Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Some days I love the work that I do.  Other days I think, this is NOT worth the mental energy it takes to fight off ignorant and willfully inflammatory remarks. Oh, did I mention I work in a women's center?  Yes, I think the education we do is valuable, yes, I'm fighting the good fight, yes, I want to make the world a safer and more equitable place for ALL people. (Contrary to popular belief, Feminisim does not mean stepping on men to get to the top. Really.)  But, well, remarks from people like that are to be expected, and it's part of our continuing outreach.

Sometimes though, the people I work with, who are supposed to be allies in this fight, are so fucking pedantic and self-righteous I think it would just be easier to give up and become a Michelle Bachmann acolyte.

What am I angry about today?  Well, I was contacted by a community member who wanted resources on reaching out to a recent immigrant family that was planning on "circumcising" (aka- Female Genital Mutilation) their young daughter.  The community member worried that she, as a white person, would come across as imperialistic or colonialist and imposing her view when discussing this with them. She didn't want the message about the extreme health risks to be lost just because she was the messenger.  Thoughtful, yes?

In reaching out to my list of contacts I stated that I was looking for someone who was themselves an immigrant member of that ethnic group or an American of that descent... who was also knowledgeable about FGM.

Apparently that last bit was terribly difficult to comprehend as I got back a snarky email telling me how offensive it was that I was asking for someone who was an American descendant of that ethnic group to talk to the family. I was told that it was compared to asking a German American to explain Naziism. (Really? Isn't that a prime example of Godwin's law? But I digress.)

I wrote back, politely, explaining that I wasn't just looking for ANY RANDOM PERSON of XYZ descent, but one who knew about FGM.


It just annoys me. I feel like it's people like that who drive away fledgling allies to progressive causes.  (e.g. "Oh, you're supportive of transsexual rights? Really? Because calling them transsexual is HORRIBLY offensive, you bigot. Why don't you go back to watching FoxNews."... I wish I could say that was an exaggeration, but that is actually the condensed version of a conversation I overheard not long ago.)

It just makes me want to give up all together. You're damned if you do, and damned if  you don't, right?

It reminds me of a fundraiser I organized for cancer research when I was in high school.  It was in honor of two classmates, both of whom died of cancer, but only one of the classmates was a friend of mine.  I BEGGED the friends of the other classmate to help me organize the fundraiser, but none of them wanted to put in the time.  After the fundraiser I sure got a lot of hell though! I got hell because people didn't like the type of fundraiser it was, (a dance. Too joyous apparently, given that they had both died.), the music played, (the other classmate didn't like that artist, didn't I know that?), the specific charity money was given to (the other classmate didn't die of that TYPE of cancer, didn't I know that?)... etc, etc, etc.  In fact, I never got more criticism-- from people who refused to help or give input-- than when I put on that fundraiser.

Flash forward to the present day. Sure, I now give money to causes, but I haven't volunteered to help run a charity event since.  No wonder, right? Who would after that previous experience.

Today's little exchange just makes me want to throw in the towel on doing diversity/gender education.  WTF is the point when even the people who are supposed to be on your team only criticize instead of help?

I fucking hate everyone today.

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