I can't emphasize enough that for the most part, my interactions with people online in feminists spaces are very positive, educational, and rewarding. That said, there are MANY individuals out there who just like to shit on other people. And being a feminist online means that you get the worst of that on a pretty regular basis.
Recently, a few of my posts on Tumblr were met with reactions like, "Get over it" or the ever popular "Complaining about this stuff won't make it better! Just ignore it."
This type of comment is obviously not new, but I just happened to really stop and think about it. The more I thought, the madder I got. Is there a worse piece of advice out there that is so widely accepted? If there is, I'm not aware of it.
We tell people who are the victims of all kinds of disturbing situations to "just ignore it and it'll go away." Kids being bullied. Women being street harassed. Racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the workplace.
We tell the victims of these things that they are the ones who are the problem if they "cause a stir." All the bully wants is to get a rise, right? We tell people to be quiet and complacent with their own abuse and eventually (who knows when) the abuser will move on. We literally tell people that the best course of action is to deal with it until the abuser/aggressor gets tired of abusing and aggressing. We equate the victim's anger and indignation at the situation with "complaining" and then we tell them that "complaining won't help anything!" We tell them that their speaking up will only make things worse...which means that with this piece of advise, we're acknowledging that the thing happening is bad, but instead of trying to stop it, we tell the victim to just "put up with it a little longer."
It's a mindbogglingly bad mentality for us to embrace. It shames victims into silence and creates a culture of tolerance for abuse and oppression. It puts the onus of the situation on the victim instead of telling the aggressor that this behavior will not be tolerated. On the micro level this results in abusers who are never confronted or addressed. How many of us know someone who bullies and all anyone ever says is, "Oh, that's just how he is!" while everyone walks on eggshells around him? His behavior is tolerated and excused under some guise that the standards are different for him.
It's not ok.
Almost all of us have been told advice like this at some point or another so that "just ignore it" is a knee jerk suggestion. But when you really think about what you suggesting, it's becomes clear that "just ignore it" is actually, really horrible.
So stop saying it.
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