I have an unfortunate tendency to hide.
When confronted with large, difficult things that have no immediate solution, my body shuts down. I go mute. I curl into a protective ball and try to get my poor diseased brain to locate some tiny good thing to distract me from the total horror that is the situation.
I'm weak. And I apologize.
I'm a middle-aged middle-class white man. I'd apologize for that too, but I didn't have a whole lot to do with it. No, the apology is because I -am- a middle-aged middle-class white man, and I should be doing more with the power society has gifted me. I should be speaking up more to defend all the people who are repressed by the system that has gifted me a louder voice because of my gender and skin color and class. I should be on the streets with my hands in the air. I should be in the comments fighting against the trolls. I should be using my privilege to fight my privilege.
I just don't know how.
Not for nothing, when I do manage to uncurl from my trembling ball of numb resignation, and contemplate saying something, anything, my first thought is generally "I'm a middle-aged middle-class white guy. I'm the last voice -I'D- want to hear right now." I've worked hard over the years to disabuse myself of the notion that I deserve to be heard. Ultimately I think that's the correct choice, and yet... well, if only the open-minded social justice warriors make that change, we end up with a lot of loud privileged asshats shouting horrible things and suddenly nobody they could even accidentally respect is there to speak against them.
I also know myself, and know that I'm prone to hyperbole when emotional. A while ago I posted something on the internet, and I was upset, and I didn't spend a day editing it into a piece of considered opinion, and it led to a week of very troubling conversations. I don't regret it, per se, but...
But I'm weak. Right now you could knock me over with a three-legged hamster. I'm perpetually one glass of spilled milk away from total devastation. So it's a big risk to put anything sincere out into the public sphere, because I don't know if I'll be capable of dealing with the reaction.
And at the same time, I also know it's not enough.
It's a dilemma.
And I switch back and forth. I look at the world and I vascillate between terrified depression and impotent rage. I'm paralyzed by what I see happening in this country. I'm not going to pretend I wasn't aware of the extent of misogyny and racism in our culture, but this year... it's just gotten so violent. So systematic. And so horrifically pardoned by the people who are supposed to protect us from it.
Angry men stalking and threatening women over mild cultural criticism. Angry, frightened men murdering innocent citizens because of their gender or race. Angry, horrible men who have no idea they're the bad guys, and unfortunately have been given all the tools they need to have their fuckwitted solipsistic violence not only forgiven but in many cases rewarded.
Angry men who look a lot like me.
Ultimately, I think, I don't know how to speak out against everything that's happening in the world because I feel like it's somehow my fault. Through some miracle of fate or upbringing or dumb luck I took the cultural privilege I was given and, over time, have recognized it as a thing I don't deserve, haven't earned. I've been lucky in being surrounded by people who have taught me how to start to see the inequality I will likely never have to experience first-hand. I've got a solid foundation in believing that all human life is of equal importance, and that maybe I shouldn't get to win an argument just because I'm white and male.
It took me a long time, and I had to feel stupid a lot, and I had to embrace my ignorance, and it sometimes hurt. And I've still got a long way to go. And I wish I could bottle my experience and sprinkle it in the coffee of all the assholes out there so they suddenly woke up and realized what they were doing to the world and were forced to start making amends. But science doesn't work that way. Not yet.
So all I can say is a loud, clear "Fuck them".
Fuck GamerGate and their hypocritical idealism.
Fuck the police and their utter disregard for the communities they are supposed to protect.
Fuck the legal system for propping up a false idealism and creating a culture where public lynchings go unpunished so long as the murderers are wearing a badge.
Fuck the higher education system for every way they provide better support and services to rapists than they provide to rape victims.
Fuck anybody who believes that their own fear and confusion gives them any right to harm another human being in any way.
Fuck me for not speaking up.
Cursing them isn't enough. It's step zero point five of a three million step process. And I'm just barely coming out of hiding, barely functional. But I'm here. I might still be curled in a ball of ineffectual ennui, but I'm here, watching, trying to figure out how to breathe.