''I'm Not Bigoted! I'm/My friend is [x]!''

7 min read

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Last year, I saw a status update that caught my eye. This person was asking why people thought she was/is homophobic, Islamophobic, and a misogynist, claiming she was none of them (I'm not censoring her gender, for reasons I'll discuss later). While I can give my answers to why I believe she is a homophobic, sexist asshole, that's not the point of this journal. Rather, it's two things said regarding that question. And I'd like to break down these arguments, as they aren't exclusive to her or her situation.


First, she claimed that she wasn't homophobic because "some of [her] friends are gay." Now, the "my friends are [x]" defense is nothing new. It's a common claim by people accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc... I suppose there is some logic behind it, as people are rarely friends with people they despise. But the thing is that not all friendships are based on liking each other. Though most people become friends through shared interests or similar personalities, there's other reasons why friendships occur. Sometimes, it's out of convenience. If someone has something you need, becoming their friend may be one of the better ways to get it. Sometimes, friendships are formed only out of proximity. How many friends that you made at school or at work are still friends with you after you left? And sometimes friendships are purely surface-level, like people who have hundreds of "friends" on Facebook yet only know a dozen of them. Friendship is a lot more complicated than people often give it credit for.

The other issue with the argument is that it treats the person like a token. "I can't hate black people, as my circle of friends has a token black person!" People generally don't become friends with members of marginalized groups in order to appear open-minded. And anyone who does such a thing is still being bigoted, as they're treating that person like a status symbol rather than an individual. And if they're the only person of that type in your friend group, they may be too scared to let you know that you're racist, sexist, or homophobic for fear of being attacked/harassed.

I would also strongly recommend that you stop saying you "respect" people of marginalized groups, especially if you say something controversial about them. I've heard that phrase so many times by people who don't mean it that I automatically see it as disingenuous. Claiming that you "respect" LGBTQ+ people and then, in the same breath, calling them "LGBTards" undermines your earlier claim. Claiming that you "respect" women for their intelligence and personalities, only to go back to only liking them for their bodies, will contradict yourself and lead to people finding you untrustworthy.


The second argument was a claim she agreed with in her comments. Someone replied, "How can you be a misogynist if you're a woman?" The problem with this argument is that it relies on the false assumption that everyone likes themselves and who they are. And as someone who has spent over 10-and-a-half years trapped in a mindset of self-hatred that has caused suicidal depression, I can say certainly that, no, not everyone likes themselves. Now, that doesn't apply to this person, as she has a very strong love for herself, similar to celebrities like Tyra Banks or Kanye West. But I digress...

I suppose part of the problem is that people assume that the worst or most common of bigotry is the only type of bigotry. Misogyny is only wife-beating, racism is only cross-burning & lynch mobs, homophobia is only corrective r*pe, etc... But that's hardly true. Misogyny can also be paying women less than men for the same work, racism can also be purporting stereotypes, and homophobia can also be gay erasure (something the person I'm talking about is in favor of, but that's another story...). Just because someone isn't being physically hurt doesn't mean that they aren't having their existence threatened or their livelihood affected. So just because a woman isn't a wife-beater doesn't mean that she isn't participating in activities that devalue women and regress women's rights.

There's a few ways that a woman could be a misogynist. For one, she could be a tomboy who hates girly things. She could be a conservative woman who thinks progressive women's rights are a bad thing. She could be an intellectual who despises feminine hobbies for being "wastes of time." Internalized misogyny is a thing. There's a reason why so many young women and girls nowadays pull the "I'm not like other girls" card. Even within the feminist community, there's a divide as to whether women should embrace masculinity or femininity.

Likewise, there are many people of color, often times mixed race, who try to hide their skin color and "pass" as white to avoid racist harassment. And because being LGBTQ+ is much less noticeable than skin color or other physical attributes, people in that community have tried their best to suppress those feelings for years, if not decades. The reason why so many LGBTQ+ people are suicidal isn't because of their sexuality or gender identity; it's because homophobia and transphobia are still common enough to where these people grow to hate themselves. So just because someone is a member of a marginalized group does not mean that they like themselves and are only interested in what's best for themselves and their community.


My point with this journal is to make people stop and think why it is that they use their friends or themselves as their first defense against bigotry. If one or two people think you're racist, homophobic, or sexist, then that's their problem. But when a large enough group of people make those same claims to the point where you have to openly ask in a journal/status update, "Why do people think this of me?" or something along those lines, you may need to stop and take a look at your actions. Either identify what you have done that could be reasonably seen as bigoted and change yourself to stop making that mistake in the near future, or just stop trying to lie to everyone and just admit to yourself and others that you're a bigoted sack of shit. I'd rather someone be honest and say that they hate women, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ people than have them claim that they respect them because they're either related to them, friends with them, or are one of them, and then further attempt to dehumanize them. Both of them are bad, but at least being openly bigoted makes you more trustworthy than being a lying bigot. Of course, the best option is to try to better yourself.

And please, stop using your friends as justification for your actions. That's just being a really lousy friend.

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