There’s a lot of folks in the burlesque world who need to take a hard, hard look at themselves and their behavior right now.
From seeing a people defend an alleged sexual predator who’s been accused sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by dozens of women, to seeing people defend a venue/owner host who used racist and ableist language (especially since said venue has past racist incidents on stage), I’m not exactly feeling the sparkly sisterhood right now. In fact I’m disappointed and irate.
WTF is so hard about it?! There are simply words that don’t belong to you.
- Unless you’re Black, the N-word doesn’t belong to you.
- Unless you’re intellectually disabled, the R-word doesn’t belong to you.
- Unless you’re LGB, “faggot,” “homo,” “dyke,” “queer” don’t belong to you.
- Unless you’re trans, “tranny,” “shemale,” “he/she” don’t belong to you.
You don’t get to reclaim them — only those targeted by those terms can, if they decide to do so.
If those targeted don’t feel anyone outside the group has a right to use them, guess what: YOU DON’T GET TO USE THEM!
It’s not hard, and neither “being a good person,” nor “good intentions” ultimately make a damn bit of difference.*
If you step on my toes, and I say “that hurt me, please don’t do it again,” the normal human reaction is to apologize and not do it again. Doesn’t matter if you stepped on my toes accidentally. You don’t try to excuse yourself because you’re a good person, or you had good intentions, or you just wanted to spark discussion.**
Same thing if you’re friends of the person who stepped my toes. Nor do you accuse me of a “witch hunt” for speaking up about the fact someone stepped on my toes (or my friend’s toes). If you’re a good friend, and the toe-stepper is refusing to own their actions and apologize, you should be pulling them aside and letting them know why that’s fucked up. If the toe-stepper is going around and intentionally stepping on toes, then you need to condemn their actions and disassociate yourself from them.
Get with the program, this shit ain’t hard.
* Yes, I’m aware there is a difference between intentional malice and oblivious disregard, but I wanted to drive the point home because white, hetero cisgender get so hung up on “intent.”
** Being able to treat other people’s lives as a philosophical question to be debated is an ultimate expression of privilege. Just saying….