megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
[personal profile] megwrites
I highly recommend reading this post about working/existing inside "sick systems" from [profile] issendai.

I've read it several times and it never ceases to amaze me just how well it describes places I've worked, people I've known, relationships I've been in, and other things.

As for the obvious comparison? I think the post is a pretty good template for describing how oppressive systems work, especially socially oppressive systems. One thing that really struck me?

Chop up their time. Perpetually interrupt them with meetings, visits from supervisors, bells and whistles and time clocks and hourly deadlines. Or if you're partners, be glued to them at the hip, demand their attention at short intervals throughout the day (and make it clear that they aren't allowed to do the same with you), establish certain essential tasks that you won't do and then demand that they do them for you, establish certain essential tasks that they aren't allowed to do for themselves and demand that they rely on you to do it for them (and then do it slowly or badly or on your own schedule). Make sure they have barely enough time to manage both the crisis of the moment and the task of the moment; and if you can't tire them out physically, drain them emotionally.

This might sound like something a bad boss or horrible company would do, but if you change some wording, it also describes the way dominant groups derail discussions, meetings, panels, and other gatherings and conversations that oppressed groups try to gave.

If I could re-write this to be the "Blueprint for Derailment", I'd say:

Devour their time. Perpetually interrupt them with requests to be educated, demands to show proof, complaints about how their conversations are affecting you. Demand that they stop what they are doing to deal with you, after all you are entitled to their time. If you're entering a conversation, don't read any of the links or source materials, don't seek your own education. Flail and comment and demand until someone has to stop and provide you with links. Don't read these links or seek out books, demand that each thing be explained to you. If you're denied this, make sure to keep interrupting, demanding they explain why they won't explain things to you. When someone expresses a feeling or opinion or viewpoint, demand they cite sources and prove specific examples. If they do this, take up more time by explaining why they're wrong, and what you actually intended, and how you feel. Make sure that you keep doing this until people have wasted half a day dealing with you in comments or until there's only ten minutes left in the panel or discussion or meeting. Make sure that oppressed groups don't have a lot of time or space for productive discussions, make sure that they know that there's no place they can speak without you being there to slow the momentum. After all, they only have twenty-four hours in a day, if you eat enough of those hours, they'll be too busy trying to work and survive and fend you off to do things like organize or share or collaborate or improve anything.

Yeah, that basically. In a lot of conversations of this type, it seems like there's always someone who comes along and butts in and demands to have everything explained (because they can't be arsed to read any linked materials or previous posts), and everything proven (pics or it didn't happen!) and to have their feelings considered, no matter what (but being called a racist/sexist/homophobe really huuuuurts my f

I sometimes see, in blogs, long chains of discussions that go on and on attempting to deal with a derailer and I think about the unfortunate souls who were trying to have a discussion about their oppression (or about being allies to oppressed people), but now have to waste time dealing with that person until finally either that derailer is banned or the conversation is abandoned. I think about the time spent thinking of, typing up, finding links, and revising responses - especially if one checks oneself for various privileges.

And yeah, "Do not engage" is often a good policy, but you know what? When someone gets into a space that's supposed to be useful or safe and goes on the offensive, angering people there, I think it's counterproductive to ask the oppressed to just bite their tongues and swallow their anger and not react, not push back against someone invading their conversations.

I think [personal profile] ephemere expresses this really well with this post, Itys. Particularly:

Reason has its place. So too anger. They do not have to cancel each other out. I will use reason to hone and sharpen my anger; I will use anger to give my logic greater force. I personally will not resort to meaningless insults, but I can and will attack the source of oppressive actions, be they person or institution, by exposing the wrongness in the deeds and the flaws in the thought processes that led to them. I do not consider myself under any obligation to be gentle. Because in such a situation my primary concern is no longer whether the wrong-doer comes to a realization and amends hir ways.

Rather, my primary concern is the system. Because it is wrong, and it remains powerful and pervasive, and allowing it to go unchallenged only makes it stronger.

Read that post. Read it over and over and over. Bookmark it. My admiration for [personal profile] ephemere and for this kind of truth-telling, for the strength and the will to do something and speak though it must come with it's toll (though it expends time that might be spent on happier activities) is immeasurable. GO READ. NOW.

Eating up time by forcing reactions and push-backs from oppressed people is just another tool that oppressive systems have to delay and deny conversations that could help. Because instead of having the space and time to organize, to come up with ideas, to share, to connect, to build positive good and to explore rightful anger and assess damage and discuss healing. The oppressed have whatever free time they've scrapped together stripped unless they're willing to abandon the territory to those who, frankly, would be happy if they just stopped talking and just took it.

But like the title says, the comparison between oppression and a sick system is sort of obvious. I mean, OBVIOUSLY oppression is a sick system.

And taking time away from the oppressed, devouring it up so that between doing what it takes to survive, eat, live, take care of thing that need caring for that they don't have time to build.

Because we just can't have those uppity oppressed people building their own system, one that isn't sick, can we? No, we can't have that.
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