I’ve noticed that sometimes people like to be “Active” in a way that means they’re trying to help alleviate some sort of problem they’ve identified. We’ll call them…. activists! Among other things. However lots of people are activists for many different, sometimes contradictory, movements. This is fine. What’s particularly peculiar is when people are actively trying to help a movement but all they’re actually doing is actively losing it credibility. To be fair, I’ve been there, but I thought I’d just write down this observation.
What in the world do I mean? Well, let me elaborate. Let’s say… I want to stop something. Like let’s say sexism. What if I really really think sexism is a problem in this world, this country, this state, the school I’m going to, wherever. I identify let’s say that language can be a small factor in how we prop up sexism. To give a specific example, I see someone saying the word “Pussy,” which literally translates to vagina. However when they say it what they really mean is to say something like “Wimp” or “Scardy cat.” Why would they use that word then? Well maybe to use it as a representation of “women” and then are saying that a woman is necessarily a scardy cat and a wimp. Regardless if this is a proper or reasonable conclusion based on the premises, I’ve been convinced it is. So when someone says this word pussy I decide to try and help educate this person on how what they’re saying is contributing to this problem that is sexism. Seems legit right? Well let’s play out how this situation COULD be handled.
“Oh look at this pussy run.”
“You said pussy. That’s not okay.”
“That’s your one chance to say that. After that there will be consequences.”
This all applies right? Actively trying to stop the use of a word that aids to the problem that is sexism. What could be possibly wrong with this? Well let me tell you wonderful diary!
1. It most likely puts the person on the defensive.
Now I know, most people are gonna get defensive no matter what you do. You show any sign of disagreement and they start to ball up in defensive formation and pull out their claws to claw at anything that comes their way. Likewise there are probably some people that will not get defensive even if you give them good reason to, so it won’t matter to them either. However there is a significant part of the population (I assume it’s significant, I don’t know) that will probably be defensive only if you give them reason to. We don’t want them being defensive. Not only is it less likely that they will understand your lesson, but it might just create unnecessary conflict.
2. It’s demanding.
There could be a long discussion about what is appropriate to be demanded for. However, I’ll assert that most of the time it would be better to not demand things. Demanding is necessarily controlling. People, usually at least in my opinion, don’t like to be controlled. Now I could easily turn this back into point one, but the person shouldn’t be forced into changing their language… they should WANT to change their language. When it’s a demand there’s no room for discussion. What if you’re wrong? What if it’s not sexist? If it’s a demand there is no real room for discussion, only again… conflict.
3. You aren’t going to actually educate them.
Remember the explanation as to why it was aiding sexism? Well when you just demand someone do that you give no room, like I said earlier, for discussion. Maybe the person knows why it’s offensive and just doesn’t care or hasn’t gotten around to changing bad habits. But maybe they just… don’t understand it’s a problem. If you DEMAND that they just follow your orders you’re leaving little room for understanding.
4. You give your movement a very negative feel.
Understanding the earlier points, you attach this very controlling negative feel to your movement. “Those people trying to alleviate sexism? Yeah they’re demanding assholes. I met one once! All they want to do is control me. I don’t even understand why they got so mad!” <— Kinda reminds you of points 1-3? Well, even if they weren’t defensive… even if they ignored your controlling behavior… even if they understood the point… you might still leave a taste in the person’s mouth that’s most unpleasant. You certainly won’t be doing any movement trying to alleviate sexism a favor when behaving this way.
In the end, this is all about PRESENTATION. The sexism part was just an example… I’ve seen it in many different movements. Trying to alleviate sexism, racism, heterosexism, political party prejudices, prejudices towards a religion or a lack of religion… You’re just not helping these movements by acting abrasive and demanding. Anyways, Diary, that’s just my thoughts on the matter.