Nothing’s clean.Posted: December 29, 2013
I’ve had the page How To Be A Fan of Problematic Things bookmarked for a long time, and I re-read it every so often. But it’s possible to like people and still see the problematic elements in their words and actions, too. Intersectionality is hard, and it’s impossible to be perfect at it, because sometimes, the needs of one group come into direct conflict with the needs of another.
I’ll give you an example from this week. There was a discussion in my pagan chat about adoption and donor insemination. One member, an adoptee, argued based on personal experience that there was no way to make adoption, donor insemination, or surrogacy fair, because the adoptive/recipient parents hold all the power. The person said that if one is unable to produce a child biologically, “you don’t always get what you want,” and that one should just live with it. Now, another member who was there is a trans man who isn’t physically able to impregnate his wife the old-fashioned way, and I have had serious health issues, including a miscarriage that started on its own but had to be medically completed in order to save my life. Anyone who said that my trans friend could not have any other relationship due to his gender identity would be called out for cissexism, and anyone who said I couldn’t have any other relationship because of my medical history would be called ableist. But on the other hand, the friend who’s been through the adoption process and has a different perspective doesn’t have to privilege someone else’s feelings over lived experience, either. This wasn’t a case of privilege against disadvantage. It was a case of competing needs in which all parties got hurt.
Intersectionality is hard, y’all. Sometimes there’s no way to provide safe space for everyone. Sometimes people’s triggers overlap and conflict. But it’s possible to care about people without believing or backing what they have to say. If we can do it for a comic book or a TV show, we can do it for other human beings. I know I’m going to work harder at it.