Sometimes when I’m reading things on the internet, I start to feel like the world is a giant pile of garbage people and there’s no way to fix it. It’s constant gloom and doom. Syria, Climate change deniers, President Trump, North Korea, terror attacks, Nutella shortages… sometimes I wonder why you even get out of bed in the morning let alone actually try to stand up for what you believe in. Ignoring it seems so much easier.
I read the other day that in the Australian referendum of 1967, 90.77% of Australians voted for Indigenous Australians to be given the right to vote.
90.77%. How extraordinary is that? With every terror attack, every hate crime, every time you see a shaky video of someone getting racially attacked on a train, the fact remains that most of us are good people. Isn’t that a comforting thought? And this was in the 60s when racism was so prevalent, Indigenous Australians couldn’t vote in their own country. I’m all a-glow with the thought that most of us aren’t giant shit heads.
This got me thinking about how this unprecedented majority vote happened and how we could potentially get the same thing to happen for marriage equality, abortion rights and child protection laws in Australia and the answer is surprisingly simple. It’s all about discussion and communication and using every opportunity to stand up for what you believe in.
The issue is most of our communication is done online and our written tone of voice can be misinterpreted really easily. Just look at any thread on any article on any parenting website to see what I’m talking about. People are naturally very defensive and protective of their beliefs even if they’re proven wrong. Once a thought is formed is very difficult to re-form that thought.
For example about a decade ago, I didn’t identify as a feminist. I wasn’t a non-feminist, I just didn’t think about it much. As an educated, white, middle class female who was pursuing dual careers in blogging and education I didn’t feel as though I had ever been held back by my gender. Attending an all girls high school, I had no concept of gendered privilege in school settings. It was through discussion that I learned how misinformed I was. It was through other brave women taking the time to explain why I needed to re-adjust my thinking that lead to this realisation. Did I believe in equality? Absolutely. Was it bullshit that women get paid less than men for the same work? Yes. Wasn’t it important to fight for other women who weren’t born into the ridiculous privilege I was born into? 100%. Could it also be possible that I didn’t know I was experiencing ingrained sexism without even realising it? Oh shit yes.
I’m very grateful for the people who took the time to explain this to me without alienating me or making me feel like an idiot and this is why I don’t shy away from respectful discussions about important issues. I don’t necessarily seek them out but if I see some bullshit going down, I’ll wade in. Because it’s important.
The problem is, how do you get your point across without being a dick about it? And how do you stand up for what you believe and in and fight injustices if you’d really rather not bring conflict into your life?
1. Present facts not opinions
I’m a very big supporter of marriage equality but if I’m talking to someone who is against marriage equality, it doesn’t help to get emotional about it. I have to present facts. If they bang on about the sanctity of marriage, I quote divorce rates. If they start getting narky about gay people making their kids gay, I point out that straight people raise gay kids all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls on deaf ears but facts are facts and they’re the best weapon you have when fighting for what’s right.
2. Know when you’re fighting a losing battle
You won’t always win but it’s all about breaking them down. Did you know that you need to see an advertisement around 12 times before you even consider buying the product? It’s the same thing with getting a message across. If I’m going up against someone who is anti-abortion and they’re standing firm on their pro-life agenda, I’ll present my facts and then stop. I don’t need to be the person who wins them over – I’m happy to play my part as the 7th person who has presented a solid case until the 12th person can convince them that the uterus of another woman is no concern of theirs. Sometimes it’s a process and your part in that process is really important.
3. Keep it clean
Swearing, name calling and making people feel stupid isn’t cool. Even if they’re doing that to you, don’t stoop to their level.
4. Be confident
If you have an issue you’re very black and white about, be black and white about it. Do your research, know where you stand and fight hard. I only have a handful of things I’m very staunch about but there are heaps of things I can definitely see both sides of. I save my energy to fight for the things that truly matter to me.
5. Also sometimes you need to be a dick
For example If I had kids, I would not let them hang out with kids from openly anti-vax families. Sounds like a dick move but I don’t care. There’s no wiggle room there. My inner gauge for things I can be a dick about is the answer to the question ‘Does this affect me?’.
People being gay. ‘Does this affect me?’.
No. Go for it!
People practicing a religion I’m not a part of. ‘Does this affect me?’.
No! Pray away.
People not vaccinating their kids. ‘Does this affect me?’.
Yes because I don’t want my potential children or my friend’s children dying of preventable diseases.
It’s a pretty flawless system.
This is all discussed in much more detail on this weeks episode of Straight & Curly. We’re back for the next season after a 3 week break and today we’re talking about how you can stand up for yourself without looking like a dick.
Do you struggle to stand up for what you believe in? Or do you just go for it?
Also do you crochet? If you do, I’d LOVE your help! Also don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any updates. And if you don’t crochet, Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up if you want to donate a square.