Be young and shut up

A blog about student activism.

My testimony

with 5 comments

 

 

I would like to dedicate this post to my second family: Katherine, Jen, Aoife, Suzi, Alva, Esje. I love you so very much. But this is also for all my activist friends. You are fantastic.

My testimony.

When I was an evangelical Christian (yes, that might surprise some of you) I was used to hearing people’s testimonies of their conversions and born-again experiences.

I no longer believe in God – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have things I do believe in. So here is my testimony.

No longer being a Christian also doesn’t mean that I’m not still interested in proselytising people; it’s just that now I do it for different (read: better) reasons. Now I do it because global politics as is stands is a pile of steaming shit. I do it to promote ideas of a better world, a world in which people are not exploited, in which people don’t suffer violence because of their gender, and a world in which people aren’t made refugees.

I study, have a life, love cooking, and have friends who have different ideals to me, but I do spend an awful lot of my academic writing and my spare time arguing for this better world, which I would sum up as a sort of queer-feminist-socialist-anarchist utopia.

Sometimes it feels like throwing yourself at a concrete block. I occasionally emerge with emotional bruises from trying to fight people who ridicule me instead of engaging with the arguments. To be fair, there’s been many times when I’ve described someone as a ‘rightwing dickhead’ or similar. But, it’s not a counter-argument. Neither is ‘You’re a stupid pig-headed Trot’ – which is what a fellow pro-Trans campaigner and someone who professes to be left-wing said to me the other day. Delightful. I mean, I’m not even a Trotskyist. At least include some accuracy in your insults.

It’s hard to keep going when people accuse you of being proto-anti-Semitic just because you think the Israeli government are disgusting and bring up the fact that Israeli domestic policy discriminates against Palestinians on a number of levels. It’s hard to keep going when your views are described as ‘extremist’, almost equating you to people who blow others up. It’s hard to keep going when people describe you as ‘an angry man-hating feminist’ or ‘a fucking dyke’ just because you dare to talk about rape and sexual and gender inequality.

I don’t feel sorry for myself. I do these things because I want to and because I believe myself to be equal to men in every regard. Indeed, I do it because I believe myself to be more than equal to the slimy politicians and faceless corporate men (and they nearly always are men) who have used other human beings for their own greed and gain.

But it’s not always easy to stand up to these arseholes. That’s why I want to say now how much I respect all my fellow activists, campaigners, feminist bitches and queers. I love you all.

Last week I went to an event for International Women’s Day held by Edinburgh’s Students for Justice in Palestine Society. I think it will probably be a turning point in my life. I have seen very few people as inspiring and incredible as Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian refugee, spoken word artist, campaigner and my new hero.

She talked with candour and eloquence about how pro-Palestine activists are constantly dismissed, marginalised, ridiculed; about the racism, Orientalism, sexism she has suffered; about how she shared university classes with ex-soldiers of the Israeli army and the disgusting things they said to her.

She said that some of the aggression people show is because they know you’re right; because you’re daring to challenge their bullshit; because one day things will change. They will use every trick they have, and in desperation and anger out they lash out and become insulting and show the ugly malice that they cover with neat, well-thought out speeches and the same arguments again and again.

Sometimes people worry because the Right is more organised and united than we are. But that’s what’s disturbing – they trot out (haha) the same arguments about needing to make up the budget deficit, or Palestinian suicide bombers, or about how heterosexuality is ‘natural’, without addressing the arguments in real terms. Why cut welfare instead of taxing the super rich? That’s a silly argument, apparently, but no one ever says why. Why does a tiny minority of Palestinians becoming bombers out of desperation make it okay for the Israeli government to deny Palestinians basic human rights? That’s a silly argument, apparently, but again, heck knows why. Why is it wrong or ‘unnatural’ to be gay, what’s wrong with a quest for love and fulfillment, especially one that’s not hurting anyone? Why base the idea of ‘natural’ love on reproduction when so many straight people can’t have kids anyway? Why base love on biological sex or gender when there are more than two of both of these? Instead they only address the arguments on their own terms.

It’s frustrating and upsetting to be an activist and to stand up for what you believe in whenever and wherever possible. It’s challenged me to the very core of my being. But it’s also uplifting when you find the people that are on your side and would fight with you to the end. It’s invigorating to know you’re right and to feel justified in what you’re fighting for – rather than the regressive and oppressive self-interest that our opponents show, and that they must know on some level is rank.

If I were to not stand up for the things I value, I would not be half the person that I am.

So here I am, exposing my heart for all to see, because I believe there is nothing to hide, and because I want all of my activist friends to be encouraged. No matter what shit they put you through, we know we’re right, and we know a world that’s free of oppression is possible.

We might be defeated sometimes. We might be victimised and told to shut up. But as long as I have a mouth, I will shout. As long as I have legs, I will march. As long as I have a brain, I will argue. And as long as I have fingers I will type angry things on the internet.

We are strong because we know what’s important, because we have each other, because we have poetry and art and song, and because we have caffeine.

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Written by CakeCakeCakeCakeCake

March 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Really inspiring, Kate. It means a huge amount to read this, and be reminded how much there is to fight for, and how many others there are to fight alongside. As you say, times can often be hard, but we just need to remember why we do what we do, and keep on marching (figuratively and literally).

    I’ve given up coffee for Lent though, so drastically reduced caffeine for me right now.

    Joe Dewhurst

    March 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    • What happened to the Zapatista coffee you got on the Monday Meeting, Joe?

      Neus Giner Garcia

      March 13, 2011 at 11:19 pm

  2. Thank you for this post. I couldn’t agree more with Joe, and tomorrow I will wake up with such encouragement.
    Specially being reminded how many of us there are.
    =)

    Neus Giner Garcia

    March 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm

  3. Thank you so much for writing this! I think this sort of thing is something we should do way more – talking about how important it is to do what we do, and why it’s important that we do it together, and, yeh, acknowledging that it can be hard – and that we always have other amazing people to do it with. Sometimes it can seem so scary and hopeless, but it’s always things like this – things that make me refocus on the passion and solidarity and love that goes into activism – that pick me up again.
    So much respect :)
    Love and solidarity!

    Katherine

    March 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm

  4. Keep up the fight – just don’t burn yourself out. We need to sometimes step back and see the amazing progress we’ve made. Otherwise you will feel that you’re beating your head against a brick wall but you’re not doing it in vain – that wall is falling down as we speak.

    Ana
    xxx

    Ana

    March 16, 2011 at 8:55 am


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