Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Does this qualify as a rant?

Comic from specialjsnowflakes.tumblr.com

     
It's often disappointing when I stumble upon a social justice topic with the oppressed group telling off supporters to "check their privileges." This is a type of victim mentality that is focused on conflicts rather than on commonalities. It is activism that stems from the ego- being wronged by so many people somehow makes them feel special and often assign themselves the role of both victim and potential hero who going to defeat their oppressors. They've altogether forgotten that change is only meaningful if it's founded from respect for human dignity.

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 I suppose it's only natural to have a sense of paranoia, to put on a tough facade, and to call out on people's actions and ignorance. But 2 things happen: 1.) the stress eats you up, which leaves you less than empowered and 2.) you become addicted to paranoia.

   For instance: Sure, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is pro-rapey (among other misogynistic songs that came before it) but shaming people who like the song for different reasons does not empower your cause. In fact, it sidetracks from the real issue. A well-meaning male feminist gets a lot of flak for wanting to support women except some overzealous "feminists" tell him to check his privilege or belittle his efforts. If he made a mistake in trying to empower them, instead of using the situtation as an opportunity for education and meaningful dialogue, he gets his ass kicked even if he's more than open to such exchange.

 Critique is important for the consciousness to oppression but what's frequently recurring is that it has been used as stance and counterstance; reacting and paranoia as either side of the debate becomes defensive. Does it serve you to carry your assumptions in everyday interactions? It's true that you that someone will discriminate against you because of your age, sex, religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, and what-have-you. Do you think these assumptions make you feel confident? Does it amplify your cause towards positive change?

 Activists are so hyperfocused on the oppression and suffering that they end up blocking a lot of genuine connections, movement, and dialogue. It's so easy to take things personally, to dehumanize (trust me, I've been there) instead of restraining oneself to react from a place of social grace and compassion. A regime of change is just another form of oppression when you voice your cause undemocratically. You are grossly underestimating the goodness in people if you resort to violence or bullying to get your message across.

  Sharon Doetsche-Kidder sums my point up in this quote from her book.

"If we want a world where all people have self-determination, we need to respect individual and community decisions, trust not only people's stories of victimization but the choices they make, their analyses, values, and acts of determination... it means trusting each person to walk her own path, and realizing that we are always learning and growing, remembering that we also make mistakes, change our minds, could be wrong. The political analysis we are so sure of today may not be true from another point of view and may not be true for us later in our lives. 

 Trusting people is not only about honoring others' humanity and right of self-determination, but accepting our humanness, and fallibility as well."

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