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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Speaking out/dealing with bigotry day-to-day

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Author Topic: Speaking out/dealing with bigotry day-to-day
treetops
Activist
Member # 44381

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Hi,
I've recently moved in with four people I didn't know before, and who initially seemed nice. I didn't have a lot of choice about housing and this situation seemed OK.

However, it became evident that my housemates are pretty right-wing (one in particular) and have said some things that have made me very uncomfortable. This one guy made an unpleasant homophobic comment (not aimed at me, but in my presence) and I called him out on it. I did this in as polite and good-humoured a way as I could, and not in front of his friends. I just said it made me uncomfortable and why. We went on to have a fairly good-natured discussion about politics, and I felt really good that I'd spoken up (which I haven't in similar situations before, as I am pretty unconfident).

So I thought it was going OK and that I was at least rubbing along OK with my bigoted housemates. However, this afternoon just before I entered the living room I heard him making a jokey comment to his friend (other housemate), obviously referring to my 'political correctness' or 'oversensitivity' or whatever he thinks it is. They then went quiet and dispersed when I came into the room.

This has really, really upset me. I have gone out of my way to be polite and friendly, and was as reasonable as I could have been with him. If he had a problem with me, the least he could have done was say something to my face. I now feel extremely uncomfortable around him and this other housemate, and am pretty unhappy that they've been making fun of me behind my back. I have pretty low self-esteem and it took a lot for me to speak up; now I'm wondering if I should have kept quiet.
I thought they at least respected my opinion and my speaking openly and calmly about things, but apparently they don't.

I have to live with these people for nearly a year - what can I do? At the moment I don't even feel like leaving my room. It's so tiring constantly having to be around people wearing their privilege and bigotry like a badge of honour; I feel emotionally exhausted. [Frown] I'm sorry if it seems like I'm overreacting, perhaps I am. I'm just feeling really upset and betrayed right now.

Posts: 161 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
treetops
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Ergh, I don't mean that I don't have privilege, 'cause I do, various kinds, it just kind of shocked me how some people are really proud of being part of an oppressor group (like, white boy thinking it's hilarious to keep using the n-word 'as a joke', or thinking rape jokes are funny as long as you don't make them in the presence of someone who's been raped...)
Posts: 161 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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Having the place where you live feel emotionally uncomfortable and unsafe is a pretty big deal. I don't think you're overreacting.

This is a pretty sticky wicket if you really can't possibly move: before we talk more, are you sure that's not doable?

Either way? I think it's best you spoke up and really great you did it. And in the long run, I think you'll feel better you did (perhaps in the short run, as well).

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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treetops
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Thanks for replying.

I'm pretty sure I can't move, I've signed a twelve-month contract and I'm not sure I could cope with another move at the moment anyway. I have a couple of breaks planned, for a few months overall, so I won't be here constantly.

I did feel awesome after I spoke up: it's something that I always wish I could do, and I felt empowered having done it. I suppose I was foolish to think it would change anything, though.

I'd love some ways of coping for the moment.
I feel pretty isolated in my beliefs a lot of the time, so any good feministy/queer-friendly online communities (other than this one, which is clearly awesome) would be good to hear about.

I have mental health issues (anxiety-based) which make it hard for me to be out and about some of the time, and sometimes make it tricky to connect with people, so hmm.

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Heather
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Can you look at the contract again and see if you can find any loopholes?

What do you WANT to do? Do you feel like you might be able to resolve some of this with some more conversation? Or does it feel pretty hopeless? Do you have in-person friends of your own you might have come hang out some to see a) how they assess the situation and b) to see if their influence might help a bit?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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treetops
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I will check the contract again, yep, but I'm pretty sure they've got me for the next 10 monthsish. I would quite like to look into moving, but it'd be an immense hassle even if it were possible.

I think it would be awkward to refer to a conversation I'm not supposed to have heard, and which they might just deny anyway, so I'm not sure I should bring that up. I feel pretty uncomfortable about it though. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I *could* call them out every time they said something offensive, but I'm not sure I'd have the energy and I don't think they're going to change their minds any time soon.

If anything, I thought that coming across as a friendly, reasonable, articulate person might make them think 'hey, maybe ze has a point about some stuff/maybe I was being offensive' but after this, I don't think so.

Perhaps the best way to go is just to hang around them as little as possible and just make small talk when I do. I just don't want to end up hiding in my room all the time, I've been in that situation before and it was pretty awful. Gah.

The only person I know well enough to have over at the moment is my partner. He does make me feel better, but I think that's all he can do, really.

Sorry, I feel like I'm rambling a bit here, just wanted someone else's perspective and to feel a bit less alone.

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Heather
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I don't think you hiding in your room or feeling like you have to just shut up and take it is a good or healthy tactic, either.

Might you be able to have your partner over, THEN perhaps start some kind of conversation that's just about you feeling uncomfortable with what you heard and overheard, and making clear you want the situation to be comfortable for everyone?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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September
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Treetops - I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I got out of a similar one earlier this year, and I vividly remember how uncomfortable that was.

I encourage you not to hide out in your room, though: you are paying rent for the shared spaces, too, and there is no reason you should be made to feel like a prisoner in your own home.

Do you feel at all capable of calling them out on their behaviour? If the situation is already messy because you caught them talking about you behind your back, then you have nothing to lose by bringing it up. Let them know that you are not expecting them to become your new best friends (after all, the situation is temporary - you will be leaving again), but that you do wish to be treated with respect. If you need some support with that, I am sure your partner would be happy to be there with you.

Another thing that might also help is if you find yourself a safe space in town that you can go to when you need to get out of the house. Maybe the library, a coffee shop, or a book store?

And if all else fails, I would second Heather's suggestion about looking into moving. No matter how much else you've got going on in your life, another move would ultimately be less stressful than dealing with these people on a daily basis. I don't know where you are in Europe, but in most places that I know of, you can get out of a lease at any time, as long as you give notice 2-3 months in advance. It might be worth looking into that.

--------------------
Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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treetops
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Thanks for all your thoughts, they really helped me think the situation through. I did try to speak to the housemate who seems to have the problem with me, but he just mumbled that he didn't have a problem and that was kind of it.

I'm not going to let it make me feel bad though. I did look into moving and it would be difficult, by the sounds of it, so I'm just going to see how things go for the time being; I'm just focussing on getting on with my own stuff. I do feel better that I at least tried to bring it up with my housemate, and I do think he feels bad about the way he acted (not that that makes it OK, but still). I'm just going to do my thing, and if it's getting me down significantly I'll look seriously into moving. I feel OK at the moment though.

Thanks again for your perspectives [Smile] .

Posts: 161 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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