Over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog there was a post back in July that featured this image from VeganStreet.com:
The image creators said they were inspired to make it because: "This is a version of those cute little "All I want to do is drink wine, take naps and cuddle puppies" t-shirts for people who really want to make a positive change in the world."
All well and good, right?
Not so fast...if you want to take the time to look at the original offering of the image you can scroll through some of the comments and find that...whoa...a number of people apparently got all riled up over various aspects of the image...which you will note is just a statement that someone wants to end the oppression of the marginalized groups identified as women, people of color (not that separating 'race' and 'gender' is really possible) and animals. What is there to object to? Apparently a lot, judging from some of the comments.
I tend to not engage with (committed) naysayers because I have this (absolutely personal and not empirically confirmed...not systematically anyway) notion (hypothesis) that if someone has a strong enough negative reaction to statements about ending racism and/or patriarchy and/or and/or...to be willing to openly and forcefully state their objections then "engaging" with them is pretty much an exercise in futility that almost invariably causes me much more upset and/or dismay than any gain there might be in jousting with such potent certainty. I've rarely had anything worthwhile (that I was aware of) come out of doing any back and forth with such folks.
Some people seem to enjoy that sort of stuff...I don't. I tend to end up feeling sad and beat-up as a result of such exchanges. When I was younger and a bit less jaded (?) than I am now, I sometimes would get into it with such folks but not so much anymore.
Notice that I'm not saying I'm unwilling to dialogue with someone who might disagree with these sentiments...I'm saying I'm unwilling to engage with those who disagree (resist?) and are so certain of the validity of their objections that they're willing to strongly assert their displeasure in some sort of public or open forum. The important thing isn't the disavowal or skepticism (although that's troubling)...the big factor here is the power of the motivation and the certainty behind those dismissals.
My speculation is that when a strong pushback like that is encountered...it is most likely driven by great fear and/or pain and dealing with such stuff is not likely to be resolved in any kind of online doings. Very often when you encounter strong anger or outrage the underlying factors include a great deal of fear/threat/pain. Folks who attempt to deal with those personal factors by angry attacking or dismissal of what scares them usually aren't inclined to do much exploring and/or thinking. They're interested in obliterating that which disturbs them...not in exploring issues and/or experiences.
Glancing over some of the comments associated with the image above shows that there are a number of folks who figure that they know all they need to know and exposing them to some broader picture about manifestations of oppression is unwanted and even offensive to them...i.e....it upsets them and they're motivated to attack/destroy that which bothers them. That might mean attacking the notions that spook them...or...it might mean attacking whomever offered such notions.
I'm reminded of the phrase "often wrong...but always certain" when I read some of those comments.
I am frequently uncomfortable when I feel tentative and uncertain about what I think I know...however that discomfort seems a small price to pay for striving to not be oblivious to the amazingly devious and subtle ways that oppression permeates western European societies and manifests itself here in the USA.
It seems astonishingly obvious to me, now anyway, that resisting and interrupting harm to those with little or less social power is an often difficult and complex task. I didn't used to be aware of that...which, by the way, is exactly how societies drenched in oppression want you to think. Nope...I don't think that way anymore but that doesn't mean I don't get fooled by subtle (or obvious) presentations of oppression...I do...and often...but...hopefully not as much as previously. That's an improvement...I think.
Tell ya what...go read the excellent blog post and then go poke around in the comments about the image and see what you think.
I've come to accept that striving to decrease and/or end my harming of other living beings is a difficult and demanding journey and anytime I think I've "arrived"...that's when I'm most likely to be full of crap. I know for sure though that I really don't want to be as obtuse and filled with fear driven oblivious certainty as some of those commenters seem to be.
It's unlikely any of them would don white robes and burn crosses and/or assault women...but...those who reject the pervasiveness of oppression in this society are exhibiting and participating in the core of obliviousness that supports and upholds such awfulness and perpetuates the "normal" systemic and institutional oppression and harming of living beings who are are identified as members of marginalized groups.
Such denial facilitates and is complicit in harm...whether intended or not...and that's just not ok.
We are all in this together no matter how much we might pretend we are not and harming others is both unnecessary and repugnant...and...because we've been socialized to not notice it or recognize it...it's often disgustingly difficult to detect and comprehend.
We can do better than that. I know that to be true simply because my understanding has expanded over the past couple of years...and...if a really old white man can become more aware (and hopefully less inadvertently hurtful)...then so can we all.