I think that the hardest ways of thinking to change are the most basic. Like, if it gets in there early that your body sucks, you can be a forty-four year old woman trying to live a happy life whose brain still shouts “you’re so ugly” in moments of anxiety.
And I think there’s a very fundamental belief we all have that some people need to be appeased and other people’s jobs are to appease.
I think this belief is at the core of racism and sexism. It’s not the only thing going on with racism and sexism, of course. Both brambles have grown large and tangled and prickly in their own ways. And I’m not sure, at this point, that removing this taproot would kill either plant. But it’s there, in the dirt, nourishing the hatred.
I do whatever I want, but black people need to be perfect or they deserve what they get.
I do what I want, and I’m fucking pissed that the world hasn’t handed me a beautiful woman whose only goal is to please me and increase my status among my male peers.
The most insidious part of it, to me, is how often I fall into the role of appeaser. How logical and rational it seems that, if only I would devote myself to doing what some person wanted, then he or she would not hurt me or stop hurting me.
The other day, someone on Twitter said that my joking about Kid Rock’s publicist was going to cause people to continue to vote for Trump. As if me having a laugh and a moment of happiness was the cause of people making a continued choice to hurt me and people like me.
As if I was failing in some way to be a good person because I was not constantly monitoring myself to make sure that I wasn’t provoking anyone, but only appeasing.
There’s a difference between kindness and manners and making sure people are comfortable AND appeasing. One is about exerting yourself as a person with power on equal standing with a peer you want to make or maintain good relationships with. The other is about some kind of expectation of grovelling.
It’s a fucked up thing that, in a country of supposedly free and equal citizens, we have this unspoken assumption of some people’s duty to appease others.