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Posts Tagged ‘homophobia’

Woe is them, they cry little black tears.

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

“[They] can only win if they can get us to accept and internalize the second-class status they propose for us. To accept our own marginalization, to be quiet, to stand down and keep our heads down. To live in fear, instead of acting, with courage, out of hope. They do not know us.”

While this looks like the statement of some oppressed group speaking out about their treatment in society, it is actually National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown complaining about having to live in the same country as us queers. Because other people being allowed to disagree with you is discrimination doncha know? What really burns my ass here (help, I’m flaming!) is the complete co-opting of anti-oppression rhetoric basically word-for-word. Ten bucks says he saw this on a gay rights website and copy/pasted it into his statements.

Ugh, I’ve seen this bullshit before and I am sick of it. Dear Fundamentalist Christians: it is not the first century anymore. You are not being fed to lions. This is 21st century America, Christians basically run the damn country. Get over yourselves.

And, as I’ve said before, if you can’t handle interacting with people disagreeing with you, move to a remote island and leave the rest of us alone.

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Stop being so offended

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

So, normally I don’t pay bathroom graffiti much mind. There’s a lot of weird graffiti in bathrooms, heck, I’ve written some weird graffiti in bathrooms. But I saw something today that I think is worth commenting on, because it reflects an idea I’ve seen around a lot. Here’s how it went:

Someone wrote “faggot” on the stall door. Given the amount of failed washing and general fading that occurs in conjunction with bathroom graffiti, I’m not sure if the individual was directing this at another graffiti author or just writing it in general. It spawned a minor graffiti conversation; someone else wrote next to it “stop being so ignorant”, to which someone else responded “stop being so offended” (the actual end of the conversation was “GAY!”, but I don’t think that deserves much comment). The issue here is of course with the third piece of graffiti, much more so than with the original bit of writing that eventually led to it. This is a message sent out to many who take offense at, well, anything.

What’s going on here is this: The third person here is under the assumption that if you’re offended by something, it’s your fault. You are too uptight/”PC”/whiny/whatever. The thought process is that their right to free speech trumps everything, including your right to be treated with respect as a human being. Of course, the flip side of this is not permissible, you can’t exercise your right of free speech to ask someone to be nicer, or call them an asshole. You are required to just shut up and take it. Now, I’m all for free speech, I love it. It’s what allows us to criticize our leaders and society in general, allows us to have conversations that might be controversial or go against standard ideas/doctrine/tropes. Free speech allows places like this to exist. But I am of the opinion that free speech is not absolute. There’s a very good reason you’re not allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded mall. Safety is a very good reason to curb free speech (and, let’s face it, not being an asshole is a very good reason to self-censor as well).

Because slurs of every sort, when publicly displayed and unchallenged, are very dangerous. You may have heard of the recent rash of suicides by gay men that have been heavily publicized. You also may (or may not) have heard about the appalling statistics for trans suicides. And while seeing a single slur in a bathroom won’t do much damage, the fact is that they’re everywhere, and they exist as part of and overarching theme of dehumanization and oppression that expresses itself in ways large (harassment-induced suicide) and small (twits writing graffiti in mens rooms). The fact of the matter is that having a word that describes a group you are part of that also functions as a catch-all insult sucks. Being treated as a lesser human being, something that needs fixing or a good clock-cleaning*.

I’ve gone off on a tangent here, but my point is this: If you’ve said something that offends somebody, chances are that it was offensive. Someone offended by something you say is not being “whiny” or “oversensitive”, and downplaying their reaction is actually making you more of an asshole. Neither are they being “the PC police” (guess what, playing the victim when you’ve hurt someone also makes you more of an asshole). What’s actually happening here is someone is trying to take advantage of their privilege to silence someone without that privilege. What’s happening is also victim-blaming, in it’s most obtuse form: you wouldn’t be offended by things if you weren’t so easily offended. This particular instance may seem pretty minor, but when it crops up elsewhere it becomes clear that it’s not: encouraging queer people not to talk about our lives (“stop shoving it in my face”) or even keeping us from situations where they could discuss their experiences (“think of the children”) and actively blaming us for our own harassment (“if you didn’t insist on being different….”). That’s the mindset behind this graffiti. This is the mindset every time someone says “you’re just oversensitive” to someone who was just offended by something. “We don’t want to hear it, you don’t deserve a voice, the problem is with you not us.”

I don’t advocate legal restriction of using certain words. But I do advocate having serious conversations about them and their meanings and impacts. I advocate not being an asshole.

The unknown writer of this graffiti may not appreciate being called an asshole. My response would be that they should stop being so offended.

*for those who may not have encountered this term: it is slang for getting beaten up. I believe the “clock” is one’s face, and “cleaning” for some reason involves getting covered in mud, bruises and blood.