It’s beyond time to stop asking the abused people to tolerate abuse …
I wish people could open their empathy just a smidgen more, and recognize something simple. When you insult someone with racist, sexist, homophobic and other language, it’s an attack. A lot of people are in denial about this, and excuse their own behavior.
But truthfully, whenever someone uses that kind of language to abuse someone, they know exactly what they’re doing. Anyone who denies that is living in denial. The most typical gaslight from someone that abuses other people takes the form of either, “it’s just a joke, lighten up,” or, “it’s not abuse, it’s just words.”
The person saying this knows it’s not true. But they like abusing people, so they convince themselves otherwise. They also pretend that they don’t like abusing people, or having the right to abuse people.
When you hear an insult that someone uses to attack your personhood, the most typical feeling is fear. Because that language is an attack, and you may, at some point, have been verbally abused or physically assaulted by someone who used that language on you. It’s a signal. To deal with this fear, you may have worked through to other feelings or responses. One of those responses might be anger. I’ve seen men get angry because someone else said they had small genitals, to the point of fists. I’ve seen those same men act baffled at why anyone would get upset if they were called the n-word.
People know. And this world of male aggression, of these constant battles for status, and the right to assault people verbally without them fighting back?
So, if I drop people from my friends, or don’t hang around with some people anymore, it’s because I’m trying to stay true to my real self, the one who promised not to hurt or abuse other people, despite having everyone around me trying to convince me this was all normal, harmless, good behavior. I failed at this during my teenage years, and then grew up, and realized that even if it’s just me with these kinds of lines, it’s okay.
My one exception, and arguably hypocrisy, is that evil people in power don’t get the same protection. I don’t feel bad about insulting people like Trump, because of the amount of abuse he inflicts on other people. It’s my way of fighting back, even if it’s futile. But honestly? The only people I know who find it hypocritical are the same people who like to say the n-word in private, out of earshot of any black people. And bluntly, the people willing to be their friends.
Why am I sharing this? Because it’s Wednesday during Pride and it’s on my mind, after hearing someone verbally assault another human over their sexuality, and me feeling angry enough to scare the abuser. I don’t feel good about scaring him, and I don’t even know if it was right to do so.
I just wish more people would focus on getting the abusers of the world to stop abusing other people, and less focus on trying to force the abused people of the world to tolerate abuse.