Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
I had an entirely different, somewhat ranty post in mind, but apparently as I was getting started with my day life said, “You know what? You haven’t blown a gasket in a while, Here, slip into these really comfy ranty-pants and get to it.”
I can’t link you to what happened, but I can link you to the source of it, which deserves a post of its own, and I’ll paraphase what happened.
Essentially, I and several of my friends have posted the hell out of that article, with words of support for the young woman who penned it. And we’ve been enthusiastically discussing it among ourselves. Then today a dude came into one of the threads, and announced that he was totally on board until she started spouting that crazy “patriarchy” conspiracy stuff. (From here on out all swearing is mine, because, well I have theories.)
I jokingly posted that we use the term patriarchy because what else would you call a system that was gamed in favor of cis straight white dudes, and then jokingly said that “whitecisman-iarchy” was just too hard to say.
Apparently, he missed the memo where I (the feminist killjoy) is supposed to be the one lacking a sense of humor, and proceeded to explain how there was no “conspiracy” by the world to keep women down.
I responded that no one said there was, that the patriarchy was a largely subconscious systematic oppression that people mostly didn’t even realize they were participating in, and that his nitpicking words was dismissive and not helping. But he persisted. So I said:
“Ok, so what you’re doing is like if we were in a forest, and everyone else was trying to discuss how to get out of the forest, and you kept saying, ‘What forest? All I see is trees.’
And we’re all, ‘That’s great, dude. Can we just figure out how to get out of here?’ and you’re stuck on pondering what to call it, ‘Well, it IS rather a large grouping of trees, perhaps a wood, or maybe a very big copse would be more appropriate?’
And we’re like ‘Great, wood, copse, what the fuck ever, there are wolves and we’d like to get out of here.’
And you start in with, ‘Well, typically, there are no wolves found in copses, I mean, coyotes maybe…’
His response was that it wasn’t like the trees in the forest had purposely put themselves there to try to oppress you.
At which point I devolved into all caps. What the fuck had I previously been saying?
Because what it boils down to is a grand fucking tone argument where some dude doesn’t like the word we’re using, so he’s going to nitpick and wheedle, and complain until we lose our tempers, and he can discount us because we’re angry.
Seriously, there are days that I think this “granting assholes the benefit of the doubt in case they’re just ignorant” policy I’ve got going is a mistake that is going to kill me. Like one day, I’ll just have a stroke on my keyboard, and you can all rest easy in the assurance that it was, in fact, the internet that led to my demise.
Part of it is he’s a friend of someone I love and respect dearly, and while I know we all have ‘those friends’ on our facebooks. You know, the ones who you haven’t been able to bring yourself to cut in spite of some truly egregious behaviors, it’s disappointing when I encounter other people’s. Maybe because I secretly hope everyone else is smarter than I am when it comes to ditching the deadwood. I don’t know.
But part of it is that I cannot COUNT how many fucking times I have had this argument over how many fucking words. Cis, feminist, straight, misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia… For fuck’s sake straight, white cis people of the world, just shut the fuck up and listen to what you’re saying!!!!! It’s hard, I know. I have that same problem, but when it comes to racism and transphobia I have learned to shut the fuck up and listen, because I DON’T KNOW their experiences. And as someone who doesn’t know, it behooves me to learn, and not be a doucheclam when corrected.
Shorter: if your support of any marginalized group hinges on whether or not they use a single word, you’re an asshole and you fail as an ally.