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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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November Write 17

Star posted this earlier and I think it deserves a post.

Especially this portion:

Look. I know we’re all hurting. And when the world is confusing and we’re feeling lost getting righteous and angry becomes a feel-good release. But shutting people down who are trying to help is not good. It is not helpful. It’s not how we build a movement.

We need all the people to do all the things. Period.

There have been a lot of takedowns regarding the whole safety pin thing, and some of them are very fair concerns: co-opting by non-allies and people not being willing to back up the symbol with actual action (physically if needed) being the two that come first to mind.  

But here’s the thing, well, actually two things:

  1. At least half, if not more, of the articles I’ve seen criticizing the use of the pins are from people with relative privilege – often white cis-het men.  Not that they shouldn’t criticize – I’d say the subject is fair game to all involved.  But sometimes it seems like they are talking to drown out the voices of the people actually affected.  Why don’t we ask the queer, trans, female, Muslim, Jewish, black, chronically ill/disabled (spoonie), native, Mexican (among so many other groups) folks, ya know, the people who are getting harassed, what they think about it?
  2. Which brings me to the second point.  As someone who fits in several of those categories (and is read to fit in another), I actually appreciate the effort that people have put into making this a thing, especially when they are willing to put action behind this symbol.  I think a lot of the people who might have worn it and followed through may be getting discouraged by all the criticism.  I’m not going to give them a cookie for something they should be doing anyways, but it is nice knowing who I can count on.

This whole movement, made much more urgent by the results of the presidential election, was a catalyst for me choosing to identify as non-binary transgender instead of just non-binary.  I cannot step back further into the closet – that is not a direction I feel is an option for me, so I press forward.  

However, I do recognize my relative privilege in this.  I pass as a white, straight, cisgender woman when I am in public with my two male partners.  When I am out with my girlfriend I pass less, mostly because I am privileged enough to act queer in public without much consequence. 

So I do wear the safety pin, because I cannot use that privilege as a shield when others are on the front lines of this battle for basic human rights and considerations.

I will fight.

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November Write 12

I want to write letters to those in my life, split over this write and the next two.

To my friends,

I am very proud of you.  I am amazed with the breadth and depth of your response to this horrendous election.  I have seen those people who do not often post on Facebook, come out with beautiful diatribes, full of understanding and an acknowledgement of just how bad it could be.

I have seen the beginnings of a new movement burst into life, fresh and full of energy.  I used to be skeptical of the power of the Internet and social media sites to create full social movements with power, participation, and enthusiasm, simply because we simply do not have many years of the internet to look at the history of how social movements interact with it.  But the last few years have shown me that it is simply not the case that a social movement can’t form on the internet and take flesh in real life.  I have seen you do it.  I have seen you take your convictions to the streets, willing to protest and potentially even be arrested for the sake of a social movement and be willing to come to the aid of any person from a marginalized minority, even to the point of physically fighting to protect them.
To my fellow queers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities: you are astounding!  Your reactions have galvanized me and my conviction to be visible as a queer person.  I will support you, whichever path you take in regard to this presidency – going back in the closet, retaining you outness as is, or step any further out of the closet.  I cannot choose for you – if you think it would be safer for you to retreat, I will give you whatever support you need (short of large sums of money – I am limited in that regard) to remain the safest, sanest, and most secure during this time.

To my friends who voted for TOWSNBN: I hold you responsible for protecting the rights of your minority friends.  You elected him – now, hold him to, at the minimum, basic standards of human decency, to genuinely make this country great.  I don’t care why you voted for him – it simply does not matter.

Sincerely,

V

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November Write 9

Obligatory election follow up, blah blah blah

I’m stuck at the point of “just can’t even”.  This man, The One Who Shall Not be Named (TOWSNBN, for short) is the epitome of everything that will halt progress in this country, even worse than the Brexit has halted progress there.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t process these kinds of externally.  I need to have time to process internally before I can, or will start to process externally, with everyone.  Today, my Facebook feed has been full of external processors.  Good for them, for getting the support they need in the way that it works best for them.  Heck, I’ll even offer what I can in the way of assistance for them.  

However, it does get a bit in the way of my own processing to have everyone else’s thoughts intruding from the outside.  I can manage processing at about half speed with other people processing externally.  So, I do what I can, when I can.  I will not fault those who process differently, nor blame them for the slowing down of my own process.  I am used to it by now.

So, here’s what I’ve got so far…

What I’ve been saying all along – this electoral system is in need of reform rather badly.  The best suggestions I’ve heard include getting rid of the electoral college, which I am all in favor of.  Also reminds me to refresh my memory on different electoral systems.  I took a whole class on it, you’d think I’d remember more, wouldn’t you?

TOWSNBN will become president on January 20, barring any accidents. Which will be a disaster of epic proportions.  I figure I will probably have a more emotive response later, but right now, I’m just emotionally exhausted from other things and am just not up for it at this point.  But so far the words I’ve got are: “disaster”, “distress”, “fear”, and “we shall overcome”.  I figure that’s a start.

Oh, and the upside down flag.  That seems an appropriate response.  Not a sign of disrespect, so I far prefer it to flag-burning.  The citation (because I’m an American government and law nerd): 4 U.S. Code § 8 – Respect for flag – (a) “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property”.  I’d say this man’s election counts as that for anyone who is not a rich, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, “Christian” man, given all that he has said and done.

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Blog for Choice Day 2012

Question: What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?

I feel like it is a cop-out to say this, but I will: be an informed voter.  I will make sure that my ballot makes it to whatever address I am at and I fill it out fully (and remember to mail it, of course).  I will research the candidates and issues thoroughly, so I know that I am choosing people who will represent my interests.  If in doubt, I will consult websites and voter guides that I trust.  I will also question any statement that seems unclear and I will, in the end, think for myself when I vote.  I will give my ballot the full extent of my attention until I am finished filling it out.

If a particular candidate gets my attention by their actions for or against choice, I will be sure to note that, and write on it if it has not gotten sufficient media coverage already.  I will make sure that my friends know my stance on these candidates, whether it be for or against.  If I get the chance I will do any meet and greets I can with local politicians to see if their in-person persona matches their political, public persona.

Previous years of Blog For Choice:
2011 (Didn’t participate/can’t find it)
2010
2009 (Didn’t participate)
2008
2007

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Identifying

To put this out there before I get started with any of the rest of this post: I am all about people not wanting to put themselves in boxes or limit themselves with words. Trust me, I think the English language (well, any languages) are too limiting to encompass the whole of humanity and that we lack words for feelings and ways of thinking that I wish we had. So, given this disclaimer, I’m going to talk about the identifying word boxes I place myself in.

This is not about the boxes that society places me in because that’s how they see me. Those are easy to say, though challenging to deal with in real life. They call me white, female, average height, overweight, brunette, student, with a loud voice and fairly large breasts. Yes, these are true, and yes they have affected the shape of my identity. However, they are not how I identify.

I call myself a bi dyke, a feminist, a transgender ally, a woman of thought, a queer person, a poly lady, and a switch who loves to bottom and takes pleasure in topping the right person, in no particular order.

I ride the middle of the Kinsey scale, sometimes on a daily basis–if you want to put numbers on it (and there are sometimes I love numbers, but other times they are harsher and more judgmental than words) I range from a 2.5 to a 3.5.

I believe that chaos is another form of organization and the chaos in my spaces reflects how my mind works–some things have to be in a certain order and others require no order.

I am working on being an ethical omnivore–buying any meat I can from places that treat their animals right in life and death–I am working my way out of being a near vegetarian because I realized I am not that.

I love the word kinky. To me it is like “queer”: so many definitions, so many ways to work it.

I call myself a liberal, but I find myself increasingly disenchanted with the political parties in this country–too conformist, too middle of the road to be good for people. If I had to pick a party that represents the majority of my interests, I would be a Lib Dem.

That’s me, in a very small nutshell.