Okay nope. I'm gonna do it. I need to talk about identity vs. culpability, intersection, and lateral punching.

This will likely be long. Probably should be a blog, but who reads blogs?

If you take nothing else away from it, take away this:

No one is too harmless to be harmful.
(I'm gonna do this the old fashioned way, one tweet at a time, instead of using the thread feature so I don't slam y'all with 100 tweets all at once.)
Recent events in Booklandia have brought this issue to light; when someone marginalized does something bad, do we decry their actions or defend their marginalization?


Porque no los dos? Why not both?
You can condemn someone's actions as a person without attacking their marginalization. You can be sensitive to their marginalization while also saying "This thing you did? It caused harm, and it's not okay."
Here's the thing. Many people who get called out this way don't realize they're causing harm because internalization of their own fragility and helplessness in the face of privilege has caused them to conflate helpless with harmless.

They're not the same.
A mosquito may be helpless against a man my size when I go for the swatter, but that doesn't mean it's harmless. If I'm allergic, it can cause a severe reaction. It can fuck with my anemia. It can give me fucking malaria.

Still helpless. Not harmless.
When it comes to examining huge incidents like TW, it helps to stop and think about the accused's self-perception. Their idea that they weren't doing anything wrong; they're just a mosquito, which is why they jump to the defensive without examining the effects of their actions.
Why do they do this instead of taking responsibility for the harm they caused?

Because they didn't think they could damage anyone, because in their heads they're harmless.
That doesn't excuse them. But it does raise thoughts on how axes of marginalization can make us forget that we are not, in fact, harmless and we can hurt each other across lanes. We are not worms beating against a towering stone wall.

We're people beating against other people.
Look at it this way. Say I walk up to this stroller with a fucking baby in it.

That baby is white, and may possibly grow into a mentally and physically abled allocishet man with all the privilege that imparts.
If I punch that baby, does his potential privilege and the fact that he will never understand my experience as a queer, chronically physically and mentally ill, Native AmeriBlasian man negate any harm done to him?


You cannot mute the harm I did because of my identity.

You cannot sit back and say "Sure, he punched that baby, but like he's super-marginalized so I don't think I should say anything because it might be punching down?"
It's not punching down.


(Seriously if I ever get so wilding I punch a baby, someone restrain me and have a come to Jesus talk, okay?)
For a more relatable real-world example...I'm going to get into something personal that happened to me pretty recently. It feels a little petty to bring it up and it'll probably upset the person involved and possibly bring down a heap of shite on my head, at least get me blocked.
But it's relative to this, and it needs to be discussed.

This is where it gets long.

Really long.

Strap in for some dirty laundry, y'all.
A few months back a "friend" of mine came to me upset that one of her favorite authors had been rude to her. She said she was angry and wanted to vent, so okay. I listened. I was angry with her in solidarity.
I spilled a little tea; when someone does you wrong, a tea party can ease your pains.

I trusted her words when she said she was angry, and was like "yeah, chile, we done known about that one, welcome to the fold."
(Seriously, y'all. When melanated people tell you someone is bad juju, y'all need to start listening.)
At some point she switched from angry to hurt, but didn't tell me this. So I continued to trust her words that she was angry. At the same time, my tangential thoughts about similar situations inspired an ill-timed tweet that was related to the situation, but not about her.
(Seriously, it was very poorly timed. Bad judgment on my part.)
I pointedly said it wasn't about her and I didn't want to hurt her with it, to clarify in case she saw it. She insisted it was about her, and deliberately staged to hurt her (why would I point out a subtweet about her if it was about her, but anyway...).
Cue 20 solid hours of gaslighting and emotional manipulation.

Not from me.

From her.
She was angry with me because she assumed I knew things she didn't say about how she truly felt vs. the anger she'd openly stated, so I was reacting inappropriately to things I knew nothing about.

She consistently twisted the reality of what happened, what I did, what I said.
Even correcting me and insisting she knew my intent even though I outright said "No, that's not what I said, no, that's not what you said, look at the chat log it's right fucking there."
She insinuated I said/meant things about someone else that made me feel gross, because I never did and the insinuations were disgusting.
She continuously put words and intent in my mouth that never happened, all filling in the blanks from her assumption that I knew exactly what she thought and felt without being told, rather than me trusting her actual written words.
She told me I should have interpreted her ambiguous GIFs to know what she really meant, and she assumed I had. She said me asking if she was okay was me signaling I knew how she felt, rather than me, you know, asking her to tell me how she felt as I didn't know.
All of her fury with me was predicated on the idea that she assumed I had interpreted smoke signals, and was deliberately reacting inappropriately to them rather than unaware that she was on one whole other page while I was still on the page with her stated words and feelings.
She cast aspersions on me because of my own issues with the author who upset her, suddenly defending them because I wasn't willing to spill all my personal business to her to gain her permission to feel the way I felt.
She threw in a few nice little barbs about my character in general. Those words are still stinging to this day.
Now, some of this was just two people having a misunderstanding. Shite happens. We don't communicate well in a highly volatile, unstable, ambiguous medium.
We both fucked up with communicating and went all wrong-ways and came at each other spiky. That's human and we both own responsibility for that. We got messy.
But the responsibility for that twisted narrative and gaslighting is on her.
Every time I fought back against being gaslit by saying "no" and pointing out the reaches, the emotional manipulation, she changed tacks to try from a different direction to the point of contradicting herself to get the desired outcome.
She twisted things every which way until I was starting to doubt reality and wondered if I was losing my goddamned mind.

My brain was in this fucked up foggy half-scared place, at which point I realized I was completely fucking triggered because this person was abusing me.
It was so bad I had to turn to two other friends to desperately ground me in facts, to remind me that yes I was seeing what I was seeing, it wasn't open to interpretation, it was just flat reality and she was twisting that reality.
I was shaking. Super fucked up. Exhausted. Kind of shellshocked.
Somehow I extricated and smoothed things over, but it left me with a dilemma if I wanted to avoid drama.
Especially when I was realizing this "friend" has spent years negging me and emotionally manipulating me and pushing my boundaries, and this was the culmination of that.

This was also the culmination of years of me not saying "Hey, no, that's not okay" because, guess what?
I was afraid that if I said "step back, stop pushing my boundaries, ouch, that hurt" I would be punching down because of power imbalance and differing axes of privilege.
But I still managed to kind of smooth things to neutrality and set a path forward despite ongoing emotionally manipulative comments, only for her to try to start the conversation about the author again, only for me to say no.
I wasn't talking about this or that person ever again, and that's a hard limit if we want to move forward.

I wasn't going back there.

A bucket comes up from a well full of poison water, I'm not gonna hope the next dip comes up fresh.
I set a boundary, she immediately questioned it as if it was a personal insult to her, and I was done with her from that day forth.

She'd had a history of ignoring my boundaries, but that was the last time.
Though the damage wasn't limited to that night.

Because of her I've retreated to my private circle, shut off to new friends, put others at arm's length in a way that probably confuses and hurts them.

That kind of burn leaves me too wary to get burned again.
While ever since then she's been right back after fanning the author who upset her, while I'm the evil friend who hurt and betrayed and abandoned her.

It completely boggles my mind that she can in any way excuse her own culpability in me walking away, and then I realized:
Because of our differing axes of privilege, she honestly thinks she's too harmless to do harm.

She thinks nothing she did during that 20-hour marathon mess had any effect on me, because to her she's not capable of harming me but I'm entirely capable of harming her.
That's...not how people work. At all. That's not how marginalization works.
The gendered privilege differential means it's my responsibility to always be aware of the advantages I have in any situation, the power imbalance, etc.

It doesn't mean I'm immune from harm.
It doesn't mean I can't be hurt by someone psychologically assaulting me for hours and triggering the fuck out of me.

It doesn't mean she can walk away as if she didn't leave a scar and behave as if she's a victim to someone she used as a punching bag.
Yes, she is disadvantaged in society for a number of reasons pertaining to marginalization, as am I.

But she's not too harmless to be harmful.

No one is too harmless to be harmful.
That goes for you, for me.

For Tristina Wright, discrediting victims of sexual assault by using her own trauma to claim that she's incapable and completely harmless.
As another example, it goes for a certain M/M editor who shall remain nameless but who continuously predates on vulnerable authors using their position of power, while also continuously proclaiming their own fragility.
You cannot internalize the concept of your own harmlessness to give you free rein to do whatever you want without considering the impact you have on other people.
This is how white women continuously damage men of color.

It's how cisqueer people continuously damage trans folk.

It's how alloromantic, allosexual people make aroaces feel invisible.

It's how the entire queer community consistently dismisses the concerns of disabled folk.
There's no heirarchy that says depending on where you fall on the chart, you can't be harmed by the actions of other people below you on the chart.

There is no perfect victim, either, who is always the one harmed and never the one harming.
Deconstruct this idea. Look at yourself and how often you dismiss the idea that you could ever harm someone because you're [marginalization].

You can.
I think if more of us tried to be aware of that, it could cause a major positive shift in how we relate to each other across marginalizations.
I said it at the start of this and I'll say it at the end:

No one--not you, not me, not the people you love, not the people you hate--is too harmless to be harmful.
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