written by Casey | they/them
Writing is hard, communication is difficult and putting all of the jumbled up thoughts into words on paper, through your keyboard, vocally or through hand motions is so complicated. Being the centre of a conversation is crushing, especially when you’re the only [X] person in it.
[X] = marginalised group
People taking up space is tiring. It’s the space that was never given to you in the first place, but it should be yours! Take the space! Take it all up! Revel in it. Talk out loud, write all over the place, or let your hands speak volumes.
ahhhhh <- that is my thought on communication, speaking your feelings, not hiding what you’re feeling, not shying away from the truth, knowing how to form the jumbling, rumbling and mixed up thoughts in your mind. Some days I sit in a cocoon duvet thinking mostly of my old and current relationships. These relationships include all of the types: platonic, sexual and romantic (please tell me if there are more categories). Who I’ve grown away from recently, who I’ve grown towards, who I’m confused about the direction in which to take our relationship.
Communication is one of the main things in any type of relationship right? Yet it most definitely is one of the hardest I personally, and maybe you too, have struggled with. Both in the past and present, and let’s be honest: probably the future too. I feel like I’ve been taught to keep my emotions hidden in a romantic and sexual relationship, especially if it’s considered ‘casual’ and so because I’m not wanting to be portrayed as the stereotypical moaning ‘woman’ I internalise all of this. And it’s so exhausting. This whole concept of ‘cool girl’ that is so often shown in films, TV shows and social media. This ‘cool girl’ does not exist. Men* made this concept up in order to have less effort on their behalf in relationships. In order for it to be easier for them to do what they want whilst women and AFAB people (if men are included in your sexuality) have this continuation of struggle to deal with: the concept of being the ‘cool girl’. Laughing at sexist jokes, internalising misogny and not allowing themselves to speak the emotions they feel when a casual partner has fucked up. With friends who spurt [TERFy] language, or family that casually say sexist jokes, it’s all internalised. Not wanting to be the subject of the comments ‘here we go again’, or the eye rolls and the sighs I stayed silent, turned down the volume of my voice or slowly faded it out.
[TERF] = Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist
AFAB = Assigned Female At Birth
But this is where communication helps. Communicating my discomfort + sadness to my true activist friends, having long conversations about dealing with oppressive people, the kyriarchy and gaining the solidarity of them, lifts the heaviness ever-so-slightly. Even a small form of solidarity helps to unjumble some tangled thoughts. And this is why I pledge to only be silent when I am listening and to only listen when marginalised people are speaking OR when privileged people’s opinions and views are asked for (of the subject of my identity especially). Other than that I pledge to shut down problematic viewpoints either with an explanation, links or a simple ‘fuck you’ depending on my energy and patience levels.
Marginalised people owe privileged people shit. Know this, remember this and live this. In a world that is run on Eurocentric, white supremacist, patriarchal, speciesist, able-bodied, capitalist, heteronormative and cisnormative ideals: if you don’t fit into one/some/all of those privileged groups then you owe those people nothing. There are people in your marginalised group no-doubtedly who have written advice on how to be a good ally. It’s up to privileged people to educate themselves and their communities. Whilst uniting is amazing, we can only fully unite when all oppressions are focused upon.
In addition to this, I think it is important to mention that people’s experience of education varies and that is another privilege if you have the ability to educate yourself, or know other educators. This is why whilst it’s totally valid to say ‘fuck you’ and to leave it at that, it’s also important to think about if another reaction is possible (one that includes links or other information), if another reaction isn’t possible then cool, whatever you need to say is important and if you don’t reply and block the person that’s also valid. Do what is best for your mental health.
I’m fed up of having to mold myself over and over again whilst white cis men* just sit on the sideline**: well it’s your turn to join in my friends. It’s your turn to turn yourself inside out and question your existence. It’s your turn to unlearn the toxic masculinity you’ve consumed, just like I’m unlearning the toxic femininity, white supremacist, speciesist and able-bodied values. It’s your turn to watch your back, watch your space, question what comes out of your mouth. It’s your turn to listen and be silent.
*white cis men (able bodied, rich, etc) are the most privileged group but you can insert any privileged group here that relates to your own experience.
**and THEN have the audacity to mock safe-spaces, trigger warnings and people’s existence (I was once compared to a toaster or a slug for being non-binary).