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Saturday, 9 April 2011

The issue of being shocked, appalled and horrified.

I've seen a few posts about this in a few places that have really helped me nail down my thoughts on this.

As I've said in a previous post I had another unpleasant incident with someone deciding my being gay should come with a set of bruises. I posted then about how frustrated I was with privileged people doubting that it had happened or assuming I had provoked it – since they live in a world where such unprovoked violence just doesn't happen.

But there was another couple of reactions that also left a bad taste in my life. The shock – the utter complete shock “I don't believe people do that!? OH WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!” They're not doubting me, but they're utterly shocked that this happens.

The second is outrage. Real frothing rage and fury “OH HOW DAAAAARE THEY” which feels a lot like the shock. They're furious, incensed, outraged and appalled at such badness.

And I'm.... not.

I'm not shocked because it has happened before. It's not the first time. It's not the third time. It's not the 6th time... in fact I can't even remember what time it is because I've lost count. It certainly doesn't come close to the worst times.

I'm angry, certainly I'm angry. I spend much of my time angry. But beyond the odd venting flare up of rage, I'm rarely outraged and incensed because you can't do that all the time. Not without burning out and breaking what is left of my mind.

So when someone is shocked and appalled over an incident like this it feels like a disconnect to me. I can feel the gap in our experiences, I can feel another echo of how Other I am.

I think what brought it home to me was the nice-doctor-who-is-paid-to-listen-to-me-whine expressing his, yes, shock and appalledness (is that a word? It is now!) repeatedly. at my likely excessive measures to stay and feel safe as I navigate the Straight Land of Hetopia that is our world. His flailing around trying to imply my precautions were paranoid flowed quickly into shock and outrage at the events that have prompted such reactions from me. He chided me for not seeking help sooner – and was then, yes, Shocked and Appalled when I pointed out there was no freaking help for gay men in those situations at the time – and there's precious little now and that I had had a reasonable fear of the psychiatric profession – again because of that profession's severely dodgy actions. Yet more Shock and Outrage.

This? Is not helpful.

I mean, what do you say? Yes it's wonderful that you find these things horrendous. It's wonderful that you agree that they should never have happened and shouldn't continue to happen – but your massive shock and fury doesn't actually help.

And it's a luxury – a privilege – to be SHOCKED by this. It's a privilege that comes from not having to live it and not having to expect it.

And it's a luxury – a privilege – to be so grandly OUTRAGED and APPALLED by this, becaue we couldn't unless we maintained a permanent Appalledness

And it's certainly a privilege to not know about this, to be surprised by this to not only have such a gap in your experience but such holes in your knowledge.

And it's ignorant privilege to not only have these gaps and be so shocked – but in your privilege to perpetuate all the ills that make you so shocked.

And it's beyond ignorant privilege to decide to give advice or correct GBLT people or try to “fix” us when you have so little idea of what out reality is.


And, it has to be said, allies queuing up expressing how upset and hurt they are really make me side-eye. Support is one thing, but cradling your delicate fee-fees about how awwwwful it is for the pooor GBLTs is another. Walking away, declaring you “just can't stand it” because it's all just so awful does tend to shape a tragedy that hits a marginalised group – often extremely commonly – into being about how hurt and shocked and appalled the allies are.