Person #1 is standing in the middle of a cloud of sentences, looking around. She has one arm.
…best representations of trans people on tv…
…government isn’t making missing aboriginal women a priority…
…unexamined emotional labour…
…understanding partner abuse in queer spaces…
…uptalk and vocal fry…
…women of colour disproportionately affected by the wage gap…
…pervasive bias against women in the legal system…
…fashion is devalued until men get into it…
Robot Hugs (RH): (to reader) Intersectional Feminism attempts to address the fact that factors such as race, disability, and poverty contribute and influence how gender based discrimination is experienced.
RH standing in the middle of a set of circles containing the words “gender,” “race,” “class,” “poverty,” “disability,” “culture,” “body positivity,” “sexual orientation.” The circles are connected to each other by lines, forming a complicated web.
RH: In short, there’s no one experience of gender discrimination, and there’s no single sphere where it touches. It’s a complex, multidimensional web.
RH: (to reader) Sometimes this means that we learn about issues that we don’t personally experience, or that don’t seem to impact us much. And sometimes, in those discussions, this happens.
Person #2: You know, that’s never really bothered me that much. I don’t know why we have to be so sensitive all the time! Aren’t there bigger fish to fry?
Person #2: (looking embarrassed) Oh man, I’ve been that person!
RH: Lots of us have, at one point or another. It’s helpful to try to understand how this happens.
Person #2: Well, some things just don’t bother me as much as they seem to hurt other people. It doesn’t mean that those people are wrong or weak, it just means that we don’t feel the same way about it.
Person #3: (smiling, talking to Persons #2 and #4) Are you girls ready for the client meeting this afternoon?
Person #2: (smiling) Yup!
Person #4: (not smiling) Of course.
Person #4: (after Person #3 has left) I can’t believe he keeps calling us girls! The last thing we need in the workplace is constant reinforcement of women as children…
Text (in the voice of Person #2) I didn’t understand why someone was getting so upset over something that just wasn’t a problem to me!
Ominous Text: But then…
Person #2: (to Person #4) That doesn’t bother me. You shouldn’t let something so minor bug you so much!
Person #2: (to reader) But my perception on how “important” issues are started to change when I started to consider how I was balancing experiences of “harm” vs. experiences of “not harm.”
Image of scale with the words “harm” and “not harm” on each arm. The scale is tipped towards “harm.”
Text: (in voice of Person #2) If something is hurting you, but it’s not hurting me, those are both true experiences. But most people would try to figure out how to make someone be in less pain. No one benefits from being told that their pain is unimportant, or non existent!
Person #5: (to a crying Person #2 in the past, who still has fresh bandages on a recently amputated arm) Don’t be so melodramatic – you still have one perfectly good arm!
Text: But why does this matter?
RH: (to reader) By telling someone that their experience of oppression or violence doesn’t matter, you help support an entire social system that thrives on privilege and silencing.
Text: (in the voice of RH) We get a lot of negative feedback when we try to point out the way that systemic oppression manifests in the world.
(sentences in word balloons)
Oh great, here come the “outrage police.”
That’s just one isolated incident. You’re cherry picking.
Now isn’t the time to talk about this.
You know, white people experience discrimination too.
You’re just manufacturing “oppression” to get attention.
Text: But most of all:
Text: (in the voice of RH) These are the voices of people who want us to stay in our place, to stay silent, to keep the status quo.
RH: (to reader) Do you really want to add your voice to that crowd?
Person #2 (to RH): I sure don’t. So now, I try to give some thought to what’s going on when I don’t share someone’s experience of harm in the feminist community.
Text: (in voice of Person #2) Is it that I don’t experience the issue as keenly as some people? Maybe I have protective factors in place that are shielding me from the full impact of an issue.
Person #6: (holding umbrella, in rain, to person #7) Oh come on, the rain isn’t that bad!
Person #7: (shivering) Says you…
Text: (in voice of Person #2) If I understand these, maybe I can discuss these and figure out how to help other people get the same protections.
Person #6: (handing an umbrella to Person #7) Here you go!
Text: (in voice of Person #2) Is it that I see how something isn’t great, but I don’t think the issue is very important?
Person #2: (to reader) That’s fine, but I don’t get to be the arbiter of what is important for other people. We all have different priorities, and different passions. When I see a discussion about something I don’t really care about, I just drive on by. The conversation isn’t improved by me contributing how not important I consider something.
Person #8: (arms crossed, grumpy) How can you be all mad about Game of Thrones? Who cares??
RH: (to Person #8) Yeah, you. Not helping.
Text: (in voice of Person #2) And if I really feel like my perspective of it not being a problem is useful to the discussion, there’s better ways of engaging in that conversation:
Person #9: It doesn’t bother me, it’s really not that big a deal
Person #9: That isn’t really something that’s bothered me, but I get that it’s important to you. Can you help me understand your experience of this?
Person #2: One of the reasons I would get defensive is that I felt like we talk a lot of about honouring people’s’ experiences and feelings, but I that mine were being dismissed as being unimportant.
RH: Honestly, this wasn’t all you, because we do get discussions like this in our community:
Every woman should feel insulted by this!
You’re not a feminist if this doesn’t bother you.
How can you not care about this?
Text: Which is a lot less useful as a starting point than:
This is a problem. Here’s why.
Person #2: (to reader) And honestly, it’s shitty when someone tells you that you have to feel a certain way in the name of feminism. Feminism that demands certain emotions from people is a problem, and I’d like to see less of it.
Person #2: (to reader) But it isn’t made better by me reflexively denying that something is a problem at all, just because I don’t feel the same way that other people do. Even if they’re kind of being jerks about it.
RH: It’s ok that we don’t all experience discrimination and oppression the same way. Intersectional feminism is structured to avoid communities of people who have all the exact same experiences!
Person #2: We just have to be careful that we’re not dismissing other people’s’ experiences because they don’t match our own.