this is the last part, i swear!
kendra complained about me bring critical of hollaback in various places, like on this blog & in conversations & stuff. she became very somber & said, “i have never been a part of an activist project that started off with this much negative energy.” i tried to suggest that there is nothing inherently negative about critique of differing opinions. that shit becomes negative when people invest a bunch of negative emotions in them & get upset & start kicking people out of activist groups that haven’t even started yet. (i didn’t say that last bit.) i am a big advocate of trying to own your emotions & not letting your feelings get hurt over stuff that really isn’t about you. but kendra was all, “no! you haven’t had anything good to say about hollaback at all & that’s really negative & i don’t know if i want to do this!”
i already wrote a little bit about how some people have interpreted my critiques of hollaback as really negative hatemongering, & how confused i was by this. well, i’m just gonna say it, i have moved beyond the “confused” stage & have entered the “really fucking irritated” stage. take it from me, a professional hater & routine voicer of unpopular opinions: people are not always going to like everything you say or do. if you are going to have a bunch of emotions every single time someone doesn’t like what you say or do, i guess you have two options. option #1 is to just try to avoid ever saying or doing anything that anyone might ever find controversial or problematic or weird. this isn’t going to be a very fun life, because instead of doing or saying the things you want to do or say, you are going to instead find yourself constantly worrying about how other people might react to what you want to do or say. you are going to start policing everything you do so that no one can say anything critical about you, your words, or your behaviors, & eventually you will implode from the sheer magnitude of bottled up feelings you feel. option #2 is to freak the fuck out & made a federal case of it every single time someone is critical of something you say or do. while it may feel good to express the feelings rather than bottling up, you will find that pitching regular shit fits every time someone looks at you cross-eyed is probably not going to be endearing in the long run, & people are not going to be psyched about being more external sources of personal validation than friends, & then you’ll be back at square one.
i have eschewed both of these options for instead accepting the fact that in the course of living my life & doing my thing, some people are going to disagree with me sometimes. especially when i disagree with them. it is interesting to me how the very same people who say, “oh, ciara, you’re so badass, you called out that fucked up shit & it was awesomesauce!” are pretty quick to say, “ciara, you have hurt my feelings by calling out my fucked up shit & i just don’t know how we’re going to get past this,” when i turn my awesomesauce on them. it’s not easy to maintain a constant state of awesome in a constantly fluctuating universe, but…with great power comes great responsibility.
i kid! trust me when i say that i am no more critical of other people than i am of myself. in fact, other people are getting off easy compared to what i put myself through. but i get through it by being in touch with my own personal values system & trying to make sure i don’t let myself down by it. i am not always successful, but i try, & trying is all i ask of other people.
i take care not to be critical of people, as in, who someone is, things they cannot change. everyone is flawed. i accept my friends foibles with the hopes that they will accept mine. what i do critique are ideas, behaviors…things that can be changed. things that people have control over. & i never critique with the expectation that someone will or should change something just because i say so. that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences sometimes. i mean, my critiques of hollaback more or less added up to me deciding not to be part of a local hollaback group. if someone made a racist joke & did not stop & work that shit out post-haste, that would result in me not hanging out with them anymore. but i definitely don’t think that i am some deity that everyone must constantly strive to please. i just throw some shit out there & see what sticks, as much to chart my own course in the world as anything else.
& what i am realizing is that critique is very, very important to me. if i have ever been asked (or, more to the point, TOLD) not to critique something in the past, i don’t remember it happening. i am NOT interested in being friends or working on projects with anyone who would ask me not to critique. i would not be interested in participating in any project that asked me to check my critiques at the door. what good could possibly come of such a thing? critique is the first step in fostering growth, improvement, & ultimately, real change. critique is what we need to illuminate our values & set a path toward our goals. my definition of critique, in word & deed, is something that comes from a place of hope & love. life is too goddamn short to hate just for the sake of hating. in short, i critique because i care!
& long story short, kendra made one more fucked up comment about how i have too much time on my hands because i’m all disabled & crap, i yelled, “fuck you,” & stormed out, i realized i’d yelled “fuck you” in front of a baby, & then i bought a pack of smokes. hollaback lawrence may or may not happen–i am not going to be involved. but there is some talk of starting an abortion outreach & support group, which is something that makes me WICKED PUMPED. imagine if we could increase the visibility & access to the kansas abortion fund, organize transport from places like wichita to kansas city (kansas city is the only town in kansas that provides abortions, & it’s HOURS away for a lot of kansas women), & offer loving pro-lady pro-choice pro-feminist abortion counseling? AMAZING. so this long, long story took many twists & turns, there were long dark nights when we weren’t sure we’d see the sun rise again, we questioned our most fundamental beliefs, but ultimately, there was a happy ending.