rurouniidoru (rurouniidoru) wrote in ontd_feminism,
rurouniidoru
rurouniidoru
ontd_feminism

"Your Fly is Down."

So I’ve been thinking lately about some things. I think I’ve got a good metaphor for you. Picture this: You are out in public with a friend who studies fashion design for fun rather than a degree, with a specialty in pants. This friend is very passionate about pants: You have seen this friend get into frothing rages about poorly designed pants, overpriced pants, and various pants issues. Honestly, if you had to pick your least favorite thing about this friend, it might be their devotion to pants.

Now while you and your friend are out in public, your friend at one point notes that your fly is open. In real life, most people would skip straight to looking down, zipping their pants back up, thanking their friend and hoping nobody saw, because man would that have been embarrassing. However, for the sake of this metaphor, we’ll say you do something different.

Instead of sparing a thought to the possibility that your pants might indeed be unzipped, and without even checking, you become angry at your friend. How dare this person assume that you are the kind of person who goes out in public with their pants wide open, or assume that even if they had become undone, you’d be too stupid to notice? You become incredibly insulted that your friend thinks you’re such a loser as to walk around with your fly wide open; what kind of friend are they? And maybe your pants are unzipped, but why was this person looking around for unzipped zippers anyway? Clearly, this person just goes looking for undone zippers so they can inform people their pants are open and feel all high and mighty. Perhaps you ask someone else you know works with pants, like a tailor, if your fly is open, and maybe they don’t see it, or maybe they don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you you’re wrong, or maybe they just don’t have the energy to deal with that nonsense right now, or maybe they just have a different definition of one’s fly being open than your friend does. Either way, they say no, your fly’s not open, and so you point to this person and say, “See? That person says my fly’s not open, so it must not be!”

Your friend, meanwhile, is rather baffled. All this person (who spends long hours reading about pant closures on their own time, remember) is trying to do here is point out that your zipper is open, and as this person is reasonably sure you don’t want everyone to see you with your fly open, this person has informed you of such. And yet, instead of fixing it, or even checking to see if this person might have had a point, you have become enraged, and taken this as a personal insult.

Obviously, this situation is incredibly stupid. When it’s about pants.

When it’s about racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or transphobia, or ableism, or any sorts of various other ways to screw up being a good person, however, this situation seems to be the norm. When someone comments that what you said was a bit [insert oppressive, bad thing of your choice here], most people’s reaction is not to say, “Really? Crap, that’s embarrassing and I feel really bad, I’m sorry.” Most people take the route of becoming angry and insulted about it.

Most people want to know how the caller-out dares insinuate that they’re somehow a bad person, or that they’re too stupid and insensitive to notice they’ve just said something offensive. Often, someone who calls another person out will be told that they were clearly just looking for things to get offended about, out of a desire to feel high and mighty. Far, far too often, someone who has been called out will find someone of the group they have just somehow affected, and ask them if what they said was offensive, and for whatever reason, (maybe they don’t see it, or maybe they don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you you’ve offended them, or maybe they just don’t have the energy to deal with that nonsense right now, or maybe they just have a different definition of [insert oppressive behavior here] than your friend does,) they say no. And the person being called out points to them and says, “See? That person says what I said wasn’t offensive, so it must not be!”

The person who called this person out, meanwhile, is just trying to point out that the other person has said or done something that can be construed as offensive (or is actively offending them), and as this person is reasonably sure the other person doesn’t want to seem like a bigot, this person has informed the other of such. And yet, instead of apologizing or even thinking about whether this person may have had a point, the other person has become enraged and taken this as a personal insult.

So next time I or anyone else call you out on some bad behavior, know that it’s not meant to be taken as an insult. We just don’t think you’d like to be caught with your pants down and your butt showing.

I tried to make this as versatile as possible, so I really don't know what else to tag it, if anything.
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