best link ever for this!
”’Youth’ is just one of many identities we experience during our lives, and stigmatizing or...
This post pretty much came about because I was asked if I had resources for Muslims who were discovering...
If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color?
What is the theory behind racist feminism?
We will likely be quiet and pretty inactive on all our social media channels for the next week or so.
Our much-loved and intensely-used UBB — the first direct service we created, and still our most utilized, with close to 70K in registered users! — has not only been dying a slow death, it’s been trying to take other parts of our site with it to the grave. (It’s been acting like one seriously pissed-off zombie.) This has been, as it turns out, the primary cause of our technical issues lately.
So, it is time for us to let it go in peace and create a new message board system. Because summer for us involves both more traffic, but also often less volunteer availability, we already have our hands very full during the summer as it is. We would not have picked this time to make such a big change and do such a big project, but ultimately, we don’t have a choice.
So, we’re limiting what other efforts we can to hopefully get this up and running, put our dear, old UBB in its final resting place (we can’t migrate any of the data or accounts, but it will be made a read-only archive in perpetuity) and get our site back at its usual zippy speed and functionality.
We’ll be back on all our channels soon, and appreciate your patience! :)
People who struggle interpersonally, who seem unhappy, or who get into a lot of conflicts are often advised to adopt the approach of Nonviolent Communication.
This is often not a good idea. Nonviolent Communication is an approach based on refraining from seeming to judge others, and instead expressing everything in terms of your own feelings. For instance, instead of “Don’t be such an inconsiderate jerk about leaving your clothes around”, you’d say “When you leave your clothing around, I feel disrespected.”. That approach is useful in situations in which people basically want to treat each other well but have trouble doing so because they don’t understand one another’s needs and feelings. In every other type of situation, the ideology and methodology of Nonviolent Communication can make things much worse.
Nonviolent Communication can be particularly harmful to marginalized people or abuse survivors. It can also teach powerful people to abuse their power more than they had previously, and to feel good about doing so. Non-Violent Communication has strategies that can be helpful in some situations, but it also teaches a lot of anti-skills that can undermine the ability to survive and fight injustice and abuse.
For marginalized or abused people, being judgmental is a necessary survival skill. Sometimes it’s not enough to say “when you call me slurs, I feel humiliated” - particularly if the other person doesn’t care about hurting you or actually wants to hurt you. Sometimes you have to say “The word you called me is a slur. It’s not ok to call me slurs. Stop.” Or “If you call me that again, I’m leaving.” Sometimes you have to say to yourself “I’m ok, they’re mean.” All of those things are judgments, and it’s important to be judgmental in those ways.
You can’t protect yourself from people who mean you harm without judging them. Nonviolent Communication works when people are hurting each other by accident; it only works when everyone means well. It doesn’t have responses that work when people are hurting others on purpose or without caring about damage they do. Which, if you’re marginalized or abused, happens several times a day. NVC does not have a framework for acknowledging this or responding to it.
In order to protect yourself from people who mean you harm, you have to see yourself as having the right to judge that someone is hurting you. You also have to be able to unilaterally set boundaries, even when your boundaries are upsetting to other people. Nonviolent Communication culture can teach you that whenever others are upset with you, you’re doing something wrong and should change what you do in order to meet the needs of others better. That’s a major anti-skill. People need to be able to decide things for themselves even when others are upset.
Further, NVC places a dangerous degree of emphasis on using a very specific kind of language and tone. NVC culture often judges people less on the content of what they’re saying than how they are saying it. Abusers and cluelessly powerful people are usually much better at using NVC language than people who are actively being hurt. When you’re just messing with someone’s head or protecting your own right to mess with their head, it’s easy to phrase things correctly. When someone is abusing you and you’re trying to explain what’s wrong, and you’re actively terrified, it’s much, much harder to phrase things in I-statements that take an acceptable tone.
Further, there is *always* a way to take issue with the way someone phrased something. It’s really easy to make something that’s really about shutting someone up look like a concern about the way they’re using language, or advice on how to communicate better. Every group I’ve seen that valued this type of language highly ended up nitpicking the language of the least popular person in the group as a way of shutting them up.
tl;dr Be careful with Nonviolent Communication. It has some merits, but it is not the complete solution to conflict or communication that it presents itself as. If you have certain common problems, NVC is dangerous.
Thank you so much for writing this. NVC was really helpful for me in learning to communicate better with my darling partners and most trusted friends, with whom I did sometimes need help in phrasing so that we wouldn’t hurt each other accidentally. I do still suggest NVC for that to people who are interested. But all these critiques are so valid and are issues I’ve been thinking about without being able to frame/verbalize/find words for until now. I really appreciate this.
SEE THE THING IS, he said, BIG GIRLS LEAVE MORE SPACE FOR ME TO GRAB AHOLD OF
i’m not your handlebars
SEE THE THING IS, she said, BIG GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN SKINNY ONES BECAUSE MEN DON’T LIKE BONES
other girls are not graveyards
SEE THE THING IS
a baby girl isn’t beautiful because somebody is gonna hold her
i mean we all wanna be loved but i want her to
a baby girl isn’t beautiful because a man’s fingertips can dig
bruises into her hips, she’s beautiful because
she just is
in nature we don’t say a flower is beautiful
when somebody wants to pick it
in fact we say that nature’s beauty is at the height of purity
when it would destroy you to even touch it
SEE THE THING IS
i would rather be an ocean of danger and deep black and
thick mermaid thighs rather than
a body you want to cruise across
i would rather be the night sky and crush ribs with a suffocating sense that we are all small and purposeless
rather than a landscape of freckles someone happens to think
are akin to constellations
i would rather be storms and lightning and a bright sun rising, i
would rather make you quake in your boots than get your heart
i would rather be beautiful like a cold spring stream:
not beautiful because you said so
but beautiful because
i am me.