Social media. Facebook friending and unfriending. Online conversations that can leave us feeling connected, understood, elated, confused, triggered, traumatized, bewildered, amused, comforted, pissed off, curious, destroyed, disturbed, regretful, and sometimes, terrified. The internet is a tool that both brings us together and has us more isolated than ever. Except for disabled people who are housebound and whose only plug into the outside world IS through the computer. I think these people take cyber-connection and relation a lot more seriously than many able-bodied folks. My wife is one of these people. She was a very active, effective and powerful native rights activist for many years before her health took a nosedive, robbing her of mobility and energy. So her activism is – to her frustration – is largely reduced to the internet. And holy shit does she do an amazing job in educating people. Her words are like truth arrows, stirring people’s consciousness, un-mining minds and DEcolonizing hearts and spirits, word by word. Good thing activism is almost ALL about EDUCATION, which can happen through many mediums. I’ve heard the mean, ignorant term “internet warrior” thrown around parts of the internet, which is a misguided understanding about what activism means, as well as disability for people doing actual educating online. However, there are other “internet warriors” who do their online “activism” by terrorizing people and/or causing all sorts of drama and bullshit. That is not what activism is about. People who think the computer isn’t “real life” and don’t realize that there are real people typing behind these screens, are very disconnected from theirs and others’ humanity.
Personal sharing time. For a time I found myself in the sex trade abolition world, after learning about some horrific, tragic and disturbing stories from the frontlines of prostitution/the sexual slavery trade (wrongly called “sex work”). I connected with some of these sex trade survivor-abolitionists and felt I was making some friends and had some Skype and phone conversations with a few of these women. I’m still friends with one woman and we’ve stayed connected and catch up every now and then. One woman turned out to be a fraud and con artist who bullies and strong arms her way all over the internet, so I don’t care to be connected to her. Another completely misunderstood and distorted the nature of our relationship after we had a difference of opinion, and right after that she basically accused me of wasting hours and hours of her time and energy in educating me about the sex trade, when my experience was that about 80% of our conversations consisted of silliness, everyday stuff and her boyfriend troubles and other social. We had also begun to dabble in some interesting creative political collaboration before our fallout. Throughout all of our phone and Skype conversations, I deliberately didn’t ask her about her experience in prostitution because she was so obviously traumatized and in the early stages of digging into the emotional exploration of it, so I treaded lightly.
Because survivor-abolitionists are a tightknit group, her fellow survivor sisters “took her side”, and I felt the cold shoulder from a few of them; I was unfriended by one, and I unfriended others. I had some good connections and the start of some really cool collaborations with some of these women. I’m also kind of pissed off and confused because one woman blogs about feminists not turning their backs on her/fellow survivors, when she turned her back on me first. Funny thing about this woman is that I defended her in a facebook conversation between another completely politically unrelated friend and that unrelated friend unfriended me for it LOL. Oh the drama! But it didn’t feel good at the time! Luckily the unrelated friend is a mutual friend of my wife’s, and told my wife the other day she wanted to re-friend me but was scared. Last night I began writing a FB message to her — I wanted to reach out and build a bridge back to eachother, but I hesitated and couldn’t find the right words, and was scared too. So I was happy to hear my wife tell me this friend felt the same, and after this post I’m going to reach out to her, cyber hug her, and tell her I’m sorry, and that I want to be friends again. I tried recently to reach out to the survivor-abolitionist who I had the misunderstanding & fallout with, but she ignored my message. I have no clue how the rest of them feel about me and none wanted to talk it out, just stereo silence. I think they think I’m not to be trusted, when in (my) reality, I’m for DEcolonization and don’t care to spend my precious time and energy begging genocidal colonist governments for scraps of their bullshit legal “justice”, whereas the whole abolitionist platform and energy-spending revolves around changing laws (criminalizing demand for prostitution), which to me is not radical in any way and which presents a whole host of other problems (such as what about the cops/lawyers/judges who are supposed to enforce these laws, yet who buy sex themselves? You expect them to punish themselves and their buddies? There are other issues but I don’t want to get into it here – I figure its their fight and I don’t want to cause them any more stress than they’ve already been through).
I want to personally support these women, who get a lot of shit for telling their Truths which so desperately need to be heard by those who have no clue what prostitution is really like, but politically my views differ as far as action, and I’m upset at how quickly the connections fell apart when we should me making room for all sorts of actions, and respecting people’s different positions and perspectives. But I don’t go where I’m not wanted, and I definitely feel unwanted now in their circle. And therein lies the conflict and tension in this particular social media/activist/cyber-connectivity cluster fuck I’ve found myself in.
How quickly we can make rash decisions in the heat of emotions. And how fused “the personal is political” is, though some try hard to make the political seem more valid by minimizing the personal/emotional part of the politik, which to me, is non-sensical and waters down the issues. The whole reason behind advocating for X, Y or Z to change or stop is because it HURTS people, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually – thing that some people so callously ignore and trample on in their activism and theory-pushing.
I know some feminists will read this post and think “waaa waaaa and boohoo! There is a genocide going on right now against women in the sex trade and you’re talking about facebook conversations and connections?! Get real!” Well you know what? There is an even bigger – and very connected – genocide going on against all Indigenous people and lands across the globe. We’re ALL smack dab in the middle of it, to different degrees (with Indigenous people being in the white hot center of the genocide, and of course some of them being in the sex trade), and many of us participate in it due TO the colonist slavery we call “work” period (“sex” work being more profoundly intimate, harmful and traumatizing than other kinds of “work”), myself included, many feminists included, and many former prostituted men and women included if they’re not too fucked up by trauma and able to hold down a “real” job. Chances are, that non-sex job in the so-called “civilized” world is causing harm somewhere along the chain of death and destruction that colonization and its techNOlogic progress creates.
That’s all I gotta say about this. Being that this is the written word on the internet, so far away from face to face, heart to heart connection and Real Talk, I fear my words will be misunderstood or twisted or somehow not heard the way I’m intending. Oh well. I’m only human, and god knows I’ve made, and will continue to make mistakes from time to time. Plus I”m really tired and think I may not have articulated some things as clearly or thoroughly as I want. Maybe I’ll come back and edit later, which I do a lot with posts anyway. My hope is that some part of this post connects with at least one person’s heart and spirit, and that some good can come from it, in some way. If any survivor-abolitionists are reading this, know I love you and if you want it, I will forever stand strong behind and beside you in your Truth-speaking. You are the evidence of the horror that is the sex trade and I’m so fucking glad you survived it and are here to tell about it, and I will forever appreciate and respect you for it.
In the end, LOVE, RESPECT, COURAGE, WISDOM, HUMILITY, GENEROSITY & HONESTY are all that matters.