Tag Archives: Upstander

I accept that my lived experience do not=the lived experiences of all. Bc-well, obviously.

The past week was been par the course for the world we live in. Denials of experience, refusals to accept perceptions, and vile hatred thrown out at women, and the men who speak for the same efforts, in the most misogynistic, racist, and thus disgusting ways.

#/YouOkSis, started & sustained by @/FeministaJones (through what has to be the most epic level of patient zen ever developed in a person), saw both moving revelations/explanations/narrations of a multitude of user’s experiences, as well as a bridge brigade’s trolling. The entire point of the hashtag was thoroughly explained back in June, when @FeministaJones recapped an specific incident of street harassment & intervention. From my view, no TW she sent, or Retweeted, nor those sent by the vast majority of users utilizing the hashtag, called out any one group of people, and neither were men alone held accountable for street harassment. Oddly, the entire notion that we as bystanders (yes-as a women who has experiences street harassment regularly, I still consider myself a bystander in this & any situation–as I have the potential to intervene in situations–[a document on my ‘sources’ page that speaks to this], so I am still included in the “we”) cannot ignore the abuse we see, hear, or perceive to be happening around us, as is something we all too often do, seemed to generate a tidal wave of anger from actual people & trolls looking to oppress. So when I pulled apart the messages, what I was left with were demands to accept Street Harassment because it’s normalized, and because people all too often do not want to involve themselves in the comings and goings of other people. Innocent bystanders will rally behind their innocence in situations, & ignore what makes them retain any culpability… When we intervene, we stage bystander interventions, doing what we can to diffuse the situation away from the harassed so that they may find a level of solidarity, comfort, and simply, support in a fucking uncomfortable, and potentially worse still, situation. Yet to ask anyone to do this in a situation they accept as normal, they don’t see as wrong, was too much–because who wants to learn that maybe what we accept as reality isn’t really how it is for everyone? ♦In asking that we see ourselves as accountable for questioning the standards governing us, & intervening when we notice moments when those standards clearly allow for the abuse of one person by another, you’d think we were asking people creeping in on this hashtag to not hug sloths asking for hugs or to make sure all sloths alive were forbidden from ever hugging again (I don’t want to compare this to an issue likened to or beyond Street Harassment & therefor make it linked to some scaffolded ‘worse, worse still, much worse’ way-because that’s not how accounting for individual personal experiences work for me).

Ignoring the lies & misinformation, this hashtag was started by @/FeministaJones, an active TW users, who is an African American, sex positive, not *CIA placed, feminist woman (*the user to suggest this gave me, and others I suspect, a true case of the WTF giggles…but looking past that-we have to see the divisiveness embedded in that suggestion); it was not started by anyone else. “The person who began the fight against Street Harassment” isn’t something I think can be ascribed to any one person, though I repeatedly note that I am not expertly versed on the beginning history of this, or others movements, where I could say with certainty who began a movement…

The Internet is neat-& does neat things when we let it–we can see who started a hashtag, & haters fuck off-she did. In my view, the push to take her efforts away from this, to say she is a CIA operative, to accuse her of being a white, non-intersectional minded, feminist, to…fuck-all the things said to her in those TWs meld together into a big ball of irrationality, & I couldn’t keep up! Suffice to say-as the bridge brigade trolled on in with TW-after-Troll-account-TW, & as user who refused to see our communal work on the hashtag as real, relevant & vital, she was questioned, her fellow hashtag users were denounced as man-hating sluts (& worse still…which I won’t make accessible with key word searches by putting them here…), & whatever could be said in an attempt to negate the lived experiences of these users TWing histories with a very real opponent (Street Harassment–no one person or group). In doing this, these defensive groups did 2 direct things: 1. The users who were harassing those using this hashtag proved the very point of the hashtag-so, way to go trolls. 2. They did what people do day after day, on & off the Internet-they sought to diminish the agency & voice of these users–these specific users. 


(Unsafe and Harassed in Public Spaces: A National Street Harassment Report; Stop Street Harassment 2014).

As a bystander in this hashtag conversation, one intervening as much as I know how (I am learning more & more each day–I advocate always learning–accepting that we must always have more to gain!), I wasn’t the target of the vile & dangerous harassment it’s users experienced. This is easily, as infuriating as it is, explained by the fact that my demographic doesn’t fit these troll’s overall aims–the continued degradation of African American Women’s agency & voice.

These issues will continue on, & if we chose to ignore them or obfuscate the truth with denials, lies, ignorance, or full acceptance of the indoctrination of hate we’re given since birth, nothing significant can change. Using Twitter has at least shown me that a lot is changing…too much changes back for the worse, too much remains stagnant and stale in complacency. Yet powerful people, from users I talk to daily (I won’t be all huggy-lovey-dovey here too and name them), to some I directly interact with occasionally, or others I just learn from by reading through as their thoughts unfold onto my time line, have shown me that for all the wrong I see & feel, we are doing something to positively affect this world. I haven’t felt this so clearly, or seen it enacted so passionately, in a long time.

♦The one message that I felt the most resistance to, again, was the notion that individuals be expected & encouraged to accept anyone else’s reality as equally important to their own, regardless of shared experiences or shared knowledge. The refusal shown by some users to do this is as troubling as it is startling, as it forces me to reevaluate the assumptions I embed into what I teach–having accounted for a basic level of empathy being initially developed in each of my students, & simply, people I interact with. I was never so naive to think all persons developed higher or even high levels of empathetic thinking, as I do recognize & account for the standards & systems that govern us, but to realize how pervasive a lack of empathetic thinking is…that requires I pause and think about my own assumptions & styles of interacting. Because fuck-I must be willing to always think these issues through, or what the shit is the point of me or my work?

Life Experience empathy



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Filed under Reacting to the World, reflection