personal strategies to free myself or the terms of engagement
February 3, 2014
a few recent tumblr interactions have made me realize that it has been a while since i noted the boundaries and terms by which i shall be engaged.
these positions, as always, have been sketched out in a string of posts over a period of time. but it is always a good plan to link them together and duly inform people.
ever since i had a big… hmm… social media crisis a while back, where i almost deleted everything and dropped off the internet, i decided to be a lot more proactive about enforcing my personal boundaries and really trying to find a different way to engage. a way that didn”t have me triggered into anxiety spirals pretty much on a monthly basis. a way that didn”t have me compulsively checking all of my accounts to make sure i didn”t miss anything. a way that wasn”t giving me insomnia as i obsessed about things i had said, didn”t say, should have said. a way that didn”t involve me interacting with, on a daily basis, people who i like and admire (because this meant that i was spending a lot of time and energy trying to ensure that i didn”t disappoint them, in ways that was detrimental to my mental health).
part of my strategy was to… focus my attention. this is mostly why i”m not really on twitter (and why i took a really long hiatus). it is also why i”ve been having trouble getting back into twitter. if i do twitter more, this means largely abandoning tumblr. who knows… perhaps that time has/will come. we”ll see.
in any case… here are the guidelines:
1) I will not debate my humanity, nor that of anyone else.
This is always rule no. fucking 1. always. I will not do this thing. insofar that i”m willing to debate at all (which, tbh, really isn”t that far), this is the one area that is never up for debate.
i am a human being. all marginalized and oppressed people are human beings. if you aren”t talking to me like you know and understand that, we have nothing to talk about.1
2) ‘proof” ‘receipts” and other quandaries
one of my more recent posts, and the cause of sooooo much privileged whining, notes:
do not now or ever again ask for proof that a white person is racist.
you want me to think they aren’t racist?
show me the proof that they are anti-racist
you can substitute ‘racist” for any other oppression.
i recently called someone out for hating Asian women. he is a white d00d who, amongst a certain group of us, is well known to, um, hate Asian women. of course, immediately after this, i get a bunch of people asking for receipts. which i flately refused to do, despite having some on my blog.
it is a strange and insiduous thing to continuously ask oppressed people to prove that we are oppressed. it shifts the burden to those already shouldering the burden. it adds a little cherry on top of our shit sundae.
and, honestly, this is the standard MO. we wait for white celebrity x to say something racist, before declaring and being outraged that they are racist. we wait for man y to say/do something misogynist before denouncing him as a misogynist. and this is how many of us behave.
which is interesting because so many of us can speak about insitutional oppression and how it structures the world. and yet… we still give into this urge to pretend as if white person x and/or man y is somehow beyond or above such things. it is, without a doubt, one of the more subtle ways the oppressed are indoctrinated to believe that those who oppress us are innocent/kind/good/better than us.
so. i”m not playing this game anymore. not even a little. and especially not with the linked case where… instead of having a single ‘gotcha” moment, i”m actually speaking about a pattern of behaviour. a way of emotional manipulation. a dodging of accountability that really only comes together with a long view and in aggregate.
we can accept and understand that oppression and oppressors can and often do operate in subtle, devious ways. and yet… we still respond to this demand for ‘proof” for ‘receipts.”
3) i set my own boundaries
this seems perhaps recursive, since i started out talking about this. but it needs to be said: i set my own boundaries. more importantly, i enforce this boundaries.
unfortunately for everyone else, these boundaries are not necessarily stable or constant. they shift and change depending on what new things i”ve learned, who the other person is, etc. basically: my boundaries are context-dependent.
what doesn”t change, based on context is that: i set my own boundaries.
i engage on my terms, or not at all.2 this is especially true for people who approach me.
you do not have to like my boundaries. all this means is that we won”t be interacting or communicating. i can live with this.
4) rational discourse
i feel like my position on this should be clear to most people, but let me iterate:
i do not care about rational discourse. you will never change my mind based on launching forth the most logically sound and valid argument you can muster. do. not. care.
what i care about is impacts, oppression, and human suffering. all the times when i change my mind about something, it is when i”ve come to understand that doing/thinking otherwise in/directly harms other oppressed people. one person”s personal story about the harm done to them, will get me to shift and change my views.
embodied, lived experience is queen, okay?
most will also know by this point, that i don”t do respectability politics.
i expect liberation will be as messy, complicated, and varied as oppression is. perhaps more so.
this ought to cover most points, for now.
so. there you have it.
since following these rules, my life has been much more anxiety free and calm. no more sleepless nights. no more anxiety clawing at my chest.
if things change, i”ll let you know.