Slurs

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tomatopotato
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Slurs

Unread postby tomatopotato » Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:41 am

My brother has used queerphobic slurs a couple of times, only to say "I know that you're upset, you're so upset right know" afterwards - even though I am trying to keep as calm as possible to avoid giving him the feeling that he is right. I have tried to play it cool, I've tried to explain very calmly that using slurs is violent, but it does not seem to work. He does not take me serious at all. Even confronting him with his low key sexist behaviour in the presence of my parents does not work well, they just say we "should be friendly" to each other. My parents probably do not recognize being sexist aswell, and that does upset me, too. While I am not in danger, it still sucks slighty. I am more afraid of my brother becoming a typical "straight white cis-het dude", and I am worried that he will radicalized more by those alt-light gamers.
So how should I confront him the next time he is using slurs?

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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Heather » Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:14 am

I'm so sorry to hear this, tomatopotato. :(

He's saying that he sees you're upset: is he taking any responsibility for *making* you upset? It doesn't sound like it. If so, do you feel able to maybe move into asking him not to use those slurs, and to take responsibility for what he is doing when he does? How about having a whole-family talk about this: is that something you can do and feel able to initiate?

Who he is or who he becomes is outside your control, I'm afraid, even though I certainly understand your concerns. I think the best you can do about that is just stay who YOU are, be who you are around him, and again, do what you can within your abilities (and what's okay for you emotionally) to hold him responsible for his behavior and tell him that what he's doing isn't okay. One additional option is to talk to him about these concerns about him and who he might become: does that feel like something you might want to and feel able to do?
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

Jacob
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Jacob » Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:16 am

Oh wow. I'm sorry you're having to experience this from him, and to have him be so patronising when you challenge him.

If it helps, I honestly think having challenged him is a compassionate and 'friendly' thing to do, in that it shows that you believe he can learn and do the right thing. I don't know if a "I wouldn't tell you if I didn't care about you" approach would work, sometimes we simply can't get through to people and just need to do whatever helps us get through it.

Another approach could be to simply be yourself as much as possible and make your beliefs known around the house so that he's at least exposed to the reality that somebody he supposedly cares about believes, is involved and is interested in things he doesn't know about, and could learn from.

Innevitably though, how much he engages with you and changes over time is primarily going to be a result of his choices. Your influence on that could be limited unfortunately.
"In between two tall mountains there's a place they call lonesome.
Don't see why they call it lonesome.
I'm never lonesome when I go there." Connie Converse - Talkin' Like You

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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Raffles » Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:48 am

I'm in a similar boat. My dad occasionally calls me a racial slur but doesn't really get that it's a slur. I'm not as brave as you, so I haven't stood up to him. I think my biggest piece of advice is to keep affirming yourself. As others have said, you can't really change his actions, especially since he seems reluctant to change his behaviors. I wish you the best of luck.

tomatopotato
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby tomatopotato » Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:49 am

First of all, thank you for your kind responses!

@Raffles I'm really sorry to hear that! I hope that you do have other folks in your family, chosen family or friendgroup who support you. Don't pressure yourself to have The Talk with your Dad, especially if he is threatening you. Have you talked anybody about it what you can do?

I think his point is simply upsetting me. He just wants me to be angry, because caring about people who face discrimination euqals "being a stupid sjw", so then he does not have to listen to me. He does also not care in general what I say, dismisses his violence as "jokes", sometimes he is simply "shhhhh"ing me, which is so freaking disrespectful. Additionally he seems to simply not care about stuff because I seem to care, and he has to oppose me, because, I don't know, simply because I am a feminist. I am also struggeling with words during discussions, and during everyday life I am not equipped with flashcards for standup feminist lectures, so everytime I am making mistakes or do not have correct numbers, I'm wrong.
He has even caused harm to one of our friends who had experienced sexual assault by somebody of his friendgroup, and he openly accused her of making everythig up. He is 16, but old enough to know about stuff.
It sucks so much, I am honestly concerned - and I think my parents would not take me serious aswell. They already say that I should calm down whenever I am angry about his way of talking, and he has not even used those slurs in front of them.
I am going to continue speaking up, just needed to vent. Thanks for listening to me!

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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Heather » Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:23 pm

Oh, tomatopotato, I'm so sorry. (And you, too, Raffles.) It sounds like it's already in the territory you were worried about, and worse than the initial impression I got about it.

I'm also very sorry that it sounds like your parents are not being supportive or understanding the gravity of all this. Can I ask if you said to them what you have said here to us about it in this last post? And made clear that it is hurtful to you regardless of whether or not you get angry about it or not?

If not, does it feel worth a try?

If so...well, ugh, I'm so sorry. It's so terrible and isolating to feel terrorized by someone in your family -- in this case, what sounds, at least sometimes, like literally being terrorized -- and reach out for help and not get it. If there's any extra emotional support you need around that that we can give, please ask.

I agree, it sounds like this is not a matter of him not knowing what he's doing. Honestly, I was an early childhood education teacher in my 20s, and even with very small children, they know what they're doing when they use a slur. The wee ones may not get what it's really about or how hurtful it is, but they at least usually know they're playing with some kind of fire and some kind of power. Adolescents absolutely know.

Your feelings also are to be trusted: when you say it feels like he is trying to get you to react to him and to get you upset, I trust that's because that's what's happening. You know the dynamics of your relationship to know that.

Everything given, if your parents or other family members won't help, it sounds like you're left with -- until you don't live with him, anyway, and have a choice about being around him at all -- figuring out what you can do to protect yourself, probably a combo of doing whatever you can to give him fewer opportunities to do this and then doing what you can to just address the behaviour, but not engage.

In terms of the latter, how do you feel about figuring out one thing to say with anything like this, just the same, pat, brief -- and unemotionally if you can manage it -- thing each time? Something like, "Please don't use that word around me, and leave me alone if you're going to talk that way," where you then do what you can to disengage, like putting on headphones, leaving the room, or just going back to whatever you were doing without continuing to engage with him? Sometimes when people are behaving like he is, and really just want that reaction, they get bored with trying to get it from us when we won't and just stop. (Sadly, they probably will still do it to others, but again, that's just not in your control.)

With the former, what do you feel like you can do to emotionally protect yourself from him? Do you two share a room or live in a very small space, or can you get space away fairly easily? Do you think you can at least get your parents to support you in trying to do what they are asking -- for you not to get upset -- by getting away from him?

I'm also so sorry you're dealing with this at this particular point in time. Are you sheltering-in-place where you are? Has it gotten worse with that?
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

tomatopotato
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby tomatopotato » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:36 am

So maybe I've overreacted quite a bit, he does not use those terms constantly, but rather has done it like 5 times in the last 2 weeks. Its bad enough, but not like he is threatening me. I am also not queer myself, so I do not feel hurt on a personal level, I am just really angry that he might be wanting to hurt queer people or is seeing beeing queer as an insult. I've tried to explain to him why he should not make rape jokes or laugh at them, and he seemed to get it. However, he told me explaining this stuff felt like lecturing to him, and that I am trying to force my believes onto him because he said he does not want to talk. If he is using those slurs again, or is acting sexist in front of me and diminishing both as jokes, I am going to talk to my parents. They propablay wouldn't see it as okay, but maybe as also me overreacting. And idk, I am not openly dismissed, it's just that they have another opinion about stuff and frame it in that way -> "I have my opinion, you have yours". But it's simply not okay, even when you declar yourself as being against discrimination/assault/etc. I think my familiy is just annoyed that I am so vocal against discrimination. Not like they think it's a bad thing, but rather that they do not want to being lectured so much about this one tiny bit of stuff when they just want to chill at home. Idk.
My brother is also not really terrorizing me, he does want to upset me, but I don't think that he really wants to hurt me. We get along quite okay besides that, I also do have an own room, and I am not threatened by anybody. I do feel safe at home. I just want my family to know how discrimination works so other folks can feel fully safe with them.

The one thing that really upset my is how he treated our friend, that is something I should talk about with him aswell, because it is really important.

Raffles
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Raffles » Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:20 am

I don’t think you’re overreacting. I think you’re very brave for doing what’s right, even though it’s hard. I might caution against talking to him about the assault comments though. I would talk to the friend first to see what they want to do. You’re in a tough situation. I wish there were more useful things I could say. Stay strong.

Jacob
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby Jacob » Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:02 am

It's good to know you personally feel safe-ish around him.

I'll say that simply being around violent speech does affect us, even if it isn't strictly 'about us'. I always feel that if someone is rejecting a group that I am not a part of, I still feel like it could have been me, and that hurts on its own. And it sorta should!

What you're describing here from your experiences sounds like it's nothing less than compassion. Concern for our friends is part of us. I wouldn't want you to diminish either of those things about yourself.

I've a couple of times been in conversations, with people I care about, where my emotional investment in important topics was treated with similar disregard, and boy did it really hurt. Part of our safety is to know that we don't have to be alone in a space where we are not taken seriously.

We are allowed to hurt from it and have every reason to be angry or upset when that happens.

Something I'd suggest would be to view each time you challenge your brother, or every time your parents leave you hanging, not as a moment when you have disturbed the peace but as an opportunity which you are offering them to help you bridge the gap that is undoubtedly widening between you and your family.

Is it possible that your parents don't realise that your brother could be having this effect on your household, and your place in the family? I know these things are often far more understandable when the interpersonal impacts of being complacent about bigotry are made clear.

I'm also wondering if your parents misunderstand the importance of the issues that are being discussed. Would it be possible to spend some time with them individually or without your brother where you can share more of this? Maybe asking if they'd go to a queer event with you and your friends or perhaps watch movies together that highlight the issues? It does sound like you could have more luck with your parents than with your brother right now.

At the end of all of this it might also come to a point where you feel you've tried everything you can and the relationship with your family isn't what you wished it could have been. I'm so sorry if that's the case. I can relate to it, but it really sucks.
"In between two tall mountains there's a place they call lonesome.
Don't see why they call it lonesome.
I'm never lonesome when I go there." Connie Converse - Talkin' Like You

0PT1M15T1C
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Re: Slurs

Unread postby 0PT1M15T1C » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:43 pm

Hey, tomatopotato,

Ugh, I totally get where you're coming from with this, I have a brother who does the same thing as far as the slurs, actually, we just had a conversation about it.

I like a lot of the things Jacob presented and sometimes it does really help to have facts on hand too, however a lot of times people just don't care. They don't understand the meaning behind the words and even with an explanation of it, to them, it's still not that big of a deal because the amount of oppression we face, they will never have to experience.

I'm really glad that you do understand that those slurs have meaning, very hurtful origins and I really do wish more people understood that. I'm a firm believer in those who have had slurs used against them in those ways being able to reclaim them however feels right, in fact my trans friends and I (and also at times my mom, although that is under specific circumstances and I'll explain some more why) do use those terms to joke. The difference though, we understand where those words came from, we understand their importance and prevalence which so often is not the case when others use those words. For example, my mom has defended and been there, and in the cases she has used those slurs, it's to reaffirm me (an example of this would be that I received threats that said I was a pathetic excuse for a t* and so my mom texted me that she thought I was a damn cute t).

Today, what I did with my brother was to say "you don't get to use that word, you have no idea where it comes from or the harm that is associated with it. I'd really prefer that you didn't use that in your vocabulary, you aren't trans, and have no idea how that may affect people. People are killed all the time, all over the world for being trans"... Sadly his response was "well, white people die, black people die, so do trans people, whatever, it happens, stop being so dramatic, jeez" he continued but that's the main point. What he doesn't know is that a cis-het person has a 1 out of almost 19,000 chance of being murdered, a trans person's are 1 in 12 (***I have to check this statistic because it was from a while ago and it's not sounding right from more recent research I've done, but it still highlights that this is a real issue. If that is wrong though, there are lots of other easily accessible statistics, it's important to double check them, because although I'm finding where that stat came from, I'm not seeing the 1/12 came from specifically and also, I'm pretty sure the other one is off***). He doesn't know the story of those like Brandon Teena, and we will be watching that movie tonight so I can show him these are real people (By the way, that's from the movie "Boys Don't Cry"). What's really helped him kind of snap into in the past with things such as this is showing him those real life examples, so for queer people I'm thinking about Leelah Alcorn, anyone at the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, or so, so many others. I'm the victim of a hate crime and I don't think he gets that.

Part of this was to say, I'm really glad that you want to others to understand, I completely understand why you would be upset, like Jacob explained, these are people you may know that are at higher risk. At the same time though, I do want you to know that his actions, even if he is your brother are never on you, and if he chooses not to take responsibility, that's not your fault that way.

I really hope you're able to sort this out with him.
You have the power to say "This is not how my story will end".


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