Something that made me think: “If you are telling a rape joke, who do you think feels uncomfortable around you, the rapist or the survivor?”
My mission statement is entirely derived from the thoughts that framing stimulated, and I felt it was time to write it down.
I want the marginalized to feel comfortable around me. I want survivors to feel comfortable around me. I want allies and activists and women to feel comfortable around me. I want trans* folks and gay folks and het folks and cis folks and genderqueers and asexuals and people with high sex drives and people with low sex drives and all the people in between to feel safe here. I want feminist men, fat people, thin people, people without physical disabilities and people with them, people who can see and people who can’t see, people with mental disabilities and people without, people of all colors and sizes and shapes and abilities, Muslim people and Christian people and Jewish people and Buddhist people and Hindu people and Wiccan people, hippies and hipsters and corporate executives, atheists and spirtualists, vegans, carnivores, people who work in big companies, farmers, artists, writers, scientists, professors, bloggers…
I want people to know this: there is only one thing that can make you unwelcome around me: making other people feel unsafe. Standing on your privilege. Silencing others. Triggering others. Responding to a polite suggestion that you Check Your Privilege with whiny privilege.
And that is why, as Liss says over on Shakesville, I am All In. That is why I will no longer tolerate -ist language around me. I will no longer awkwardly ignore jokes that may trigger survivors and those living with marginalized identities. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is the only way to build a caring community around me of the type of people I want to know, the kind of community I want to live in, the kind of community that would, by fanning outward, make the world a better place, I need not just to stand up for my principles but to broadcast them at every opportunity.
Send out a signal: here you are safe.
Here you are believed.
Here you are wanted and considered equal – truly equal in all your individuality.
Here, it is okay to tell me, or someone else: I cannot deal with this today. You triggered me. Check your privilege. Please shut up. Please listen to me. I need time to myself. I need a hug. Don’t touch me. I need you to stop. I need you to stand up. I need you to be a better ally.
Here it is okay to ask for what you need, and to give what you have to offer.
Here it is okay to not be okay. It is also okay to be okay. It is okay to be unsure.
Here it is okay to speculate about yourself and your motives and feelings without being judged or dismissed.
Here we have no expectations of you other than our Prime Directive – to make our community safe and supportive.
It does not mean being perfect. I will screw up. Others will screw up. Sometimes it is impossible to choke back the bile and respond reasonably. But what separates the enemaweasels from the people that I want to know is this: later, the people I want to know will come back to me and say “You did this. I couldn’t take it. I am sorry that I said X, but you need to take responsibility too.” And I hope, hope hope hope, what separates me from the enemaweasels is that I will say “I am so sorry. I will try harder.” Even when it is hard for me to acknowledge my privilege. Even when I feel resistance to the message. Even when I think they are being unfair to my intentions, which we all know, in the World of Hurt, ultimately ameliorate very little. Because hurting someone else should be a bigger deal to you and me than maintaining our privilege, by miles and miles.
That is my mission statement. That is what I will strive to live up to. I hope others will join me.