Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Checking for my RSS, tripping over ally hurdles

One of the things I've been doing lately is keeping a look out for places to fill my already full RSS. Mainly because my RSS is split up into sections. There's the “Come here any time, it's probably going to be ok” at the top (this has a side group: “Site won't hurt, subject matter will”), followed by the “Generally good, but there's going to be regular or semi-regular heterosexism” then the “Good info, but there's a huge chance it's going to hurt” then “No chance about it. This will hurt” and lastly the “HERE BY DRAGONS! Homophobes abound, don't go there!” (And after that there's homophobes without any possibility of redeeming content. But they obviously don't get on the RSS at all).

It's one of my ways of trying to keep out of the line of fire when I'm not feeling especially strong or mentally sound. I can tailor my browsing to my mental strength and chance of collapsing nastily. Anyway, recently I did a big reassess and moved a lot of sites and blogs down (some of them falling off the bottom) because I was giving far too much repeated benefit of the doubt to places that gave me grey hairs but were sure to wave their past laurels around every damn second. So, the top two slots of my RSS have been severely denuded and I was doing a scout for more and I came across a post and comment thread that just epitomised so many ally headaches.

The OP: I was so religious and I totally hated gay people! They were sinners sinners! But then I realised that I was wrong! Gays are ok!
Commenter 1: Oh you are such a wonderful person!
Commeter 2: you're sooo brave uh-huh
Commenter 3: Exactly! It's only Jesus who gets to judge, not us! (*side-eye* no-one judges me for being gay)
Commenter 4: Let he without sin cast the first stone (hey, you too – my being gay isn't a sin and you say it is I'm going to throw the first, second and third rock)
OP: Oh you're all so wonderful
Comment 2: And brave!
Commenter 5: I don't hate gays as well!
Commenter 3: So wonderful!
Commenter 2: And brave!
Commenter 4: Am I wonderful?!
Op: Yes we're all wonderful!
Commenter 2: And brave!
Commenter 5: Why can't everyone be as good allies like we are?

(I'm paraphrasing a little. Suffice to say there follows what could crudely be called an ally circle-jerk about how wonderful and brave everyone is. I managed to keep my dinner down. Just).

But what is this stalking into view?

Commenter 6: *bible verse* see! Gays are sinners! SINNERS!
Op: oh... we'll have to agree to disagree!
Comment 3: Back to the ally fest!
Commenter 2: So brave!

Yeaaaah I won't be adding that blog to the RSS. Nope.

Moving on, I check a blog roll and find someone else who loudly touted themselves as an ally. And find almost straight away “these women are acting like men – no! Like gay men!” (post with bonus attacking women for having sex. Yeash such a wonderful space, oh yes). And when a commenter disagrees we have “How daaaare you, I'm an ALLLY!” Yup, strike 2. Keeping away from yet another homophobic pit. I wish that were uncommon but I'm amazed at the truly unquestionable homophobic crap people spout and when challenged scream back with "I'm an ALLY! HOW DARE YOU! HOW VERY DARE YOU!"

And moving on again – I'm seeing several straight, cis allies separating themselves from straight cisness. Even framing our straight cis society as something that harms them rather than elevates their privilege. “This is the burden of growing up in a cissexist, heterosexist society” says the cis straight person. And it vexes y'know, while there are many complex and knock on issues we can get from our messed up society, seeing an ally completely deny privilege and claim victimisation from it is disturbing – if white person claimed how much white privilege hurt them or a man lamented on how awful a male privileged society is for him we'd give the side-eye. This does not impress me even slightly. Ally 101: acknowledge privilege, yes?

On a related note, I have received a few requests for me to contribute to blogs on a one off or regular basis. Now, once upon a time I would do a triple backflip (well... no, because that would be messy) at the idea of being asked, because I was kinda needy like that (yes the past tense does belong there. Behave). But now? Now, I have to say if you're a single-issue blog – more power to your elbow, no criticism there, I know what it's like. But if you're going to tout yourself as an intersectional space, don't write endless heterosexist posts, call yourself inclusive and then expect me to come along to play your token gay.

The sad thing is that none of this is isolated and I'm getting a wonderful collection of grey hairs. All in all it makes me leery of adding anything to the RSS. I'd like to fill some gaps but I'm not polluting the supposed safe parts of my feed with privileged arseholery – not again. And it reminds me again to be cynical about the human race – and how little trust is warranted.