Yes that’s right guys, after 10 years of fealty I’m currently in the process of quitting smoking, which means I fear for every single person within a 50 mile radius.
The reason I’m quitting smoking is because it’s so bad for you, it’s a blackhole for money and it was just the right time… and all of that is a complete lie. Well, the reasons are totally legit, but they aren’t the reason I’m doing it. I’m having a breast reduction and they wouldn’t operate unless I had given up smoking. And I’m not bitter about it at all because smoking definitely wasn’t one of life’s true joys. Again, I’m lying.
But the reason why I’m doing doesn’t matter, all that matters is that I’m doing it!
Now, you might wonder what this has to do with feminism, and the answer is nothing really, apart from the fact that I am extremely angry 24 hours a day, every freaking day, for the last three weeks at least. And from me being constantly angry I was reminded that I used to feel like this quite often. It’s taken me giving up smoking to realise that the fire that once raged within me about all the social injustice I saw in the world had dulled to smouldering embers.
Sexual harassment and rape, body policing, misogyny, violence against people of colour and trans and gender non-conforming folk, it’s happening constantly all around us. Everyday fresh stories are being reported in the media and for those of us with privilege it’s so easy to ignore them, because for us they are stories. We don’t live with the real life consequences, we don’t live in terror, in fear for our very lives. And I’m ashamed of myself for allowing that to douse my anger.
So yes I’m angry, I’m angry at having to give up smoking, but more importantly I’m angry at the world around me again. How fucking dare we be in 2017 and still going through this same shit every day!
I watched Travis Alabanza’s Ted Talk today and they said something which anyone with white, or able-body, or cisgender privilege should live their life by: ‘Silence is violence’. Our silence is the violence which is killing marginalised folx, because we stand by and at most offer a smile that reeks of condescension. I felt uncomfortable as Travis recounted a story about an attack they experienced in full daylight, in a crowded public space; they spoke about how people passed by without intervening, and I felt uncomfortable because I want to say that I would be the voice that would speak up, but if faced with that situation in reality would I? I tried to look inside myself and find the truth, and as I was doing that I realised that the fact that I only had to feel uncomfortable was a big neon sign pointing out my privilege. For most marginalised people, feeling uncomfortable is the least of their worries.
So if I can ask three things of you today:
- Get angry, stop and take a second to remember that these headlines we’ve become accustomed to are not okay. They are not o-fucking-kay, and they shouldn’t be ignored as we turn the page or scroll down a little further.
- If you come from a place of privilege, please be prepared to feel uncomfortable and ashamed as you address your privilege, and then remember that’s the worst of your problems.
- Please start listening to the speeches, reading the words, buying the art and amplifying the voices of marginalised folx. It’s the least you can fucking do.
So in summary, I hate quitting smoking and try not to be a shitty person.