Some Thoughts …
I don’t take sides in conflict that isn’t mine. I often take a mediator role, or one where I am trying to stay supportive of people’s feelings, while not really expressing my opinion on the matter at hand. One of the reasons why I am doing that is because I have experience as a community manager and I know that conflict is never resolved by taking sides or emotional outbursts. It is often in the aftermath of everything, when emotions have calmed down, that things can be talked through, apologies happen and people can move forward.
But I am not only taking on the role of a mediator in other people’s conflict. I also often take on the role of the observer. I don’t engage because I am scared. Yelling, aggressive behaviour, threats and conflict are huge triggers for me. They are related to trauma and they give me flashbacks and panic attacks. And yes, I need to handle my own triggers, I have that responsibility. If I didn’t take that responsibility, I’d not be able to be on social media these days. But being more of an observer has turned me silent and scared. Scared to be attacked to not speak up, scared of losing friends.And I am scared to say a single word, just in case someone’s emotions will boil over and I will suddenly be the person receiving death threats.
I know that I am not alone in my silent, anxious and observing position. I know that others, just like me, have supported many members of the community in private messages lately. There is a huge group of us, that look at the declining stability of the community with fear. Those who get triggered by aggressive behaviour and bullying. We are silent, because we are scared. Instead, we stay in our private messages, we support whoever comes our way and also try to understand what the heck is going on.
And still, here I am, writing this post, which goes against my overwhelming anxiety, and goes against my role as a silent and observing mediator in conflict. Because I realized that I even I need to speak up. Speaking up and voicing your opinion, and expressing your emotions, is always valid. What is not valid is doing that in hurtful ways. It is important to pick the words you use, the tools that you feel need to be activated. No one outside your group listens to the person who yells, is rude. People listen to the person who makes sense. So if your content makes sense, but you yell it out in hurtful ways, then those who you want to listen, will turn away. Why? Because people get scared and uncomfortable. You don’t make them think or question their behaviour, you make them walk away.
There are a few things that I really can’t have around me. I already mentioned conflict and aggressive behaviour. But there is also bullying. In that, I include when a victim of bullying bullies someone themselves. In a sort of revenge way. It is not fair behaviour, and you sink to the same level as the person who has hurt you in the first place. If “an eye for an eye” is the sort of culture you want to live in, then eventually we will all turn blind.
Now, you might think: well, I can’t take responsibility for your triggers, Devie, sorry. I had to say it out loud – I am not saying you need to do that. Promised, I know how to handle my triggers. I mute people for a while, I mute conversations, I stay away from conflict. But it is hard to do that right now. There are those in the community that make social media unsafe for those of us who are silent observers, and who are scared, and feel threatened and get panic attacks from seeing things explode in the ways that they do.
So what am I asking for? Am I even allowed to ask for anything? I am a member of the sexblogging community, I think, so I should at least be able to express my feelings. So I have done that now. But my opinion on the core of the issue? Sure. Here it goes. I am an ally, and although I am pansexual and I struggle with my gender identity sometimes, I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community, or well, I don’t feel that I am. The reason why I don’t feel that I am is because I am privileged. I never got hurt because of my sexual orientation or my sometimes elusive gender identity. I never got attacked for it. So I don’t feel that I have the right to call myself LGBTQ+, because I think that the LGBTQ+ community is so much glued together by the struggles everyone shares with each other on one level or another. I have never had those struggles, so I don’t dare make them mine.
So I am an ally, and I have been that ever since I grasped the ideas and feelings of LGBTQ+ related topics. I call people out on transphobia,, on homophobia, on biphobia. And I am trying very hard to not misgender anyone, and sometimes even don’t comment or say anything, out of fear to use the wrong pronoun or the wrong term. I am careful and sensible about it. And I will continue to do so. Transphobia is not okay. There is a scale of severity though, where on the one hand you have those who are confused by different gender identities, and on the other end, you have those who threaten to hurt trans* folk, or write political manifests around gender. The confused person, you can educate. The extremist, you need to warn people about. Let’s not forget those differences.
Transphobia is not okay. Ever. Not under the umbrella of free speech, not to joke about (although Ricky Gervais might disagree with this point) and not even in the realm of fiction if presented as a viable option. This is my opinion. I would love to bring that point across in a calm and reasonable manner, instead of threats, bullying and cancel culture.
Because that is not how you convince people, that is how you make people afraid of you, and how you dig a bigger hole between those who want to understand, and those who can explain. That is my opinion. I can’t change anyone’s behaviour, and I wouldn’t want to. And I know that behaving in that way comes from hurt feelings, and fear. I respect that., and it sucks that someone gets pushed into a position where they feel so emotionally overwhelmed that they feel the need to fight back. It is just not how I operate personally.
So when I read that I am a bigot and transphob by association, I feel sad. I feel sad because people don’t respect another approach than cancel culture. Those of us who are silent, and observing, and try to focus on supporting emotions in a time like this, we are choosing another path. A path where we wait it out. We know things will calm down again, and then we can rebuilt what is broken. The community has been in such a disarray lately. with so much bullying, calling pople out, and conflict, that it is difficult not to get affected. I definitely have been affected and I wasn’t even engaged in anything. And yes, there is transphobia in the sex blogging community, and it needs to be addressed. But I disagree with the current approach.
So who am I writing this post for? For those reading who are similar to me, and are triggered, scared and uncomfortable at the moment. I hear you. I feel you. In my eyes, you are not a bad person for refusing to engage in cancel culture. Let’s just wait it out, allow people to express their emotions (hopefully in healthy ways) and then help rebuild what is broken. We exist too, and it is okay to not want to be pushed into a conflict that we didn’t choose to engage in.
P.S. If you are afraid to comment because of what is going on, feel free to send me a DM on Twitter, or use the contact form on this blog to send me an email <3