Just Shut The Fuck Up

How I Learned to Be a Better Ally

  • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

This week, I betrayed friends. I was wrong, and stubborn about it. I was not an ally, and I am deeply remorseful—though fully aware that my emotions are insignificant in the face of the amplitude of the crisis oppressed people face.

It took a metaphor to understand why I was wrong. We were in the forest, and my arm was hanging away from my body. My boyfriend was holding my wrist. My arm grew cold, and I tugged at it. He did not want to let it go, saying: “Oh, you’re cold? Well I know what’s best for you, I think it’s to leave your arm far from your body.”

An ally is there to help people facing discrimination take their rightful place in the public eye, to recognize that they are subjects and agents, and they have the right to self determination. An ally has to listen, without objection, and to help them, and recognize they are the one who best know how they want to be served.

Now, this leitmotiv, I thought I knew it by heart, but to be an ally is active. My mistake boiled down to something simple: I talked back, and talked over the people whom I should have helped.

I turned a deaf ear to those I was claiming to serve, effectively being the pinnacle of a White Feminist™, colonialist and domineering, patronizing and condescending. I assumed those I wanted to help did not know what was best for them.

Thinking back, I see now I really acted like a fucking turd. I really betrayed their trust. But I guess I am still egocentric by bringing back this situation to me and the involvement in its unfolding.

How maddening it must be to have hammered the idea that your opinion does not matter. How disconnected I was to not see that I contributed to their oppression.

I was blind and full of myself.

This text goes out to the feminist allies, the male identified people who think their job is to interfere with the non-mixed protests, telling feminists how to be “good feminists.” You have to shut up and listen.

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.