Dear Classmate/Beloved Family Member/Stranger on the Internet/Dude-Bro,
Yes, you. The one who just made the transphobic/sexist/racist/heterosexist joke. Perhaps you’re trying to get a rise out of those you deem humorless, perhaps you actually thought what you said was funny. Regardless, you know what you said was wrong because now you’re now side-eying me (the token feminist) with the expectation of a response. On another day, at another hour, perhaps I would say something. Perhaps I would drag your unfunny joke through the realities of thousands to millions of disadvantaged individuals who have lived tragedies you thought would be humorous to laugh over. Perhaps I would spit statistics faster than you could open your mouth in self-defense. Perhaps I would try to educate you.
And maybe that’s what you’re seeking- education. Maybe you noticed my scowl and you are now genuinely curious as to what you did wrong. It was just a joke, wasn’t it? Is it that big of a deal? You need guidance, you want guidance. But today, I just can’t give it to you.
Because before bearing witness to your questionable sense of humor, I spent the morning explaining to someone why Tina Fey’s imperialistic gaze into the lives of Afghan women is damaging while in line for a bagel. And then, in class, I had to explain to a professor that women politicians are in fact scrutinized by voters and pundits far more than men, and that black politicians are often criticized in a coded language that thinly veils prejudice. And then, after all of that, I was cat called on my way to my internship. My heart pumping hard, I ducked my head and walked a little faster and hoped to not become a statistic right then and there.
Yet, here you stand before me. Begging me to say something. But I won’t; at least not today. I’ll frown. I’ll roll my eyes. But I won’t delve into an in-depth explanation as to why you are wrong and why you need to procure better material. Because I’m tired. Every day I trudge through the ditches of oppressive systems, and every day I make an effort to clear the way, if only a bit, for my peers. That takes a toll. Even the most energetic activist can only stand the drivel for so long. So before you jeer at me (“Oh, but if it’s so bad why can’t you argue against it?”) understand that I don’t have the capacity or the energy to fight you. Try again tomorrow.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Feminist