Being progressive and policing what people say.
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23-08-2015, 10:02 PM (This post was last modified: 23-08-2015 10:09 PM by FreeThinker1994.)
Being progressive and policing what people say.
Hi, all.

I'm in a pickle and I'd like your takes on this.

As I make more progressive acquaintances (especially in the dark depths of tumblr), I'm finding that there is a general tendency to police what other people say, and I'm getting very tired of it.

Two examples...

1. I was telling a friend about my neighbor, who is a transgender woman. She's very nice. She's the first MTF trans* person I've met, but I had a few of FTM friends in highschool. What I'm saying is, I understand the concept. Still, I have a problem. When I see my neighbor, part of me wants to back away at the site of a man in a dress. I know she isn't a "man in a dress", but it's my first thought based upon how she looks - I can't help it. Maybe it's the stubble on her face or something, I don't know. I respect her, and there is no logical reason for this reaction. It's probably just the conflict of some traditional gender norms that I've internalized. I want to get over this, and I'm going to bring it up with my therapist. No big deal.

But when I told my new (sort of) friend, she got *very* angry at me, and told me how transphobic and arrogant I was.

The thing is, I'm not trying to be mean, and I realize that my feelings need to change. But I'm just being honest about what I'm feeling. I'm also expressing my desire to change. Is that so bad?

2. Someone on tumblr asked me how I felt about legalized prostitution, and I responded with the fact that it's such a complicated issue. I cited a documentary by VICE about Germany's very liberal prostitution laws, and how it's actually benefitted people who engage in sex slavery and human trafficking. I also said how I don't find prostitution objectively wrong.

Boy, was I in hot water.

One of the replies told me how arrogant I was, how I didn't know what I was talking about, and that "prostitute" is a slur. It was suggested that I speak to sex workers before talking about issues that effect them.

Back story: I have spoken to and known sex workers, as well as sex therapists who all are comfortable with the term "prostitute" and "prostitution", and are working to break the stigma around it.

I don't understand. I'm just being honest about how I feel and think, and I want to learn. But people are so mean when it comes to this stuff, policing what I say. I get this from my mother at home, too. She gets deeply offended over things I have no idea she finds offensive (and how can I know if she doesn't tell me?!)

I mean, I'm gay, but i don't freak out when I hear people say how evil we "fags" are. I'm of Ukrainian descent, but I don't get mad and storm off when someone (usually Russian) doesn't like Ukrainians. I'm an atheist, but I listen to religious people - even the ones who think I'm the most evil thing on the planet.

I want to hear what people think and learn about who they are, even if it doesn't fit my narrative of a perfect human being. It comes down to respect, you know?

People just get so offended and mad at me. I thought being liberal was looking at things objectively and being courageous, not freaking out every time someone sneezes wrong.

I'm finding this in many liberal circles, and it drives me crazy. What are your thoughts on things like this?
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23-08-2015, 10:17 PM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
(23-08-2015 10:02 PM)FreeThinker1994 Wrote:  Hi, all.

I'm in a pickle and I'd like your takes on this.

As I make more progressive acquaintances (especially in the dark depths of tumblr), I'm finding that there is a general tendency to police what other people say, and I'm getting very tired of it.

Two examples...

1. I was telling a friend about my neighbor, who is a transgender woman. She's very nice. She's the first MTF trans* person I've met, but I had a few of FTM friends in highschool. What I'm saying is, I understand the concept. Still, I have a problem. When I see my neighbor, part of me wants to back away at the site of a man in a dress. I know she isn't a "man in a dress", but it's my first thought based upon how she looks - I can't help it. Maybe it's the stubble on her face or something, I don't know. I respect her, and there is no logical reason for this reaction. It's probably just the conflict of some traditional gender norms that I've internalized. I want to get over this, and I'm going to bring it up with my therapist. No big deal.

But when I told my new (sort of) friend, she got *very* angry at me, and told me how transphobic and arrogant I was.

The thing is, I'm not trying to be mean, and I realize that my feelings need to change. But I'm just being honest about what I'm feeling. I'm also expressing my desire to change. Is that so bad?

2. Someone on tumblr asked me how I felt about legalized prostitution, and I responded with the fact that it's such a complicated issue. I cited a documentary by VICE about Germany's very liberal prostitution laws, and how it's actually benefitted people who engage in sex slavery and human trafficking. I also said how I don't find prostitution objectively wrong.

Boy, was I in hot water.

One of the replies told me how arrogant I was, how I didn't know what I was talking about, and that "prostitute" is a slur. It was suggested that I speak to sex workers before talking about issues that effect them.

Back story: I have spoken to and known sex workers, as well as sex therapists who all are comfortable with the term "prostitute" and "prostitution", and are working to break the stigma around it.


I don't understand. I'm just being honest about how I feel and think, and I want to learn. But people are so mean when it comes to this stuff, policing what I say. I get this from my mother at home, too. She gets deeply offended over things I have no idea she finds offensive (and how can I know if she doesn't tell me?!)

I mean, I'm gay, but i don't freak out when I hear people say how evil we "fags" are. I'm of Ukrainian descent, but I don't get mad and storm off when someone (usually Russian) doesn't like Ukrainians. I'm an atheist, but I listen to religious people - when the ones who think I'm the most evil thing on the planet.

I want to hear what people think and learn about who they are, even if it doesn't fit my narrative of a perfect human being. It comes down to respect, you know?

People just get so offended and mad at me. I thought being liberal was looking at things objectively and being courageous, not freaking out every time someone sneezes wrong.

I'm finding this in many liberal circles, and it drives me crazy. What are your thoughts on things like this?

I think it's important to distinguish between your real-life experiences and some random schmuck on the interwebs? I've encountered the latter a couple times, albeit way, way, way less than the complaints might lead one to believe; the former, never.
(I've had people challenge things like word choices I've made - most often pronouns, actually, though I grant that my pedantry as to the distinction between grammatical gender and social constructs doesn't always help that - but even if confrontational then never in a condemnatory way, and certainly not without leaving room for discussion)

Part of the root of those kinds of responses, I think, lies in the fact that overt bigotry is universally condemned in public these days; the superficially mild reaction is what some use to dress their deeper feelings. I guess that leads to false positives and overly defensive reactions.

Is "policing" a good word to use? Feeling attacked even when our interlocutor considers themselves neutral is a hardwired bug 'feature' of humanity.

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23-08-2015, 10:42 PM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
Some of it could just be cultural differences. Telling someone everything you're thinking just isn't always necessary, especially if it might hurt their feelings.

I was called "delightfully southern" the other day in a complimentary fashion, and I asked the gentleman to clarify. He said he'd been around a lot of people from the Northeast US lately where people are more...abrupt. He said people ask him "Why don't you just say what you mean?" He said I do, I was just raised that there is a polite way to do so, and without hurting someone's feelings.

Just because I think Susie Q's dress is atrocious, does not necessitate they I tell her so. If she asks, I'm still not going to use those words - it would be hurtful. I might say something like "honestly, it's not my favorite," and then give a suggestion for a more flattering cut or color scheme and perhaps bring up a time when I thought she looked fantastic. I would find it quite rude for someone to tell another that their clothing choice is atrocious. Other cultures would be irritated that I don't "speak my mind."


If it's the stubble on her face that bothers you so, maybe suggest she get it waxed? If you're going to criticize someone over what is a very sensitive issue (body image in a trans woman), make it constructive. Otherwise it comes off with you looking like a dick, even if you're being honest.

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24-08-2015, 07:08 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
(23-08-2015 10:42 PM)Nurse Wrote:  If it's the stubble on her face that bothers you so, maybe suggest she get it waxed? If you're going to criticize someone over what is a very sensitive issue (body image in a trans woman), make it constructive. Otherwise it comes off with you looking like a dick, even if you're being honest.

Oh, okay. I see where the problem is with what I told my friend. I would *never* tell this woman that she looked like a man in a dress or anything. I'm trying to deal with my own mental image, and was just trying to ask a friend for help. But I guess some stuff I really should just take to my therapist and leave it at that.

Thanks!
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24-08-2015, 07:15 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
Tumblr... Dodgy




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24-08-2015, 07:39 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
I think it's hard still to talk about gender and sex issues without running into people's personal hot buttons. I'm sorry that you're running into people opposing you with a kneejerk reaction that is just as reflexive and unconsidered as "because God..."
Lots of people don't like talking about things that make them uncomfortable, and in some ways online discussions, where we have time to think about our responses and do research before we reply, can be good places to talk about these topics.
Personal experience also can sensitize or over sensitize people to particular topics. (Like autism is for me)
I do agree that maybe your therapist is the first place to start in discussing feeling uncomfortable around some people, but also agree that your friend's reaction seems a bit aggressive for what you tried to express.
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24-08-2015, 07:41 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
I just accept that some people are gonna see me as a dick, even if I don't think of myself as such. Also, I am a dick.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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24-08-2015, 07:47 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
At the end of the day who cares? Not everyone is going to like everyone else.

I never go around asking people about their private lives because a. I don't care and b. it is not my business.

Let people be who they are and be yourself.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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24-08-2015, 07:48 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
(24-08-2015 07:41 AM)morondog Wrote:  Also, I am a dick.

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24-08-2015, 08:00 AM
RE: Being progressive and policing what people say.
Sometimes this shit pisses me off to no end, other times it just makes me laugh.

People, no matter their cause, are going to jump to asinine conclusions about what you ACTUALLY think. It doesn't matter what is really going on in your head, it's all about what their preconceived notions are.

I was called a homophobe recently and I literally laughed in the person's face. They called me a homophobe because I made a joke about lesbians to a lesbian friend. Her SJW buddy nearly bit my head off because all she saw was a cis white male... not the guy who was having a barbecue that weekend where half the invitees were gay. Even after my friend told her to calm the fuck down, she continued on to tell me that I wasn't allowed to make those kinds of jokes because... feels or someshit.

Fuck that type of thinking. That type of combative mentality isn't helping anyone.

Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense. You're just not keeping up.

"Let me give you some advice, bastard: never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you." - Tyrion Lannister
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