Making mistakes and being held accountable.

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[image with text saying “make mistakes but learn from them” on a tan background]

As people, we make mistakes on a regular basis because we’re a flawed species and not one person has the answers to everything. There are times in which we fuck up and that’s fine. No one is perfect and it’s impossible to expect everyone to be such. But for me, I do think it’s possible to at least expect people to grow from their mistakes rather than hide from them. And that’s especially important in activist, feminist, and ally circles.

I’ve written several pieces about how different celebrities are problematic and to be honest, I don’t seen that trend of your fave being problematic ever going away. It’s not that I’m pessimistic about the world (although I do tend to be a bit cynical) but rather, I realize that people have been fucking up and making mistakes since the dawn of time. But knowing that doesn’t excuse people from consistently making the same mistakes over and over again – we collectively and individually need to own up to the times we fuck up and grow into better people.

Every person comes from different identities, intersections, and experiences and it’s important to recognize the gaps people might have in understanding the world and other people. No one comes into the world a perfect activist or feminist or person – we grow and fumble around trying to understand the world and it’ll be impossible for us to know everything.

But I do think it’s possible for us to keep growing and learning, especially from the times we do mess up. Rather than be defensive when called into a conversation, there are many people (myself included) who would probably benefit from listening more. It’s easy to hide behind the defense that people make mistakes and in a culture that puts immense but miscalculated pressure on being the best and being perfect in various contexts, even that can be really hard. But it’s vital to any sort of change that we critically and thoughtfully face the times we mess up and hold each other accountable. It’s okay to not only make a mistake but acknowledge it and grow from it.

All of this for me really comes from my pieces on problematic celebrities – I do think that there are many celebrities (and non celebrities alike) who do mean well and are actively trying to better the world. And for some reason, celebrities and many people in the public eye seem to be held to different standards than other people – we often put them on pedestals or the wrath of the internet collective can be sent their way.

There is one last thing I do really want to address: I started writing about how your fave is problematic in part to write about the ways in which racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia, etc present in both people and in different media forms. I wanted to really acknowledge the ways in which people like Joss Whedon and Tina Fey are held up as feminists but still carry out racism, transphobia, or the like.

And there are people who might say that I and many others are being too sensitive but the reality of my own words is that I, along with other marginalized groups, deserve to treated with respect and dignity. That’s really all I’m asking for when I call out (or call in) others. People using blackface or using slurs may seem harmless to those not impacted by it but the reality is, that behavior not only has an impact on people but also how they are treated by others.

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