Feminist Dictionary Day: Intolerance
If you’ll allow me to be, I would like to play the part of a dictionary. My word for the day is “intolerance”. I’ve noticed that some people are confused as to what the term means and when to use it. I would like to define what it is, and what it is not to clarify for these people who either don’t know what it means, or absolutely know what it means and would like to misappropriate it for their own gain.
Here are some things that intolerance is:
Intolerance is: calling transgendered people “its”, “heshes” and “trannies”. No, it’s not funny. Yes, it is offensive. Yeah, you do sound ignorant. Yes, I am going to tell you that you sound intolerant when you say things like that, because it makes people who are transgendered feel like shit, and you don’t have a right to do that with social impunity.
Intolerance is: supporting and enacting anti-LGBT legislation, or working against the fight to repeal DADT. If you have to segregate a group away from you, you are not tolerating them. Giving someone a separate area to be that doesn’t involve being around you is not tolerating them. If you support keeping LGBT soldiers out of the military because you can’t stand to be around them and you don’t think soldiers should be forced to be in their presence either, you’re not tolerating LGBT folks.
Intolerance is: creating and supporting laws that allow for racial profiling. Mexicans aren’t actually taking your jobs. Mexicans aren’t going to stop your little white schoolgirls from going to school. Brown people aren’t as menacing as Fox News wants you to think. They’re actually just regular people. They’re not taking your welfare benefits, either, although I’m sure being against government spending and all, you wouldn’t take them either, would you?
Intolerance is: trying to criminalize abortion procedures. If you’re limiting people’s options as to what they can do with their bodies, you’re not tolerant. You’re not giving people options when you tell them they can either not have sex or be forced to carry every pregnancy to term. You are limiting them, you’re not respecting their decision=making abilities, and you are not tolerating their right to make decisions for themselves. The same goes for those of your promoting abstinence-only education over comprehensive sex-ed. I’m lookin’ at you, Palin.
Now let’s start with things that intolerance is not.
Intolerance is not: speaking out against racist things. You are not a victim of “reverse racism” if someone says that something you did or said was racist. No one is discriminating against you for being white just because it’s socially frowned upon to call people ragheads. Your superior status as a white person is in jeopardy, yes, that’s true, but you’re not being discriminated against just because people want you to stop being a supremacist or because they want you to share your immense privilege. No, it doesn’t matter how many times you say that it’s not racist on Fox News. What you said is probably still racist.
Intolerance is not: supporting the removal of religious symbols from secular institutions. If you’re so religious, why don’t you want to keep that in your place of worship anyway? America has always had Christmas, huh? Well, America has also always had Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and a variety of winter religious (and non-religious) celebrations, so why is it that yours should take precedent? Because you just think it should? Right. That’s what I thought. Sorry, that’s not how freedom of (and from!) religion works.
Intolerance is not: being disappointed at the anti-muslim attitudes displayed by the American people. It is problematic that you think Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to build a cultural center near the 9/11 site. If you’re going to act just like what you supposedly hate, you’re no better, and those people that you claim hate you have every right to do so. It’s not helpful. If you want to “be the best country in the world”, act like it. Don’t limit the expression of a religious group jut because a small group that identified as that group attacked us. That’s ridiculous, and no one is being bigoted or discriminating to point that out.
Intolerance is not: supporting minorities in the workplace and educational institutions. “Reverse racism” is not real. If you have to add a “reverse” to something, you are already admitting that you are a dominant group in society and that you are the standard by which everything else should be judged, so you are disproving your own assertion with your own vocabulary. Bummer.
Intolerance is not: questioning a person’s publicly espoused beliefs. If you can’t back up your assertions, you’re not being persecuted when someone makes that apparent. You are not entitled to never being questioned. You are not entitled to your word being simply taken as right, correct, or even well thought out. No one is infringing upon your rights if they argue with you, as you don’t have the right to spread things without the expectation that other people will think critically about them. That’s just the way it is, Dr. Laura.
Intolerance in not: The unwillingness to lick the clit of a female politician who would denounce your lesbianism and your rights as an LGBT person right after she comes. (or gets elected). Once again, I’m mama-grizzly winkin’ at you, Sarah.
Intolerance is not: standing up for kids who are bullied because they were LGBT or perceived to be LGBT. You don’t have a right to bully whoever you want, be that through policy that makes LGBT citizens second-class or through name-calling and physical violence in school. People wearing purple and making It Gets Better videos doesn’t infringe on any of your rights. If you feel oppressed because people don’t appreciate the fact that you want to judge other people and make them feel bad about themselves, or sexually harass them because they don’t conform to your beliefs, you’re just going to have to get over that, because these things are not within your rights. You’re allowed to have your religious beliefs, no one is taking that away from you. I’ve never heard of a person who committed suicide because someone told them that their anti-gay beliefs weren’t valid. So, gtf over it.
Basically, intolerance is what it’s always been. A progressive person rejecting discriminatory practices and policy isn’t intolerance. People promoting diversity isn’t intolerance. Some people might not like it, but that doesn’t mean they can use words that don’t mean what they think they mean (thanks, Inigo Montoya). This is a word that should not be misconstrued or misused. Intolerance is still the same thing it’s always been, and even though folks that actually harbor it are trying to turn it around on progressives as a means to defend their views in a time that’s changing rapidly in ways they don’t like, they’re not persecuted, and we as progressives have to make sure we don’t give in to that kind of finger pointing. We need to remember what intolerance actually means, and why we don’t embody it (or at least why we try our hardest not to). Remember the source when you hear this word levied against you. Did the person who called you intolerant just tell you that they don’t like people who don’t believe in God? That Muslims as a whole are responsible for 9/11? That illegal aliens are one of the main problems with America right now? That the gay agenda is taking over American? That they didn’t get their spot/job in their college/firm because of a less-qualified black person?
If they did, you’re probably in the clear, so keep on keepin’ on, brother, sister, or anyone in between. Don’t let them steal our language. This is becoming an epidemic, so I think from now on when we see our social justice language being co-opted and perverted against us, it’s time to reclaim it. that being said, there will probably be more than one Feminist Dictionary Day. If you see any examples of words being misappropriated for anti-social justice goals, let me know. I’d love to define more of these words once and for all so I can stop hearing them launched back at me disingenuously.