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Social Justice Activism

I read this article today and a lot of it really rang true to me (other than the second section): Kin Aesthetics – Excommunicate Me From the Church of Social Justice.

Two bits that stuck out:

There is an underlying current of fear in my activist communities, and it is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, eviction, discrimination, and street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. Social death follows when being labeled a “bad” activist or simply “problematic” enough times. I’ve had countless hushed conversations with friends about this anxiety and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events, conversations, and spaces because we feel inadequately radical….  I self-police what I say in activist spaces. I stopped commenting on social media with questions or pushback on leftist opinions for fear of being called out. I am always ready to apologize for anything I do that a community member deems wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate—no questions asked. The amount of energy I spend demonstrating purity in order to stay in the good graces of a fast-moving activist community is enormous.

And…

Scrolling through my news feed sometimes feels Iike sliding into a pew to be blasted by a fragmented, frenzied sermon. I know that much of the media posted there means to discipline me to be a better activist and community member. But when dictates aren’t followed, a common procedure of punishment ensues. Punishments for saying/doing/believing the wrong thing include shaming, scolding, calling out, isolating, or eviscerating someone’s social standing. Discipline and punishment have been used for all of history to control and destroy people. Why is it being used in movements meant to liberate all of us? We all have made serious mistakes and hurt other people, intentionally or not. We get a chance to learn from them when those around us respond with kindness and patience. Where is our humility when examining the mistakes of others? Why do we position ourselves as morally superior to the lowly un-woke? Who of us came into the world fully awake?

I understand the desire to dismantle the systems that have held down anyone not white, straight, male, upper class, cisgender, etc. for a long time. That is my goal as well. And I understand that people are angry about being oppressed and I will never tell them that their anger is not justified, because, as student of political science and history, I damn well know it is more than justified.  Hell, there are a number of things in our society I am very angry about.

I am really tired of the ideal of the perfect “woke” social justice activist.  Someone who spends all day and all night participating in marches, protests, calling their congresspeople, and preaching the word to the “un-woke”.  Someone who puts all their time and energy into fighting for all social justice causes.  I remember commenting the other day to someone (…don’t remember exactly who…) that that term seems to exist exclusively to other people, to split the community apart, into the “woke” and “un-woke”.  Anything that rips us into smaller and smaller groups makes it less likely that we’ll be able to accomplish anything.  The whole “house divided” thing.
I am (in a minor way, becoming more major day by day) disabled and neurodivergent.  I learn in different ways than other people.  I take in information differently than other people.  I am particularly sensitive to being rejected from communities and friend groups.  I cannot participate in all the protests, marches, and rallies that people put together for both physical and mental health reasons.  I despise the quiet implication that I am not as good an activist because I am not a loud activist.  Or because I can’t really afford to take time off work (ya know, the work that pays for my insurance and medical bills, so I can stay sorta healthy and sane enough) to attend events during the work week.  I go to what I can, I participate where I can, I spread the word where I can – but I can’t go everywhere or say everything, and sometimes I’m just exhausted and can’t do much of anything.  And I don’t think I’m in the minority here, in the slightest.  Expecting perfection sets you up for failure.
Yes, please feel free to call me in if I’ve said or done something offensive to you.  Hell, I encourage it.  Not going to learn any other way.  But if you try to shame me because I’ve erred, tell me that I should or should not do something – I am not a child, you are not my parent, and if you try to tell me that I “should” do something, then I am not likely to react well.  Suggest it, make it a condition of participating, fine.  That makes it my choice what I do, whether I choose to participate.

I am exhausted of staying silent for fear of being seen as lesser-than.  Un-woker-than, one might say.

I am afraid of posting this.

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Pride Challenge: Day 21

Political LGBT issue that is closest to you or affects you most. 

This used to be domestic partnerships/marriage, but with that being the law of the land now, things have changed.

One big LGBT issue is the growing prevalence of so-called “bathroom bills”.  Bills that make it law that you basically must show your birth certificate at the door of the bathroom to be able to use it.  Which is all sorts of problematic.

In no particular order:

1. Gender is not a binary.

2. Carrying around your birth certificate all the time is ridiculous and it massively increases your risk of identity theft if your wallet/purse/bag is stolen, as birth certificates have social security numbers on them.

3. It’s prurient.  Why the fuck does anyone want to know what my bits look like?  It’s perverted to tie bathroom access to what your bits look like or what is on your birth certificate.

4.  What about intersex people or other folks whose genitals somehow don’t match the sex listed on their birth certificate, even if they are cisgender?

5.  Why does it matter what bathroom anyone uses?  As long as you keep your hands and eyes to yourself, it should not matter where you go to pee.  For pete’s sake people.

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Pride Challenge: Day 20

Maureen or Joanne? (Or your favorite LGBTQ show or queer-positive show).

I don’t even have any idea what this is in reference to, so I’m glad that they included that last little bit in the prompt.

Sense8.  Without question.  It’s probably pretty cliched to say that, but it is my current favorite.  I love Queer as Folk (both US and UK) and The L Word, but they each had their problematic aspects or concepts they had difficulty portraying well, and I have become less in love with each of them over time.

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Pride Challenge: Day 19

Butch or Femme?

BS binary.

Personally, I identify as a tomboy femme – slightly femme of center, to the point where high femme/high butch and its accountremont is drag for me.  I occupy the middle and that’s fine by me.

To look at?  Suits.  Anyone in suits.  I love looking at folks in fancy dresses, but…mmmmm…suits.

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Pride Challenge: Day 18

Something about the LGBTQ community you don’t understand or have a question about.

Why the white, cisgender, gay men insist on hogging Pride events.  You had your turn in the spotlight, how about you let go of that, just a little, and let other queer community members step forward?

I know this is changing, but not quickly enough.

To a certain extent, I understand how this came to be.  For these folks, there was only one axis on which they weren’t in the position of privilege – sexual orientation.  These days, sexual orientation matters less if you have the other privileges – at least: race, gender alignment, and sex.  Your sexual orientation matters less to society as a whole if you are not politically active in regards to it, especially if you conform to gender expectations regarding expression and presentation.  These gay men got more power as the stigma around gayness decreased, so they ended up saying screw you to anyone who wasn’t them, and formed modern Pride celebrations in their image.

This is some of what activism has bought the queer community – the ability to fly under the radar if you don’t raise a fuss.  Which is bullshit.  Pride started out as a riot – making a fuss, making ourselves known, putting ourselves in people’s faces so that they can recognize that we are people who are as deserving of equality, de jure and de facto, as anyone else, even if we don’t/can’t conform.  Lacking that, why are we accepting flying under the radar as a second option?

Maybe we aren’t.  I think the trans* community has been slowly picking up the mantle that has been slipping from the fingers of the white, cisgender, gay men, and making it our own, sewing our own colors onto it.

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Pride Challenge: Day 17

Your first experience with an LGBT organization or event (Day of Silence, Pride, etc)

It was probably Day of Silence that came first.  I remember participating in it wholeheartedly my freshman year in college.  I really appreciate(d) the symbolism of it – silence to highlight the silenced.  These days my job requires me to speak more than I can comfortably excuse under the necessary speaking exception, so I no longer participate – it doesn’t feel right, for that reason alone.  I still support the idea behind it 100%.

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Pride Challenge: Day 16

A picture from your first LGBT relationship or of your first LGBT crush

This particular “relationship” ended poorly, but I am not up for outing them in a public forum, by posting a picture.  They don’t have any importance in my life anymore, but I still respect that desire for privacy.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the picture.

There are three of us – for about a year we did an amazing number of social things together.  This picture is me, her, and him.  I am decked out in my typical university attire – jeans and a pullover hoodie (I assume I’m wearing a t-shirt underneath, given the time of year and what I typically did).  We are coming back from some event on campus at night – the flash lights up all our faces, but the background is dark.  I think she and are starting to split at about this point in time – we never quite had the chemistry, but this was my first dip into that pool, so it’s worth something.

This picture still comes up for me occasionally in my Facebook pictures – I look at it, sigh at what happened after that, and pass on.

My first serious girl crush was also during college (I say serious, because I had a fancy for a moment for a gal in high school, but couldn’t quite admit that I  was bi yet) – she was the same year as I was, super smart, and involved with one of the student politics clubs on campus – I want to say environmentalism, socialism, or atheists.  Or maybe a combination of the three over the years.  I had a crush on her for all of my college years and I don’t even know if she was queer – I know she participated in some events through the school’s LGBTQ center, but so did a lot of straight people.  Oddly enough, given my tastes since, my first girl crush was not very femme.  She had dark brown straight hair and pale skin and I admired her dedication to her social justice work.