My concern for you is genuine,
It’s heartfelt, true, and strong
And it hurts my very soul to see
The way they do you wrong
Now, I’ve got a few suggestions
Of some things that you could do
So just put your life on hold
While I pontificate to you.
I’m a Social Justice Warrior
And you know I’m on your side
In the fight against inequities
Which cannot be denied
It is clear that change is needed
It is clear our views align
But… it’s just… I’d like it better
If the plans you use were mine
Don’t you see? I am your ally!
One you dare not risk to lose!
So my clever new idea
Is the one you ought to choose!
Okay, fine, my help’s not wanted!
Suit yourselves—it’s just as well.
If you disrespect your allies
Well, then, fuck you—go to hell!
It occurs to me that the sort of ally described here will see himself described and say “finally, someone gets it!”
I’ve been doing less writing recently (as some commenters have noted), but a lot more reading and listening. In part that is because things are going quite well in meatspace (I tend to write more when I get anxious), and in part that is because, in fixing a computer, I lost my old aggregator and started reading about other things instead. Stuff outside my areas of expertise, where my urge to help was tempered by the knowledge that I was an ignorant outsider.
I did note, though, that being an ignorant outsider was not stopping everybody.
And I noted (or rather, saw it pointed out over and over again, across many different populations) a subgroup of ignorant outsiders who were offended when their offers of help were not met with thanks, cookies, and glitter. This verse is for them.
Oh, and probably this verse, too.
Lesbian Catnip says
When I first transitioned, a friend of mine offered me some of her old clothes. We had similar ish bodies and they even started to fit well after a few months of hormone replacements. Every time she sees me in one of her pieces she comments something to the effect of “I recognise that! *wink wink*”
I kind of want to say: “Congratulations. Do you want a fucking cookie for donating old clothes you no longer like to a person who swallowed their pride and accepted them because her employment prospects tanked when she transitioned?”
If you’re doing charity because you want thanks, you’re doing it wrong.
Common Sense says
Allies, or “why so many people aren’t feminists.”
Common Sense, that whooshing sound you just heard going over your head was the point of the poem.
Cuttlefish, my dear, you simply rock.
Common Sense @ #2, did you notice this line in the OP?
Thank you for providing such a perfect illustration of the point ably made by the eloquent cuttlefish.
Al Dente says
I was thinking about how Black Lives Matter took over Bernie Sanders’ rally some days ago. Initially I was annoyed that BLM disrupted an ally’s meeting. Then I realized that I was tone trolling, putting how something was done and what was said over what was done and said.
I’m a white, cis-hetro, middle-aged, middle-class, white man. The only people more privileged than me are Prince Charles, Warren Buffett and others of that ilk. The last time I got stopped by a cop he was polite to me, our discussion was amicable, and he let me off with a warning. I can pay lip service to the concept of Black Lives Matter because it’s academic for me. So when BLM interrupted Sanders’ meeting and were booed by the crowd, I initially agreed with the crowd. Upon reflection, however, a progressive, liberal audience wanted to silence marginalized people. They, and I, were not allies.
Al Dente @#6– That (and subsequent discussion on twitter) was the most direct inspiration for this verse. I actually had another verse started, but abandoned it as making the whole thing specific to one issue. I much prefer it to be more broadly applicable.
Tony! The Queer Shoop says
Al Dente @6:
Thank you for recognizing that. Your comment really brightened my day. I spent quite a bit of time debating with ostensibly well-meaning liberals (and some progressives) who disagreed with the actions of the BLM activists who disrupted Bernie’s last rally. So many of them focused more on the interruption of the rally without paying attention to the reason for the interruption. It was disheartening to see so many supposed allies telling black people to sit down, and wait for the correct time to speak up about the injustices facing African-Americans. It was kind of a slap in the face to be told to put off your crusade for racial justice because you shouldn’t interrupt a white person.
So yeah, thanks again.
Lesbian Catnip @ 1
I totally agree with you and am reminded of a letter to an advice columnist that I saw years ago. A woman had been sending a check to her niece on her birthday every year, but had never been thanked. One year she wrote a thank you in the endorsement area on the back of the check, so that by cashing the check the niece would sign a thank you. The niece tore up the check and mailed it back. The aunt was astonished. It struck me that it was a protest against control on the part of the niece. My independence is worth more to me than your money, so to speak. It is something that I could even imagine myself doing, although the situation has never arisen.
OTOH If you want or need charity and do something like that, don’t be surprised if some of your sources dry up, human nature being what it is.
Also it would be nice if it could be determined when someone just needs a sympathetic ear for their complaints or is looking for advice. Some folks set up problems so that they admit to no solution, and then complain bitterly about them. After this has gone on for a while I lose interest, because I have better things to do with my time than to feel sorry for someone who spends all of their time feeling sorry for themselves.
NateHevens. He who hates straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men (not really) says
I think, the next time I see an “ally” beg for recognition, I’m just going to link them to a cookie recipe.
I love this one, by the way, Cuttlefish. Great stuff.
Superb (as usual).
Also, this character is a depressingly common one. Ugh.
Pieter B, FCD says
Well done. There’s also the ignorant outsider who suggests something that’s basic to the movement as if it were a novel idea, which said IO would have realized if they’d just listened for a little while.
Nice illustration of the verse. You recognize that some people are not looking for advise but for a sympathetic ear, yet you seem to insist on wanting to solve the problem for them and when they make it clear that is not what they want, you are off. You are not interested in being supportive the way they want to be supported.
Tony! The Queer Shoop says
Pieter B @12:
That response is contained (somewhat) in the advice given to African-Americans after Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford interrupted Bernie Sanders. Liberals and progressives criticized them for storming the stage and taking the mike, basically saying that “this isn’t how you do proper activisim”. Implicit in that is the idea that they [white liberals and progressives] know better how to advocate for the movement than the people who are in it. As if their suggestion of “be polite and don’t interrupt the nice white man” was something Johnson and Willaford hadn’t already considered. I trust that they had already considered and rejected that idea.
It was patronizing…at best…and really, I found it deeply insulting (given what continues to be at stake in the U.S. for black people).
“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” had, among the stereotyping nonsense, one bit of advice in it that was actually useful. It was the (to me, at the time) staggering news that when someone tells you they have a problem, they are not necessarily asking you to immediately offer your solution. My instinctive reaction on being presented with a problem used to be immediately to begin working on a solution, and to present that solution.That’s what was expected every hour of every day at school and university from the age of four, so I’m guessing that habit formed there, at least in part. Here’s a problem, come up with the answer, give the answer, repeat until lunchtime then again all afternoon, those solutions are good, have a cookie. And it’s obviously not just me – this reaction is common enough that Gray decided it was a “thing” that needed addressing. Learning to offer a sympathetic ear WITHOUT kneejerk-offering a “solution” is hard because of the conditioning we all receive. From an early age we’re taught that the deal is: listen to problem – give solution – receive cookie. Is it any suprise that on non-delivery of cookies people get huffy?
I don’t have a solution. All I can offer is the observation that if you listen supportively and don’t offer solutions, people seem to like that.
(Unless they were, actually looking for a solution. And the great thing about that situation is this: if they actually want a solution, if they want your advice – they tell you that. You don’t have to guess.)