It was a tweet from an awesome activist Twitter friend who led me to think of this.
Much like in some horror movies and stories, there are monsters among us. Very real monsters. Walking the streets, sharing our lives, hidden in shadows or wearing masks to make them look like one of us. But they’re not.
And like in horror stories, very few can see them for who they really are. The first step to fighting them (and fight them we must) is learning how to see them. Usually this takes someone of extraordinary strength and vision to point them out to us.
Once you have seen one of them, often the spell is broken and we see them all. We are overwhelmed at their number. We see them all the time, everywhere. And we spend a few minutes in stunned disbelief before we realise we have to act or be swallowed up by them.
What I am talking about here is oppression in its various forms.
I had always been a “sensitive soul”. Attuned (in some small way) to the suffering of others. After I got involved in fighting sexism, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on how widespread it was. Then I found The Everyday Sexism Project. When you see hundreds of thousands of tweets all saying the same thing, experiences of “everyday” life, and how it impacts the individuals on the receiving end of such treatment you start to realise the collective impact it has.
As with the tweet about transphobia. Sometimes all it takes is a single tweet to make you stop and think. And actively look for the oppression that is part of “everyday” life. I place the word in quotes because the term “everyday life” is often used to mean what is normal. What you should expect. But there is nothing normal or to be expected about this.
As I have said before, when you look at the scale of the thing, the sheer enormity of it, you can’t help but think that there is no way to fight it, to deconstruct these things that give rise to oppression. But these things did not happen overnight. Nor will they be dismantled overnight. But they WILL be dismantled.
In the same way you take down a mountain one stone at a time, so you dismantle the structures of oppression. Every set of eyes you open to the monsters leads to another pair of hands to tearing it down. For these mountains are always trying to rebuild themselves.
I have every hope…no, more than that. I feel it, with every fibre of my being that we WILL achieve our goals. Probably not in my lifetime, possibly not in the next generation. But this is no reason to give up. Because every action achieves something. Every word we utter. Every time we change our words so that they exclude terms of oppression and make them more inclusive. Every action we take, it means something.
One of the things I hope I can do is encourage people not to give up. To understand that even if your contribution to the fight is “trivial”, it is still vital. Another analogy for you is a police investigation. You might have seen something but think it is nothing. And taken on its own, maybe it IS nothing. But life isn’t a set of separate events. It’s a pattern. It’s fabric. And your one thread might just be the thing that makes it complete. Your one observation might be the final piece of evidence needed to conclude the investigation.
That’s why every contribution is important. Even if it’s not direct. Even if you support someone writing about it, fighting the monsters, your part is vital.
These monsters, they are all around us. But then so are the angels. Those people of awesome power and beauty. Whose love shines from them like a sun. And like the monsters, they are all too often unseen.