[My main Tumblr can be found over at myasphyxiatedmind]
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My name is: Michelle, but most people call me Dark online.
My gender-pronouns are: They/them/their.
I am: 27 years old, a feminist, an atheist, an omnivore, and an ISFJ.
The Feminist: Intersectional, body positive, pro-choice, and sex positive.
My privileged identities include: Female assigned at birth (FAAB trans* privilege), white, able-bodied, allistic (?), dyadic, monogamous.
My non-privileged/oppressed identities include: Gender-fluid, fat, gray-a, neuroatypical, and gay.
I have: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Dermatophagia, and Dermatillomania.
I like: Pets & animals, animal welfare, pet care & pet care education, ~*SCIENCE!*~, anatomy & physiology, roleplaying, anime/manga, computer & video games, rock & metal music.
I’m not angry or upset about anything in particular at the moment, but I thought I’d take a little time to write something out that had been bugging me about allies. It’s certainly not all-encompassing or totally comprehensive, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about in terms of being a good ally and a good neighbor, especially here on Tumblr.
Before you step in to help us out, I’d just like to clarify a couple things.
You and I, we may have taken the same seminars and maybe even read the same Audre Lorde excerpts or Ronald Takaki books, but know this: we learned very different things in very different ways
For students of color, for gay students, for trans* students, for the children of immigrants and refugees, these classes aren’t always about learning new concepts when it pertains to us. It’s more about learning the names of things we already knew fairly intimately. Do you understand that? You learned it another way. You went in, you got this set of key words and a list of definitions. Your learning was, in all likelihood, “Here is this word. This is what this word means.”
For you, it was “Xenophobia: a strong fear or dislike of people from other countries.”
For us, it was “Xenophobia: the time that boy in my kindergarten class spat on me because I couldn’t speak English yet. Or when I saw that clerk yell at my mom in the grocery store because her English wasn’t clear enough. Or when USCIS had us confirm our American citizenship with the same set of papers seven times over the course of sixteen years because they wanted to confirm that we were, in fact, actual American citizens.”
For you, it was, “Racism: unfair treatment of people who belong to another race; violent behavior towards them.”
For us, it was, “Racism: that one time I saw that manager tell that sales girl to follow my dad around at Kohl’s. Or that one time my neighbor’s kid got shot by the police and they tried to cover it up by convincing everyone he was in a gang because he was Hmong, but we knew he wasn’t. Or that one time my dad told me I shouldn’t rollerblade to the library because I’m not white and it’s not safe for me.”
For you, it was, “Homophobia: a strong dislike or fear of homosexual people.”
For us, it was, “Homophobia: that time in the sixth grade when Ryan shoved me against a glass door and banged my face in it while yelling, ‘faggot!’ at me until the teacher stopped him. Or when my Catholic high school’s president told me that, though he loved me as a child of God, he still believed I was sinful when I suggested that we start a GSA.”
For you, it was: “Classism: prejudice or discrimination based on social class.”
For us, it was: “Classism: that one time when my best friend came over to hang out in high school and her parents didn’t want her to come over again because they didn’t like our neighborhood. Or that one time when my friends had no idea what food stamps looked like and I was too embarrassed to explain what they were.”
So while you were learning that these academically-framed phenomena were real problems, we were just getting little figurative nametags for awful things that we already knew. Your weekly vocabulary list was, to us, just a hollow shadow of our lived experiences.
So my point is this:
If you didn’t live an experience, then step aside. Because we knew this stuff before our professors told us what to call it. We learned it from the bottom up, you learned it from the top down, and that’s not even a metaphor.
When you step out of class, you get to be like, “Oh, awesome. I am learning how to be a good ally and a better human being. This will help me.” For us, it’s more like, “Ah, so that’s what they’re calling it nowadays. When exactly did they say change was going to come for us?”
So in practice, here’s what all this theory looks like: you don’t always have to speak. I mean, certainly, you should totally call someone out on their oppressive bullshit. But if you identify as male, you don’t get to tell people what is best for women as though you have that authority. If you’re white, you shouldn’t be trying to “uplift” people of color by the grace of your intellect or your words. Nobody’s looking to be ‘rescued’ or ‘pulled up from out of their unfortunate circumstances’ as you may be tempted to believe.
All anybody’s looking for in an ally is someone who knows that “empowerment” means taking a step aside in a place where you know you have privilege. And if it is, for example, a PoC-to-PoC conversation, a woman-to-woman conversation, a queer-to-queer conversation, etc. about this stuff, and that isn’t who you are, you don’t need to be chiming in.
Just take our word for it, let us talk, and let us vent. We’d like you to give us room, and if you have to be helpful, then help make room for us by giving up some of your proverbial social girth.
Because the bottom line is that our academia has made a commodity of our lived experiences as teaching moments for you. And if you think your academic knowledge is more valid than our lived experiences, then you’re definitely not part of the solution.
Thank you, Trung.
It smacks of healthist elitism and doesn’t take into account the many other more compelling reasons poorer people are fatter. The fat wage gap, for instance, or stress from being fucking oppressed and poor.
Can we stop trying to find ‘lifestyle’ reasons for fatness in progressive FA circles? The ‘food desert’ argument for fatness, usually coupled with the ‘no time/money for the gym’ argument still put the onus of fatness on people’s personal choices and overall lifestyle, it’s just apologizing for those choices. It’s still worshipping at the Eat Less (Better) Move More! altar.
I’m also really fucking tired of rich elitists forming ‘theories’ of why poor communities are such-and-such. It’s so condescending. That’s a general point, not really a specific point related to fat oppression or thin privilege.
Hey, guess what else? The idea that poor people are fatter is itself a myth.
THANK YOU! Fucking awesome. I haven’t seen this. Folks, take note.
1. Classism. Healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. Some families can only afford frozen food and fast food etc. That’s literally all they can afford. They’re doing what they can to put food on the table for their children and keep them fed.
2. Genetics. People come in a lot of different body types. Children aren’t excluded from that. It isn’t necessarily a reflection of poor diet and/or parenting.
It gives me such issue! Because, the ideas behind veganism are solid, there is exploitative factory farming of animals which has not just an impact on a moral level, but is environmentally damaging and creates product of dubious quality (i.e. pumping animals full of antibiotics and growth hormones).
Exploitative farming happens across the board though, and it’s almost as much an anti-capitalist issue and should be explored as that, with veganism being framed more within the inference of personal belief.
Militant veganism as it were does very little to address the actual problem at hand of animal exploitation. Framed within a capitalism system, it becomes a flawed “vote with your dollar” argument if addressed as a means of activism — that by not eating meat, you’ll discourage the production of meat. There’s no social impetus towards that though, and even in converting others to veganism/vegetarianism, you’re going to have wide swaths of the majority who simply won’t change, in addition to those who are disabled or have gastrointestinal disorders who simply cannot eat a vegetarian/vegan diet and remain healthy.
There will always be people who will eat meat out of personal choice, or who need to eat meat out of dietary requirement. That doesn’t mean that we can’t lessen the exploitation or suffering of animals, but most of that suffering doesn’t come at the hands of a fellow tumblr user who just happens to enjoy bacon, it comes at the hands of the conglomerates who are more than willing to push the commodification of meats and animal products to such a massive scale and attempt to shape cultural tastes as well.
It’s absurd the degree to which people will shame essentially powerless individuals for their actions instead of trying to address the overarching culprit. The best vegan causes are animal industry regulations and forced humane standards. Don’t try to dismantle the meat industry with faux-populism and nebulous activism — ally yourself with the communists, socialists, democratic-socialists, anarchists, or even left-leaning neoliberals who have the same issues with the effects of meat commodification that you do.
Also, y’all need to stop with the flawed dichotomies of “oh, you wouldn’t eat a disabled person, so you shouldn’t eat an animal!” or “factory farming is slavery!” or “the mass slaughter of chickens is like the holocaust!” because no, no, wow, no. False equivocancies that only serve to demean other people and generally do little to affirmatively help your cause in a manner that other approaches would still. You don’t need to be racist or ableist to try and convince somebody to limit or end their meat intake, and honestly, that racism or ableism is probably just swaying more people away from the cause. You can’t meet a cause with hate.
Holy shit this is perfection. Bolded for emphasis.
This. Militant veganism is full of classism, racism, ableism, fat-shaming and a whole ton of other problematic shit.
Something militant vegans who think everyone can go vegan seem to miss:
- Some people with gastrointestinal disorders cannot live on a vegan diet and remain healthy.
- Not everyone can afford a vegan lifestyle. Food deserts exist whether you want to believe they do or not.
- Not everyone is able enough, mentally or physically, to prepare vegan meals.
- Some people who have struggled with ED find it triggering to attempt a vegan lifestyle.
And that’s not to mention the fat-shaming idea that if you’d just go vegan, you wouldn’t be fat. Because obviously all vegans are thin, right?
Or the racism inherent in comparing factory farming to slavery.
Militan vegans need to shut the fuck up. They aren’t helping anything or anyone, human or animal.
How many people by now have no idea that eating more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and drinking plenty of (unpolluted) water is better for you than processed food?
I know it. Everyone knows it.
What these arrogant shits who keep aiming to “teach low income people” is not something we don’t know.
If you want to “teach” me something about food then teach me how to make $30 a week for three people stretch without processed meals.
Or how about you stop assuming we are ignorant of the fact that fresh foods are better for us than hamburger helper and look at the root of WHY we have to buy the shit.
Once again, it’s just easier to assume ignorance and laziness than it is to apply any critical thinking or empathy.