Not every day, but far too often, I see casual sexism, transphobia, and homophobia, just casually dropped by people I know. It’s ugly, and to be honest I have no idea what to do about it.
It’s often people I don’t respect very much, calling some crappy thing ‘gay’. Most people have got past that, but there are still cavemen among us, and you stumble across them every so often. To those people I want to say, “Being gay is not a bad thing, and using gay as a perjorative is both wrong and rude”. But I don’t.
I see people I respect a little more cheerfully calling women ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ or ‘tramp’ or whatever old sexist slur that I’ve forgotten. People who have made it out of the Stone Age, but float somewhere between there and the 21st century. There are considerably more of these around, and they vary in frequency and use of their favourite term of abuse. To those people I want to say, “Women’s bodies are their own and you have no right to try to shame them for what they choose to do with them. Your comments on women’s sexuality are ill-informed and unneeded. Slut-shaming belongs to the last millenium, please catch up with the times.”
I see people who have got the message about feminism, and equality, and all that, announcing that so-and-so ‘looked like a tranny’. These people are so much closer to being reasonable members of this decade, but treating trans* people with respect is just a bridge too far. To them I want to say, “Have some respect. The trans* community have a hard enough time without stereotypical slurs being thrown around.”
But I don’t say any of this, because I don’t have the strength for the shitstorm that will ensue. People just don’t want to let go of their prejudices, and they don’t want to think about the people that they’ve casually abused for years. So I wind them down to ‘only important’ on Facebook, or I leave the forum I’ve met them in. I’m avoiding an issue that needs tackling, honestly and often, but I can’t do it. I’m sorry.