Silence is a racket
I saw a drawing on Glennon Doyle's Instagram last week about ignoring offensive things on the internet. Many followers liked it but there were a few comments, mine included, which challenged the idea. Much as I appreciate Glennon's work, I can't get behind encouraging women to silence themselves more than they already do.
You don't want to make waves. I get it. It's hard for me too, to challenge something I see or hear, even if it is online or anonymous. But when you ignore the personal attack against you on Twitter, the rude remark on your Instagram photo, or someone's ignorant statement on Facebook, your silence costs you. Silencing yourself is a racket, an expensive one, because it costs you more long-term than any gain in the moment. It costs you 1) emotional energy and 2) precious time because while you can choose a behavior, you can't choose a feeling. And if you choose to stuff your initial feeling, you're forcing your mind and body to backtrack from its gut response. That's a lot of work i.e. energy and time.
There are costs if you silence yourself but there's opportunity when you don't: speaking up for what's right. So often that boils down to your own humanity (or someone else's), the right to be treated with kindness and respect. It's not "being the bigger person" to ignore something offensive/ignorant and it's not about eliminating people from your life who disagree with you. It's about eliminating a damaging attitude of hate and snark that don't represent the kind of person you are, want to be or want in your world. Disagreement is healthy. Conflict is inevitable. Hate, snark, rudeness, ignorance is abuse. And you don't deserve that.
And of course there will be women because of who they are (they are a woman of color or identify as queer or an abuse survivor or are larger than the "perfect" size, etc.) and just by being themselves "out" in the world that it may not feel safe to speak up as often as they'd like. That's okay too. Being able to speak up and out is a privilege and sadly, some of us have this "right" more than others do.
If it feels safe enough: don't accommodate hate. That's what you're doing when you ignore someone else's meanness or cruelty. Unfriend, block, report. No one I know has extra time or emotional energy to throw around. You're juggling multiple commitments (perhaps even multiple children), managing a household and you don't have as much space in your day for your own needs...whatever it is they are. Maybe you even feel stuck. You have even less energy and time then. Make a decision today in favor of you and your well-being to speak out against offensive, instead of making room in your life for inappropriate.
Thanks for reading.