** Content warning for discussion of micro agressions and macro agressions against gay people, bi people, disabled people, people from ethnic minorities, trans* people, non-affluent people, asexual people and women **
Okay, so this is a thing that I've been putting off partly because I wanted to do it right and the finishing touches could do with a delicate hand and partly because it was easier to put it off and so I did.
Through being the person I am (white, male, cis and affluent), I have through my life formed friendships with people who are perfectly pleasant when interacting with me, but who are living secret lives as horrible bigots. I've done this without realising because it does actually take an active effort to notice when someone is discriminatory towards a group that you are not in.
However, that is not an excuse for not trying to make that effort and root out those people. I would like for all my friends to be able to be in the company of all of my other friends without fear of harassment or bigotry, not because I'm some kind of moral puritan, but because I don't want to be inadvertently resposible for ruining someone's day. Today someone who I previously counted as a friend did something that was kinda day ruining for another friend of mine. I'm sorry doing this took me so long.
Establishing just exactly who is a bigot and who isn't is tough and something that will require more effort than a single half hour blog, but the first sweep is easy.
So here is a questionaire:
1. The gender of parents seeking to adopt is:
a) Not an issue, why would it be an issue?
b) Something we should be discussing, the jury's still out.
c) Kids need one parent of each gender. (And that means two parents, obviously, what else would it mean)
a) Horribly hetero-sexist
b) A joke right?
c) Makes a fair point.
3. Men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months are excluded from the blood service because:
a) Homophobic stereotypes that made it into old policy are purposefully not changed. Three guesses why.
b) Possibly statistically valid reasons? I'd have to do some research before voicing an opinion.
c) Numbers don't lie and safety comes before political correctness.
4. If you found out your partner was bisexual or pansexual you would:
a) Not care, if they're into your gender then where's the problem?
b) Faintly concerned, but only from a statistical "they have more people to cheat on me with" standpoint.
c) Dump them, you're not a bisexual and dating one just isn't a thing you can see yourself doing.
5. A teenage girl says that she's bisexual, is she:
a) Bisexual, weren't you listening?
b) Probably bisexual, but then teenagers say a lot of shit.
c) Probably a straight girl trying to look cool.
6. I mention that I have a boyfriend now, you:
a) Are happy for me, relationships are often nice.
b) Are kinda confused, didn't I have a girlfriend for most of the past 3 years?
c) Are surprised, usually you can tell if someone is gay.
7. Someone uses "lame" as a syononym for "bad", this is:
a) Not very nice, why would you use a perjorative that is used against certain disabled groups as a synonym for bad? That'd serve to dehumanise the groups.
b) Nothing wrong, people don't use that word as a perjorative and historical meanings of words are basically irrelevant.
c) Completely reasonable, it is just inherrently bad to not be able to walk.
8. Someone is horribly depressed and unable to leave the house for an event you'd planned with (just) them. Your reaction is:
a) To be sympathetic and ask whether they'd like you to come over, be useful in some other way or whether they'd just like to be left alone.
b) Again? They did this last time and it makes planning things with them not feel worth doing. It must suck for them though.
c) This person needs to get a reality check and start taking responsibility for their own productivity. Everyone gets sad at times, most of us just deal.
9. The word "ATOS" fills you with:
a) Fear, loathing and disgust.
b) Who are they? I got a shiver down my spine when you said the word, but haven't actually heard of them before. I'll go google them now so I can be a more educated and useful person.
c) Those lovely folks who help sick people back into work? A necessary cog in the welfare system, without which people just end up using benefits as a crutch*.
10. A friend from an ethnic minority tells you that a word you said is racist. You have no previous knowledge of this word having racist connotations. Your reaction is:
a) To apologise for not paying more attention and to promise never to use the word again.
b) To google the word in question to double check, and then never use that word around that friend again.
c) But you didn't mean it in that way. How dare they accuse you of being a racist?
11: Your friend goes to Superdrug and they have no products that cater to her hair type or skin tone. This is:
a) A very real prop to the edifice of strutural racism, relating to how women of colour are significantly treated as invalid women.
b) Probably racist, but not the worst part of it.
c) A valid marketing decision on the part of Superdrug. They have to turn a profit, you know.
12: Romany people are:
a) A horrifically demonised group, even among people with few other racist beliefs.
b) Probably treated unfairly by the media.
c) Part of a culture that makes them unable to integrate into normal society.
13. (With hopefully a little bit of self awareness.) You note that your white friend is writing anything about racism, your reaction is:
a) Suspicion, it's nice of them to try and all, but what the hell do they know?
b) Well it's good of them to be an active ally, and they are the sort of person who reads lots of blogs.
c) Why is their whiteness relavent? This question is racist.
14. A friend requests that you use the pronoun "they" to refer to them from now on. You respond by:
a) Using that pronoun for them from now on. Even if you've not done it before, you're a grown-up who can quietly adjust without further discussion.
b) Use 'they' with some errors, which you apologise for at great length every time. Enjoy relaxing into binary pronouns when they're not around.
c) Refuse - it's ungrammatical, and your feelings about the grammar of the famously standardised and consistent English language are far more important than someone's trendy identity. Doesn't he/she realise this is hard for other people?
15. A woman is trans and says "I am a woman". This statement:
a) Requires no qualification, even if you didn't find it obvious.
b) Isn't the same as if a cis woman said it, in that it's not all the information, but it's not really my business.
c) Isn't the same as if a cis woman said it, and she should be legally obliged to qualify that she means "trans woman" in some circumstances.
16. The word 'cis' is:
a) A neutral and welcome descriptor. It's good that we now have a counterpoint to 'trans' that's on the same linguistic level.
b) Not a word I know the definition of. I'll google that now.
c) An insulting word made up by trendy trans activists who don't accept that I don't need labels. I'm just normal and they won't let me be.
17. You have a friend who is a cis gay man. He expresses disgust about vaginas and links this to his sexuality. He is:
a) Probably mostly misogynistic, but also ragingly transphobic.
b) Speaking in bad taste, but he gets a bit of a pass on this stuff, because he has to deal with being maligned for his sexuality.
c) Completely reasonable, that's his sexuality, right? Don't yuck others' yums!
18: You read a story about someone who is on benefits owning a flat-screen TV. You:
a) Don't link this to their benefit-recipient status or their right to such.
b) Accept this, because who knows, maybe it was a gift. You don't know, and the media likes to spin these things.
c) Think their benefits should be cut. Why not sell such extravagances before burdening the public purse?
19: You are organising a night out that involves going to a restaurant, which will probably cost about a tenner per head. Beforehand, you:
a) In reasonable privacy, check this is OK with everyone. Not everyone can afford to just blow a tenner to hang out with friends.
b) Choose a restaurant that seems reasonable to you and has cheaper options that you percieve to be affordable.
c) Book ahead. All your friends are people it's fun to go out with, and people who can't afford a night out aren't going to be any fun.
20: The word 'chav' is:
a) An unacceptably classist word to apply to anyone.
b) In bad taste but funny.
c) A descriptor for those people in trackies outside the jobcentre, blowing their JSA on tacky jewelry and fags.
21. The Tories are:
a) Not to be trusted.
b) Not a party I would ever vote for, but they believe they're doing the right thing.
c) A group which I'm proud to be a member of.
22. Asexual people are:
a) A group that I educated myself about or am a part of.
b) Not something I know about - is it related to autism or something?
c) Welcome to their label, but almost certainly the result of trauma or repression.
23: An asexual person tells you they write erotica. You:
a) Take in this information and remind yourself not to visit their tumblr at work.
b) Are a little surprised, but assimilate this into your understanding of asexuality, reminding yourself to google in your own time.
c) Question their asexuality.
24: Street harrasment is:
a) A clear product of the sense of entitlement men in our society are raised with and something women should never have to tolerate.
b) Something I would never raise my sons to think is OK, but also probably a fact of human nature.
c) A compliment.
25: Campaigns that teach women how not to get raped are:
a) Part of the problem and enabling rape culture.
b) Not the best approach, but all campaigns on this issue are probably a good thing, right? It's not like people don't know rape is bad.
c) A valid approach, rapists are rapists and unreachable. Women need to take responsibility for navigating that. I wouldn't leave my front door unlocked then complain about getting burgled would I?
26: The pay gap is:
a) Misrepresented. The discourse should include that 77 percent is an average and that race, sexuality and trans status all affect the pay gap for groups of women.
b) Awful and we should work to change that 77 percent stat!
c) Misrepresented. It's due to women not being as proactive or productive, rather than any unfairness.
27: Feminist terminology:
a) Can be alienating, but that's to do with how feminism intersects with class, English as a first language, etc, rather than being to do with men.
b) Is understandable to everybody.
c) Short-sightedly alienates men who would otherwise be allies and is often misandric.
* See question seven for the phrase "using as a crutch".
Tot up your results before reading the rest of this blog.
All 'a)': Well done, you meet some minimum standards. Cookies are available at the counter on your way out (bit.ly/9ta00D).
Any 'b)': Uhm, we need to talk. It sounds like there is a thing you may not have thought through completely, and you could be accidentally being hurtful (on the same token, if I have done something here that is harmful at all here or elsewhere, please apply the same standards to me).
Majority 'b)' but not 'c)': We really need to talk, soon, this stuff matters.
Any 'c)': We never need to talk again. Arrange that please. You can also stop reading now.
So I've marked the 'b)'s as less absoultely horrible than the 'c)'s. If you're in a group that I'm not in, and you feel I'm not sufficiently horrified by some of the 'b)'s, feel free to let me know and I'll make what ever edits you like. The same applies for if I've missed something obvious, focussed in the wrong place, or screwed up in some other fashion. Suggested edits for things to do with groups I am in are also welcome from people in those groups.
Note that if you've answered lots of 'b)'s (but no 'c)'s) then that's not necessarily a problem, so long as you're willing to talk to someone about it (and do some googling yourself, there are lots of good 101s out there).
I hope that I can still be friends with most of you, but I really would like people to follow the instructions at the end of the questionnaire. I am seriously not interested in hearing defences of any 'c)'-grade beliefs or continuing friendships with those that hold them. On an irrelevant note, watch this space, I'm hopefully gonna start blogging regularly again soon.