On Allies

I wrote this in a fit of irritation. I have some big, big privileges that affect my view on allies - namely, I won't get shit from as many of the privileged classes because of my own privileges. If I were less privileged, maybe I'd also be less trusting.

Shockingly, I don't have that much of a problem with allies.

"But how can this be?!" you gasp. "You must be a white cisgendered healthy straight rich upper-class male who lives in your country of origin, you piece of shit! How dare you speak for us!"

Well, nice try, but no. While I admit to being very privileged in the interests of honesty and full disclosure, I'm also an immigrant, bisexual, mentally ill and a woman. There are still some battles in this world that I have to fight for myself, and let me tell you that I don't take that much pleasure in fighting them.

This is where allies come in. I don't like it when men (and some women) act like misogynist twatwads, sane people tell me I'm not really ill and just need to man up, monosexual people (straight, gay and lesbian alike - bisexual acceptance fail is annoyingly common) claim I'm just a confused gay-lite slut and vector for several STIs, and English people who were born here assume that I'm out for jobs and benefits (somehow at the same time) that should be rightfully theirs. So when members of these groups show acceptance and understanding towards me and stand up for me amongst their peers, I'm glad.

I'm glad because by being accepting and doing the decent thing, you make my life and the lives of other people easier. For you, it would probably have been easier to just be an oppressive git, but you made the decision to actively help other people. Thank you.

(Before people accuse me of handing out ally cookies - which frankly is my decision and not yours - I like to thank people who are actually helping. Meeting even the minimum requirement for being a decent human being is rare and, I believe, laudable. I'm not doing it to sweeten up being an ally, which in any case is easier than actually being oppressed, but because I'm genuinely grateful that someone else is doing some of the work and not being one more shitbag I have to deal with. Besides, I never hand out ally cookies. I sometimes hand out delicious, handmade real cookies, but only to people I know personally because I'm not mailing over cookies to some random address in Alaska.)

However, if you think it's enough just to hold tolerant opinions but then sit on your ass all day being a slacktivist, no delicious Osnat cookies for you as you do not take any action to make the lives of real people any easier. This goes for anyone, ally or not, who thinks they deserve good person cookies for thinking the right things but not doing them. And unless I'm specifically talking about you guys, most of the time I'm...guess what...hardly going to focus on allies, if at all. The struggle is not about you. Please do not try and make it about you; I personally will get snappy. Other people will make me look like I'm an angel by comparison.

So that's good allies (the kind that actually do stuff) and neutral people (because sitting around thinking nice things does not an ally make). What about the bad allies, the ones everyone tells to fuck a shark's mouth and die? The ones who dedicate an entire week to themselves that's supposed to be for asexual people, think the A in LGBTQQIA stands for ally (it stands for asexual), squeal about how they always wanted a gay best friend and ask for proof that you're queer?

Here's my view: they're not allies. If you call yourself an ally, but do nothing to help me and actually end up getting in the way and doing more good than harm, you're not my ally and have no business calling yourself that. Actually, if you wade straight in calling yourself an ally I'll probably give you some odd looks. You do not identify yourself as an ally with your words, you identify yourself as an ally with your actions.

I guess that's one of the reasons I don't really do virulent ally hate: I don't identify all that many people as allies, and those I do call allies I pretty much hand-pick. The rest I keep at a distance or actively turn away. (This is fundamentally a personality quirk: I can't cope with very many people at once and am very cagey about myself in real life, so I'm obviously not going to go around embracing every single privileged person as my favouritest ally forever.)

As an ally, I do expect you to be humble and not to wander into every space like you own it, and to be able to learn very quickly. But hey, if you can do that and I know you and trust you, you're probably already not just my ally - you're my friend.

That's another reason I don't do much ally hate: my best allies are also some of my closest friends, and it's pretty difficult to hate your friends - especially when they don't just put up with the weird loner, they like her for who she is even when they see her at her worst.