Why Being Polite and Accepting is No Longer My Priority
When you use your words and actions in harmful ways, you are making your position very clear.
I recently enjoyed a several-weeks long stint as a moderator in a Facebook group with about 2,500 writers. Yesterday, I sent the original moderator a message explaining that I wasn’t willing to run a group with her.
It came down a fundamental difference in opinions about how a group should be run. You see, she believed that the group was for writing, so it wasn’t necessary or appropriate to talk about/place focus on “politics” sometimes. To me, if a space is meant to be inclusive and safe, that comes with the responsibility to allow and encourage discussions about human rights and things like racism, sexism, ableism, etc.
Human compassion and the willingness to put work into making a more equitable world are no longer something I consider negotiable.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve learned and opened my eyes, the more I believe that it isn’t asking too much to ask people, organizations, and businesses to make it clear that they believe and are invested in what is right. Human compassion and the willingness to put work into making a more equitable world are no longer something I consider negotiable.
I’m tired of putting disclaimers on my values, and acting like it’s my responsibility to be understanding and accepting of peoples “views” when those views are oppressive and harmful to people I care about. You can argue that it’s semantics or environment or lack of education, but all I really care about is whether you give a shit about other people.
Your Politics, Your Personality
Watching people try to make the argument that there’s some sacred separation between politics and personality is exhausting. If your reaction to someone telling you that you are being harmful with your words or actions is to argue about semantics, there is something wrong. If your reaction to someone telling you that something you have said is racist or sexist or fatphobic is to close your earholes with wads of defensiveness, you need to re-evaluate how you’re interacting with the world.
It’s the responsibility of having certain privileges to acknowledge them and learn how to give a hand up to folks who don’t have the same ones.
Hate is not political. If you support Nazis, you are not being a good person. I don’t care if that offends you. You SHOULD be offended. It’s offensive that we have had a president for the last four years who supports white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and all kinds of other repulsive shit. If you support him, you are actively supporting those things, and I’m done being sorry for pointing it out.
Being an ally is not a political statement. Sure, it can be intertwined with politics, but on a base level it’s so much more than that. It’s not something you pick up and put down when it’s convenient. It’s a commitment from inside you that you don’t want to step on other people’s backs to make your own life easier.
It’s the responsibility of having certain privileges to acknowledge them and learn how to give a hand up to folks who don’t have the same ones. It’s our responsibility to teach each new generation how to close the gap and stop perpetuating systemic oppression. If you disagree with that? You are who you are. But don’t shit on my shoes and tell me it’s snow.
Your Jokes, Your Personality
If you make a joke about how Biden smiles all the time because people with dementia do that? You’re being crappy on several different levels. You’re being insensitive to people who have dementia, and you’re being disrespectful to the president-elect.
The argument that something is “just a joke” or “just a meme” or “just something silly” just doesn’t fly with me anymore. If you act like an insincere dick on the internet, you ARE one. Your jokes show your personality. If people are getting offended by those jokes, it’s not because other people are no fun. It’s because they’re actually offensive.
If people are getting offended by your jokes, it’s not because they’re no fun. It’s because you’re being offensive.
I’m not being “too sensitive” if I get offended by you sharing something fatphobic. I don’t care if you don’t think you’re being fatphobic, because you ARE. When someone from an oppressed group tells you you’re contributing to their oppression and making them feel shitty, it is your job to listen and re-evaluate how you’re acting. It is not THEIR job to make you feel better.
Humor is sometimes subjective, but there are two billion ways to be funny without putting down people for their weight or their mental health. If you choose to go the lazy route and call Donald Trump an “obese turtle,” you’re being lazy and it’s just not funny. It’s disappointing and harmful.
Your Actions, Your Personality
I’m done with caring if someone tells me that my assertive boundaries about my family’s health during a pandemic are hurtful or judgemental. You know what? I am judging you! If you are gathering in large groups, going to parties, going out without a mask, refusing to follow stay home orders, you are a problem.
People are dying at a horrifying rate. There were 1190 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. That’s one every 1.2 minutes. New daily cases have TRIPLED in the last 2 months. And you’re going to tell me I’m overreacting when I tell you we can’t have Thanksgiving like normal this year? Will you still feel that way if one or more of the chairs are empty at the table next year as a direct result of your refusal to take a global pandemic seriously?
If your feelings are hurt by the idea that you don’t care about other people, maybe it’s time to examine your actions.
If your feelings are hurt by the idea that you don’t care about other people, maybe it’s time to examine your actions to see what could possibly be giving people the impression that you don’t care. If you are going around town without a mask because freeeeeedom, then you come near me and breathe in my face, you are putting me and my family in danger. I do not have the energy to feel bad about telling you so.
Your shame is your opportunity to do better. When you call someone a snowflake because they pointed out that you said something off-color, or that you are acting like you only care about yourself, you’re just participating in another form of gaslighting. Rather than knowing better, doing better, or trying harder, you’re making a choice to turn it around on the person who’s called you out. Calling them names and accusing them of being sensitive is the equivalent of trying to convince someone that they’re crazy.
Actions speak louder than words, and when you decide to use your actions to do unsafe things, you are making your position very clear. So you can get mad at me when I point it out, but that’s not my problem.
I’ve made a decision that I am not going to surround myself with people who are unwilling to consider other people’s lives. I am not a mean person, but it’s way past time to stop accepting the idea that being polite trumps standing up for what’s right. There is a difference between being unkind and being straightforward.
The phrase “I don’t mean to be a bitch, but” has been vanquished from my vocabulary. I’m extremely willing to be labeled a bitch if it means standing behind my values and contributing to a better world.
Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my newsletter here.
You might also enjoy…
Embracing My New Identity as a Feminist Killjoy
I’d apologize for ruining the fun, but I’m not actually sorry