activist conflict

Is it better to be polite and swallow down your fury–a truth–to appease to those making tone arguments, those who are wrongfully in power, those who oppress you with murder and rape and different forms of silent but deadly manifested violence, and to work within the system to change it, or is it better to spare no one from the truth and have them expel you leaving you with virtually nothing you can do–and no access–to change the system?

If the former is more productive than the latter, is it a flaw of character in the activist to take this direction that is inclined to result in more productivity? Will future generations look to us as they do today to Marry Wollstonecraft and think, “She argued for the rights of women but she was hardly a feminist–why did she water down the truth of the atrocities committed by men? Real feminists spare no one from the truth; she seems more a coward.”?

I’ve heard this before, this accusation. And to me it almost sounds like a subtle form of victim blaming. Blame those who are oppressed for not educating the privileged. And yet the guilt is still there when I pause myself, and I shame myself for not being fiercer, more truthful, for playing into how it works. It’s the responsibility of the activist, I’ve heard over and over; at the same time it is those in power, who abuse their power, who are to blame completely. Why do we forget so easily?

2 thoughts on “activist conflict

  1. I think that one of the things we often forget is the power of diversity in our movements. Not just diversity of background and experience, but diversity of personalities and inclinations. Greta Christina (an atheist/LGBT activist) always says, "Let firebrands be firebrands, and let diplomats be diplomats". I find that to be incredibly powerful advice. Some of us are always going to be more comfortable on one side of that or the other- or on one side or the other at a particular time and place. We need people who'll reach out to others, find common ground and be the 'friendly' faces of our movements. We also need people who will stick to their guns and speak up, no matter what. We need both.Also, I couldn't agree more regarding the victim blaming. Marginalised people do what they need to do to get by, to get through the day, to carve out livable and joyful lives for themselves within societies which oppress them. That isn't playing into the system. It's surviving it. The responsibility and blame are always with those who benefit from systems of oppression and marginalisation. And that's always privileged people and groups.

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  2. We need both.We need the kind person who educates, and we need the person who yells at people for being stupid.We need the activist who makes deals and concessions to get a few troops out of Iraq, and we need the activist who marches chanting WHAT DO WE WANT? PEACE. WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW.Neither way is right; neither way is wrong; both are necessary. Whether you choose one or the other or a compromise depends on your personality, privilege, lifestyle…

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