I've noticed this thing that happens in political fights between friends and family. When things look like they might get heated, one person interjects with, "I love you."

This is a control tactic I recognize from my work on intimate partner violence. A thread.
Weaponizing love is always, always, ALWAYS a red flag. In an abusive relationship, it usually takes the same form:

"You have to ignore that I'm hurting you because I love you."
Do abusers come out and say it that explicitly? No. Of course not. But that's the underlying message when violence is followed up with, "I just love you so much."

And it's effective.
It reminds the victim of what they have to lose if the relationship dissolves. It compels them to treat their abuser with the kind of grace and forgiveness they think belongs in a loving relationship. Worst of all, it redefines "love" as abuse, normalizing the violence.
The dynamic in political fights isn't all that different. For one, the underlying message is still the same:

"I'm about to hurt you, but you have to excuse it because I love you."
That harm can be the heated argument itself, but more commonly, it's about the vote. It's someone deflecting from the fact that their vote (for Trump) is going to hurt the other person in material ways that the other person just laid out really, really clearly.
For example, I see this dynamic a lot when LGBTQ+ folks confront a conservative family member about the Supreme Court Justices who recently said they intend to overturn the ruling that gave them the right to marry who they love.
Or when they mention that hate crimes have been on the rise since Trump took office. Or that Trump refused to condemn a certain white "western chauvinist" hate group that targets people of color, women, and queer people with violence.
And the response is, "I love you, but I'm still voting Trump."
That "I love you" is meant to obscure the harm done. It also sets standards for how the truly harmed person can react. They now are supposed to be kind, forgiving, and civil. They are to respect the person harming them, even though that respect is not reciprocated.
They are supposed to act as if the other person's vote doesn't hurt them or their relationship--mostly for the comfort of the Trump voter. But of course it hurts. Now they're just shouldering that harm on their own.
This is the reason these two people can sit together and have a pleasant conversation over the dinner table at a family holiday. They "love" each other. All harms must be pushed to the side for the sake of protecting that love.

But, again, even that meal is hurting one person.
Trump voters know about this tactic. It's why my neighborhood is covered in flags that say, "TRUMP 2020 - FUCK YOUR FEELINGS."

Frankly, some rejoice in winning this power struggle. They love having this control in their relationships.
I hope there are two takeaways from this thread. First, if you use "I love you" in the middle of political debates, it's time to stop.
Second, if someone is doing this to you, you don't have to accept it just because it's politics and "everyone is entitled to their own opinion." Abuse is abuse. Harm is harm. No exceptions.
Will you get criticized for being "intolerant"? Will you be the one accused of "ruining the relationship" over politics?

Yeah, you might be. But that's not what happened. It's just another coercive tactic to get you to stay in the relationship.
There is a pressure to excuse really, really bad behavior in political debates because "it's politics."

But we don't have to. And we shouldn't.

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More from @NBedera

15 Oct
Apparently this needs repeating:

You can't support sexual assault survivors and be anti-choice. Bodily autonomy is bodily autonomy. Survivors need access to abortion.
And before anyone @'s me about rape exemptions, remember these key facts:

1. Some states require victims to report to the police before they qualify for an exemption.

2. There are many reasons victims don't report.

3. Not all victims immediately recognize they were assaulted.
4. In many states, minors still need the consent of their parents for these abortions--even when their parent is the rapist.

5. All of this is creates additional barriers on victims getting the support they need after an assault.
Read 4 tweets
19 Sep
In times like these, words aren't enough.

But I know I'm not losing my rights and the values I hold most dear without a fight. In case you're feeling the same way, here's a checklist of how to harness your grief, anger, and fear into action.
Vote. Check your registration or register for the first time. Learn how your state is handling voting during COVID. Make a plan to vote early and safely. betterknowaballot.com
Volunteer and donate to political campaigns. This link is for the Biden campaign, but down-ballot races in your state matter too. joebiden.com/take-action/
Read 11 tweets
12 Aug
All these people on Twitter acting like a moderate in the White House means progressive organizers will abandon their principles and that the energy we get from Trump is better than a Biden presidency ever would be. Let me remind you what Trump did to Title IX activism. A thread.
But before we get started--what energy? Every activist and organizer I know is EXHAUSTED.
Anyway, had to get that off my chest. On to the point.
Read 15 tweets
3 Jul
It’s hard to describe the joy and rage and feminist organizing happening around these rapist lists on Twitter right now.

These lists do more than name men to avoid. They show survivors they aren’t alone. That it wasn’t all in their head. It’s so powerful.
Just imagine being told for years that you misunderstood your rapist. That your trauma is just confusion over a miscommunication. That he’s a “nice guy.” And then you see his name on a list—and you weren’t the one to put it there.
It’s infuriating and heartbreaking and so, so validating. It’s not uncommon for the survivors to find each other and work together for justice or demanding change from the organizations that betrayed them.
Read 5 tweets
27 Apr
I asked my students once what the most important thing was that they learned in my class. They said simply: "We all know and love a rapist." It's probably the phrase I repeat most often when teaching and I think it would do the Democrats some good right now. A thread.
It's really tempting to think about rapists as evil strangers that we could easily pick out in public. It makes us feel safe and like we have good judgment. But in reality, rape is a mundane (and still terrible) thing.
I know the college sexual assault literature the best, so we'll use that as an example. Some studies have found that as many as 11% of college men commit rapes. researchgate.net/publication/28…
Read 14 tweets
11 Apr
I would like to gently call in progressives on how they’re talking about Tara Reade. Believing a survivor is not enough to have a survivor-supportive message. Here is a list of other victim-blaming comments to avoid.
“We have to take Tara Reade seriously now that she filed a criminal complaint.”

This comment suggest survivors who don’t report aren’t as honest or credible. There are many survivors who can’t or choose not to report whose traumas are equally as valid.
“Biden should be held accountable. What he did was way worse than other people.”

All types of sexual misconduct—including harassment and unwanted touching—can be just as traumatic as rape. There is no “worse.” It’s important not to minimize other survivors’ traumas.
Read 19 tweets

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