Ok, my dear readers, today is Social Justice Sunday! Yes, I just made that up! For those of you not on my Facebook to read my epic rant of the day, here it is! Cheers!
I need to take a moment to say something here. I have been known to be passionate in my opinions, but I have never belittled others for theirs. I am deeply concerned about this idea that if our opinions are informed in any way by emotion, they are automatically wrong. My values, belief and opinions come from a place of love, acceptance and yes, a deep sense of justice. I am tired of being put down for that.
I have been criticized in many ways over the years. One complaint was, I post too much fluff, obvious, cliché, psychobabble. Ok, fair enough. I do post that stuff. Hey, if you are a well adjusted person with no serious issues in your life that have ever caused you harm or left invisible scars, kudos to you. If this stuff is so obvious to you that it’s unneeded and comes across as meaningless platitudes then I am happy for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of broken people in this world who need the encouragement and the reminders, myself included at times. So I’m going to keep posting that stuff.
I have been called a social justice warrior, that I’m full of fake indignation and righteous anger. First of all, the indignation is real. Second of all, they say it like being angry at injustice makes me weak or my opinions inherently wrong, since they are coming form an emotional place. Why shouldn’t I feel emotion at injustice? I say the problem is with the people who don’t feel it. I know, I post a lot of stuff about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and the marginalization of the disabled. I know it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I know that some believe I am some sort of brain washed alt left cult member reciting crap I’ve read somewhere without a brain cell in my head to use on my own. But it’s not true. The reason I get so worked up is that all of these issues are personal to me. Any injustice anywhere should be personal to us all. So I’m going to keep posting that stuff.
Here’s another hot button word guaranteed to start a fight: trigger, or being triggered. Being triggered is a real thing and I’m tired of people acting like you’re a crybaby if get triggered by reminders of traumatic events. It is completely human for people to have feelings about traumatic events. You can’t expect to tell a rape survivor that she deserved it or tell a person of color that black men deserve to die because they are al l thugs and not expect some emotion. But this is exactly what happens on the internet. People who like to call other people snowflakes and crybabies are engaging in internet bullying worse than anything I ever saw in high school. Injustices happen in the world and we ought to care. So I’m not going to stop posting that stuff.
Though I have been ridiculed for it many times in my life, I care about people. I care about black people, Hispanic people, gay people, transgender people, male people, female people, Muslim people, Christian people, atheist people, Pagan people, disabled people, and mentally ill people. I care about people. I care about you. I care. I understand that hurt people hurt people and most times, when someone comes at me sidewise, I wonder what has hurt them. I often feel sorry for the very people I block. At the same time, that does not mean I can allow someone who is being toxic to continue to hurt me.
We can agree to disagree, this isn’t about political differences. I have friends and family that have different political beliefs than I do and we can disagree politely and we still treat each other with respect. See, that’s really the root of the whole issue right there. Respect. If we all treated each other with respect, think of what we could resolve! When I say no one should die from lack of health care, instead of saying, “yes Angela, I agree, but where do you think the money will come from? You’re so stupid and idealistic.” Try, “Yes, I agree, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be enough allocated for this to happen.” In the second case you’ve just opened an actual dialogue. Why can’t we focus on the first part: I agree with you, rather than assuming that means I’m a tree hugging hippie liberal communist idealistic witch who is coming for your money?
When a man says to me, “I feel a bit uncomfortable with what you posted because……..” then we have a conversation and hopefully each come closer to understanding the others point of view. But when someone says to me, “You are discriminating against all straight men, you live in a dream world, what you want will never happen.” You have just said to me that it is somehow discriminatory for me to suggest that woman have bodily autonomy (confirming the ingrained toxic masculinity in yourself) and assured me that things like harassment and rape will continue no matter what. When I have just told you that I have been a victim of such abuse, why do you imagine it’s productive to conversation to tell me I’m stupid for wanting change? When I unload my personal experiences to you to show where I’m coming from and you tell me that you don’t know what I’m ranting about, you are purposefully and knowingly minimizing my experiences. When you continue to private message me after I have unfriended you scolding me for being “rude” by unfriending you, you are telling me that you are entitled to my time and attention regardless of what I want. When you tell me that I can’t stand to be proven wrong when, in fact, you have just proven me right by your very actions, then you are part of the problem.
Here’s the bottom line. I’m not going to start pretending that I don’t have a heart. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t cry over Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. I’m not going to pretend that what happened to Matthew Shepherd doesn’t still haunt me. I’m not going to pretend that I can’t still remember what it feels like to have a man violate me. I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t looked racism right in its eye. I’m not going to pretend that disabled people aren’t marginalized in our society. I’m not going to pretend that it’s ok for people to die of something easily fixed because they didn’t have enough money. I’m not going to pretend that any of its ok. And I’m not going to pretend that I never get triggered by something someone says (especially when they go out of their way to keep pushing and pushing searching for that trigger). I’m not going to pretend that my feelings make me weak.
On the contrary, I believe my feelings are what make me strong. My keen sense of justice is what drives me to speak out about injustice. My deep capacity for compassion is what allows me to feel the pain of others and want to speak out to try and find ways to stop their pain. My compassion and empathy is exactly what allows me to continue speaking up for others. My ability to forgive others is what keeps me from being bitter and full of anger myself. My emotions, often worn on my sleeve, are what make me human! So I’m not going to stop posting that stuff either.
So here’s my fluff, obvious, cliché, psychobabble for you today: You’re not a snowflake for caring about others. You’re not weak for being triggered by reminders of past trauma. You’re not less than others because you care, because you feel. The world needs social justice warriors. Warriors fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Why on earth would anyone consider that an insult?
I have had more than one person say to me, about the fact that I talk about my daughter being LGBT publicly, that they don’t see why people need to “come out” or why it needs to be discussed publicly as sexuality is a private thing. They say that they never feel the need to tell anyone “Hey, I’m heterosexual.” Well, of course they don’t, because that is assumed. Unless told otherwise, you assume everyone you meet is straight, don’t you? It’s the default.
Another friend told me that they never discuss the fact that one of her nieces is gay any more than they discuss the fact that the other is straight. And I get what she’s saying.
In a perfect world, your child should be able to show up with a date of either gender and no one would bat an eye. Ok, so Susie brought a boy to dinner and Sally brought a girl. Pass the gravy please.
That would happen in a perfect world of acceptance. In perfect world, no one has to come out and mention their sexuality and no one has to discuss it. Sadly, this isn’t a perfect world.
The reality is that if I, as a perceived cisgendered straight woman, never mentioned my orientation to others then they meet my partner, a cisgendered straight man, there is no problem. It fits into everyone’s world view, no one bats an eye and we all go merrily on our way.
However, if I, as a perceived cisgendered straight women, never mentioned my orientation to others then they meet my partner, another woman, all kinds of drama and chaos might ensue. I could lose my job, lose friends, lose family, be kicked out of my church, be kicked out of my home, be beaten, raped (“corrective rape” that is a thing some people actually believe in) or even murdered. So it seems reasonable to feel people out a little.
It seems reasonable to say on Face book, in email, over the phone or even in person with a friend or family member brought for backup (just in case) “Hey, I’m gay.” And see how folks react before showing up at the family reunion with a significant other than might provoke, yelling, crying, ejection from said reunion, ejection from said family, even violence.
Now this is where you tell me that those are extreme reactions and you’re right. Sadly, coming out often elicits extreme reactions.
While it makes me very happy to hear that there are families where it’s a non issue, that’s not always the case. That’s not even usually the case. At best, many family members struggle in the beginning for acceptance even when they are trying. At worst you have to worry about the extreme reactions that happen to LGBT people every day. You can google the statistics on homelessness, suicide, assault and murder if you want. They are staggering.
So if you don’t feel the need to discuss it because you are open and accepting and love everyone, that is great and I am happy that you and others like you exist. However, I need you to understand why I HAVE to talk about it.
I don’t have the luxury to ignore the very real discrimination and hatred that still exists in this world just because there are folks who don’t feel that way. I do believe that the number of folks who are accepting and loving is growing, that the number of families that accept all their members just as they are, is growing. That makes me happy and it gives me hope. I know when you say you don’t know why anyone needs to discuss it, or to come out, I know what you mean is that it shouldn’t matter if someone is gay or straight. And you’re right, it shouldn’t. But it does.
Until LGBT people can’t be legally discriminated against, I have to talk about it. Until LGBT people have the same rights as others, I have to talk about it. Until my daughter can walk down the street holding her girlfriends hand as freely as my son can, without fear of being called names or even assaulted in public for it, I have to talk about it. Until LGBT people are no longer assaulted and murdered at higher rates than the general public, until they are no longer targets of hate crime, I have to talk about it. I can’t NOT talk about it.
There has been a lot of talk about what Kathy Griffin did. The criticism I’ve heard most is that this has somehow hurt Barron. Maybe. Barron Trump hasn’t been hurt any more, or any less, than Obama’s daughters were. But to say that Barron is the only victim of a Trump presidency turns a blind eye to a lot. Barron will be OK. He’ll grow up and attend the best schools, he’ll have doors opened for him just for being a Trump. His future is assured. My daughters is not. Trump has systematically destroyed protections put in place to keep schools and employers from discriminating against people like my daughter. The republican party in general has made it their mission to do everything in their power to make the lives of LGBT people as difficult as possible. The republicans obsession with pushing through a more expensive plan that will leave millions without insurance, hurts people. Removing protections from vulnerable groups hurts people, allowing bullying and discrimination hurts people. Barron Trump will always have the best healthcare money can buy, but Trump’s plan would leave my son without access to any at all. Barron Trump will have the best education money can buy while Betsy Devos guarantees that schools can refuse to educate my daughter. So no, Barron is not the only victim of this presidency. Not by a long shot.
This is from my epic facebook rant yesterday. The backstory is that I had to unfriend someone who just would not respect my request that they stop bashing my friends who marched in the women’s march on Saturday. I even said that we could discuss the reasons to agree or disagree with it elsewhere, but in this ONE post, I wanted to celebrate them. I wanted ONE place that night where there was no arguing, just one. And it was my wall damn it.
Ok, hold onto your hats facebook friends because this is going to be long, and waaaaaaaay overdue!
I have bitten my tongue and held my tongue for far too long. Those of you that know me well and have been around awhile know that, in the past, I’ve expressed my frustration at the competing desires in my heart. The desire to stand up for what I believe is right and the desire to always be nice and to not offend others and to give the benefit of the doubt and to be reasonable, calm, articulate, to follow the examples of my idols, such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr , President Obama and his beautiful wife, Michele. To follow the advice that, “When they go low, you go high.” I WANT to do that! I WANT to persuade others with gentle, soft speech, with kindness, let them see by my example that I’m a good, caring person and that I’m intelligent, educated and that I think things through. I WANT them to know those things about me and therefore, to give the things I say REAL consideration, like I do for them.
But they don’t. (a few do, a very few). The problem is that being nice and quiet and calm and reasonable gets you walked all over. The problem is that there are those out there with exactly zero interest in understanding anyone else’s viewpoint. The problem is that there are those out there with exactly zero interest in understanding anyone else’s life, problems or situation. The problem is that no one ever got ANYTHING by sitting down and shutting up. Women weren’t GIVEN rights, Blacks weren’t GIVEN rights, Gays weren’t GIVEN rights, all of those groups had to FIGHT and BLEED and DIE to gain those rights!
And yet now, if you dare to voice a peep about your rights, you’re a “special snowflake” aren’t you?
Here’s the thing that’s really, really pissing me off. The same people who rant and rave about what THEY perceive as injustice are the very ones condemning the other side for doing the EXACT SAME THING! The very people that I bit my tongue for and listened and truly tried to see their side are the very ones screaming and bullying me into silence now. The same people who are CRYING and WHINING because they aren’t getting THEIR way are accusing the other side of crying and whining for not getting their way.
Here’s the thing. Last time I checked, this was still America. Protesting, debating with others, stating opinions is the RIGHT of every American! But when you are having a conniption fit over the protestors then you are doing the very thing you are accusing them of! What you want is for the other side to sit down and shut up and we aren’t and that pisses you off. So you name call, insult, degrade and try to shame them.
Please understand, I am not saying this about every conservative, if you do not do this, then do not worry, I don’t mean you. I have friends that I disagree with and we can have a conversation. I’m talking about those that refuse to have a conversation. And yes, I know that liberals do it too. I’m not condoning bad behavior on either side.
When my conservative friends said that they are tired and weary of being called racists, homophobic etc, I listened and I heard them. Even if you voted for Trump, if you do not express racists, homophobic thoughts and beliefs then I know you are not those things. I go out of my way to not paint all conservatives with one brush. I may have been guilty of that at one point, but I made a concerted effort to change.
And yet there are those who refuse to give me the same consideration. How is it any better to label and stereotype all liberals as unemployed tantrum throwing whiners who are sore losers? Let me tell you what I have been called in just the last 24 hours and let me assure you that the opinions I expressed were just that, opinions, I did not name call, stereotype or insult the people I was disagreeing with.
I have been called a whiner, a taker, a loser, unemployed, an idiot, a freak, a sheep, an imbecile, stupid, what’s wrong with society, retarded, autistic, someone who has never lived in the real world, etc. I have heard LGBT people referred to as animals, perverts, evil, vile, disgusting, pedophiles, misfits etc and told that they should all be expelled from the country, told that they should all be slaughtered.
And I’ve had enough.
I have been biting my tongue and not posting things because I don’t want to offend others but it has becoming blindingly obvious that the others I’m trying so hard to reach out to, have zero interest in not offending me. They have zero interest in what the realities of my life are. They have zero interest in my children’s lives.
This is the point I’m coming to. I will not be “leaving Facebook because it’s become too negative” as I’ve seen many say and do. No. I have every right to be here. I have every right to stay.
I will not be avoiding politics in order to keep the peace. No. I have every right to be involved in politics. I have every right to state my opinion on politics. I have every right to say when proposed policies will negatively affect my family. I have every right to care about that.
Please understand that when I am against repeal of the ACA it has NOTHING to do with whining and wanting a handout. My son was fully employed and insured when he had his car accident. He is now a paraplegic who cannot work, though I hope he can in the future. He obviously has no employer to be insured through. He does not currently qualify for Medicaid or medicare. But he is insured under someone else’s insurance policy thanks to the part of the ACA that allows you to carry a dependant. So you see, nowhere in any of that are your tax dollars going to help my son. Perish the thought! However, if the ACA is repealed he will not only be kicked off that policy, he will have a pre existing condition so in one fell swoop, he will not only lose his current coverage but be uninsurable. If this happens, he loses access to healthcare and the physical therapy he needs to walk again. So yes, this is personal to me.
So when I see you calling the women who marched today for healthcare whiners and losers and takers and say insulting things like “they should do something productive instead” I really, really want to reach through the computer and punch you in the face. It’s fine and well if you really just don’t care about what happens to my son. That’s your prerogative. But you are not welcome to spew it on my page.
I have this daughter, she’s smart and funny and talented and beautiful, inside and out. She a joy to be around. She never gets in trouble, she helps out with her baby sister, she’s the only one of my kids to seriously never get in trouble. She has this great big heart that loves others and she cries at injustices and adopts stray kittens. There’s seriously nothing you could find objectionable about her. Oh, wait. She happens to like girls.
So when I see you calling the women who marched today for LGBT rights whiners and losers and takers and say insulting things like “they should do something productive instead” I really, really want to reach through the computer and punch you in the face. It’s fine and well if you really just don’t care about what happens to my daughter. That’s your prerogative. But you are not welcome to spew it on my page.
See, I have been holding back. Not many of you know that my daughter is LGBT because…because why? I’ve been thinking about that. Is it to protect her privacy? No, because she has told me, and I quote, “I don’t care who knows. I WANT them to know, I’m proud of who I am! I’m happy and anyone who isn’t happy for me, well, that’s their issue and not mine.” Is it to protect myself? No, because I can assure you that I don’t care. I mean, I care. I love my friends and family but believe me when I tell you that I don’t love my friends and family more than I love my children. Anyone that has a problem with my daughter can exit our lives, post haste. So, then why?
And then I realized, I have been keeping quite so that I don’t make OTHERS uncomfortable, so that I don’t have to argue with others who will disapprove, I have been protecting all of those people who do not care about offending me, who do not care if the most vulnerable citizens, like my son, are left without healthcare, who do not care if our vice president endorses horrific “therapies” for gay people, like my daughter, who do not care that a white supremacist was appointed to the president’s cabinet and what that might mean for people like my biracial nephews or my best friend, who happens to be, among many other wonderful qualities, black.
And I’m done.
I’m done worrying about being politically correct because no matter what I do, I’m going to be attacked. No matter how reasonably or articulately or gently I make my points, I’m going to be called a whiner and a special snowflake. And this isn’t new. Anytime I have ever spoken out to defend the most vulnerable, be it children with disabilities like the ones I work with or the LGBT community or any minority group, I have been called all of these things.
Productive discourse can only occur if BOTH sides are willing to listen and I mean TRULY LISTEN to each other. To my friends, both conservative and liberal, who are willing to do that, thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart. Even when we still disagree on things, I appreciate being HEARD more than I can tell you!
But to the rest? To those that only want to hurl insults, to shut down reasonable discourse, to name call and insult? Bring it!
I just sent this letter to our new president as well as both Texas senators and my state representative:
I am deeply, gravely concerned about my son’s healthcare. On October 3, 2015 he was in a horrific car accident leaving him a paraplegic. He is STILL recovering! The recovery process takes years! He desperately needs healthcare and lots of physical therapy. Even WITH insurance, therapy is $75/hour out of pocket.
He is 25 years old. He was employed and had his own health insurance at the time of the accident. He cannot work right now. In the future, we hope he will, but for now he is still recovering. Due to the fact that he has held down a full time job from the time he was a teenager, even at his young age, he had already paid enough into the social security system to pull out a disability check. This disability check is just over $600 a month, but it is considered “too much” money for him to qualify for medicaid. He has to be on SSDI for two years before he is eligible for medicare and that’s not two years from his injury, it’s two years from when they approved it. He is still a year and a half from that.
The ONLY access he had to health insurance right now is because the ACA allows him to be carried as a dependent on someone else’s policy. Congress has already acted to remove this protection. This will leave him vulnerable, with no way to access desperately needed health care or therapy services. I BEG, I PLEAD with you to please not ignore the most vulnerable Americans, do not let this be your legacy! Show me, show America that our government still cares about it’s people!
My son deserves access to healthcare. Millions of Americans who depend on the protections in the ACA deserve access to healthcare. I beseech you, do not forget about them! Do not sacrifice them for a political agenda! I am a mother, begging for her son’s future, please do not ignore me and others like me.
Posting a link to this video because it is greatness!
You would think I would have learned by now to stay out of flame wars on Facebook. But this idea that somehow rape is ok, or that at least the woman is partially responsible for it, because she’s drunk, is just disgusting to me.
I was recently in a Facebook debate with a person kept insisting that it’s just like having something stolen, if you leave it unattended you’re partially responsible. That if women didn’t get drunk, they won’t get raped. Here was my response:
You keep talking about personal responsibility. So let’s talk about it. Let’s use your own scenario of your friend that left the laptop unattended and it was stolen. Your opinion is that she was somewhat responsible for leaving it unattended. I would say she was guilty of being a bit naïve and too trusting, but the person who is responsible for the theft is the thief. I teach my children that stealing is wrong. Stop, period, end. Not that stealing is wrong unless someone leaves their stuff unattended, then they are only 50% responsible for their own actions. Even if someone is naïve enough to leave valuables unattended, I am a good enough human being not to steal it from them. If I did steal it, I could not use “it was left unattended” as a defense in my trail. Because that’s not a defense. That’s the thief trying to shift blame.
And that’s what’s going on here with the “she was drunk” defense. You keep harping on the fact that women shouldn’t put themselves into a bad position. Certainly they shouldn’t. Do you think that I, as a woman, don’t know that? That I don’t spend more time that I ought to have to thinking up ways to protect myself and my daughters from men? Of course I do, of course you do, of course all women do.
But what you are missing with that argument are these two things:
1. That we shouldn’t have to. That argument right there is what we mean by “rape culture”. The notion that women, by failure to protect themselves from men, as at least equally responsible for their own brutalization. Rather than holding MEN accountable to be a decent human being and not rape, attack and brutalize a woman, even a drunk, defenseless one.
2. That even if you do all you can to protect yourself most of the time and you slip, you let yourself be human, even once, even one time you let your guard down, you forgot to be ever vigilante, and are attacked, then suddenly it’s your fault. Yes, even the most vigilant of us can slip, can forget for a moment that we must be ever vigilant. Relax, drink too much and enjoy a night with our friends, walk down that deserted street at night because my apartment is really close and I really need to get home, etc. No one can be 100% vigilante 100% of the time. A woman shouldn’t be blamed for not being superhuman and able to keep up the vigilance 100% of the time. Why? See #1.
The truth is that there are men out there who are predators. You can be the most vigilant and “good” person in the world and this can still happen to you. I believe that maybe it makes some women feel better when they can put some blame on the victim, for being in the wrong place, participating in parties, being drunk etc. because then they have the illusion that it can’t happen to them. But it can. It can happen in your own home. By shifting the blame to the victim it allows them to feel safer.
But shifting the blame to the victim also alleviates the personal responsibility of the man. Rape is wrong, period, end, stop. Even if a woman has been promiscuous and even if she’s passed out drunk, when a man rapes a woman, he is 100% at fault. He is the one we should be yelling about personal responsibility to. Not letting them off with a pass because the victim was drunk.
It’s a tragedy that the gorilla was shot and killed when zoo employees had to rescue the boy who fell in. I’ve seen the media rush to judge this mom and even the four year old child. But every eye witness account says she was RIGHT there and that it happened so fast no one could stop him though several people tried. One day I was walking through a parking lot with a baby carrier holding two small childrens hands. Specifically terrified of the traffic in this busy parking lot. The wind blew the blanket off the baby. His brother YANKED his hand free and darted back to get it before I had time to react. Had a car been coming, he would have been dead and I would have been labeled a bad parent. It made me realize that most people don’t realize what can happen in a single instant even when you’re right there and paying attention! I hate that this happened too but maybe we should be asking why a child was able to get through these “barriers” so quickly that a crowd of people standing right there couldn’t stop him. It was a terrible, awful tragedy but stop attacking this mother, just stop.
So I ran across this article by Annalee Newitz that poists the terrifying possibility that the current level of equality enjoyed by, or at least theoretically afforded to, women today, is an anomaly. Why? Well, as she states in her article,
“I grew up in a pretty conservative area, and yet as a teenager I was taught that abortion was every woman’s right, and that “blaming the victim” in rape cases was something that only those terrible people back in the 1950s had done. Now that I’m an adult, the 1950s don’t seem so very long ago to me — especially when women who say they’ve been raped are pilloried and psychologically brutalized on the internet. And abortion rights are eroding in many U.S. states.”
She’s absolutely right! Ourfuture.org just posted this list of five ways the U.S. is failing to protect women’s rights in the workplace. And that’s just in the workplace.
The problem, as I see it, is a lack of respect for women. It’s no secret that regimes and cultures that cruelly oppress women have no respect for them. It’s more troubling to realize how little respect many American men have for them. I mean, we think we are more evolved than that. American men are more enlightened, right? Apparently, wrong.
Alexandra Tweten set up an instagram account where women can upload screen shots of verbal abuse flung at them by random men on the internet. The responses men give to even a polite rejection are frightening. Sometimes all it seems to take is not receiving a quick enough response to prompt threats of violence or name calling. You can check out all the horrifying responses here.
I also stumbled across this article about a woman’s response to man on OK Cupid who messaged her out of the blue to call her a liar about her typing speed, which she disproved. The guy was being a jerk, but not on the level of the bye felipe guys. What bothered me most about this article were the comments posted by people who thought the guys behavior was absolutely fine and the woman was just being “too uptight”.
Is this really where we, as a society, are at? Both the men whose responses to women are on display on the Bye Felipe instagram account and the commenter’s on the typing article seem to see women as totally unworthy of respect and self determination. If a man wants her attention, she is somehow obligated to give it to him and to be grateful he wants it. Simply not being interested pegs her as a “stuck up bitch” or generates threats of violence and rape.
Is this a result of “conservative values”? After all, Phyllis Schlafly, conservative poster girl, recently opined that sexual assault on college campuses is caused by letting in too many women (see more about that here). Typical conservative dribble that men’s desire and bad behavior is someone the woman’s fault, for being, you know, a woman.
Frightening, is what it is.