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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Dealing with Bigotry in Your Daily Life

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Author Topic: Dealing with Bigotry in Your Daily Life
orca
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We've all come face-to-face with bigotry at some time in our lives, some of us more frequently than others. We can hear it at school, from friends, from family, from strangers on the street, or even in the media (TV, movies, music, etc.). Even if you're not the aim of the attack, hearing and facing bigotry can still feel like a slap in the face and leave you feeling sick for some time afterward.

So, how do you deal with it? Have you ever had to hear it from someone close to you, like friends or family or partners? Or have you ever heard it from someone you admired or respected, like a teacher?

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
A Posteriori
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I feel pretty powerless when I hear my friends express obviously bigoted or wrongheaded, hateful, merely un-compassionate sentiments of any kind. I feel like I can't say anything because I'm a white male, age 20, relatively fortunate in life, and obviously a member of a class of people among whom many "oppressors" have taken hold throughout history.

Heck, I've even had people tell me that they "don't want your [i.e. my] help." What kind of a position am I stuck in here? A really weird one. I can't seem to convince people that I genuinely do put myself in other people's shoes, and out of some measure of (imperfect) sympathy want to help.

What am I supposed to do in the face of bigotted utterances? Speak up, then be shut down by people accusing me of hypocrisy or unconscious disingenuity?

Yikes, I don't even know what I'm saying. As you can tell there's a lot of frustration pent up behind this post. I don't even know where it's coming from; maybe I just want to blame other people...argh.

Posts: 82 | From: United States | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
QuantumInc
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Just a few days ago I heard a guy say "Women's Right? More like Women's wrongs!" I wanted to speak up, call him sexist, etc. But I hesitated, he seemed to be mostly joking, and the comment was part of a series of jokes different people were making about two women sharing a blanket for warmth. The two women didn't seem particularly bothered, so I didn't say anything to avoid breaking the mood. Of course it was several hours later I thought of a good retort.

I consider myself feminist, and have been reading up on it lately. I keep imagining myself as speaking up against some sexist guy, but when the time came I was too afraid of creating a socially awkward situation.

So I can COMPLETELY sympathize with A Posteriori, and orca, I guess so far that answer to "How do you deal with bigotry in your daily life?"

Ineffectively

Posts: 21 | From: US West | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
-Jill
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I tend to speak up and I've had some pretty positive results from doing so. Notably, this winter a coworker made what he thought were innocuous comments about "hos" and "college broads" while we were at work. As that work is somewhere I have to go, I refuse to let anyone make that space feel hostile or unsafe for me, so after his second comment I pretty much demanded that he stop saying sexist crap around me.

This is where it became interesting for me: he turned to me in absolute shock. I think that was partially because I said something at all, but he was genuinely surprised that I had interpreted his remarks as sexist. Now, they very clearly were sexist, but as near as I can tell, he thought of his language as simple colloquialisms, and not intended to reflect his actual thoughts about women. He immediately issued a hasty apology which made me feel like he at least understood my point. A bit later he approached me and apologized again, very sincerely.

We've gotten to know each other better since then (me confronting him was the first time we spoke) and he's been very committed to unlearning his privilege. Not only was that incident the last time I've heard him talk that way, he's actually started asking others not to use discriminatory or hateful language.

I agree that confronting people can be hard, but I think it's important to do if we can. If things go well it can really start a dialogue and even spark a friendship. At worst we reinforce the idea that bigotry is not acceptable, hopefully making someone else feel a little safer.

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“I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives but as nouns.” --Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Posts: 3641 | From: Truckee, CA, US | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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