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Please Stop. [Personal]


I wish I could take the time to sort these thoughts out better. It's difficult to process properly, so I apologize if it comes out a bit messy.

This running 'white people' joke that we have here really hurts me. I avoid this term because of its baggage, but it triggers me. In a very intense way, it drags me back to a traumatic time in my life, and calls forth a range of emotional problems that I have as a result. And there's a complex set of reasons for that, including some I haven't fully sorted through for myself.

I guess I'll start here. I really hate hypocrisy. Of course, it's a fact of life, part of human nature, etc. It happens. We all do it, including me. But I think we should all minimize it where we can, and in keeping with that I try to do it as little as possible. There's a certain brand of hypocrisy that rails against prejudice while simultaneously viewing people almost exclusively through the lens of their race/gender/other such category. Despite what you might think, I'm not trying to imply the label "SJW." I dislike the term, I don't use it, and its definition is rather wobbly depending on who's using it.

My point is that painting with broad brushes is antithetical to fighting against racism/sexism/etc. If you don't want groups of people hating each other, it's best not to identify them primarily by group membership. I believe it's best to approach each individual as an individual, and to make as few assumptions as possible. Looking at, say, Derek and applying your general opinions toward "White Dudes" to him isn't really far removed from looking at, say, Alice and applying your general opinions toward "Lesbian Women" to her. It places group identity above personal identity. Which is also what racists do when they apply their general opinions towards "N-----s" to, say, Barack Obama.

I should note: I'm not accusing anyone of being racist. I'm saying that we should all place less emphasis on these kinds of group identities, because doing so contributes to the erasure of individual identities in the same way racism does. Which is where I see the hypocrisy.

In a Dtoid-specific context, let's take a look at the Terms of Service.

No hate speech or flaming. This includes racist, gendered, ableist, ageist, homophobic and transphobic slurs and language of any sort. Just because something might fly elsewhere does not mean it is kosher here. Death threats and telling people to die is also a no-no.

Think you can dump on someone of a particular faith? Bzzzzt, wrong. Want to dispense medical advice without a license, which even Dr. Zed would advise against? Not happening here.

We also think rape jokes and the people who tell them suck. Don't go there. In fact, it's best to avoid punching down altogether.

I've seen people here call the 'white people' joke racist. I've also heard a lot of arguments elsewhere about how racism is about societal power structures, and white people aren't victims of it because those power structures benefit white people. It's become quite clear that the mods and staff of Dtoid would argue the latter. Making fun of white people for being white doesn't qualify as racist to them, and I can understand that. But I'd still say it's wrong. If you think "Punching at whiteness inherently punches up, not down" then you're treating whiteness as a monolith. That stance ignores all the variety within the group in order to make a judgment of the group as a whole. It's a different form of prejudice, not a solution to prejudice.

Here's a puppy. To break up the text and hopefully insert some happy. Also there's a bit of a transition here.

But that doesn't really explain why it personally hits *me* so hard. That's a longer, more complicated story, and it won't be told in full right now, but here's some of it. A few years ago, I dated a woman who did this kind of thing a lot. She was proudly supportive of feminist and social justice causes, and I learned a lot from her. I adjusted some of my views, and gained understanding of issues I knew less about. But she wasn't perfect, and she often treated maleness as a monolith in a prejudicial way. It's in the conflicts of that relationship that a lot of my opinions were hashed out. And despite the good things that came from it, that's actually turned out to be pretty fucking awful.

See, one of her imperfections is that she would wield her knowledge of those issues of oppression and privilege as a weapon against me personally. If we fought about something one of us said or did, it would often spiral out of control into a fight about gender dynamics and who stepped out of line first/farther/in the most important ways. This happened a lot, and over time I no longer knew for sure if I was rightfully mad, or if I just couldn't see past my own privileged perspective. I lost a proper sense of what my perspective even was, and as she was more literate in these discussions than I was, she tended to win. And she wore me down, and I stopped fighting so hard, and I fell into a real nasty depression. And she took advantage of me. She continued to gaslight me on gendered grounds, and took away any power I had in the relationship. She abused me, emotionally and sexually, and even though it's 'over' it's not really resolved. I'm still recovering, and I don't have a very large support network. What little I do have I tend not to lean on, even when I probably should.

I don't like being vulnerable. I don't really ever tell this story. I've never told it publicly before. Part of it is that vulnerability isn't pleasant. Part of it is that I've had my vulnerability taken advantage of. Part of it is that if I receive support, I want it to be real. If I tell this story and I get a bunch of "Oh my god that’s so terrible, I'm here for you," I'm gonna question how genuine it is. I can't help it. I don't know how much of it is a reaction to the story itself. I don't know who really sees me. I don't know how much of it is simply to look passionate. That's probably not fair to the people offering support. But I've also seen people habitually trumpet their own vulnerability as a means of harvesting supportive comments, and it strikes me as rather artificial on all sides. And because I don't like hypocrisy, I feel as though I shouldn't be trumpeting my vulnerability either. Making it visible feels as though I'm using it as a tool, or as a weapon.

My ex was vulnerable in her own ways. And she used it as another weapon against me. She was wrong to do that, even though she was right about other things. I did it too, because in that moment it seemed appropriate to fight fire with fire. I had hoped she'd see the symmetry, and that we could de-escalate from there. It didn't work. I was wrong to use my vulnerability as a weapon. Even though I was right about other things. But I can't easily see the lines between the things she was right about and the things that I was right about. I know that I've been wrongheaded about things because of my maleness and privilege. I also know that my sense of how wrongheaded I was has been distorted by my rapist. I'm still working on fixing that distortion, and trying to forgive her and myself for everything that went wrong.

Which raises the question: Am I wrongheaded about this joke, because of my whiteness and privilege? I don't think so, for the reasons I gave above. But I'm also not totally sure, for the reasons I gave, uh, less above. What I know for sure is that every time it's treated as harmless, I'm dragged back to that place where *everything* that hurt me was treated as harmless. And I'm reminded of all the times that people outside the relationship sided with her, because she was better at keeping up appearances than I was and because she said the right feminist/social justice things. And how I didn't feel as though I could ever be taken seriously if I tried to talk about it. How I wasn't always taken seriously when I did. After all, I'm a man, so I'm responsible for what happened to me, and/or I deserved it. If it even happened at all.

Every time anyone's voiced a problem with this joke, it hasn't been taken seriously. Most people get ridiculed. I got routinely ignored. Today I was insulted and dismissed. This place that I visit daily, this community I consider myself a part of, has sided with my abuser without realizing it. I didn't want to tell this story. I hoped that my being a long-time member here would be worth something. I hoped that I would be taken at my word when I said "This hurts me." I had hoped that I was worth more to people than the joke was. But I was wrong. And that really, really sucks.

Maybe this post will be taken seriously. Maybe it won't. I hope it does. Maybe it'll read as though I'm using my vulnerability as a weapon. Part of me feels like it does. I hope it doesn't. That's not what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to be understood, because so far it seems I've been lumped in with the confederate-flag crowd for saying "Please stop." That's not who I am. That's not what this is about. I don't want to Defend the Proud White Race(tm), and I don't want a big fight. I want this joke to go away. I want people here to care about me half as much as I care about you. And I do care greatly. I lurk a lot because I'm shy and often depressed and typically don't speak up in my day-to-day life either. That traces back to a separate story of (more physical) abuse back when I was a kid at daycare. I try to engage here because it's generally a safe place, but my personal issues don't just evaporate and that keeps me silent more often than I'd like. If that silence has ever come across as uncaring aloofness, I'm sorry. It wouldn't be the first time I've made that mistake. 

I guess the bottom line is that in a relatively short span of time, I became more aware of my privilege and I then became a victim, in part because of that awareness. That muddies the waters a lot for me, and I carry some unique baggage surrounding this stuff. I'm doing the best I can, and I don't want to make "My problems" into "Everybody's problems." This is another reason I don’t usually make my pain visible. But this pain is real, and I'm asking everyone here to stop poking the bruises I haven't let you see. I know that it's partly my fault for hiding them in the first place, but maybe now that it's out there, something will change.

Let's take another glance at the Dtoid ToS: "Remember: That handle and avatar on the internet is a real human being like you with a life, problems, favorite game genres, foods and opinions that are more varied than a pack of Skittles."

If you read through this whole thing, thank you. Please remember that I am real human being like you. Please believe me when I say "This thing you are doing is hurting me." Please stop.

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About Roagerone of us since 2:47 AM on 03.27.2009

I'm a 26 year old guy in Oregon. I've been playing video games as long as I can remember, starting with an old dusty NES, some Mario, and Battletoads. Now, I mostly play on PC, and try to play as many different games as possible unless it involves the letters "RTS" or "MMO." Sorry, Blizzard. Nothing personal.

Top games of the forever, in no particular order:

The Stanley Parable
Yoshi's Island
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Sonic Racing Transformed
Spec Ops: The Line
Zelda: Link's Awakening
Grand Theft Auto 4+Episodes
PacMan CEDX+
Super Mario World
God of War 3