Dirty Nerdy here!
For those not “in the know”, I went on a twitter rant last night. Basically I saw in the course of three days multiple friends get told by others that certain personal choices they were making were “bad for the movement”. In these cases, the movements they were referencing were either feminism or queer rights, and not, as it happens, movement of bowels or a self-contained part of a musical composition.
“Girls, stop telling men you have boyfriends to get them to leave you alone…BECAUSE OTHERWISE IT’S BAD FOR THE MOVEMENT”
There are many iterations of this. Pretty much any feminist who says that a woman must stop using [insert survival tactic here] to avoid or deflect harassment is falling for the #badforthemovement argument. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of day-to-day choices that individuals have to make that could be construed as bad for whatever movement they are involved in, and I have no problem with analyzing these choices and explaining what is problematic with them and how they might perpetuate sexism. HOWEVER criticism should be extended to the system that creates these awful choices in the first place, not to those who are forced to make them.
This argument also comes from certain MRAs who espouse that lying is always wrong and should never be used, therefore women are horrible lying liars who lie to men all the time. The liars.
Heina Dadabhoy wrote a great piece exploring this particular argument. READ IT NOW!!!
“Gays/bisexuals stop playing pronoun games and be COMPLETELY OPEN about your sexual orientation all the time…BECAUSE OTHERWISE IT’S BAD FOR THE MOVEMENT”
Ok, so while the first example I gave is an argument put forth by fellow feminists (albeit still of the middle to upper-class white variety), I’ve never heard this argument from fellow queers. I’ve only ever heard this argument used by straight cis people. It’s almost always in a “you should be educating people” tone. It takes a special kind of privilege-blind ignorance to tell a queer person that they should not only be in charge of educating all those poor straight people about queer issues at all times, but that they should also do so openly as a queer person. While there *is* some research that says bigots become slightly less bigoted after being around the object of their bigotry for some time, there’s even *more* research that shows queer people (especially queer people of color, and ESPECIALLY trans women of color) are at higher risks of being violently assaulted and/or murdered when bigots find out about their queerness. Aside from the terribleness that is straight cis people telling queer people how to activist, this is just terrible advice.
This type of argument isn’t only relegated to the choices that feminists and queer people make. You can find this kind of #badforthemovement advice in pretty much any social justice movement. And pretty much every time it’s trotted out, you will hear me say: Fuck the movement. Your personal safety is more important. If anybody ever tries to say you have a “moral obligation” to the betterment of an activist movement, and that “moral obligation” will potentially put you in danger, then THEY are the ones doing it wrong. Not you. I’m not saying that we should never do anything that might put us in danger or our livelihoods on the line, but it should not be demanded of us. If somebody is demanding you do something “for the good of the cause” that directly conflicts with your personal safety (or with your personal ethics), then just run away. Run far away from that person.
If you’re interested, you can see my twitter rant on this topic by searching #badforthemovement . Fair warning: there are poo jokes
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