Those who want you dead…July 5, 2014
I heard an accusation. But what she and my Dad were trying to make me hear was their question:Why do you love a thing that won’t even let you exist within their made up worlds?
The issue for marginalized folks in any geekdom is navigating this issue, all the time, every time: how much of my money do I want to give to people who literally want me dead?
Your options come down to three choices, all of which are terrible:
Speak no evil
Participate, enjoy to what you can, try to endure or avoid and say nothing. You avoid some drama, but you’re always subject to microaggressions, and nothing changes. Enjoy feeling like you contribute to people prospering who want you to die.
Walk away. You do not give money or fame to the people who hate you. You’ve been driven out of a geekdom, fandom, gamer space and have cut out yet ANOTHER thing you love, out of your life and the question of how much of this is you making good boundaries vs. them controlling your life sits at the edge of your mind.
Speak up and be a target
Participate, but point out the problems. Suffer the inevitable backlash and harassment. The more outreach you get, the more violent and neverending the backlash. People defend dehumanization with… death and assault threats, harassment, stalking, and attempting to destroy your job and life and mental health.
All three of these are terrible choices. There’s not even necessarily a “right” choice, as all of these are coping mechanisms in the face of what clearly is a hostile and fucked up social problem. It’s not just because there’s people who want you dead, there’s people who are OK WITH people who want you dead. Is that really a space in which you can have fun?
Watch people demand you define which choice you take, and justify it, while never making the same effort to demand the people spewing hate shit to justify anything.
There’s a fourth option, and the only one I’ll condemn every time:
Defend it and pretend it’s a reasonable situation
Whether that’s an out and out denial, or “Well, this one person is a problem” while ignoring the fact 200 people sat by and did nothing while the one person spews their shit, or, worse, they supported them.
And I can see how people get to this point; they don’t want to admit the fact the whole thing is fucked up. These people they thought were friends, they thought they had community, but in fact, all of this isn’t true. When your humanity is partial, being abused is normal and you are expected to take it without complaint to “be accepted” in a community?
The heart of the whole situation is the same old racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc. that you find in society in general. The only thing geekdom does different is it’s target: they want to destroy your imagination.
And I think a lot about what kind of mentality refuses to even let you find joy in imagination, and moreso, the mentality of the people who are ok to watch these people do what they do…
ETA: Almost a year later, we can see people writing parallels about leaving Reddit as it has become a haven of violent white supremacists.