“Well, I respect your view, but…”
“You are entitled to your opinion, however…”
“Well, maybe we can agree to disagree, but if I may make a point…”
Nope. Uh-uh. Done. I am taking these phrases out of my vocabulary. The gloves are coming off. I’m tired of half-cajoling, half-apologizing for the discomfort that my liberal political views inflict upon misogynist, racist, homophobic and classist people. I’m done being polite. You know why?
Because it’s time for these people to face and accept the fact that they are just fucking assholes.
Recent events have really brought out the massive, gaping assholery of people. While I’m busy coping with the rage I experience that these events are even happening, what’s harder for me to grapple with is how everyone has decided they’re an expert, everyone has decided that they are right, and everyone is being a total asshole.
For years, I’ve considered myself an internet activist. “Hashtag Activism” gets a lot of hate, but one of the reasons I love social media activism is that, in many ways, it’s the perfect example of what grassroots activism is at it’s core: folks having conversations with each other. I have had “come-to-Jesus” conversations with people where they have realized, “You know what? I’m microaggressive, and I sound like an asshole,” and they’ve decided to change the language they use and change their world view to be a little broader. But, more often than not, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. My sincere hatred of conflict almost always wins, especially with people I care about. I decide we should “agree to disagree,” to “move on,” harboring serious disappointment both in myself and the other person.
It’s time to stand up and stop the violence. And sometimes, the only way to stop racism, or misogyny, or classism, or homophobia, or many of the other hateful isms we all experience in everyday life, is to straight up express that it is completely unacceptable. I’m done explaining to people why. I’m just done. But I’m not done standing up. I’m not going to stop saying, “That’s racist,” or “that’s classist.” But seriously? I have just about had it with coddling people. My frustration has reached the ultimate level: the level of name-calling. But I prefer to see it as calling-out. And you might say, how shocking! How juvenile! How is this helping? How does this change anything? Because when someone dribbles this garbage out of their mouths, they are perpetuating a system of oppression. They are holding all of us back. The beliefs they express and the words that come out of their mouths are violent, and I’m tired of apologizing for being upset. They need a shock. They need to be told it’s not okay. No, I don’t respect your opinion. No, I don’t agree to disagree. And honestly, if you are filling my ears with your hatred of others, I actually don’t think you are entitled to your shitty, racist opinion. It’s time to call out the assholes.
So, allow me to provide you with a rubric, if I may. With gifs. If you find yourself saying these things, I will have no problem outing you as an asshole.
If you think people of color need to “stop making this a race thing;” if you think the reason your property value is low is because of all the black folks who live in your neighborhood; if you walk into a neighborhood and immediately feel unsafe because of the number of brown bodies you see; if you ask your black friend if you can touch her hair; if you commonly say things like “thugs,” or “those people,” or “ghetto,” or all the far more offensive terms we all know; if you clutch your purse tighter when a person of color walks next to you; if you believe racism doesn’t exist; if you watch the news in Ferguson and say things like “look at them acting like animals,” or “what did they expect,” or “if you don’t commit a crime then you don’t have to worry,” then you are a fucking asshole.
If you think women shouldn’t be allowed to make serious medical decisions on their own; if you think the glass ceiling was invented by a bunch of hysterical feminists; if you can’t deal with women talking about their bodies; if you think larger women are “disgusting;” if you don’t understand the implications of male privilege and rape culture; if you look at a woman’s outfit and think “she deserves whatever she gets;” if you catcall women; if you don’t understand how threatening sexual harassment is; if the words “bitch,” “feminazi,” and “crazy” are words you frequently use to describe women who disagree with you; if you don’t understand why women “can’t just take a compliment;” if you think pregnancy is a punishment that women deserve for their “poor decisions;” if you are offended when women make decisions about their own sexuality, including whether or not they can sleep with any man they want any night of the week or spiritual chastity; if you are especially offended when a woman decides not to sleep with YOU, then you are a fucking asshole.
If you think people on welfare should just “get a job;” if you regale your friends with tales (actually, lies) about all the items in an imaginary “welfare queen’s” grocery cart, especially if you go into detail about how her nails were done; if you think people should just move if they don’t like their neighborhood; if you think people should just “be grateful for what they have” when all they have is a job at McDonald’s; if you tell people that if they don’t like their job, they should just get a new one; if you’re rude to waitstaff; if you think that people who want to raise minimum wage are just lazy; if you constantly tell people that they should just go to school and do something better for themselves; if you “don’t understand why anyone would want to live here,” then you are a fucking asshole.
If you refuse to accept the gender/pronoun someone prefers to be acknowledged as; if you believe that gay unions threaten the institution of marriage, or tarnishes your hetero-marriage in any way; if you acknowledge the gay people in your life by saying, “love the sinner, hate the sin;” if you believe homosexuality is a deviation; if you think two men holding hands “don’t need to be all public about it;” if you believe that gay people can be “healed;” if you tell your bisexual teenager that she is “just going through a phase;” if you constantly use the word “gay” as a derogatory term; if you describe trans people as “trannies,” “he-shes”, or “she-males;” if you think homosexual or trans people are just confused; if you think people who have AIDS “deserve it because of their lifestyle,” then you are a fucking asshole.
But here’s the good news, the little nugget (ha) of gold for everyone:
Assholery isn’t a permanent state. If you’re an asshole, only YOU can change that. You’ve got the power. You can read about what white privilege means, instead of defensively insisting that it doesn’t apply to you. You can learn more about the media bias against people of color. You can read about moments in the everyday lives of women and try to understand the female experience and why feminism still matters. You can talk to your church leaders about making your church a more inclusive space for LGTBQ persons. Learn more about preferred pronouns and stop being a jerk about it.