Like most college students, I recently went home for Thanksgiving break. I caught up with my family and some friends, indulged in a bunch of delicious food, and had a good time. But being the black sheep in my family, my break wouldn’t be complete without a tiff or political debate between me and my family. It was during my break that my siblings reminded me of one of my worst pet peeves in the world.
We were discussing where to go out to eat one night and when my sister suggested Olive Garden, I said no because they were refusing health care coverage to employees. It was then my ridiculously pretentious teenage brother declared that he “didn’t mix food with politics” and “doesn’t care if Chick-Fil-A is homophobic” because he “just wants a good chicken sandwich.”
The worst part of this? My little sister, who is bisexual, said nothing.
Needless to say, I was shocked. Not necessarily by my brother, who is always making ostentatious declarations with implications of how cool he is because he thinks he’s above politics, or how he thinks rape, sexist, and racist jokes are “edgy.” But how he could keep financially supporting a business who donates money to organizations whose purposes are to make sure that his own sister isn’t treated like a human being.
And here we have the one thing that drives me fucking nuts. More than the Westboro Baptist church. More than the right-wing nuts on Fox News. More than anti-choicers who don’t believe in abortion but are against birth control, sex education, gay couples’ legal right to adopt, welfare, etc. More than blatant misogynists who are accepted by society (Daniel Tosh, Chris Brown, Tucker Max). More than homophobic, racist, elitist assholes. More than people who lack any sensitivity. More than avid slut-shamers. More than crazy-ass protestors who stand outside of abortion clinics and harass patients. More than all of that combined, it’s the people who stand by, do nothing, and continue to let these things happen.
Now, my little sister is a very happy-go-lucky and peaceful person whom I love very much. I’d even call her a budding feminist. But something I can never understand about her (and people in general) is that she never wants to get involved in politics or fight for anything. She seems to have the mindset of “I just want to hold hands with everyone and sing Kumbaya!” And to an extent, I can understand this- being a feminist and political activist is exhausting, sure. But not wanting to do something about the injustices of the world? Not wanting to talk about our political representatives, our country’s leader, our laws and ideas that define who we are as a society?
No protests, petitions, or even calling someone out on their bullshit? None of that? You’re fine with people doing things to actively hurt and dehumanize other people? People who are your friends, co-workers, neighbors, family, loved ones, or even yourself? You’re seriously okay with that?
You’re just as bad as the people who spread hate and evil, if not worse.
I remember one time when I was in 7th grade, our school required us to have sign-up sheets for who could sit at each lunch table for the marking period (stupid, I know) and one marking period, two of the girls in my group whom I wasn’t very close with declared that they didn’t like me anymore, that I was annoying and bratty, and that I wasn’t allowed to sit with them. It was one of the worst moments of my life. Not because I had two obnoxious girls bullying me and calling me names, not because I spent the rest of the year eating lunch in the guidance office, it was because I turned to my friends for support, and none of them said anything or even looked at me. They were all introverted people, like myself, but I could never bring myself to forgive them for that.
And whenever I hear stories of people like Phoebe Prince or Amanda Todd, what shocks me the most are the friends, adults, or teachers who saw these people being bullied and hurt on a daily basis, but did nothing to help them.
Pardon my cheesiness, but I really believe that one of the purposes of living is to leave the planet in a better place than when you entered it, or at least try. Yeah I get called a lesbian or dyke for supporting LGBTQ rights, I get called an “angry feminazi” for speaking my mind and demanding to be treated like an equal, I get called “humorless,” “annoying,” “pushy,” etc. I have a limited number of friends I can make and few men I’m open to dating. I have my own family ostracize me and constantly talk about me behind my back.
It may be uncomfortable, unpleasant, even a little bit lonely at times. But change never comes easily.
But at least I’m fighting for something.