By Meg Crane
This past summer, someone I know made a terribly rude comment about how women shelters shouldn’t be open to women who leave the same partner multiple times because the women just don’t learn.
I was astounded.
Our argument escalated to screaming and swearing within a matter of seconds.
“I can’t believe someone I’m related to is so ignorant and uneducated,” I yelled before walking out of his house.
“Aren’t you an activist, or something? Shouldn’t you be educating me?” he yelled back.
I don’t claim the label of “activist,” but still, when I got a half block away it hit me. He was totally, completely, 100 per cent right.
I turned back.
He was on his computer researching the subject. And he felt like shit about what he said.
Ever since I’ve been making more of an effort to treat people who doesn’t know much about a subject with respect and gently educate them. And I wish other people would do the same.
I’m eager to learn more to stop myself from saying and doing ignorant things, but the way many activists and advocates treat me I’d rather not be associated with them or have to spend time around them. And when they rudely correct me I get defensive instead of being able to learn.
At the same time, I don’t know everything. Including what sorts of important things I don’t know. And between work and school and family and friends, it’s hard to find a lot of time for extracurricular reading.
❤❤❤Tips for educating respectfully❤❤❤
❤Remember it’s okay everyone isn’t educated about everything. I hear people say, “It’s not my job to educate people,” but really, it sort of is. Someone taught you. Or encouraged you to educate yourself. You weren’t born knowing about transphobia or ageism, nor were most other people. Pay it forward.
❤Throw out words like, “obviously” and “of course.” Especially online those words highlight that you’re going out of your way to be an asshole.
❤Don’t talk shit about uneducated people to others. Especially to other people who might not know everything (so, like, everyone). Making people feel self-conscious, stupid and afraid to ask questions is not OK.
❤If you get tired of telling people the same things over and over again, why not make a zine about the issue to hand to people? It could be a fun project to do with friends. And Cockroach zine would be happy to help you distribute it!
❤Remember there’s a lot of things you’re ignorant about and don’t even know. How do you want people to treat you? Think about that before even opening your mouth.
Meg Crane is the founder of Cockroach. Follow her on Twitter.