storyinmypocket: ([politics] all the oppressions)
[personal profile] storyinmypocket
So there was a kerfluffle a while back in which I pretty much stopped talking to one of my friends and dropped out of a game I was really enjoying, because I did not have the spoons to carry on IC while the OOC drama raged, as the people I was having drama with were RPing people with established relationships to my characters. And since that kerfluffle, I've been being very quiet on social networks in general. There are things I've needed to say for a while now, and the fact that I haven't said them has kept me from being social at all, out of fear of starting more drama. And now there are good things I want to talk about, but first I need to get this off my chest.

Let me start by saying that this isn't meant to accuse specific people. I've been there, I've done that, and I'm pretty sure that horse isn't just resting, or pining for the fjords. It is no more. But as I don't want that drama repeating all over again with someone else, I'm going to make where I stand absolutely clear.

As a writer, I believe, above all, in the power of the words we use and the stories we tell. I believe that words and ideas have real, measurable effects in the world. And I believe we all ought to think about the words we use and why we're using them, because this is powerful shit. It is a big fucking deal.

So when you do something that's reinforcing a cultural story that hurts me and/or people I care about, even inadvertently, I'm going to step up and say something. I'm not going to tell you not to use that word again, ever. That's not my job, and I'm not interested in giving you the list of terrible words you should never, ever say. Fuck that.

But when you use hurtful language, I will mention it's hurtful, or ask if it was really what you meant to say. Not just if it's hurtful to me, personally, because sometimes, I wish someone else had spoken up for me when I didn't have the emotional energy to mention something hurt me. I know too well how much that one little word can hurt when you're already buried under the load of ten thousand more just like it. So if I have the spoons to deal with the potential fallout, I will say something, as gently as I can.

But here, this is the part where you need to listen, and listen closely: I don't think you're a bad person because of one thing you said. I don't think you're trying to hurt anyone. Granted, intent doesn't take away the inappropriateness of what was said, but if you're my friend, I tend to assume you're not actually a bigot.

I'll staunchly defend your right to say whatever the fuck you want to say, but my right to do the same means that I get to challenge your choice of words, and I will. I may link you to things written by other people who have a problem with what you’ve said, and who may have more authority than I do to speak on the issues at hand. They may be angrier than I am. They have the right to be. But showing you how other people are angered and hurt does not mean that I, personally, am angry with you -- it means that these angry people are making a valid point that I wish you’d pay attention to, especially since quite often, the reason they’re angry is because they have to deal with this shit again and again and a-fucking-gain.

To you, it may seem like nothing. It’s one little word, right? No big deal, especially when all your friends know what you really mean. Except that for people who’ve dealt with those words as slurs, up close and personal, it still hurts. It hurts, and then we tell ourselves, that no, it’s okay, that’s just the way this person is, that they didn’t mean it like that. But that’s a lot of emotional energy that we have to expend, rationalizing away our hurt, because we don’t want to hurt someone else's feelings.

Suffering in silence kind of sucks, especially when it’s accompanied by a mental chorus of, “But I’m stupid for feeling this way at all — I know it’s not like that.” Strangely, I’ve never known that line of thinking to actually make things better for anyone at all. Instead, it adds to the misery, every damn time.

And here’s something else — your friends may know what you mean, but if you’re putting your words out on the internet, you’re making it available to the world, and J. Random Internet Asshole doesn’t know what you mean. You’re giving your permission to people who don’t believe that, for instance, gay=homosexual and gay=bad are two distinct meanings (and, FYI, they’re not), but that gay=homosexual=bad, and who use the term with that intent.

Pop culture is not an excuse. Pop culture is, in fact, deeply problematic in a whole lot of ways, and for all that I partake in pop culture as much as anyone else — hell, I’ve roleplayed Gene Hunt and Gregory House, for Loki’s sake, and both of them politically incorrect assholes of the highest order* — I firmly believe in challenging the things that are wrong, while celebrating the good parts.

And really, that’s how you make a better world. Celebrate the good. Challenge the bad.

I’m not perfect. Neither are you. We all fuck things up sometimes. “You’re doing something hurtful and I wish you’d stop” doesn’t mean “You’re a bad person.” It means exactly what it says. However, if you don’t stop, no matter how awesome you may be in every other respect, I’m going to remove myself from situations where I have to deal with you saying hurtful things, much as I would expect any of you to do if I kept discussing things which were hurtful to you. It should go without saying that I’d appreciate it if you said something to me first, so we can try to work through it, but if it can’t be worked through, better to cut things off cleanly and go on with our lives than to keep inadvertently hurting each other.

Life’s too short to waste on that kind of stress. Just because someone has the freedom to say something, it doesn’t mean the other person has to stand around and listen.

So that’s my rant. Defriend if you feel the need — I’m prepared to lose some people because of this, but such is life. If you feel the need to make a comment that could’ve come straight out of Derailing for Dummies, I’ll probably just laugh at it, though.


*Yes, I play characters who I’d probably want to knee in the balls if I ever met them in real life, because fictional assholes are interesting. It’s worth noting, however, that the characters in question are called on their bullshit in their respective canons, and it’s somewhat telling that, as [personal profile] allfireburns once pointed out, neither of them have more than one actual friend. Their would-be imitators seem to forget this a lot.
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storyinmypocket: (Default)
Jaqui Lokadottir

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I've got a story in my pocket and a bag full of apples; I'm rewriting this fairy tale whether you like it or not.

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