The other thing about that whole “Say you’re a feminist or I will cuss at you” phenomenon is that… most of Tumblr seems to skew young.
And not to dis young people at all — many people find their passions very early in adolescence, and they shape the person for the rest of their life. My own impassioned involvement in disability rights happened that way. I couldn’t run from the things that happened to me when I was young, and I wanted very much to fight.
But at the same time… for a lot of people, older adolescence is a time when you really, really get invested in something. You jump in with both feet. It becomes the most important thing to you, and you’ve discovered something that matters so much, and you don’t understand why everyone else around you isn’t as on fire for it.
You’ve woken up. Why haven’t they?
But having lived for thirty-five years and not eighteen, the thing is… sometimes you get too big for those communities.
Sometimes you start to see around the edges. Sometimes people hurt other people in the name of being more devoted to the cause.
Sometimes people get excluded. Sometimes people feel excluded, even though you know you’ve bent over backwards to include them, and you just don’t understand, you make sure to mention them once every couple of lectures, how could…?
Sometimes people see all this and get energized to fix it. Maybe you are SuperAlly, running around carefully listening to women of color, to trans women, to women with disabilities. Maybe you understand why some women find solidarity with marginalized men really important, even though you went to a women’s college and wish you could be more separatist more of the time.
But sometimes people don’t. Sometimes “fix it from the inside” seems less like a solution and more like that “master’s tools” thing a lot of people say, and misuse, and forget where it comes from.
And sometimes the older you get, the more cracks you see.
I don’t have time to go find them now, but I promise you I have seen posts that say “If you left social justice movements and feel like you’re ‘out of that phase’ now, you haven’t grown up, you’ve gone backwards.”
Think about that. Think of how being young means being invested.
Think of what you might be saying to people who’ve had another decade to think about these things and come to a different conclusion.
Don’t assume we’re lazy. Don’t assume we started off as freedom fighters and somewhere along the way we put on suits and now we make the world you hate, with glazed and glassy eyes.
Don’t call us names. Don’t curse and mock.
Just ask us why we left.
Thank you so much for this. I’ve noticed age differences sometimes in terms of movements I’ve been in, and been unaware of how to bring them up or describe them, or the way they play out, without sounding condescending or something. But I do feel like having had more time to look at and think about these things changes a lot of how I think about them, and that it would be huge mistake to force myself to stay stagnantly in the same mode I was in at age 21, just because that mode is far more popular hereabouts. And while there are people who stay in that mode their whole lives, and while that’s not always a bad thing, for a lot of people to stay the same would be to stagnate and avoid growth, and sometimes growth means growing away from the most popular sentiments within the most vocal segments of your marginalized community. It means seeing what goes wrong. It means having thoughts that you couldn’t have without a decade or more of experience under your belt. And that’s completely legitimate and I wish more people listened when older activists (by which I mean people out of their teens and twenties, maybe starting late twenties, depending) gave our views that sometimes clash with younger activists. Because sometimes experience means we’ve seen something over and over again and had a chance to see exactly how it doesn’t work.
Jaxe Pan: Dear Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Informaton, Communication and the Arts,
my daughter and I have a very close relationship. Even though there are only two of us, we are bonded in love and kinship and we are a real family. Together with many friends I know who are single parents, adopted parents, blended-family parents, homosexual men and women, we are real, and we live alongside other Singaporeans from traditional men-woman union, making the same contribution to our country.
By removing books not conforming to the prescribed family model, I fear that we are creating an artifical reality for our young children.
I fear that my daughter is denied the opportunity to learn the diversity of families and that she will grow to doubt her value as an individual.
I fear that other children would only recognise a singular family model, and regard my daughter as alien.
I fear this perpetuates intolerance and bigotry, which leads to isolation and discrimination.
I fear the outcome would be a society where children of different family circumstances would be mocked and bullied because others cannot relate to or understand their differences.
The German poet Heinrich Heine wrote, “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”
And this, I fear most.
As a mother, I can teach my daughter to be brave and optimistic if ever being ridiculed about our family situation. As a mother, I can order any of these books online for her. But as a mother, I am powerless, alone, to change the society she would find herself in.
Consider this my feeble attempt, my fears as a mother and my aspiration as a citizen, to implore you to reconsider the censorship towards our children’s books, to make Singapore an inclusive society that has a heart as big as it needs to be, to hold all of our different families. #wearereal
what i have the most difficulty with being mixed is the way that this relates to decolonization.
I have no homelands to return to. There is no region of the world that I could go back to, because my existence is the product of a long line of colonialism and white supremacy.
I’m not white but no matter where I go and what I do I will never have a place where I am not an intruder who was never supposed to exist in the first place.
- "Are you binary or nonbinary? Because nonbinary isn’t really trans and you can stay with us if you’re nonbinary."
- "Do you have body dysphoria? If you don’t, you’re not trans and you can stay with us."
- "Is your body dysphoria limited to secondary sex characteristics, or is it primary ones as well? If it’s just secondary sex characteristics, it’s not real body dysphoria, and you’re not trans, so you can stay with us."
- "Are you genderless? Genderlessness isn’t being trans, it’s not even a real thing, so you can stay with us."
- "Are you genderfluid? That’s not even a real thing, so you’re not trans and you can stay with us."
And yet these are questions that are used to shut people out of some parts of the trans community. The trans community that needs to be there for those kids who get thrown out on the street for being trans, who can’t get jobs because they’re trans, who face every aspect of transphobia (and in many cases also transmisogyny) but in some people’s eyes haven’t earned the right to call themselves trans.
These are the people I think about, when I see selfish assholes splitting hairs to decide who belongs or not. I think about the people who will die on the streets when the trans community could’ve reached out to them. I think about the people who will die of poverty and starvation who won’t approach the trans community for fear of being rebuffed. I think of the people who will commit suicide because they have no community anymore. And I think of all the people who won’t die, but will certainly suffer, for lack of having a community to help them along.
And all because there are people who care more about who to exclude from their communities, than they care about having actual compassion for other human beings.
I’m writing this about the trans community because I keep seeing people posting ridiculous criteria for who counts as trans. (The one about primary vs. secondary sex characteristics determining what counts as body dysphoria was a new one on me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.) And they post it in tags used by people who are quite vulnerable to exclusion and ridicule already, and who are also quite vulnerable to just about every possible level of transphobic oppression. They do it to antagonize people, they don’t do it to help anyone.
But this applies to any community that has a vocal segment that is determined to shut out many of its members. The lesbian community and how it treats trans women who are lesbians especially, but also, sometimes, how it treats nonbinary and genderless and genderfluid people who try to find a place in that community. The autistic community and its continual hair-splitting of who counts as Real Autistic People, and also the whole self-diagnosis thing. Lots of communities do equivalent things and it’s always bad.
It’s always bad because there’s always more harm in excluding people who need a community, than including people who may not need it. It’s always bad because people suffer and people die when they can’t connect to their communities. These communities aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for some people they are a lifeline. And to deny that lifeline to anyone is just cruel heartless asshole behavior. You can pretend there’s some noble cause behind shutting people out, but it’s really just about people’s egos. And you can pretend that the people you’re shutting out don’t have real problems, but a lot of the time they’re suffering and even dying.
The reason I started with that list of things no transphobic parent has ever said to their kid, was to make the point that oppression doesn’t pass people over just because someone’s hairsplitting makes them think they don’t belong in a particular oppressed community. Trans kids who are being thrown out on the streets by their parents — and there was always a steady stream of homeless and starving trans teens at the LGBT community center I used to go to — come from every possible group of trans people. Because transphobic people don’t go “Are you binary or nonbinary? Oh if you’re nonbinary then I won’t oppress you because you’re not trans anymore!” They just don’t. In some cases they’ll treat you even worse for being nonbinary. And anyone facing oppression needs the option of a community to turn to. Many people facing oppression can only hold on, emotionally and physically, because they have that one community they can come to who understand what they’re going through and can help them through their problems. And shutting them out of that community is an extreme act of selfishness and cruelty. There is no excuse good enough.
Somehow, too, reality always gets turned upside-down. People who are facing deadly levels of oppression will be told they don’t have real problems and are just claiming an identity to be cool. Groups of people who are extremely likely to face deadly levels of oppression will be told they’re not really oppressed at all, or not enough to count, or not as much as some other related group of people, so their oppression doesn’t matter. I guess that helps the people who ostracize them sleep at night. I guess?
And as I said, this applies to all oppressed communities where this kind of hair-splitting happens. Most oppressed groups really have multiple communities, and some of those communities are better at including a diverse range of people than others. The ones I’m mad at are the people who try to make some of these communities as homogenous as possible. I don’t care what their reasons or what they call themselves or which communities they are a part of, or how proud they are to be assholes. All I care about is the people who are suffering and dying because they don’t have access to communities that could help them. Nobody in these communities generally has to watch them suffer and die, so it’s out of sight, out of mind. And that’s horrible. Those of us who have to pick up the pieces of the wreckage left behind by this kind of social ostracism have a much different take on it than those who think it’s mostly harmless or “just a matter of opinion”.
I’ve said this before in other contexts, but it’s important, so I’ll say it again: One day you’ll have to face up to yourself and the consequences of your actions. You can’t hide from yourself forever. And when you do have to face up to yourself, and what you have done, it’s a really good idea to have tried to practice compassion as much as you possibly could, rather than having to look at the way your actions contributed to suffering and death. You can delude yourself, right now, into thinking you have a good reason for doing what you’re doing. But at some point your self-delusion will fall apart and you’ll have to see what you were really doing. Try to be someone who can live with yourself when that happens.
person: Pokemon is such a childish game, why are you playing it?
nah any girl who has seen my bed knows I like Pokemon before seeing it lol