Storify: Marginalized Groups Do Not Agree On Everything

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Daily reminder that marginalized groups will never agree on broader terms FOR said group, and we try to navigate respectfully around that.

Some people in fat activism are truly, legitimately, validly triggered by being called "fat". I've heard from physically challenged people who are deeply, fairly, validly triggered by "disability" hashtags. There are valid in-group fights about the reclamation of slurs. People who can't visit sites with b*tch, c*nt, or tr***y in the name. I've known LBGT+ people who were truly, deeply, fairly upset at having the umbrella term "queer" applied to people in those groups.

In an individual case, always-always-always ask first. ("What words would you like me to use?") In group cases... I honestly don't know if there's a way around this problem. It's a bigger problem than just me. Because literally every word in every language hurts SOMEONE. Validly, legitimately, fairly. I don't know, you guys. It's a problem.

And here's where people are gonna get mad at me, but *deep breath* If you don't like a term being accepted widely, by all means talk about that. Change minds on your timeline. If you don't like a term being used on/about you, by all means speak up. People better respect that, or they're being jerks. But coming into my mentions to argue widely-accepted in-group terminology that I haven't applied to you? High spoons, low reward.

I am not on the in-group terminology board for any of this. Not for fat, nor queer, nor gay, nor trans, nor disabled, nor crip, none of it. Movements change over time. People speak out. Language evolves. Words come in and out of vogue. Participate in that, yes. Absolutely. BUT.

Example: I'll add something with regard to how I use Assigned Gender At Birth, with the caveat that not everyone does (or should!) agree with me. To me, Assigned Gender At Birth is a historical statement abt what people did. It has no bearing on my body. It does not reference genitals. While I was a baby and unable to express my preferences, certain people assigned a gender to me. They were wrong.

But "AFAB" doesn't read to me as "born with a vagina". I don't know (or care) what criteria people used to assign a gender. A gender was assigned. They could have drawn lots for all I care. They made a pick, and that pick was either right or wrong. Now, other people may validly find that term harmful, which is why you should ask before you use it. Always ask!

That's about it. EVERY group has disagreements on terminology. It is literally impossible for everyone to agree, ever. All we can do is our best to listen and help each other. But sometimes you still disagree and that's just how it is. *sad shrug* But if you're coming at me over a term and you don't have an alternative term to suggest I use, I don't know what to tell you. My activism for trans rights -- which includes self-activism! -- requires that I be able to communicate. Words are necessary for communication.

Another day, another reminder: Regular reminder that members of oppressed in-groups do not agree on everything. A privileged person's job is to listen to those multiple voices and learn. Their job is NOT to pick a side and start clobbering.

Example 1: there are a LOT of rape survivors in the world, and we have many varied opinions on "rape fantasies" in erotica, porn, etc.

Example 2: there are a LOT of trans folk who were appalled by the sharing of that recent medium post re: transitioning as Our Narrative.

Example 3: disability activists are going to disagree on a LOT of stuff, like assisted suicide and language and everything else, tbh.

So try not to get so excited at learning a thing that you share it as the ONLY way. I know it's easy to do!!

Another day, more reminders: I am not going to give up nouns as a concept.

I was just informed that we shouldn't use the noun "ally" because "it makes things about you". That is how nouns work, yes. I have to put a NAME to a GROUP of people with SHARED CHARACTERISTICS in order to tell them NOT to do a harmful thing. Making something "about you" is integral to telling you to stop causing harm. Centering is not, in itself, a harmful thing to avoid.

For the record, I tend to use ally as a verb because I view it as a process and not a state of being that you achieve, but nouns have value. Learn why parts of speech exist. I am a professional writer with an actual shiny university degree in this subject. Taking activism thoughtlessly up to eleven like this ("don't use nouns! they're centering!") is rampant foolishness posing as expertise.


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