One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the difference between hurt feelings and oppression. Getting called out on problematic, ignorant behavior and opinions and learning to be okay with it was definitely something I had to learn to be okay with. (A lot of this is also a note to myself – things I often remind myself of.)
Acting as an ally (or really just a decent person in my opinion) regularly means acknowledging the fact that your hurt feelings about being called out on an opinion, action, or the like is part of being an ally. Your hurt feelings of being wrong or being called out doesn’t mean you experience oppression at all. Erin Tatum wrote about getting called out, saying that:
Now, am I saying that it’s impossible to face discrimination if you’re in the majority? Of course not! But it’s important to know that oppression of minorities and the retroactive stigma applied to majorities in response can’t possibly exist on the same level or to the same extent because the latter hasn’t been reinforced by institutions for centuries.
It’s false equivalence, plain and simple.
At the end of the day, reverse oppression mostly results in hurt feelings, which really can’t be compared to the violence, psychological abuse, or even murder that marginalized folks are subjected to on a daily basis.
And there’s a clear difference, for me, between having your feelings hurt about being called out and bullying. Because more than anything, bullying is intentional and repeated aggressive behavior (whether that be physical or emotional). Bullying can often have numerous impacts on the victims. Getting called out for problematic behavior or opinions on the other hand? Not so much. Being told you are wrong about something isn’t bullying.
Anyway, that’s it for now and I’ll leave you all with the song I always get stuck in my head when people complain about hurt feelings – Flight of the Conchords’ Hurt Feelings.
*EDIT: I feel like adding in that the hurt feelings that I’m referring to in this post are the feelings of those getting called out for a mistake. If you make a mistake, if you fuck up in someway, and get called out on it, don’t be defensive and talk about your feelings. Own up to your mistake. We’re all human and a little flawed – everyone will make mistakes because no one is perfect. How you handle those mistakes and grow from them though? That says a hell of a lot more about you than anything else.