Don’t Be A Dick.

We can all agree, I think, that all forms of oppression can be charitably regarded as being “dick moves.” However, while all oppression is dickish, not all dickishness is necessarily oppressive.

Case in point (relying on my own experience, so as not to step on anyone’s toes): when some cissexual guy mutters “fucking tr*nny” at me when I walk past him in the mall, that’s an example of a move which is simultaneously both dickish and oppressive.

When, on the other hand, some transsexual woman on Tumblr writes about how horrible all cis people are, this is not oppressive, since transsexual people (as a class) are not in a position of dominance over cissexual people (as a class). It is, however, a dick move.

The point that I’m trying make here is that, even accepting that oppression is worse than mere dickishness, dickishness doesn’t suddenly become acceptable if it happens not to also be oppressive. What’s more, I will add that being a member of an oppressed class does not automatically excuse dickishness on your part against members of your oppressor class.

Basically, what I’m saying is that in general, everyone should make an effort to avoid being a dick whenever possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that, for example, transsexual people should be unstintingly polite to cissexual people in all circumstances; if someone is oppressing you, and refuses to stop, then by all means give them both barrels. And by all means, criticize institutional power structures in angry and sarcastic ways when there is a need for you to do so. But don’t think that your collective identity magically imbues you with a get-out-of-being-a-dick free card: if you’re rude to someone for no reason, you are still doing a shitty thing regardless of that person’s race, class, sex, religion, gender identity, ability or sexual orientation.

Don’t do it.

Now, I know that people are liable to slip up; it can be frustrating, particularly when you’re a member of a marginalized class and have to constantly suffer slights deliberate or otherwise from those around you. But I can assure you: if you make a conscious effort to not be a dick, it will only get easier over time.



About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to Don’t Be A Dick.

  1. If I could like this more than once, I would. This is one of the biggest issues I have with many social-justice-type people. While I admire the work, I feel like a lot of people like to use their minority status just to be an asshole. I see this a lot in the autism circles too. (I don’t use the word “dick” because my advisor’s name is Dick, and I have to separate the two in my mind…)

    • It’s particularly frustrating in the case of social justice, because it’s completely counterproductive. Now, of course, that’s not to say that any particular activist being mean to you is a valid reason to not support their cause, but it’s nevertheless how a great many people are going to respond, so running around pushing everyone’s buttons is still not a good idea.

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