Empathy Won’t Save Us In the Fight Against Oppression. Here’s Why. – BGD

Don’t worry; I’m still writing. I’m working on Lilith’s book right now. I’ve also recently and target abruptly become a single parent, so bear with me. There are huge, huge changes in the works and you can now read my work on Everyday Feminism, Harlot, More Than Two, and The Body is Not An Apology and more in the new year. So exciting!

February 6th you’ll be able to catch me at the LLACE lbrary in Sacramento. It’s my first public appearance and you can expect so many more.

I’ll share more fully the changes in my life later, though.

For now I’d like to make something clear.

This is why I say empathy is next to useless for actually dealing with survivors and trauma. If work isn’t actually being done, if prevention is not even a thing, if all you can do is feel bad with us then you’re making the problem so much worse. Fuck your empathy; you can’t possibly understand what I’ve been through. But you can damn sure do something to stop it happening by educating yourself. White tears, men’s tears, all privileged tears do absolutely nothing to change the status quo. If you’re not blatantly ignorant of it, then you simply tend to offer condolences and other empty rhetoric in a pitiful attempt at solidarity. Stop remaining ignorant, stop feeling sorry, stop letting your emotions keep you idle.

“Relying on empathy almost always places the onus on the marginalized. They must reiterate how they are – and then be – much more like those who are not marginalized in order for their causes to matter. They must prove their pain in a way that their oppressors are willing to acknowledge. Sam Dubose’s head must be blown off publicly and violently, and those who desperately want to be on the officer’s side must judge his action to be one of unequivocal cruelty.

As soon as the issues of the marginalized begin to harm or even just make uncomfortable those who aren’t marginalized, they lose power.

Appealing to the empathy of those who are not marginalized centers their understanding at the expense of the lives of the oppressed. It is why, as Bloom writes, “When (Natalee) Holloway disappeared, the story of her plight took up far more television time than the concurrent genocide in Darfur.” Relying on empathy alone will always make the causes of those more relatable to society at large more salient.”


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