marginalized people are not revolution objects

Marginalized people are not revolution objects

paint-covered-fallen-angel:

realsocialskills:

bishiesparkleflash:

realsocialskills:

So, here’s a thing I’ve seen happen:

  • People get really into social justice theory
  • and then they read a lot from people who all agree with each other
  • and then they assume that everyone in that group agrees
  • and then, when they encounter someone in that group who doesn’t think that thing, they don’t know how to deal with them
  • or they’re rude and condescending

For instance:

  • Someone who reads a lot of disability theory is excited about the idea of acceptance
  • And, in particular, the reasons that mobility equipment is liberating and wonderful
  • And they encounter someone who is enduring considerable pain rather than use a wheelchair
  • And then they talk at them about how they just need to accept themself already, without listening to where they’re actually coming from
  • That is not respectful. It can sometimes be ok to express an opinion or offer advice (emphasis on offer; people can say no to hearing your advice), but it’s not ok to try and run someone else’s life, or to take control of their self image, or related stuff
  • Respecting someone has to start with respecting them as people who think for themselves, not trying to make them do what you think self-respecting people do

keep in mind that:

  • No matter how much you’ve read, you’ve never been the person you’re talking to
  • That goes double if you’re not a member of their group, but it applies even if you are
  • Having read a lot of social justice theory, or even being part of that group and having found that it described your experience, does *not* mean that you know better than someone else how they should be living their life
  • Don’t try to take people over, and don’t talk down to them
  • The last thing marginalized people need is yet another person trying to run over them for their own good. They get that enough already

People are complicated, and you are never the expert on someone else’s life. Reading social justice theory, and even being really insightful about what’s wrong with our culture, does not make you an expert on someone else’s life. Their life is for them to live and make decisions about. Marginalized people are not revolution objects.

bishiesparkleflash said:

This also goes for trans people telling other trans people to “just accept themselves” or that “dysphoria is just a social construct/internalized cissexism/etc.”.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, absolutely, that’s a good example. Trans people get all kinds of hate from all kinds of directions, and it’s horrible. There are so many ideological groups that aggressively treat trans people (or some trans people) as either revolution objects or oppression objects. (Another example of this is people who think that saying “gender is a social construct” will somehow make people stop being trans).

When, really, trans people are *people*. And what that means for you personally or how you feel about your body is no one’s business but your own.

paint-covered-fallen-angel said:

or d/Deaf and hard of hearing people with equipment like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and even stuff like captioned phones. Or what language to use. Or whether or not to speak. Etc, etc. Not everyone agrees.

kaisnonsense:

Marginalized people are not revolution objects

realsocialskills:

So, here’s a thing I’ve seen happen:

  • People get really into social justice theory
  • and then they read a lot from people who all agree with each other
  • and then they assume that everyone in that group agrees
  • and then, when they encounter someone in that group who doesn’t think that thing, they…

kaisnonsense said:

It’s also really really important to remember that when people with chronic pain/fatigue/etc say we want to be cured or get better treatment, we’re not ‘betraying the movement’ or suffering from 'internalised ableism’ or whatever.

I’ve been told both by people who were either able-bodied or didn’t have the same/similar conditions as me, and being told that by not wanting to live in pain or by wanting more mobility I’m betraying other disabled people is really not fun. At all. Please don’t do it.

realsocialskills said:

I think that’s true no matter what condition you have. I think people with just about every condition have a full range of different opinions about cure.

People with disabilities disagree with one another about all kinds of important things, and *we get to do that*. And it’s important to acknowledge disagreement as disagreement, rather than insinuating that everyone who disagrees with me is brainwashed or something. 

About anger and social violence

Those of us who experience routine social violence can’t afford to become enraged about it every single time. We also can’t afford to fight it every single time.

If you don’t experience social violence, this can be hard to understand. It can be easy to think we’re under-reacting and that we ought to be flying into a rage and reporting it. You might want to get furious on our behalf.

As furious as you think you’d be if that happened to you. The thing is, when it happens to you multiple times every day, you can’t always afford to make a big deal of it. If we did that, we wouldn’t be able to do anything else. It’s important to fight sometimes, but not always. There are other things to be getting on with.

So telling someone “wow, you should report that!” is not necessarily a helpful response.

Similarly, it also isn’t helpful to try to calm someone down or come up with lots of ways to interpret what happened as just an innocent misunderstanding. 

Misunderstandings aren’t so benign when they happen to you several times a day and prevent you from doing what you need to do. Particularly when people become hostile when you tell them that they’re creating a problem, no matter how polite you are about it. Sometimes things really are that bad, and sometimes you’re not in a position to fix them.

Sometimes we don’t need help adjusting our perspective, or help filing a complaint. Sometimes what we need is to know that you are willing to listen to something that happened to us, and that you will believe us and understand.

Sometimes, you can’t make it better in that moment. Sometimes, we can’t make it better, and all we can do is survive it. We can’t fight every battle. And sometimes, the battles we don’t fight can take as heavy a toll on us as the battles we do fight. It is not easy to let things go when they are unjust and in which we’d really like to fix things. But, the only thing to do is see it as unjust *and* go on without fighting a battle then and there.

Just as no one should ever have to fight these battles alone, no one should have to be alone when they decide to sit out a particular battle. We need support every time this kind of thing happens, not only in instances in which we’re directly fighting.

If you want to be a good ally, don’t pressure people to fight every battle. Instead, stand with them consistently, when they chose to fight, and when they regard discretion as the better part of valor. Presume that they are capable of making those calls, listen respectfully, and offer support that is appropriate to the situation and consistent with the choice they are making about it.

Sometimes, in a situation, all you can do is listen, understand, and be someone who understands that they are being treated unjustly and that it isn’t their fault. It hurts not to be able to do more, but it’s important not to let that pain get in the way of offering the support, respect, and listening that can help some in that situation.

You can’t always fix things, either by fighting or by explaining things away. Sometimes there is no ready solution. But, you *can* always be a respectful ally.