a letter in desperation
To all the dear people who ask me why I'm sad:
Hello. I'd love to start by thank you for caring, but I'm not sure that would be appropriate, considering the nature of this letter. This is not an apology or an explanation or a thank you. This is a wakeup call for everyone who is not sad. This is about the things that plague me day and night and prevent me from living. Namely the following: racism, transphobia, homophobia, heterosexism, ableism, sexism, rape culture (though there are so many more). These words have become so common and misused and are so often spat on with disdain. People roll their eyes when they read them. Then they stop reading. DO NOT STOP READING THIS LETTER. I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND. I WANT TO SHOW YOU WHY I AM SO SAD. So here are a few anecdotes that in no way cover even a sliver of the entirety of the issues. If you don't know the meaning of a word, look it up. I'm not here to give you definitions.
Racism: We are living in the dystopias you love reading about. Crime and wickedness have infected our governments and so-called “law enforcement”. Riots and tears are flooding the world. People are being killed for speaking out. Children are murdered for the color of their skin, and this is not some long forgotten nightmare from the 1950’s. Innocents and kind souls are DEAD because white men decided that they deserved to be slaughtered. Yes, Ferguson is a “race thing”. And yes, this is one incident of countless acts of police violence against black people. Ferguson is important and Michael Brown is important and people must understand how deeply this reaches. A murderer is free. The Ku Klux Klan backs him. Neonazis back him. The KKK and Neonazis are still free in America and this is happening now and pay attention because people are being murdered.
Transphobia: Did you know that in 49 states in America, it is legal to argue that a trans woman is at fault for being murdered? Trans women are killed and not only can their murderers blame them for inducing an uncontrollable hatred or fear, but it actually works and is held up in court. The murderers win. It’s called the Trans Panic Defense and it’s horrifying. California is the only state where this argument is illegal, but please abstain from being too high and mighty, and please don't be proud. It was only August 2014 when the ban was passed.
Homophobia: The word "faggot" originally referred to a bundle of sticks used as kindling in a fire. During the 1400-1700 witch hunts, people who were believed to be witches were burned at the stake. What many people neglect to mention is that it wasn't just witches being hunted, but also gay people. The difference being: witches were burned alive tied to a wooden post. Gay people were burned alive by being thrown into the fire and kindling. They weren't worthy of a dignified burning. When you call someone a “faggot" (even and especially if you're "just joking around”), take into consideration that you're saying not only that person, but all gay people should be burned alive without even the good grace of a stake.
Heterosexism: Yes, I feel that heterosexism deserves a section separate from homophobia. People often forget that the GSM community extends far beyond homosexuality. The fact is that every sexuality (and romantic orientation and gender) is a spectrum. People will sit in all places in the spectrum. However, there is so much ignorance around sexualities other than homosexuality and heterosexuality. I don’t want to have to explain the intimate details of myself every single time I come out as queer. Educate yourself on your own time because I won’t always have the time or energy to look after your social awakening.
Ableism: I hate the word "retarded". People use it to mean "stupid" or "incapable" or "freakish". When people call a friend "retard", they're saying that those with mental disabilities are "stupid" or "incapable" or "freakish". They're saying that those with mental disabilities are somehow less than human. When I ask people (and I am always polite) to stop saying "retard", they defend themselves, rudely reject my request, or tell me that it's not offensive and why am I so upset. When I tell them that my brother has a mental disability, I swear they nearly shit themselves. Why is it that I need to have this personal connection to ableism to be heard or considered valid? Why can't they see that it's wrong the first time?
Sexism: First of all, it’s all genders. Not both genders. Second, feminism is NOT about hating men. It is about the belief in equality of all genders. If you haven’t been asleep your entire life (and for all of human history), you’ll know that women and non-binary people have always been overtly oppressed. As a feminist and a woman, I do not hate men for this. I do hate the social constructs that allow male dominance to continue, and maybe I’m disappointed in those who refuse to help dismantle them. Women and non-binary people are treated as inferiors. If you disagree, open your eyes and wait. You don’t even need to go searching. The mistreatment and misogyny will be overwhelming enough to make you feel sick. I know I can hardly stand being awake most days.
Rape Culture: I am afraid, constantly. My world is terrorized by the ever present fear of being attacked. I know not all men are like that, but enough are. There are enough that I am wary of speaking to men I don’t know and enough that I am whistled at on the street. When I’m being sexually harassed, I never feel a rush of egotistical pleasure or a surge of confidence. I feel like I wish I could shrink to nothingness and escape. I know that If I do nothing, I run the risk of looking like an easy target. If I try to stand up for myself, I run the risk of being killed. So I walk a little faster, grip my key a little tighter, wish to God that I’ll be safe.
Final Notes: Please take the time to realize that people suffering from all of the above problems are being tormented and killed. Don’t let these crimes and issues be normalized or swept under the rug. Hopefully by now you can see why I can’t be happy and carefree for longer than 20 minutes. If I look sad, it’s because I am. I’m absolutely drowning in the problems we’ve created for ourselves in the name of humanity. It depresses me and I’m exhausted from arguing and fighting. But please don’t be mistaken. I’m tired, but I can promise you this: if you make a joke about any of the things I’ve talked about above, I won’t hesitate to completely and utterly cut you out of my life. I simply don’t have the energy to maintain relationships with people who mock me and others in our struggles. I won’t think twice and I won’t regret it. And I haven't yet mentioned that I'm 15 years old. I shouldn't have to be teaching my parents and teachers and family friends about this. I shouldn't leave these conversations angry and shaking because it turned out that they didn't have the tiniest shred of care for what I told them.
All my best,