Intolerance Among Friends

I swear, I’m not trying to swipe Keeva’s idea.  She just has some post-provoking posts!  Plus, this is way way way too long for comment space.

P.S. I do mention cover a bit about rape below.  Beware for triggers.  Though, honestly, I’m not totally solid on what can trigger distress about past sexual assaults.  If I did, I’d try my best to avoid it entirely.

Before I Put My Foot in My Mouth Again

I’ve been doing that a lot, recently.  Frankly, my sneakers need a good cleaning, and besides, day-old rain tastes weird.

I do agree with practically everything Keeva said. I’m not 100% but I’m maybe 99% agreed.  Perhaps that makes me a bit of a bigot, but, eh, I do hold that I will stop all intolerant remarks if someone tells me straight up that it makes them even the slightest uncomfortable.

The.  Slightest.

Retard =/= Stupid

I know people get angry because “retard” is often used for “stupid,” and it generally comes from describing interactions mentally disabled people.

I have never used “retard” to describe mentally disabled people.  Maybe when I was younger and didn’t really know what “retard” meant, but ever since I learned the Latin root (~6th grade), I’ve never used it that way.  It’s completely in a different ballpark from the mentally disabled.

Maybe that comes from having an aunt who has been mentally disabled from birth.  I think she’s autistic, don’t know for sure, but she’s in her 50s now and she acts & interacts with others in way that belongs more to age 5.  And no, that’s not a slur against her; that’s how it is.  More precisely, it’s how it appears to me, someone who isn’t solid at all on autism.

I use “retard” to mean something backward or slow to grasp.  Y’know, the Latin root: re = back, tard = slow.  The majority (if not entirety) of my usage is when I do something particularly dumb.  It’s usually followed by a Derp sound, even though I know the internet/4chan has probably turned that into something bad.

It still slips out every now and then, but I’m mostly converted to the phrase, “Well, that was dumb…Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, Megan, where’s your brain?”  And no, I’ve been using the durrrrr sound for my own stupid mistakes way before I ever mentally connected it with being slow or dumb or disabled.

Gay =/= Stupid

I admit, I’ve yet to encounter bisexual in the flesh.  But I have met and found myself lucky enough to call both gay and lesbian couples really good friends.

I abhor the use of gay as stupid.

It never really impacted me until senior year in high school when the area schools participated in a Mock Government Assembly. Of course, this was the year when bans on gay marriage were really in the forefront of the media, so we naturally had one such bill attempt to go through.  Sadly, it lost, but I remember the idiots in the room arguing against it, using the word “gay” like it meant someone inferior.

I went to a Governor’s School, that is one of those “gifted & talented” (that’s another post about that bullshit) things.  Pretty much all my dual-credit and about half my AP credits came from there.  You weren’t any slob if you were in that school, and it was pretty competitive to boot.

There was a guy there who was clearly and openly gay.  He was actually in a relationship with a flute player from my high school, a guy who I swear was Flute/Piccolo God.  Seriously, you didn’t distinguish this guy as the Token Guy Who Plays Flute/Piccolo, you distinguished him because he was first chair in pretty much everything he tried.  He was amazing!

Anyway, so we’re in that Mock Assembly, the G-School guy is sitting behind me, and the idiots in the room who didn’t know him (or probably anyone who is homosexual) were doing the same things that happen in PUGs.  That is, they were using “gay” as a term for “stupid” or inferiority.

It infuriated me to say the least.  Enough that I got up and didn’t feel anxious at all stating my opinion/vouching for the marriage bill, when normally public speaking of any kind makes me shake and stammer visibly.

STOP using “gay” for stupid.  It’s SO NOT cool.  AT ALL.

Flirting & Joking — Where’s the “Line”?

I do flirt playfully with my female friends from time to time, joking about being pretend lesbians.  It actually came up with my roommate recently, who happens to also be my best friend.  We work one day a week together (then we work other days), and people know we’re roommates.  She told me about how she would be happy whenever she realized it was Saturday and that I was coming to work in a few hours (she starts before I do), and then that people might think that we were roommates in the sense that we shared a room, rather than the truthful sharing an apartment.

One of my guy friends said we should just totally play it up.  I was all for that.  I will play up flirting with guys, so the gender change didn’t even cross my mind.  I kept thinking of it as flirting with my friend, who just happens to be a girl, just like I flirt with my friends who just happen to be guys.

I’ll even go into sexual innuendos quite often.  I got used to it from being around guys for the most part in high school by being the Token Math/Sci/Tech Girl.  I don’t want to downplay it, but it happens when you’re the only girl in the middle of robotics class, and the guys start pawing at the tools on the table, claiming and naming the stripper tools.  Guys will act like guys if the only girl in the room is practically a tomboy anyway.  I mean, guys will note quite easily and repeatedly point out that “stripper” has two different meanings.

The “line” for me is whether they truly mean it or not. It’s not enough to say you were joking just to get out of being an asshole.  You’ve got to seriously not mean it at all.  I don’t flirt with random people I meet.

How do I know if you truly don’t mean anything?

I did have an uncomfort when a guy (who later became an awesome Robe and even one of my lock buddies in raid) seemed to flirt a little too much with me.  I told an RL guy friend who was also a Robe.  A guy I sometimes trade sexual jokes with (engineers, we’ve got plenty of puns to go around).  He immediately offered to step in and “defend” me if necessary.  After I made a note on the guy’s app about my initial uncomfort with him, the mage I used to trade horrible, horrible sex puns with immediately whispered me once I got online to make sure I was okay with the joking between us.

If I ask you to stop it with the jokes, and you comply, no questions asked, especially even express to me genuine concern for what you might have unknowingly done, you’re cool.

I can’t explain in words exactly where that line is.  It’s a feeling more than anything. It’s a sense of trusting you or not. If you ever cross the “line,” even a toe over it, it takes a long time for you to gain that trust back (if you EVER do at all).

I flirt because I trust you not to — well, heh — not to fuck it up.

Maybe that’s not the best phrasing, or maybe it is.

Rape

Is just not cool.  At all.  My serious face is staring at you right now.

I’m not saying it’s “just not cool” because I grew up with the Backstreet Boys (I can still name all five without looking it up) and Britney Spears When She Was Somewhat Good and that’s, LYK, omg, like, how we 90s/00s peeps talk.

It’s not cool.

Anyone, I know them or not, gets an immediate /ignore for life (or, at least, for a time measured in years) if s/he EVER uses rape to describe defeating a boss or enemy player.  Even IRL, now that I’m getting some RL confidence and self-esteem back, fellow classmates who say, “That test raped me,” get a glare and a very serious, monotone, “Don’t use rape in that way, please.”

It’s.  NOT.  Cool.  Or even acceptable.  AT ALL.

Do I have a personal story for this one?  Yeah, actually, I do, but telling it would betray confidence put in me years ago, and no.  Just no.  You shouldn’t need a story, and the story shouldn’t have to exist.

STOP IT.

Racism

I’ve been lucky to personally see very few examples of this.

I have seen Jew jokes, but the two (known) intended targets of the Jew jokes have made it clear it doesn’t bother them, and I’ve not seen Jew jokes go outside these people.  (We once called a guy HamJew because he was technically Jewish, but he freely and fully ate things like pepperoni and ham and pork quite often.  He would make fun of his eating pork as well.  If you ask him, he’s strongly agnostic.  It’s one of those, “I’m agnostic…unless you ask my mother, then I’m Jewish.”)

I’ve not seen the n-word in quite a long time.   For the most part it takes me a half minute to “get” a race joke, because I just don’t normally distinguish it.

Unless you count me making fun of my Gaelic heritage causing me to fully roast myself in the summer.  WTB skin that has shades of tan in between “glowing” and “beet red.”

So That’s Me

Perhaps I’m still not an amazing person when it comes to respect.  I can’t promise old habits won’t crop up every once in a while, but I can promise to cease and desist if ever someone asks, in the slightest.

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4 responses

  1. Thanks for posting this.

    None of us are perfect, I can’t say that I never say offensive things because I know I do. All I can do is try to be mindful of the language I use, and try to get out of the habit of using these offensive words.

    05 Oct 2010 at 08:09

  2. Tam

    I loved and admired Keeva’s post, and this post is equally excellent :)

    I say offensive things all the time … regrettably, I think we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t sometimes really annoy everyone around us :/ I think the key to the whole situation, as you say here, is the willingness to cease and desist – I mean I don’t want to be the sort of person who says “lame” or “retarded” for stupid, but the fact remains that I will occasionally be that person. And I don’t want to get hung, drawn and quartered for it but *equally* there’s a difference between recognising that everybody is occasionally an unintentional dickbag and using that as an excuse to BE a dickbag.

    The problem with things that are offensive is that people largely do not respond to “this offends me” by apologising and shutting up, by instead by getting defensive about their right to say sexist, racist, ableist or homophobic things. Which makes it incredibly difficult to challenge a culture in which it is considered acceptable to say such things – as Keeva herself discovers in the post. Which is the inherent problem with a “it’s broadly okay as long as nobody is offended.” That puts the onus on people to not be offended, rather than on people not offensive if that makes sense.

    I think that’s why if you DO find yourself enmeshed in an that sort of culture you end up having to move to an extreme position – rather than the individual interaction you with have with your friend who uses gay to mean stupid…

    PS – I know bisexuals. They exist! It’s true! Praise be!

    05 Oct 2010 at 10:26

    • If it helps, my friends and I generally do a public, “If this offends you, please say so and we’ll totally stop,” whenever we go doing these things in front of people who might not be in on the joke. And we’re serious about it.

      Pretty much all I ask is for people to tell me when I’ve done something offensive. Every time I see the “burden should be on people to not be offensive,” it’s like it’s resolving the offended of all responsibility to speak up when people unintentionally do something offensive. Hello, I can’t read minds!

      So, yes, burden on the not be offensive to a large degree — aka, Don’t Be A Dick On Purpose. But also burden on the offended because NO WAY can I guess all your dislikes.

      05 Oct 2010 at 11:04

    • Great comment, Tam.

      06 Oct 2010 at 04:36

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