Today we’re talking about allyship. Wait. That’s not totally it—we’re actually talking about the easiest ways to be a huge tool. This is in fact a list of horrifyingly common pitfalls to avoid. TW: mentions sexual assault and misgendering
“Let Me Tell You What a Good Ally I Am!”
If a corner stone of your allyship involves trying to show off what a good ally you are, you’re doing it wrong. Anything that vaguely resembles “I have a friend who is ___, therefore I’m super accepting” is a bad idea. We do not deserve cookies and gold stars just for being decent human beings and not being overtly hateful.
- My friend so-and-so, who’s Latina, says blah, blah, blah.
- So-and-so’s brother Jason—well, she used to be Jason when she was a boy…now she’s Jackie…
- My gay best friend and I…
- I’ve known so-and-so since before zie had [insert medical history here].
- Then she dropped out of school because no one would talk to her, and she came back in the fall for high school, all of her hair was cut off and she was totally weird, and now I guess she’s on crack.
Any of these sound familiar? I know I’ve heard them. Before speaking, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Would the person I’m speaking of want me to share this information?
- Does the person to whom I’m speaking need to know this?
If the answer to either is no, congratulations, this would be a great time to shut up. Even if you think the people you’re speaking to and about will never meet, there’s still no excuse. Stick to info that’s relevant to the conversation and that you know may be shared.
I’ve had conversations in which I’ve straight up said to people “Why are you telling me this? This is absolutely none of my business.” Usually, they were telling me these incredibly personal stories about people I’d never met (or could’ve met–they don’t know that) in an effort to show how diverse their friend group was, how many types of people they accepted, etc. No. Just stop. You do not get the Non-Bigot of the Year award. Instead, you get some serious stank eye for outing and/or tokenizing your friend, as well as a demerit for spreading about their personal business.
Throwing Your Privilege in Other People’s Faces
Privileged folks: we need to stop inserting our voices and opinions where they do not belong. Like now already. If there is a conversation taking place between members of marginalized group about oppression, you do not look extra sensitive by jumping in and adding your two cents. In fact, you look like a huge douchebag. Because, in that situation, you are. Unless specifically asked, you do not need to add a white perspective, a cisgender perspective, a neuro-typical perspective. Privileged perspectives are ubiquitous—I can guarantee no one has forgotten about them. By (unwelcomely) entering a discussion about misogyny with “From a man’s perspective…” you are not enlightening anyone; you are silencing the group. If you are asked to give an opinion, cool. If not, stay quiet and listen to what it’s like not hearing your views presented front and center.