Monday, September 5, 2011

sekritly a social justice radical

Last Tuesday night I was at a visioning session [and yes, I would like a less ableist term for that] for a group I've been involved with for much of this year, and I repeatedly said that social justice isn't where my passion is. And just about every time I said it, I felt a little twinge like I was lying -- because fat pol and disability pol and mental health pol ... these are all issues that have become very important to me. But they're not issues where people are going to say, "Yes, I'm totally on board with that -- or at least as a good liberal I feel like I 'should' be."

And so I frequently don't speak up and advocate for these things I care about, because I am, contrary to how I may appear, frequently a risk-averse confrontation-avoidant person. (Reasons I don't self-identify as an activist.)

So I am owning the things I care about.

I care about healthy sexuality -- and about being inclusive of various manifestations of sexuality, including the asexuality spectrum, polyamory, and kink.

I care about being inclusive of a variety of gender identities and gender expressions. (In a Christian context, I want the diversity of humanity to be represented in the ways we talk about ALL persons of the Trinity, because we are ALL created in the image of God, and we are ALL part of the Body of Christ.)

I am growing to care more about the negative effects of rape culture and cultural appropriation.

I care about disability, including chronic pain and mental illness. I care about accessibility and about resisting the culture of shame in which we live. I care about models of disability other than "you are broken, and you would be happier/better if you were 'fixed.' " I care about not using language like "lame" or "crazy" as synonymous with "deficient" or "ridiculous." (See also: "mental illness as boogeyman.")

I care about Health At Every Size -- about not treating weight numbers as indicators of health.

I care about DBT -- about not using "should" language, about recognizing that we always have choices in how we respond to situations but we can't magically wish ourselves out of those situations. (This latter piece I think has a lot of utility in justice work -- about working with what we have right now, rather than solely bemoaning that we don't live in a better world.)

I want to be aware of the multiplicity of human experiences.

And I can't help analogizing that to the radical hospitality that Christians are called to.

I care about drawing the circle wider.

As someone who has visited many churches, I care about making church as hospitable as possible -- clearly articulating our choreography, offering gluten-free Bread and non-alcoholic Cup, taking cues from people about their level of comfort with touch (Passing of the Peace!), etc.

Returning to social justice as more traditionally understood, I've been thinking recently about setting the terms of the debate -- about being proactive rather than reactive. ... And I don't have a useful conclusion to this.

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