Shillelagh

Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Actual Irishpeople, from what I can tell, don’t like it very much. No one cares if your ancestors are Irish. You can always tell the real Irishmen from the fake ones because the fake ones are the ones wearing green and getting drunk to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. Real Irishmen get shitfaced because it’s Saturday. That might be a stereotype, but I’m pretty sure it has a basis in fact.  Most stereotypes are like that. The P.C. Police don’t want me to acknowledge that. That’s why I hate them. I got into quite the flare-up with a feminist friend of mine when she posted a note on Facebook talking about bulimia. I am, of course, completely supportive of the fight against eating disorders, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it. I posted a comment saying that I had a friend who liked to post on pro-bulimia forums about the stuff she’d made with her deep fat fryer. My friend exploded. To her, what my other friend does constitutes trolling, and both of us are hateful people for mocking people who think bulimia is a good thing. Consider that for a second. She claims to be a feminist, but when confronted with someone who has a slightly different sense of humor than she does, she takes the side of people who proselytize in favor of something that ruins and ends women’s lives. Sometimes I wonder if being an ally to the women’s rights movement is really worth the effort.

What drives me nuts about the whole incident is the number of people who “liked” my friend’s post in which she read me the riot act. They hadn’t bothered to read my post carefully or to ask any questions as to why I would make such a seemingly tasteless remark to someone whose presence in my life I value. All they cared about was patting themselves on the back for sticking up for just one more noble Woman standing up to a chauvinistic, insensitive Man. I wanted to send each of them personal messages telling them what fuckheads they truly are. I’m so sick of alienating friends just because they won’t make even the slightest effort to understand or appreciate my perspective. My friend pointed out that bulimics need love, not alienation. I agree, but isn’t telling them what they’re missing a form of tough love? I refuse to accept that my other friend (the one with the deep fat fryer, not the one I argued with on Facebook) is any less of a warrior that the Facebook one. More importantly, I refuse to accept that I am.

I am intimately familiar with the language that bigots use to make people feel like they are not entitled to their own feelings. A writer for my school paper wrote a column several years ago in which he made flagrant generalizations about the gay men on campus, essentially saying that we’re all just a bunch of sluts who rotate in and out of each other’s beds. Not surprisingly, a firestorm of controversy erupted, but he was surprisingly cavalier. His response to accusations of homophobia was that he can’t be a homophobe because he supports gay marriage. How is this any different from a racist saying that he has a black friend? But people still buy it. The reason why bigotry is so prevalent is that it is so quick and seductive. Tolerant people have to think long and hard about who we accept and who we don’t. We have to acknowledge that everyone has prejudices, and that even if, say, our grandfather is a little racist, that doesn’t define him and besides, he grew up in a different time. Bigots just draw a line in the sand and designate the people on one side as people, and the ones on the other as subhuman. A bisexual friend of mine was not so offended by the aforementioned homophobic column. He thought it was all in good fun. It takes all types, right?

It’s possible to spend so much time getting shit on that one forgets how to tell the difference between insults and tough love. Even with that in mind, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Never go into a conversation looking for reasons to get offended. Rather, look for reasons to assume that the other person means well, and if you can’t find any, then it is acceptable to tell them to fuck off. The incident with the deep fat fryer wouldn’t stick in my mind so much if my Facebook friend had just asked me what I was talking about before losing her shit. I spend way too much time explaining myself to other people. Just once, I’d like to hear the words, “That’s not how I would have said it, but I see your point.” I’m thinking of starting a support group for People Who Have a Sick Sense of Humor (PWHSSHs.) We’re the victims of more discrimination than you might think. For one thing, we’re constantly fending off accusations of sexism/racism/homophobia/anti-Semitism/whatever, and for another, we’re constantly being told that we might have get more people on our side if we just toned down the rhetoric. Fuck off. Either you’re on our side, or you aren’t. Conditional acceptance is no acceptance at all.

I really hate starting sentences with, “As a gay man…” When it comes to social issues, I hear a lot of people begin, “As a half-Cherokee Buddhist lesbian Panda” or some such construction, and it’s getting kind of old. Being oppressed does not entitle you to sympathy. It does not grant you expertise. It might grant you a fresh perspective, but even then, respect must be earned. Whenever I enter discussions about feminism, I can feel the other participants eyeing me warily, even if they’ve never heard me speak before. If you are one of those people who “liked” my friend’s comment accusing me of hating bulimics, raping seagulls, and whatever else she wanted to accuse me of, understand that I have the utmost contempt for you. If I could, I’d reshape all women’s rights legislation just to exclude you. But I can’t do that. I have to accept you, even if you won’t accept me. And I’m not going anywhere.

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