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Pushing back against ableism

Content Note:
Ableism thread
Contains ableist slurs, racial slurs, and homophobic slurs

Text image reading "Ableism- A form of discrimination against people with disabilities. A social prejudice."
Text image reading “Ableism- A form of discrimination against people with disabilities. A social prejudice.”

There are words in the English language that many, Many, MANY people use without giving thought to. These are words that were once medical terms used to describe people with mental illnesses. While these words are no longer used by medical professionals to describe people with mental illnesses, society at large still uses these words. These words are connected to the perceived intellect of others. Invariably, they are used to disparage others based on intellectual ability.

These words need to be abandoned by everyone bc they have the effect of maligning those with mental disabilities. And people with disabilities are deeply marginalized in society.

Generally speaking, it is socially unacceptable to use racial slurs against black, Asian, Indigenous, or Latinx people. As a society, most people agree that using such slurs is denigrating to blacks, Asians, Indigenous folks, and Latinx people. Likewise, it is frowned upon to use slurs that denigrate gay or lesbian people. That is bc those words are demeaning and disparaging to Lesbians or Gays. Because PoC and LG people are deeply marginalized in society, most decent people agree that using such slurs is unacceptable.

But we have a long way to go before we purge ourselves of another group of words. Words that draw upon the actual or perceived intellectual ability or lack thereof of others. Words that are ableist.

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Pushing back against ableism

It’s Pride Month! Any questions?

It’s June , which means Pride month has begun. Pride is a time when TBLG people around the world celebrate their queerness, and their ability to be open and honest about it. It is also a time when many in the TBLG community reflect on the struggle for equality waged by activists over the decades and to offer thanks to the people who worked hard in the name of queer equality. Pride month can also be a bitter pill though, as there are people across the globe who continue to have their human rights trampled. People continue to be ostracized, beaten, jailed, and even killed for the non-crime of having a sexuality or gender identity that lies outside the accepted norm. Thus, even as Pride is a time to celebrate what we’ve achieved and to reflect on how we got here, it is also a call to recognize how much more work needs to be done before we all of us can stand in the public and proudly proclaim who we are without social, political, or economic oppression and discrimination.

This post was originally published on 6/23/15.  It serves as a Q&A regarding Pride. It was written to serve as a go-to for anyone who had questions about the history of or the need for Pride. I’m reposting it in part because the audience for the Pub has grown since I joined the Orbit, and I think there are readers for whom the information in this post may be of benefit to. Enjoy!

Festivals!

Marches!

Events!

Oh my!

Yep, it’s that time of year again-LGBT Pride Month.  What is Pride? Who celebrates it? Who hates it? What groups don’t need to celebrate Pride? When did it begin? Let’s fire up my first ever Shoop FAQ for the answers! To the Shoop-mobile!

Continue reading “It’s Pride Month! Any questions?”

It’s Pride Month! Any questions?

Guys need feminism too

(Content Note: gendered and racial slurs, homophobia, othering)

If you’re a guy reading this, take a moment to think about the expectations society has placed upon you throughout your life. These expectations may not be the same for every individual, but as a whole there are general social rules associated with being a man and men as a whole are expected to follow them. These rules dictate appropriate activities, occupations, jobs, skills, hobbies, and interests for men. As a kid, you’re expected to like blue, not pink, to play with toys labeled “for boys” rather than those labeled “for girls”, and to express an interest in sports. You’re taught to be tough and endure pain, to be resilient and protective of girls. And of course it’s drilled into youngsters that Boys. Don’t. Cry. Boys can be emotive. They can be happy. They can be angry. They can be sad. But by god, don’t you cry!

You get older, and people look at you and treat you automatically as heterosexual (hell, that starts when you’re young-sometimes when you’re a newborn) and act as if you’re supposed to think about girls and sex all the time. You’re to continue being a tough guy, whether by playing sports in high school or working out or both. In adulthood, you’re supposed to go to college, graduate, and make something of yourself so that you can settle down with a woman, raise a family, and be a provider. Which means you’re expected to have a career that pays well (think more doctor or judge, less painter or photographer) And you’re supposed to want to get married bc marriage is the natural path all men are supposed to follow. Oh, and you’ve gotta have kids (and boys, specifically).

If you don’t want to do any of those things, if your predilections run counter to the acceptable social norms for men, or if you deviate from the rigid rules of masculinity, you will quickly be criticized. Your membership in the Man Tribe will be threatened bc those rules are there for a reason, by golly. They are there to tell you how you are supposed to behave and live your life (never mind that you were never consulted on these rules that are to govern your life). If you think you can just show emotion like crying without facing the social consequences, you quickly find out how wrong you are when people call you a girl. If your sexuality isn’t part of the dominant (read: acceptable) group-heterosexuals-your manhood will be called into question by calling you a ‘faggot’ (a slur intended to emasculate a man and make him feel less like a man and more like a woman). Don’t like sports or cars? You’re a pansy and there’s something wrong with you. Do you refuse to eat meat? Turn in your man card. Do you enjoy wearing clothes that are comfortable, regardless of the gender they were created for? You’re a sissy. Don’t go around fucking every woman you can? Want to have long rather than short hair? Don’t like fighting? Oh man, you’re the biggest pussy on the planet. Social opprobrium will almost always be brought to bear against you if you think about trying to exist as a male without conforming to societal expectations of masculinity.

And I have a problem with that.

I have a problem with that because when society dictates how masculinity is defined and what traits, skills, and characteristics define a man, then those that do not conform are ostracized. They are made to suffer. They are often discriminated against. They are prevented from maximizing their potential, bc they are told that there are limits on how they can exist. Think about gay and bisexual teenage boys who come out to their families hoping for love and acceptance and instead get condemnation, rejection, and, all too often, eviction. Think about the young boy who wants to be a fashion designer only to be told that fashion is a girly endeavor. Just picked the image of a young boy who’s dreams have been crushed. Consider the 13-year-old boy with long hair who is interested in poetry, dislikes sports, isn’t aggressive, and shows little to no interest in girls and is bullied so much that he attempts suicide. Recall the mid-30s guy in your office who is not married, has no kids, and is still a virgin. Remember all the times he’s been the butt of jokes, and been treated like utter shit bc he’s following a different script on how to exist as a man. At every turn in our society when men do not perform masculinity in the approved manner, they are vilified for it. They are told to toe the line. To “act like a man”. To “man up”.

Manhood and masculinity should not be tied to any particular set of activities or specific behaviors, skills, occupations, or hobbies. What it means to be masculine and what it means to be a man should not be determined by society. If you identify as a man, you should be the one who gets to decide what it means for you to be a man. If you’re looking for an ideology that seeks to dismantle gender roles, look no further than feminism.

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Guys need feminism too

Haven’t the indigenous people of Australia suffered enough?

Imagine that you’re an app developer. You think you have a great idea for a game that you want to put on the Google Play store. You consider yourself a reasonable, rational person who wants to be well-informed about the development process.  At some point in the process, you would probably come across the Google Play Developer Program Policies, and specifically this section:

Violence and Bullying: Depictions of gratuitous violence are not allowed. Apps should not contain materials that threaten, harass or bully other users.
Hate Speech: We don’t allow content advocating against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Upon reading the above content guidelines for Google Play’s app store, you (the reasonable, rational game developer) would probably realize that a game that promotes bullying against lesbians would be prohibited. You’d also most likely realize that a game advocating for violence against disabled people would be a no-no as well. And of course a game that calls for violence against a racial or ethnic group would be absolutely out of the question. But that’s you, the reasonable, rational game developer, and not everyone is like you. No, some people think there is nothing wrong with developing a game like Survival Island 3:

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Haven’t the indigenous people of Australia suffered enough?

Sometimes I despair

By now, most USAmericans who pay attention to politics are probably aware of The Donald’s inane idea to build a wall between the U.S./Mexico border. Ya know, to keep out all those rapists, murderers, and drug dealers that he’s worried are pouring into this country (a belief he holds and has no qualms about sharing despite his failure to produce supporting evidence):

Donald Trump said he would force the people of Mexico to build his vowed border wall to keep immigrants out of the United States, warning that if his order was not fulfilled, he would do something “severe.”

When asked how he might force the country to build this wall, Trump said in an interview that aired on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, “you force them because we give them a fortune. Mexico makes a fortune because of us. A wall is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.”

The 2016 presidential candidate added: “I’d build it. I’d build it very nicely. I’m very good at building things.”

I wonder-scale of 1 to 10…how big is his ego? Hell, it’s probably so big it breaks the scale. In any case, the idea has been called moronic, unrealistic and costly, and ridiculous. Trump has given no consideration to the difficulties in constructing a wall more than 1,900 miles long*, across a varied topography, and through a fair amount of private land. But that’s not what he’s concerned about. No, for him, the important thing is preserving the United States for “us” by keeping “them” out. Trump’s frothy mix of xenophobia and racism has found purchase with some of the brightest stars among the dregs of humanity including:

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Sometimes I despair

“You have privilege” is not an insult

Heard (read would be more accurate but ::shrugs::) on Facebook:

Good story, but I’m a little offended with the term “white privilege”. How about instead calling it what it truly is- empathetic HUMAN compassion and leave race and skin color out of the equation.

The story being referred to in the quote doesn’t matter for the purposes of this post. What I wanted to address was this person’s offense with the term ‘white privilege’. I’ll begin with a little prayer:

Oh dear god whom I don’t believe in bc I’m atheist-save me from people who get offended at the term white privilege.

With that out of the way, let me don the teachers cap:

Continue reading ““You have privilege” is not an insult”

“You have privilege” is not an insult

"You have privilege" is not an insult

Heard (read would be more accurate but ::shrugs::) on Facebook:

Good story, but I’m a little offended with the term “white privilege”. How about instead calling it what it truly is- empathetic HUMAN compassion and leave race and skin color out of the equation.

The story being referred to in the quote doesn’t matter for the purposes of this post. What I wanted to address was this person’s offense with the term ‘white privilege’. I’ll begin with a little prayer:

Oh dear god whom I don’t believe in bc I’m atheist-save me from people who get offended at the term white privilege.

With that out of the way, let me don the teachers cap:

Continue reading “"You have privilege" is not an insult”

"You have privilege" is not an insult

A white privilege sighting

white privilege card
My fellow social justice warriors are familiar with white privilege-the sociological concept that describes the unearned benefits and advantages society confers upon white people (as a result of their race) that enables them to move through life with greater ease than those who do not possess white skin. But it’s one thing to understand the concept. It’s another thing entirely to explain it to others in such a way that they understand it-especially people with little to no background in social justice or sociology. Many an SJW has tried explaining this concept to people unfamiliar with the term-often the people most in need of understanding it-only to quickly find themselves deeply frustrated. Responses like “stop trying to make me feel guilty for being white” or “I earned everything I have in life” or “I’ve suffered too” or “I haven’t gotten any special privileges in life” are all too common. Such responses have caused untold facepalms and headdesks. Like many other SJW’s, I’ve had many firsthand experiences with both. And like many others, I have often failed. There have been countless times I have wished there were an easy way to explain white privilege such that people could grasp the concept. Is there a perfect illustration of white privilege that highlights the stark differences between the treatment of white people in society versus the treatment of People of Color? Yes, I think there is:

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A white privilege sighting

Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)

In response to the 2012 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi created the Black Lives Matter movement. Their goal was to address the multiple forms of systemic racism within the United States and to protest the injustices African-Americans continue to feel living within a racist system. They sought an inclusive movement-one that spoke to the needs of all black people:

Continue reading “Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)”

Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)