My last post focused on the microaggressions that women face, both online and off. Because of it, I was asked, by a good friend and a feminist ally who wishes to remain nameless, why I focused so narrowly on womenâ€™s experiences when it might have been stronger as a post about all the experiences of non-privileged populations, one of which he belongs to.
I originally wrote the introduction to the post with thoughts about how my experiences extended beyond my feminist outrage. It was a more academic and less-personal post. Then I took that out. I feel like my writing stands better as a personal account. This doesnâ€™t mean that I believe womenâ€™s issues are the end all and be all of social justice. I write about them because they are what I experience. I have a personal narrative for them because they are *my* personal narrative. I donâ€™t have a strong personal narrative of racism, transphobia, homophobia, body shaming or any of the other issues that mean just as much to me, and anger me just as much.
I am an extremely privileged individual. I am a white, cisgendered, relatively attractive, upper middle class, educated woman. Even the areas where I am not in the majority, I am not particularly oppressed. I am not closeted as bisexual, but I present as straight 90% of the time. The problems with my body are more visual than actual limitations, so while I am perceived as disabled by many, the actual limits on me are so low as to be ignorable most of the time. I may not necessarily be neurotypical, but I can certainly pass as such.
I am an ally in these issues, and the narratives for them are not necessarily mine to construct. My own narrative is. I write as a way to explore not only the challenges Iâ€™ve faced, but the challenges I havenâ€™t. In examining the things that happen to me that make me uncomfortable, itâ€™s allowed me a mirror to look at the ways where I have unintentionally practiced body shaming, or casual racism, or even sexism. Examining in detail the way I want people to treat me has made me examine in detail the way I treat other people. In learning how to stand up for myself, I have been slowly, slowly teaching myself to be a better ally for others.
The words I write on this page will probably always focus more on feminism than other issues, but thatâ€™s because feminism is my touchstone. I hold it up as the hole in the faerie rock through which I can see the real world, with all its demons and problems. I canâ€™t be outraged against the things that I have experienced without being that much more outraged against the things that others have.
I want to help. I want to be a good ally. And I feel that my role as an ally is signal-boosting others where I can, primarily through social media where not all of my audience is a social justice audience. I often feel more accomplished as a node between groups than I do as a content creator myself. I love when I get to post something brilliant by someone else, on a subject that I could never articulate or even experience for myself, whether that is about Good, Racist People, or about The Blinding Whiteness of Feminism. And I love when friends who havenâ€™t necessarily thought about these issues respond, or repost those things. I love fostering a dialogue, even though I am not necessarily part of that dialogue.
For all of the socioeconomic privilege I experience, the biggest asset in my life wasnâ€™t a nebulous cultural one. It has been the fact that I come from a family that I have always known would *unconditionally* support me. I could have been a lesbian. I could have transitioned as a man. I could have decided to dedicate myself to Buddhism or Islam or to communicating to unicorns in the forest. I know in my deepest heart that I would have had their support with my choices, and I want to unconditionally support the people fighting for their own equality in the same way. They supported me through listening to me. Through patiently pointing out flaws in my logic and through waiting while my not-negligible temper blew up and I said something horrible. Then they let me walk away and think things over myself. I want to do the same thing for others. I want to be there to patiently listen to their stories. I want everyone to know that I am here, in the same way people have been here for me. I may occasionally make a misstep. We all do. I want you to correct me. I want you to tell me your story, and I want you to do it in a way that I can send it to other people.
There is one way in which the internet doesnâ€™t necessarily truly reflect normal â€œreal lifeâ€ society. We have more of a voice here. We have an opportunity to speak up. Yes, I speak about feminism, but I donâ€™t want the feminist voice to be the only one that is heard. I want to hear you speak about your challenges, no matter what those challenges are, and no matter if I have been part of those challenges. I want to know how you feel, and I want to take your words and experiences and show them to other people. I want to explore my own shortcomings through your narratives and I want to chip away at those shortcomings until I am worthy of being your ally in the same way that you have always been mine. Let me be your node. Donâ€™t let my voice be one of only a few. Let it be one in an overwelming sea of voices. The more people who are calling for social justice, of all sorts, the quicker we can achieve a truly equal society.