Monday, May 20, 2013

Social Justice Hat is Heavy

I don't have a thick skin, a particularly strong mean streak, or the energy to sustain my righteous anger for very long. I'm just a soft and squishy gal. So yeah, trolls get me down. What I do have is a frustratingly strong sense of social justice and an overabundance of privilege, and lingering guilt tendencies from my Catholic upbringing. So I can't stop caring, can't take off the social justice hat, can't unsee the inequity, can't stand for bigotry or let it pass unchallenged even if calling out friends and strangers causes me more trouble personally than pretending not to care.

Some people don't own a TV and don't follow the news, preferring to live a life of blissful ignorance. I can't stand to be ignorant; I studied journalism at uni and I thirst for knowledge. Sometimes I avoid following a few stories--the Jodie Arias case and the Cleveland kidnappings, for example--because they're too dark and there is nothing I can do about them, nothing useful I can say about them, and the knowledge is more than I can handle among all the other tragedies and daily offal in the world.

But it's tiring. I can step away from the Internet or TV for a few hours, but I can't back down or let myself be silenced. Because the world is a hostile place, and one comment among the bilious hate can plant a seed into a closed mind or be a ray of hope for the others who wouldn't speak out. It's not always about the original post, more often about the hundreds of others who will read the comments below it, searching for a voice of reason, a word of compassion, or of indignation when needed.

I'm irked today because there's a forum thread devoted to discussion about why there are so few women in Amtgard (a national organization for medieval combat recreation), and several (usually lurker) women wrote of their experiences with gender-based harassment being a common problem, myself included. Subsequent comments told us it's our fault for putting up with it and for being women and for being attractive, we should appreciate the attention, GTFO if we have a problem with it, and calling me unattractive and therefore lying about my experiences. I think my misogynist tropes BINGO card is full, I seriously cannot make this shit up. *smh* And would-be male allies are silent because they're admittedly loath to be accused of white knighting. I wish I could say I am surprised at the direction the discussion took, but I never had that much faith in any significant number of members being interested in addressing the problem and changing the culture.

I've run out of sanity points to read or respond to the thread further today, though I worry what will happen in my absence. What matters is that most of my local chapter is pretty chill most of the time. In the real world, I can keep showing up, keep playing, keep existing, keep hanging out with people who treat women like full humans, and avoid the rest. Because I feel like my extra X chromosome keeps getting in the way of my being heard, all I effectively can do is avoid shitty people.

*And I am pretty hot, fuck you very much.

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