You and Everything You Like and Believe In are Fucked Up

Does that sound hyperbolic? It's supposed to. It's also true.

Nobody is perfect. Nothing is perfect. You are hopelessly flawed, everyone else is hopelessly flawed, and everything you enjoy is problematic.
Still with me? FOOLS! This post is going to be rambling. Sorrynotsorry.

Seriously though, I'm fucking done with the purity tests I see around me every fucking day.

Exhibit A: I completely believe that what ushered in this current presidential administration (besides racism and Russia) were the GOP's purity tests the last few decades. When any moderate Republicans were pushed out and labeled RINOs, the shit-for-brains ideologically subservient people who grabbed those seats absolutely 100% enabled the current Orange Sideshow. They will never ever have the temerity to stand up and do their fucking jobs and anyone who previously had any modicum of integrity has been pushed into the shadows. That's the path to extremism. That's what happens when you squelch dissent and diversity of thought.

It's not just conservative politics this happens to. It's happening to progressives too. And it's not just politics.

Maybe it's because I consider myself an escapee of a repressive religion, but I maintain that it's of utmost importance to be extremely skeptical of any group or ideology that demands unwavering fealty and unquestioning belief or commitment to any dogma. Think I'm talking about religion? Nope! Well, that applies to religion too, but it also applies to nationalism, to political parties, to activist groups, to workplaces, to families, to friendships.

It's hardly ever malicious or intentional; it's usually, though not always, *cough* fascism *cough* well intentioned. People seek out other like-minded people and it's human nature to exclude the different. But that's often unhealthy and pretty scary when power gets involved. On a small scale, that's how bullying happens and it's why parents disown children who take a different path than was planned for them. On a large scale, that's how genocides and oppression begin.

Avoid hegemony. We need dissenters. We need debate and diversity of thought and we need to fucking listen to that one person who disagrees and we need to make our spaces welcome and open (not to say all spaces are for everyone- I'll get to that later). And by we, I mean it. I mean me and I mean you and you too. Yes, you.

So what does that have to do with my title? Well, because this is also personal. It's not just about ideological purity; it's about expecting perfection from those around us.

You are not perfect. I am not perfect. All your most revered heroes and historical figures and trusted activists have issues. Everyone has done shit they hide from society. Every piece of entertainment from literature to film is going to be fucked up in some way depending on who you ask. I think it can be noble to want better from your entertainment, and leaders for that matter, but if we expect perfection, we'll have nothing or we'll have the opposite of perfect: the worst possible fucking thing (aka our POTUS).

I am a stubborn, know-it-all kind of girl. I also love politics and will declare to the world my passionate political opinions. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM ALWAYS RIGHT. It means that I have passion for the subject. But you know what else I have passion for? Learning. And I've said it before: if you think you're 100% correct and can do no wrong, you will learn nothing. I hate very few things more than the refusal to listen or learn. And I hate blind fealty to a political philosophy.

So while I LOVE and enjoy political philosophy (I can seriously nerd out on some boring-ass essays), I think it's crucial to be skeptical of every single brand of political system. None are going to be perfect and none are going to be incorruptible because humans uphold these systems and humans are (repeat after me) imperfect! We call ourselves the beacon of democracy while we're anything but, however that doesn't mean we give up and try on fascism for size. We revered capitalism in this country for many years and called socialism evil. Now, we're swinging toward socialism the aftermath of the Recession. But socialism isn't going to be utopian either, because people can take advantage of it. Personally, I think a mix of systems, a soft socialism with a smattering of capitalism, a more European style is probably a practical way to go...but who I am to decide?

 All I know is that whatever we do, we have to leave room for it to change and improve.

And don't tell me I'm not a true progressive American because I don't hang all my hopes on socialism. Or that I'm not a real American because I don't trust nationalism. Or that I'm not a real woman because I don't cook. Or that I'm not a real feminist because I shave my legs. Or that anyone isn't a real anything because of something they are or do. We are all fucking real people and these litmus tests are fucking bullshit.

This is not to say be an apologist or forgive heinous acts or horrible people. Everyone has their line of what is acceptable. I can't watch films or read books or vote for men that I know are rapists (though, the unknowns are plentiful, I am sure). That is my one of my lines. Rapists are a no-go and I can't support their work. Other issues don't bother me, like celebs who are "unfaithful" or whatever or who do lots of drugs or something. I don't give a fuck about that, because it feels like none of my business. These are just examples and everyone has to make these judgments themselves. Judgments are not always a bad thing.

And it's not to say that we can't demand better of our leaders or our entertainment or whathaveyou. I just think that we have to:

(a) Be thoughtful about it and manage our expectations. Like, maybe you don't like what the lead in a certain movie believes, but you really liked that movie. That's up to you to reconcile and figure out where your line is. For example, I am an atheist. I think religion as an institution can be damaging. If I avoided all culture created by someone with religious beliefs, I'd have like 3 books and maybe 2 movies to watch. So I work through it. What did I like? What didn't I like? How bad is the bad really? Sort of bad? Or like sick to my stomach evil? It's okay to feel conflicted. Internal conflict indicates thoughtfulness.

(b) Try to be forgiving of others as they go through the same process. Because here's where I get itchy: Celeb A cheats on his wife (not a rapist, just a cheater) and you, understandably are triggered by that because your husband cheated on you. So you declare that I am a bad person if I like Celeb A. Um what? I'M the bad person? Who are you to decide that?  Instead of declaring yourself good and everyone else bad, maybe we can have a nuanced and respectful conversation about the subject and grow together.

You also don't get to decide how others feel about things or what offends them. Fullstop.

Which brings me back to spaces. It's important for oppressed groups to have safe spaces set aside from their oppressors. As a white woman, I would never assume a space for PoC is for me, because that space isn't for me. But, within these spaces, we need to allow room for people to be more diverse. I've often felt unwelcome in LGBT spaces even though I'm the B in that acronym, due to bi erasure. I've often felt unwelcome in atheist spaces, because of rampant misogyny. Our spaces need to be actually safe and welcome, not just for the select few. Otherwise, aren't we just behaving the same as the oppressor?

We aren't smashing the patriarchy or the oligarchy or the theocracy if the system we replace it with mimics the same rigid rules and hierarchy of belonging.

We'll never have a perfect society. That's impossible. But we can at least try to leave room for growth.

It's like when your mom bought you jeans that were two sizes too big on the first day of school, but by June, they fit! America, we just need some good jeans that are a little too big. We'll grow into them. And when we grow out of those, we'll find new jeans.

Again, this is not to say we just accept the status quo or don't demand justice (whatever justice means) or push society forward as hard as we can; I'm just saying that expecting every single person to believe the same things identically and march in lockstep is the path to tyranny of the majority. And I don't care if you believe the majority is in the right, that's a dangerous spot to be in.


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