I see you, social justice warriors.
I hear you, feminist killjoys.
This is for those who’ve been constantly told by white men to “just see the other side” (the side you’ve been force-fed your whole life), to be “accepting” of oppressive beliefs, or to “work together” with the Trump administration.
Who’ve been dumped for being too opinionated, who’ve hidden their passion for social justice around those they love.
This is for the women and non-binary folks who get called “stubborn” for speaking their minds, the people of color called “aggressive” for standing up for themselves, the survivors called “too sensitive” when they resist victim-blaming, and the disabled people called the “PC police” when they validate themselves.
This is for the activists who get advised to become more diplomatic, more accommodating, more “open to other perspectives.”
That isn’t advice. These are merely tactics to gaslight, derail, and mansplain.
There are plenty of behaviors in this world that make someone intolerant, judgmental, or closed-minded. These actions involve excluding people, kicking people while they’re down, and judging people based on superficial qualities.
These, on the other hand, only make you compassionate, fierce, and powerful, so don’t let anyone criticize them.
1. You’re not argumentative for calling out microaggressions.
2. You’re not nitpicky for pointing out that word choices matter.
3. You’re not bossy for demanding the same amount of attention a white man would get.
4. You’re not thin-skinned for being hurt by offensive language.
5. You’re not picky for breaking up over sexist or racist behaviors.
6. You’re not uncooperative for refusing to eat meat because it goes against your morals.
7. You’re not nasty for pointing out that a presidential candidate didn’t pay his taxes.
8. You’re not snobby for avoiding those who compromise your mental health.
9. You’re not domineering for claiming authority on the struggles of a group you belong to.
11. You’re not undermining free speech by protesting a speaker who is responsible for oppressive policies.
12. You’re not violent for defending yourself.
13. You’re not sexist for criticizing men.
14. You’re not racist for criticizing white people.
15. You’re not antagonistic for calling bigots what they are.
16. You’re not demanding for requesting that people call you by the correct pronouns.
17. You’re not man-hating for acknowledging that men are responsible for the majority of violence against women.
18. You’re not out of touch with reality for affirming that there are more than two genders.
19. You’re not a bad friend for challenging your friends to do better.
20. You’re not a traitor to women for calling BS on white feminism.
21. You’re not a bad partner for making your significant other aware of the toxic masculinity they’ve internalized.
22. You’re not bullheaded for refusing to “see the other side” when the other side is oppressive.
23. You’re not vengeful for reporting sexual harassment.
24. You’re not aggressive for doing whatever it takes to defend your physical boundaries.
25. You’re not too serious for wanting to talk about social justice on a first date.
26. You’re not lacking a sense of humor because you can’t laugh at rape jokes.
27. You’re not too sensitive for suffering when others suffer.
28. You’re not the “PC police” for understanding that political correctness just means not being a jerk.
29. You’re not unfriendly for refusing to humor creeps who make you uncomfortable.
30. You’re not unsympathetic for losing patience with male tears and white guilt.
31. You’re not imposing for trying to impose the morals of basic kindness and respect on others.
32. You’re not prejudiced for being wary of groups of people who’ve belittled and abused you.
33. You’re not dramatic for reacting angrily to words and images that objectify you.
34. You’re not selfish for limiting the amount of time you spend educating privileged people about oppression.
35. You’re not cold-hearted for ending relationships with people who treat you like an endless resource.
36. You’re not ruthless for warning your social media followers about an abusive person.
37. You’re not a traitor for speaking out when someone your community admires is abusive.
38. You’re not judgmental for judging people based on how they treat others.
39. You’re not closed-minded for disliking people who are closed-minded themselves.
40. You’re not intolerant for not tolerating intolerance.
These affirmations aren’t offered to excuse appropriating social justice language in abusive ways or to justify bullying those who disagree with you. But marginalized people get accused of doing this when they’re really not.
That’s why we have to consider the politics behind which voices get silenced and which get defended as “free speech.”
The people oppressed folks criticize love to say they’re “entitled to their opinion,” but what about our opinions? If our opinion is that they’re being oppressive, are we not entitled to it?
Don’t let people tell you what your motives are. You know whether you’re being adversarial or compassionate. You know whether you’re picking a fight or standing up for what’s right. You know whether you’re attacking someone or respectfully disagreeing.
You know what you’re fighting for. So keep fighting the good fight.
Suzannah Weiss is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Seventeen, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She holds degrees in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Modern Culture and Media, and Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. You can follow her on Twitter @suzannahweiss. Read her articles here.