Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Ignorance, Or Weltschmerz Is A Great Word

Today, I had a pretty great conversation with some friends about the difficulty of being an aware and analytical feminist in the presence of those that have yet to, as has been coined by those more clever than me and I totally stole it, "see the Matrix." Since I managed to rock some seriously verbose posts, it seemed only proper that I should then translate them into a blog post.

Post #1:
For those of us that see the Matrix, it's quite easy to be judgmental of and angry with those that don't. Like, how can they not see what is so very obvious?! IT'S EVERYWHERE. However, since I find rage is only really gratifying when it is both a) righteous, and b) understood by those around me, I try to temper my dealings with those still stuck in the Matrix to something more manageable and that will help them understand. Although, to be fair, I also come from the place of privilege of taking up enough space (both physically and in terms of personality) that it is generally easier for me to have my voice heard and respected.

Overall, it's crappy. They only see what They've been groomed to see and are confused as to why We are angry about it. We don't understand how They can't see what's wrong and aren't angry.

Still so much work to do.


A friend of mine then had this to say:


The Matrix analogy is possibly the best one I have seen regarding "reading someone in" versus "chewing someone out". The average Joe isn't really aware of the problem, still. The so-called "Men's Rights" idiots are more like Cypher. They are aware of the problem, and they LIKE the Matrix, so they are happy to sabotage efforts to make things better.


To which I dutifully replied that Cypher and his ilk are the reason we can't have nice things. Seriously, that freakin' guy...

Anyway, I then go on to contemplate the pros and cons of reading someone in.

Post #2:
It takes a lot of time and energy to read someone in, and sometimes it's not an investment that will pay off.


Another friend (whose original post, "Heteronormative assumptions are fucking weird," got this whole discussion started) then made this very valid point:


Especially when we're all ALREADY on a RESEARCH MACHINE.


And then, my next dissertative* reply:

Post #3:
That can be both a blessing and a curse. Looking up the name of that actor you've seen in a billion things but can never remember their name or checking out the Wikipedia article on European Swallows is one thing. Sorting through the vast ocean of information there is out there on gender roles/stereotypes, sexuality, and feminism in general is a horse of a different color. What's a reliable source? Who are the people out there that are the reasonable, informative voices? Am I gonna end up seein' one o' them bra-burnin' man-hatin' extremists sites? It's a huge issue to tackle, and there really isn't much in the way of easy answers many of us have become accustomed to finding when we go to the internet for information.

To reiterate, because I don't want my meaning mistaken, I do not now nor would I ever absolve the uninformed of their responsibility to educate themselves. It isn't our responsibility to hold their wittle hands and gently explain everything in detail so as not to bruise their fragile wittle egos. If I have learned anything from my time spent among those training to be teachers, it is that not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. Beyond that, absolutely, if someone is genuinely interested in learning more on the topic, they should show a little initiative. But it is hard. It's hard making the effort to learn, and it's hard bearing the burden of knowledge once you do.


And now we're all caught up! :)

So, this whole situation, as I've mentioned, is a great big heaping pile of suck.

We've got those that are innocently ignorant, having been told all their lives that That's The Way The World Works and were not the personality type to question it.

We've got those that are willfully ignorant, who know that things probably are pretty messed up, but are for any number of reasons (ranging from apathy to stubbornness to fear and anywhere along the way) unwilling to educate themselves.

We've got the Informed Idiots (the aforementioned Cyphers) who know the system is broken, but benefit from its brokenness or engage in some other form of douchebaggery that perpetuates it.

And then there are the rest of us, who fall into a variety of categories, but for now, we're mostly going to deal with two: those who want to teach and those who don't.

As I said, it's hard.

It's hard seeing the Matrix. The burden of knowledge is almost unbearable sometimes, especially when it seems so simple and so obvious once you get it.

It's easy to lose patience.

It's easy to vilify.

It's easy to judge people for their ignorance.

It is so much harder to be understanding.

It is so much harder to be empathetic, partly because it takes more energy and thought, but also because it frequently leads to a very vulnerable place.

It's also hard to be in that understanding, vulnerable place with people who get defensive when you challenge the status quo. There you are, all vulnerable and squishy, and there they are, all bristly and pokey... Not a good combo.

So what's the answer? How do we do this wacky thing in such a way as to inform people without making them defensive, and empathize without getting scarred?

Here's the even shittier part: there is no answer.


Sometimes, you'll be in a bad place and someone will ask you a question. Sometimes you'll be in a great headspace for educating, but the other person will be doing their best ostrich impersonation.

We can all only do our best. That "best" will change from day to day. I say try not to alienate people, but don't let them run roughshod over you either

Tl;dr: Awareness is hard, but don't be a dick.

*Dissertative may not have been a word before, but it sure is now.

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