Say Something Sunday – Say Nothing Edition

Say Something SundayAll year long we’ve been doing “Say Something Sundays,” a day dedicated (at least on this blog)  to activism.  I want to take today to remind you that activism is always an option, but it’s never an obligation.

It’s ok if you see or experience injustice/oppression/bullying and you choose not to do anything.  It might be because you don’t feel safe, or you don’t know what to say, or you feel too vulnerable, or you’re too tired, or literally any other reason. You are never obligated to be involved in activism.

You are allowed to respond to oppression and bullying that you experience in any way you choose –  you can express your anger, you can be patient and generous and explain, you can do nothing and just move on with your day.  You are not obligated to respond in ways that educate the people who are mistreating you, you are not obligated to respond in a way that is most comfortable for your bullies, or most likely (by anyone’s opinion) to lead to any outcome(s).

(I will note that I personally try to use a different standard when dealing with oppression leveled against a group that I’m not a part of, but want to work in solidarity with, because dealing with their oppression is far more exhausting for them than it is for me and so I try to be more patient and offer more explanation.)

If you take any time at all to educate someone and that bully/oppressor who you so generously attempted to assist doesn’t “get it,” that’s not on you, regardless of your tone of voice, level of emotion, or choice of words. (For more on the issues with Tone Policing, check out this great piece by from Everyday Feminism.)

So, while I will always support saying something, I will also always support saying nothing. Because each of us gets to respond to our oppression and bullying in whatever way we see fit, and if we choose activism we also choose the goals and the methods for each interaction.

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5 thoughts on “Say Something Sunday – Say Nothing Edition

  1. I often find myself falling in the trap of being so jarred and astonished (though I should know better) that people can be so unfeeling and unempathetic. I always felt guilty if I don’t say something especially because I think that if historically no one in a privileged position had spoken up for groups I’m in I wouldn’t have the agency I do now, but it is exhausting to constantly fight and explain things like basic human rights to people who have the luxury of ignoring them.

  2. This is something I really needed to read today. Part of me is like “If I can just be rational and reasonable enough and maybe try to explain it in a different way, they’ll ‘get it’ this time”, while another part of me is just exhausted and thinks that they do ‘get it’ but that they’re happier being oppressive bullies who pretend not to understand how their behavior is wrong. Sometimes I just need to hold on to my last sanity point and walk away.

  3. One of my Facebook friends posted this meme yesterday:

    “There is a stronger link between childhood trauma and addiction than there is between obesity and diabetes. Two thirds of addicts report being abused as children. That means that the war on drugs is a war on traumatized people that just need help.”

    I commented:

    “Just need to point out that obesity does not cause diabetes. So I’m not surprised there’s a stronger link between childhood trauma and all kinds of problems. I understand why the author of this meme chose that as a point of comparison because fat has become the demon of our time with little solid evidence, but couldn’t there be a better way to say this?”

    Someone came in and argued with me (“But there is a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes,” etc.), but I didn’t take it any further because I make it a point not to argue with strangers on the Internet. What offended me about that meme was equating obesity with trauma — maybe I should have said so explicitly.

    Another thing that’s been bothering me that I haven’t done anything about is the AARP newsletter and magazine. They are constantly (like, in every issue) running articles promoting weight loss as part of maintaining or improving one’s health. The most recent one featured some woman who lost 170 pounds “so she could run after her grandchildren,” with the picture of her holding up her old pair of jeans, blah, blah, blah. I have wanted to write them a letter, but I don’t know exactly what to say, and who the hell am I anyway? Not a doctor, not an expert on health, just an “overweight” middle-aged woman.

    I’m also of the opinion that the terms “obese” and “overweight” are meaningless and should be retired, but fat (ha) chance of that happening any time soon!

    I could spend all day on this stuff, and I would if it was really going to help.

    Link to the meme I mentioned — not sure it will post:

  4. It wasn’t Sunday, but last Thursday or Friday. I tried to initiate a discussion with a group of friends and acquaintances about the Obesity Epidemic Panic and how it is pointless and damaging. I’d gotten an email from Weight Watchers, trying to drum up repeat business for their latest diet plan was what I tried to talk about at first. Should just have talked to a brick wall about it all instead. A brick wall wouldn’t have scolded and finger pointed and fat shamed. Or stuck its fingers in its ears and chanted LALALALALA! I’M NOT LISTENING! The only part of it that was enjoyable was getting to laugh like a hyena so hard I snorted like a pig and telling off the woman who tried to scold, finger point, and fat shame me. Her attempt at fat shaming was especially ridonkulous because I am borderline UNDER weight not OVER.

  5. I did my first-ever Say Something Sunday yesterday! A non-profit that my friend is a part of posted a fat-shaming meme on their FB page. I made a comment about how it affected me a as a fat person. The organization replied back with some sort of obnoxious BS about the meme being a commentary on how “our disconnection with nature” was leading to poor health. I stuck to my guns and used my “I statements” about how it impacted me!

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