Not all people who do oppressive things are privileged. See also: Michelle Malkin. Trans women who believe in Harry Benjamin Syndrome. Misogynistic women from Phyllis Schalfly to Suzanne Venker. “Ex-gays.” Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
This is a natural fucking consequence of the fact that marginalized people are not a hivemind. Sometimes marginalized people believe different things! Sometimes they believe actively evil things, or things that are oppressive to themselves or other people! I literally have no idea where you people get this idea that “people who have suffered” and “people who are assholes” are non-overlapping groups.
It’s relatively common for social-justice-type people to say that they don’t care about the precious feefees of some white cis dude, they care about being welcoming to the women of color he’s oppressing. Okay, cool. But there are women of color who think that affirmative action is unjust, or white people should be allowed to say the N word, or whatever the white cis dude was yammering about. Do you care about welcoming her? Do you care about her precious feefees?
As far as I can see it, your options here are as follows: say that you don’t care about the precious feefees of people who are doing oppressive things, including trans/queer people, women, and people of color who are doing oppressive things; not be a douche to people until you’ve confirmed that they’re white cis dudes; or not be a douchebag to anyone.
Unfortunately, the online social justice community has decided to go with a different plan, which is as follows:
- Pretend anyone who disagrees with you is a white cishet man, even if they aren’t. (Seriously, until you’ve seen a woman of color told that she’s ignoring the voices of women of color, you haven’t lived.)
- Classify trans people who were female assigned at birth, white cis women, and gay men in the “we’re allowed to be as douchey to them as we want because they are PRIVILEGED OPPRESSORS” category.
Not all people who don’t like anger are privileged. To oversimplify a lot: there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who are angry! about! INJUSTICE! and want to shout a lot about it, probably with lots of insults. And there are other people who don’t want to be yelled at.
There is a certain tendency to assume that marginalized people are the ANGRY ONES and privileged people are the ones who don’t want to be yelled at. I have no idea where this conclusion came from. I mean, I could argue that privileged people have the spoons to get angry about social justice, and marginalized people have to deal with oppression all day every fucking day, including people being angry at them constantly, and would really just like a place where people are calm and civil and kind and they can relax a bit.
But I’m not, because that’s stupid. Instead, there are angry people who are oppressed, and people who hate anger who are oppressed, and while some of this has to do with oppression a lot of it is just natural personality variation.
Not silencing people is not an option. Not silencing people is a great plan; I am totally okay with everyone being able to speak out. But not silencing anyone is not going to work. If you say “no, you have to stop yelling and insulting people,” you silence some of the people who are angry! about! INJUSTICE! On the other hand, if you let people yell insults whenever they like, you are silencing the people who are afraid that if they speak up they’ll be yelled at. And the second group is not going to loudly spew insults about how they’re being oppressed; they’re just going to be quiet and stop talking and censor themselves and eventually leave the movement altogether.
I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is to the problem, other than “everyone becomes more compassionate.” For instance, when I get angry, I need to recognize that there is another human on the other side of my computer screen, one that has life circumstances I don’t know about, and avoid hurting them. On the other hand, when I end up sobbing because someone else is angry at me, I also need to understand that their anger comes from a place of suffering and pain and to have empathy for them.
The block button exists. This is advice I’m directing at both groups! If you are so angry at someone that you can’t do anything except scream contentlessly, then perhaps it would be better to block them. On the other hand, if someone is making you sob or curl up in a ball of triggered, then perhaps it would be better to block them. Thankfully, online, you don’t have to put up with people you don’t like.
I think that might be Part Two of the angry people/people who hate anger solution. Both groups can say their piece, but not necessarily in the same social circles.
Furthermore, there is no ethical requirement that you try to convince every idiot who stops by. If you are unlikely to change your mind, the person you’re talking to is unlikely to change their mind, and your readers are unlikely to change their minds, DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. If taking care of yourself requires that you don’t engage, DON’T ENGAGE.
Rational arguments work better. When you argue with someone online, you’re not arguing to convince them, you’re arguing to convince the other people who are reading your argument. Arguing to convince someone who is firmly enough convinced of their point of view to argue about it on the Internet is unlikely to be effective. (Exception: if you’re arguing with someone who already has deep respect for you.)
With that in mind, consider. If you happened to stumble across people arguing about some topic you don’t know anything about– the Singularity, Israel vs. Palestine, whatever– are you going to be more convinced by the person who uses logical reasoning and facts and cites their sources, or the person who screams DIE DEATHIST SCUM?