My threshold for dealing with other people’s bullshit has been pretty high for many years. Honestly, I think part of it is the typical socially-ingrained things we teach females about not making a fuss when people make us uncomfortable or are rude to us in some way. My entire life has been spent minimizing my negative impact on others while attempting to deflect the negative impact others have on me. And lately, I’m just fucking tired of it.
The thing which spurred me to actually put these thoughts into words was this photo that the Facebook page Word Porn shared:
I’m so fucking sick and tired of being ON THE INTERNET and seeing things like this which are shaming me for being on the internet. There are a lot of reasons why I spend more time staring at a screen than drinking wine, tongue kissing, and dancing. For one thing, I’m not old enough to legally drink and I only like to drink socially so I pretty much can’t. I have one partner with a low libido and I don’t really like dancing or being outside in the winter.
Not to mention that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of my social life happens on the internet. I live in the midwest, literally a half hour away from the infamous Westboro Church. I have social anxiety which prevents me from just striking up a conversation with random people, not to mention I have certain reservations about being treated like a woman all the goddamn time. So yeah, most of my friends are people who I can glance at a bio to determine whether they’re going to be hostile to some very basic things about me as a person, who I’ve met through socially-aware circles of very caring people.
I’m at a point now where this type of bullshit will get you unfriended or unfollowed. If I didn’t love so much of what Word Porn posts, this would have meant an unfollow. (Not that that’s a severe thing or a thing that anybody cares about, but whatever.)
My bullshit threshold has dropped dramatically along with the rise of my self-awareness and self-esteem.
I’m not interested in being friends with people who make me feel shame for conducting my life in the manner which suits me. I’m not interested in being friends with people who don’t take my illness seriously. I’m not interested in being friends with people who stomp on my gender as though it’s not an integral, important part of who I am and how I interact with the world. I’m not interested in being friends with people who deny science fact. And most of all, I’m not interested in being friends with people who minimize my (or anyone else’s) experiences with oppression.
So, I guess this is where we get to the meat of my problem with other people’s bullshit right now. And it comes with a big, healthy trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault and someone attempting to minimize and erase that experience.
Once, back in high school, waiting for the bell to ring at the end of an orchestra class, my friends and I were standing around chatting. I was wearing a pair of form-fitting jeans, and when I bent over to pick up my bag, my “friend” Timmy groped my genitals with a swiping motion. Another of my friends–who I later decided was my best friend–had apparently egged Timmy on and prompted him to touch me in this incredibly inappropriate way.
I haven’t thought about this for years and when I thought of it the other day, it was just that the jeans I was wearing reminded me of the way that old pair of jeans fit me. I decided to text my best friend, Jack, since he was there at the time and was likely to remember. When I brought up that this incident was sexual assault, we then spent the next twenty or so messages arguing about whether or not it “counts” as sexual assault. When he initially disagreed, I immediately told him we’d have to agree to disagree, but he continued to press that it couldn’t be qualified as sexual assault.
There was a list of reasons–mostly that a groping like that would be more appropriately categorized as “inappropriate sexual contact” because it doesn’t fit into the same category as violent rape. He said that no one outside a court room would call what I experienced “assault” and that while it might technically be considered so legally, you couldn’t get away with calling it that in your average social setting. He tried to say that the social considerations are important. I pointed out that our culture AS A WHOLE does a great job of making victims out to be making a big deal out of nothing, minimizing their (usually repeated) experiences, and trying to make the perpetrator seem like less of a giant asshole because a random boob-grope on the train is “no big deal”.
Jack asked me why I think what I experienced should be qualified as “assault” and not “harassment” and I basically was like “The creeper who comes in to my store and asks about my sex life and calls me hot is harassing me. If he comes in and grabs my boob one day, that’s fucking assault.” It seems to be a pretty clear distinction.
When, at the end of the conversation, we still didn’t agree, and I told him that we would have to agree to disagree, he acquiesced but felt it necessary to remind me that his point remained the same: It wasn’t bad enough to call it assault.
End. Of. Fucking. Friendship.
That may seem like a disproportionate response, but I’ve been getting tired of Jack’s bullshit for a while. Constantly going on-and-off with unhealthy relationships (which were started by coercion ANYWAY) despite all my advice and the obvious issues with doing that to yourself emotionally. Showing repeated instances of not caring for his safety or the safety of others, particularly when driving during the winter. Showing a willingness to throw others under the bus if it would prevent him from coming to harm. This is just the end. You don’t get to minimize my assault for ANY reason, ESPECIALLY if you’re doing it because you feel bad for goading the guy on.
I’m tired of keeping people in my life who are shitty to me and continue to expect my unwavering friendship. Jack is at a sensitive point in his transition and I’ve felt obligated to stay friends with him throughout, because I would have done pretty much anything to have someone with my level of knowledge and support around during my gestational phases of gender identity. As one of my other friends pointed out, it’s not like Jack is doing everything he can to keep me around.
I’m tired of fighting the 101 fights with assholes who seriously don’t think gender is even a Thing.
I’m tired of living and breathing so many forms of oppression I can’t count them.
I’m tired of people less informed and less intelligent than I am trying to tell me that I’m wrong and advising me on how to live my life.
The bullshit threshold has dropped. I have no tolerance for it. My self-respect is way too big to leave any room for bullshit in my life. If I take another partner into my life, however casual, they will have to affirm and accept my gender. If anyone wants to be a close friend, they’d have to hit the basics like already identifying as a feminist and being aware of mental illness, although I’m not going to spurn people who are receptive if lacking in knowledge. And if anyone desires to be my friend or partner or FWB or cuddle-buddy or whatever, they’re going to have to respect the labels I choose to describe myself and my experiences and not invalidate them.