the vast majority of people ingested messages in how to act and behave from all the fucked-up systems that surround us- racism, sexism, genderism, classism, audism, ableism, body normalcy, etc. i’m not saying we should say “aw, it’s not their fault,” but we should think to ourselves “ok. how did this person’s life and life experiences shape their current thinking? how do i engage with this person given my own life and life experiences? where is the point of intersection for the both of us where we can have an important conversation?” 

i believe these questions in such highly-charged, emotional, painful situations are necessary. all of us are complicit with power and dominance in one way or another. taking on brazen and ferocious forms of calling-out is too easy of a cross into the terrain of power and dominance. i think we need to engage in a lot of self-reflection and analysis when we find ourselves doing a lot of this kind of calling out. 

on safe spaces:

Anzaldúa said that there is no such thing as safe spaces. a couple years ago, i would have shifted in my seat reading that. now i wholeheartedly agree. 

i will go ahead and say it. i think “safe space” is now an over-used term in many of the circles i associate with. i’m not saying that i don’t think we should strive towards safe spaces. i think that this concept is constantly appropriated and manipulated to mean “don’t disagree with me/ don’t start a conflict with me.” i don’t think it often means “please honor my story and my experiences as part of multiple stories and experiences” as it should mean. i see people cry out “this is not a safe space for me! i am not comfortable!” rather than saying “i don’t think i am okay with what just happened and i want to process it with this group’s support.” i also think that many people freeze and are at a loss when witnessing this conflict. i also think that people who are uncomfortable with the complexity of intersectional situations will throw out this red flag in order to avoid truly processing what had happened, especially when their own privileges had contributed to the conflict. i see “safe space” be the new reaction of discomfort and guilt from people who know they contributed to a conflict. i also think that it’s used as an escape mechanism to avoid confronting and seeking resolutions with the conflict at hand. 

i think many of us are uncomfortable with conflict. many of us have ingested the Anglo-American way of avoiding, bypassing, muting, stifling conflict. we were forced to ingest this through schooling, higher education, and/or in employment, because in the U.S. the Anglo-American cultural code/communication code is the dominant code. also, many deaf persons, by way of the corrupt deaf education system, have been taught to NOT be active thinkers, to not challenge dominance imparted on us, that others know what is best for us, etc. (combine that with the passivity that other -isms coerces people to take on, you have a lot of multiply-marginalized people who really do not want to engage in confrontative exchanges- it’s time for a lot of social justice activists to be more understanding and compassionate about this), which threatens the ability for many of us deaf/signing folks to engage in such conversations. ALSO, add in the fact that many of us grew up cut off from communication and had barriers to learning various social cues which inhibited our socioemotional development… this results in many of us just not knowing what the fuck to do when conflict arises. 

So many of our honored thinkers, writers, artists, activists have talked about the importance of becoming comfortable within contradictions, intersections. Of being marginalized, yet privileged, of being oppressed yet oppressing. situations are so often intertwined with different vertical and horizontal experiences, enmeshed with different lines, directions, situations. so many of these thinkers, writers, artists, activists also stress empathy, on making connections, which are far greater than sustaining divides. 

i think it’s time for us to really challenge ourselves and how we envision confronting injustices within our communities. i don’t think reduplicated acts of violence and escapism are methods we should continue to use. it is incredibly difficult to unlearn power, dominance, degradation in order to acquire compassion, empathy, and love, but we owe each other that. 

- Elena M. Ruiz, aka Sordaradical,

multiethnic-multiracial-multilingual lightskinned mestiza-latina queer cisfemme deaf[hearspeakcan]-signing political radical. 

On twerking, kinda

Hey y’all

Got a couple messages in my box about this whole Blaine twerking in an upcoming Glee ep and stuff and I wanted to address it? And kinda try to articulate my weird feelings on it? And most of all, apologize.

In the past (pre-VMAs Miley), I have gone on and on about how much I “love twerking”, “wanna learn to twerk”, have drawn characters (from Glee and Teen Wolf, etc) twerking, etc etc etc. This was wrong of me. Straight up. I was in the wrong.

I was treating twerking as a joke, as a punchline, and that isn’t right and I am embarrassed by myself and my treatment of it. Twerking right now is all the rage (thank you Miley) in popular culture, and a lot of discussion has come of it. Twerking is a move coming from bounce dance culture, popularized by New Orleans dancers and musicians like Big Freedia in the 90s, but possibly originating from West African dance.

What has become problematic is the treatment of it by people, like me, thinking it was “funny”. Whereas in the Pre-Miley Era (let’s call it PME), videos of (primarily black) twerk teams and women and men twerking online were considered by white people to be “slutty” or trashy, and low-class. At best, a joke. Nowadays, in the glorious Post-Miley era, suddenly white people/popular culture are gung-ho about it! It’s so cool! It’s so funny and new! See me in the club, watch me twerk!

It’s more than a dance move though. Pop culture steals all the time, from everyone they decide is doing something cool. But these things don’t exist in a vacuum. You have to take some historical context into the situation, and recognize that there is a lot of racial prejudice at work with some of these trends. It’s not coincidence that the treatment of white twerkers versus black twerkers is very different.

There is a really good clip of Nicki Minaj summing it up very neatly on the Ellen Show. Essentially, it’s the age-old “Everyone wants to be black. Nobody wants to be black”. 

I am one of the whitest white girls to ever white. I am ignorant about a lot of shit. I am trying to learn, to read discussions and conversations about stuff like this written by people of color, women of color especially. It’s opened my eyes to realize that some of the stuff I do and say without even thinking twice is problematic as hell. I am of absolutely no authority to speak as an expert on this stuff. But I’m trying to learn and expand my worldview, and not contribute to a shitty system of culture appropriation.

There isn’t a right answer. There is a lot of grey area here and a lot more to be discussed. It’s more than Glee, it’s more than Miley, it’s more than a dance.

I’m sorry for my previous shittiness. Thank you for sticking with me. I’m trying to figure this whole thing out.

Can we white feminists call ourselves intersectional?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And I’m white, so it’s really not up to me to answer.

I first heard about the contention on this when this post was reblogged to my dash. But the post didn’t have the attribution at the time, so it was just the word of a white feminist that using the word “intersectional” to describe your feminism when white is appropriative. And I hadn’t heard anything from black bloggers or speakers, so I decided to look into it and couldn’t find anything. I placed in on a backburner as something to keep in mind.

I’ve known for about as long as I’ve been using the term that “Intersectional Feminism” was coined by black feminist Kimblere Crenshaw in her article Mapping the Margins. I forget, because I started my feminism before tumblr from slightly more credited and sourced places, that other people might have learned the term without a source. The term was made especially popular after the great post My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit on Tiger Beatdown by Flavia Dzodan. So both the originator of the term and the primary promoter are black.

So does that mean white women shouldn’t use it? Well that’s probably up to the originators and black feminists.

On the post that theroguefeminist updated above, she included a link to this anecdote about Patricia Hill Collins and her thoughts on white feminists using the word.

She asked if the House of Blues was still in Cambridge or Boston. We said yes. Recently I was at a Bootsy Collins show there, maybe a year ago. So yes, it was there. I was so suprised when I arrived. And she elaborated on why with her anecdote. 

She said what has become of her work on intersectionality and Crenshaw’s as well is what has been done to Blues, Jazz and Rock. When I went to the Bootsy Collins show I was actually appalled at how WHITE the audience was. these are NOT true Bootsy fans or lovers. but once whiteness gets their grasp on something they love that Black people have created, they have to make it more and more inaccessible to Black people while also whitening it to be no longer noticeable as a Black creation.

This post is the only place I’ve seen black feminists and womanists directly asking white feminists not to use the word “intersectional”. Which doesn’t make it insignificant, at all, but it was one voice and I get worried about that.

The original “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” included Flavia Dzodan saying, “I do not give a damn that I wrote it. Moreover, I hereby give you permission to use my words as yours.”, but she wasn’t saying that about that post. She was saying that about a post she’d made before that that post was trying to bring attention to. She was saying it was okay to steal her words if it was going to bring attention to the issue of profiting off of anti immigration and how anti immigration issues hurt people of color. Instead her second post got all of the attention, the issues she was actually trying to bring attention to didn’t. So white feminists might have been appropriating the word “intersectional” without taking on the actions of intersectionality itself.

I’m a feminist, and woman. And there is sometimes a question inside feminism of whether or not men should be able to call themselves feminists. And I tend to fall on the side of, “Of course men can be feminists, but they better know what they’re talking about and really mean it and know how to shut up and listen and not expect any medals or cookies.” To me, patriarchy is the problem, women are the oppressed group, and feminism is the ideology that seeks to fix that. So, if men hold that ideology they can be feminists. The same way straight people can be LGBT rights activists. But allies and dudes alike need to understand their privilege and step aside in those movements when necessary.

But this is not the same question. And I so I’ve looked around for more stated opinions.  Trudy at Gradient Lair says a couple times that while “Intersectional feminist” is appropriation, she finds it more tolerable than white women calling themselves Womanists, which rubs her the wrong way, and it’s something she can handle. Reality Enthusiast says

Honestly, at times it can feel like appropriation. White feminists have taken a word created by a Black woman to describe a concept that was (and still is) sorely missing in mainstream feminism and turned it into a buzzword. I see white feminists throwing around the word intersectionality all the time to gain brownie points but when it comes to putting that into practice, they have no idea what to do. It is amazingly frustrating to see that happen over and over again. I have no problem with white feminists using the word as long as they give credit where it’s due and don’t act like they invented it, and when it comes time to actually put it into practice they actually put in the work.

So we see opinions from “Stop. Now.”, to “It’s not my favourite, but I can tolerate it.”, to “I have no problem as long as they actually live it and give credit”

But if enough people are saying, “Stop” then we should probably stop.

So I guess here are my questions/idea/solutions. And I’m going to keep looking into this myself because it’s no one’s job to educate me, but if you do feel like you have any insights to offer and you want to offer them, then I would be very grateful for your patience.

Is it ever okay for a white person to call themselves an intersectional feminist?

If it’s not, is it better if we just call ourselves feminists, full stop, or should we come up with a different term? I have some trepidation about using the label feminist on myself without clarification. There’re a lot of feminists that use the movement to be pretty shitty, and I want to distinguish myself from them and to condemn them with a label that makes that clear. But then, coming up with a different term that means the same thing as Intersectional Feminist ~only white~ seems… almost more appropriative to me? It feels like giving black voices even less credit than we were giving them before, by using their ideas but with new white words. But I could be way off the mark here. I have thought if a new words is needed that “Anakyriarchal” might work, as the kyriarchy is part of the same idea, but is not a black originated word.

Obviously the most important thing is that if you are a feminist with privilege you own that, and do what you can to dismantle it, and you commit. Not just in words, but in actions and attention. Calling yourself feminist but then ignoring the racist effects of the war on drugs or excusing racist casting or handwaving police brutality is definitely not okay.

We just need to figure out the most respectful way to have those conversations that gives the biggest voice possible to the people who are most directly affected by them. So I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that, and will be trying to listen to as many affected people as I can so I can learn.

anonymous said:

Anon confession - I feel like hiding your true opinions is the only safe way to navigate tumblr. Or, if you are going to have an opinion, be prepared to wield arms to defend yourself because an army of haters is going to rise up to publicly to shame you. I joined for the feeling of inclusion, but now only stay for the fandom, which is even tainted by the hatred. I had hopes that this place would be safe and welcoming, but it is just as disappointing as the real world.

Sometimes Tumblr culture is hard on people, that’s very true. It can be particularly reactive and there’s not an assumption of goodwill as there has been on other sites. The specific structure of how information travels on Tumblr also affects how people process and react to things that they find problematic. 

I’ve been using social sites on the internet since before I was a parent—and my kid is at college this year—so I don’t have a lot of illusions about anything out here being safe and welcoming. I hadn’t been on the internet long before I started catching some serious shit attempting to run me off—the first time it was over something as trivial as asking that the code be changed on a game to allow for same-sex marriage between characters. Twenty years ago (give or take) that was apparently going to ruin the whole internet for everyone. Death threats, doxxing, you name it, I’ve had it (fortunately the potentially dangerous stuff was pretty half-assed for the most part).

So, so far, Tumblr’s not so bad, though a lot of that is the quality of people I’m lucky enough to find around me.There’s nothing particularly terrible about having to apologize if you’ve hurt someone. 

I posted something about ‘calling in' earlier this week that I hope is the future of internet culture, at least among people who consider themselves on the same side of the social justice struggle. While cultures have existed for millennia without the kind of kyriarchy we're dealing with today, we're just figuring out our way out of it now. It's going to be rough going. Everything is about power and control when people feel vulnerable or protective and people here (and elsewhere) do sometimes exercise that, however they can leverage it, to hurt and silence others. 

I’m sorry your experience has been so lousy, both here and in the real world. I know what it’s like to have even well-intentioned people put the boot in on a bad day (or a bad life). It’s painful and disappointing and alienating. I hope that you can find some space where you do feel safe and accepted, and that you also get whatever healing you need to make you stronger in the face of a tough world. 

A lot of people on Tumblr who claim to fight for “social justice” do so by “calling people out” on their problematic behavior.  There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that; sometimes you need to say, “Hey, what you’re doing/saying is wrong, and here’s why.”

But that’s exactly where the problem lies.  Instead of educating people on why their actions are wrong, those doing the calling out are simply bullying and scolding.  They act as if everybody is supposed to know everything about the world, and that the least bit of ignorance makes you a terrible human being.

But people ARE ignorant.  It’s a fact.  There are things that I’M ignorant about, and I’m not afraid to admit that.  But, in a majority of cases, it’s not a willful ignorance.  People sometimes just don’t know.  And that’s okay.  

Before Tumblr, I didn’t understand why war bonnets were considered cultural appropriation.  Hell, I didn’t know what cultural appropriation was.  I most definitely didn’t know about a lot of types of sexuality, like asexuality, and I didn’t understand romantic orientations.  After I was exposed to these things was when I began to do my own research and seek out information on these topics.  

Users on this website often forget that sometimes people in the outside world just AREN’T exposed to these things.  I recently spent an evening talking about what being transgender meant to my roomatter.  He asked me some fairly ignorant/borderline offensive questions, but it wasn’t because he was trying to be rude.  He just honestly didn’t know.  He had never even met anyone who identified as trans before, and that’s okay.  Since our open discussion, he has learned a lot and changed some of his views on the subject.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: calling people out to make them feel stupid or to make yourself feel superior is wrong and entirely unhelpful.  Calling people out should be about education first.  If people STILL refuse to listen, it’s understandable to get frustrated at them.  But started out on the offensive isn’t going to help anyone.  It’s just going to create bigger divisions and problems are never going to get solved.

So, if you take away anything from this post, take away this—education always comes first.

the toxicity of anger or why call out culture has made it exponentially more difficult to process my hurt feelings

kindness is central to my politics; i have gradually come to accept that, although i am an indignant person, reactionary anger just isn’t for me. my skill sets as a trained social worker / counselor and much better utilized as a mediator rather than as an instigator. and anyway, all social justice troupes aside, call out culture generally doesn’t contribute to community education - if anything, it posits community members against one another in ways that perpetuate horizontal oppressions. and also, on a personal note, call out culture does not work for me as a person who is majorly depressed much of the time / generally struggles to pull myself together emotionally yet is still dedicated to participating in anti-oppression work. in order to engage in activism & community organizing i’ve had to accept that, as a white cis western person, i’m bound to critically fuck up. rather than disengaging or transforming into apathetic liberal who only engages in politics from a distance (i.e. “internet activism”) i have attempted to focus on being receptive & reacting with dignity in the case that my inevitable mistakes are called to my attention. i have been trying to incorporate all of this into my personal politics. perhaps all of this is riot grrl as a movement worked so well for me. 

but as a “kind” person - a “counselor” if you will - i don’t know what to do when i have been hurt (which happens often and not only because i’m a mess of emotions) and i try to explain my feelings or mediate the situation and the other party just doesn’t get it. there have been a handful of instances in my life in which another person has wronged me or a community member i care about and in which i’ve tried for months and sometimes years to be patient and educate and then eventually inevitably raised my voice, in the case of actual oppression, got on my soapbox and then been pegged by my community as being “that person.” the angry feminist. the bitch. yes, even progressive circles which claim to be all about gender liberation perpetuate these same shitty misogynistic dynamics. i’ve lost friends (note - mostly cis liberal who try to pass themselves off as progressive friends, but still) because i’m “too opinionated” and “too intense” and, considering the strategies i employ to navigate social justice spaces, this always feels like the ultimate slap in the face.

but even worse is when an action comes up to haunt me months or years later, after i’ve already forgiven the other party. and i never know what to do with these feelings. ultimately, the other party can’t change anything at that point and i’m the one who looks ridiculous for holding onto negative memories and feelings from so long ago. i don’t want to talk out my feelings because i don’t want to triangulate —- especially when my community as a whole wanks off to queer drama and justifies gossip as an extension of “righteous anger” — and so i bite my tongue choke on my anger and cry to myself in my bedroom and usually don’t say anything even when asked and there is never any cathartic release or way to work thru these emotions 

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