in Garrett, principles

It’s Not About You: On Performative Allyship

various "ally cookies" with frosting saying various minor actions that people do and think that they deserve congrats for, like "not a racist", "has a gay friend", and "meets minimum standards of decent human"

various “ally cookies” with frosting saying various minor actions that people do and think that they deserve congrats for, like “not a racist”, “has a gay friend”, and “meets minimum standards of decent human”, with “Good for you. Want a cookie?” on the bottom and under that someone replying “Ahhh, I love these so much.”

“Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear a word you’re saying”

I Want to Conquer the World, Bad Religion

I have written on how allies shouldn’t expect us to be nice in By our side or out of our way and how the very concept of expecting such is screwed up in Refuting Respectability.

But probably the most exhausting type of allies are the performative ones.

Performative allies are the ones who want to be applauded for their actions of being an ally.

They’re the ones with safety pin profile pictures, make these aesthetically atrocious straight pride flags (this looks like prison bars, which is where the maker of this flag belongs for designing this and co-opting marginalized people creating pride flags to make themselves seem marginalized, I explained why pride for being a minority is different from pride in being a majority in Rebellious Joy), try to claim the A for ally not asexuals like myself in LTBTQIA (yes, historically it did mean that to include closeted people, but the allies who say that now feel like they are doing such great service that they should be included in the acronym that is supposed to be for marginalized people).

And while this might be a bit of a controversial take, if you asked me which was more of a drain on my mental faculties in this era, the fascists or them, I’d pick the latter.

All of my focus is on the people who are also suffering, my fellow Outcast.

It’s not on being nice to others, and performative allies come to me and demand additional labor and get upset when we don’t appreciate their performance, call us mean when we don’t acknowledge their words.

And honestly, that’s really all these “allies” give.

Performative allies expect great commendation for minimal labor.

If you wear a shirt or a pin, decide to make our venting against our oppressor centered around you (cis person saying “cis people suck/I suck/I’m sorry for those cis people”, for example. When we’re saying it it’s us venting usually because we were screwed over in some way [and if us not being nice all the time turns you off here’s an article on why that’s screwed up], when you’re doing it it’s just trying to get cookies), or do other things of this nature which require barely anything at all, the amount of work you do (or lack thereof) is going to be noticed and we couldn’t care less about which line you’re regurgitating (hence the song quote).

 Ally shouldn’t be a noun you hold like a personality trait, something that you call yourself, but should show through your actions. Don’t try to show us what a great person you are, support and center us. Listen to what we’re saying, if it jars you, challenges what you considered true in your worldview, listen and analyze that. Use what you’ve learned to call out your own community, taking advantage of the fact that it’s not an attack on you which makes it so it’s much easier for you to handle.

Your allyship shouldn’t be conditional on praise but based on believing we deserve to live free of hatred and systemic bigotry. You shouldn’t be looking to us for praise every step of the way, cluttering threads with telling us that you’re trash (…we know, validated by the fact that you decided you needed to come here in the first place), but should be finding places where you can help. You shouldn’t be putting into focus your opinions on issues that face us but trying to make it so our voices are heard about our experiences. You should be supporting us not the other way around.

If you come to us trying to perform and get attention, don’t be surprised if you get the reaction you deserve not the one you desire. Lives are on the line, and I don’t have the ability to commend you for your mediocre actions when I’m barely keeping myself alive. Any true “ally” would realize that.

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