Wednesday, October 02, 2013
damn it, George Takei
[Trigger warning for consent-ignoring rape apologia, slut-shaming, and racism]
I like George Takei a lot. He leverages his fame to raise awareness of his causes such as gay rights and Japanese-American detainment. I think he's done some work with autism too. He's become something of an Internet icon for tolerance and awesomeness. Good stuff. Yay!
However, he's been having a lot of intersectionality fail of late.
So you may remember this, wherein George Takei, awesome human being and justice advocate and actor, posted a rather thoughtless meme that implied that strippers are bad people and/or the result of bad parenting.
Some of his followers pointed out how un-cool that was, and he apologized. That was cool, even if it didn't feel like he *quite* understood what was going on. But okay. Those who commented wanted him to know that we think so highly of him that we assume he'd like to know when he's hurting folks, and maybe that information will be acted upon. Learning is neat.
But... it hasn't stopped. This tendency, though being keenly aware of the importance of the social justice issues by which he's personally affected, to thoughtlessly inflict harm on other oppressed categories of people.
Just in the last few days, we've had this:
And then this:
Not cool, Takei. The first displays gross victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and callous disregard for the concept of consent all in one fell swoop. The second... well. Cute jokes about very real and terrifying people who terrorized and murdered people based on race with support of societal structures at large do not exist in a vacuum. This really isn't all that hard.
I get it: intersectionality is hard. Wearing blinders is easy. Being aware of how your words serve to enforce oppression in a multi-dimensional kyriarchy takes work. But George Takei, kick-ass gay rights activist, wants folks to do that work for his causes, while not bothering to do his own work to understand the issues that affect others. I really wish he'd take a second and actually think about what he's saying, beyond whether it's a cute pun. I'd hoped for better from someone I truly admire like George Takei. A world full of institutionalized inequality and oppression is what social justice-aware folks confront on a daily basis, but this sort of drivel is somehow extra-disappointing and heartbreaking when it comes from supposed 'allies.'
Intersectionality is critically important. We're all in this together.
In the immortal words of Flavia Dzodan, my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.
Edited to add trigger warning because I should really remember to add those.