Belenen (belenen) wrote,
Belenen
belenen

bad actions =/= bad person. absence of effort to reduce harm one causes/benefits from = bad person

icon: "healing (a photo of me and Hannah curled up together, naked, with Hannah's head resting on my legs and my arms around/over them. it's colored in violet with a fractal overlay of purple, blue, and green.)"

I've said much of this before, but I am going to try to make it more specific and plain-spoken.

If I judge your actions as bad, that does not mean I am judging you as bad. Almost every action I rail against as harmful in some way is a thing I have done in the past. I have believed wrongly and damaged people with my actions. I have been classist, racist, sexist, fatphobic, ableist, looksist, anti-sexworker, queerphobic, and gender essentialist, and acted on those ideologies in my actions toward others. I have believed in rape myths and imperialist dogma. I have manipulated and disrespected my partners.

[specific examples of my wrongs: CN/TW for violence, oppressive attitudes, and slurs]
---specific examples of my wrongs: CN/TW for violence, oppressive attitudes, and slurs---

I judged poor people if they bought a small luxury. I avoided people of color because I thought they were too different and I could not relate. I thought women should submit to their husbands. I thought fatness was ugly and that fat people should hide their bodies. I expected all people to be able to learn and perform in the way that I do. I thought cleverness and education made a person more worthwhile. I ranked people on a scale of attractive to not attractive. I assumed that people could not choose to sell sex and that if they did they were forced or acting out of damage. I compared queer sex to sticking your hand in a blender: 'misuse' of intended purpose. I assumed everyone's gender matched what they were assigned at birth, and I assumed that there were only two sexes. I used slurs, especially ableist ones like 'stupid' and 'crazy.'

I have violated people's consent (thankfully not in ways that caused lots of damage, but I was lucky). I have been invalidating of people's identities. I have considered myself to have the 'one true' god and dismissed others as false. I have made relationship expectations without discussion or agreement, and manipulated people into the performance I wanted. I have assumed the worst motives of people I loved and not bothered to check. I have screamed at partners. I have called names. I have hit children (I was a child also at the time, but it was damaging and terrible).

---end TW/CN---


All those things are things I consider deeply wrong and I am profoundly ashamed of them. I mention them because I do not think of myself as a bad person, yet I have done all these bad things. There is not a thing that I say "don't do this" that I haven't done to some extent. So, I cannot think of other people as bad because they do them.

For me, there is only one sin that makes you a bad person: not making any effort to reduce the harm you cause to others and the harms that you benefit from. You don't have to make the efforts I suggest; you just have to make SOME effort, repeatedly, to reduce the harm you cause and/or benefit from in order to not be a bad person. You have to consider carefully if your behavior needs changing when someone says that you are causing harm.

When it comes to creating justice, intention means nothing; your harm-reduction needs to be effective in order to matter at all. When it comes to a judgement of moral character, intention + effort is everything. If you keep on trying to get better, and you keep on trying to learn from a variety of sources, I believe you will eventually get to a place where your efforts are effective and you do reduce harm. So I don't care where you are now; I care if you are repeatedly learning and trying. The more you try, the better a person I think you are.
Tags: conflict, gender, growth, learning, openness, queerness, race, rants, social justice / feminism, the essential belenen collection
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