Hey. I know I’m late but whatever. New year, same me. EXCEPT in this one way.
My new year’s resolution for 2017?
Don’t be complicit in your own oppression.
I know oppression is a heavy word and, by many measures, I am not oppressed. I’m white, middle-class, etc etc. But I think the world has subtle ways of oppressing even the most privileged to not be their genuine self (except for DJT, that guy is genuinely a demon dressed in scrotum flesh trying to pass as a president). Here are some ways that I’ve been complicit in my own oppression and how I’m not having that in 2017.
Anyone who knows what mansplaining means also know the feeling of being silenced. But trust, it’s not just in that, “oh sweetheart, you can shush, the men are talking” way; it happens in ways that I find myself complicit to. I’ve been afraid to write (for many personal reasons but also) because the entire liberal media and the media campaign that is the Trump administration has been sending two messages: 1. everything I’ve thought has already been written (and done better than if I attempted) or 2. whatever you could think or write will sound whiney and will never win your mom’s approval. Both of these work in tandem to keep me quiet. They keep me afraid to write outside of my journal, afraid to even be typing directly into this wordpress text editor. What if I accidentally hit send and then everyone will read my stupid, self-involved ranting and think that I’m stupid and self-involved and fit to be sacrifice when the Trump/Pence Hunger Games begin. Literally, I would die. These hands are made for drinking coffee and typing nonsense not feeling the life drain from a weak competitor.
To combat this, I will imagine the messages as a part of a Comedy Central roast. In this scenario, I have written many things and have many fans. I have been made the subject of a well-intentioned roast. I sit on that ugly stage as less funny, less smart people try to get my goat because I, myself, am the GOAT. A representative from the New Yorker jokes about how I’ve never been published there. My dad tells an embarrassing story and tries to get the audience to laugh at my Yankee liberal ideas. Snoop Dogg says something between blunt hits. I laugh. I leave the stage. I cash the check. I write the next thing.
Look, I apologize. I’m incredibly sorry for bumping into you on the crowded subway car. I even more sorry for not paying attention while I’m trying to find my way via google maps. I am the most sorry for every hurtful thing I ever said. I’ve lived swinging between being deeply, deeply sorry for shit and not giving one. I think it’s time the pendulum stops swinging. Apologizing indicates guilt, the person to blame, the one responsible. But I am not responsible for the feelings of anyone else. Of course, I live my life in a way that doesn’t intentionally hurt others, but damned if I’m going to spend 2017 trying to avoid the minefield that is ya brain.
I’m going to stop apologizing, obviously, but I’m also going to stop preemptively apologizing. I did this thing all through 2016 where I told people how much of a garbage person I was. It is a funny joke (doesn’t really lose it’s bite and it’s always relevant) but I realized that people kind of believed me. In 2017, I’m not going to apologize to people about my every imagined vice. I’m going to stop talking about myself negatively in the hopes that if I do do something bad all I have to do is apologize and say “see, I told you so.” I’m not sorry for who I am. It took a long time to get this good. A fine wine aged 15 years does not apologize for not being aged for 25; it is just fine and good and unapologetic.
Long long ago in 2016, I made the mistake of crying at work. Some really good news came right when I really needed it and I excused myself to the office to let out the happy tears in peace. Within three minutes, I’d was harassed by two male coworkers about what was happening. They first demanded that I told them what was going on, so as to justify them covering the MOUNTAINS of work in a coffee shop at 8 pm. After I tried to decline then told them the truth (that I was crying for joy, not some deep wound that they could gawk at and say they were ~there~ for me), they then demanded that I get back to work. I let them demand that. I wiped my tears and went to talk to the one table in the restaurant who didn’t need a damn thing while the dudes sat there, dick in hand, doing nothing. Why did I let that pressure snap me out of the feeling I was feeling? Why did I let them dictate my emotions in that moment? Why was their feeling of comfort more important than my feelings?
2017 is. not. having. it. I’m emotional about a lot of stuff these days. I’m mad as hell about everything happening in this country and I want to be mad. I’m sad about my life changing in ways I never imagined and I want to be sad. I’m happy about the opportunity to make a life for myself that’s aligned with my whole self and I want to be happy about that. In 2017, I am going to feel the feels I feel. (#feelfeelsfeel) I am not going to let the bigots around me convince me that I shouldn’t be mad or sad or happy. I am going to yell at people who deserve to be yelled at. I might cry when I do it.
2017 is not a year to be complicit in your own oppression. And let’s not forget that as long as our brothers and sisters are oppressed, we are too. The oppression experienced by POC, immigrant, refugee, LGBTQ, Native, and other peoples are our oppressions too. Don’t be complicit in systems of oppression. Don’t be complicit in quiet oppressions. Don’t be complicit in personal oppressions. The war is fought at home and abroad. Fight like hell and, hey, at the very least it will toughen us up to emotionally endure the apocalypse.