Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Are Your Standards So Low?

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.
I have a huge list of pet hates because it's truly amazing how much privileged arseholery there is out there, but at the moment, swimming its way to the front of the list is:

“It's better than....”

“At least I'm not....”

For I tire of these excuses, I really do. I tire of the bare minimum being considered praiseworthy. And I tire of any prejudice short of the utter extreme being considered acceptable.

I tire of people saying “but it's worse in X country”

Because we're just whining if we're not being executed, right?

“Don't you know, some firms won't even hire gays!” 

Because condescending to give me a job makes you such a good person and makes treating me like shit totally ok?

“It's not like they're out gaybashing!”  Because it's not prejudice if they're not violently beating us to the ground, right? Anything else is gravy, so long as there's no actual fists to flesh.

Even when we're criticising media and portrayals it's an endless round of “at least there was someone!” because we should be grateful for the crumbs, right? 

And I ask why my standards should be so low? Why do they expect me to expect so little? Since when is “we don't execute you here!” considered a goal post? Since when is “we let you work” actually something to be proud of? And really, the fact someone's not violently beating us to the ground is not something to be applauded.

The fact that it is worse elsewhere does not remove the duty for here to be better than it is. The fact that other people are even more bigoted, malicious, violent  homophobes doesn't make 'lesser' homophobia more acceptable or tolerable. The fact that other employers won't even let me darken the door, doesn't mean I have to tolerate crap on the job.

Because I am really not going to take “better than the utter worse” as some kind of acceptable level, somehow above criticism. Is “not as bad as I can imagine” really the benchmark here? Really? It's not even the lowest acceptable standard – it's a long way lacking of acceptable. You don't get to rest on your laurels on the bottom step, then whine because others are still on the ground.

You know what? We can be smug about how good we are when we reach the top of that ladder. Only then is the job done and only then can we have some laurel resting. I don't care how much higher we are than other places, I don't care how much better you are than some out there - we still expect, no demand, better – and being better than the worst is not an excuse for your own arseholery.