Actively supporting equality doesn’t deserve praise the same way that being a toilet-trained adult doesn’t deserve praise. And being an anti-equality jackass deserves just as much disgust as an adult who voluntarily craps in their pants.
There’s a phenomenon in equality1 movements known as “Wanting a Cookie” (Geek Feminism Wiki definition, a little bit more at Racism 101 that hints at where I’m going with this). Here’s a quick (slightly fictionalized) example:
The well-off, white, straight male CEO was giving an “inspirational” talk to his workers: “We have to be friendly to all our customers. We have to help all our customers, no matter how different they are from us. Just the other day I saw someone in our parking lot who looked lost. And even though they…” -there is a pause here, just long enough to be ominous here – “…were from a different lifestyle than me, I helped them find their way.” They smiled, and straightened their lapels. “And you know, I’m still okay. And I felt really good about helping those people.”
That pause – in a city where “you know, those people” still often refers to people of color – spoke volumes. As did the coda at the end. The CEO was holding themselves up as some kind of awesome person. They thought they deserved a reward – a “cookie” – for just giving directions to another human being.
As part of the #1reasonwhy discussion, I mentioned on Facebook that I’d only flat-out refused to use one suggested anthology cover – because it relied on T&A. I continued: “Maybe it would have sold more [with the sexist cover] – but it wasn’t worth the cost of my sense of self.”
I realized it right after I hit “post”: That could sound like I was looking for a cookie. That rather than keeping the focus on equality in games and media, it could look like I was wanting some kind of praise.
That’s not the case.
I’m slamming those idiots who do rely on T&A to sell their products. I’m saying they are morally bankrupt. I’m not a perfect (or even particularly “good”) guy. I do think that with these sorts of things, with all of the work I’ve done to change myself, I’m just barely this side of being a racist/sexist/asshole. I have a long way to go. In short:
I’m saying that any positive, pro-equality example I hold up from my life is at best the lowest point of baseline “acceptable” behavior.
When my kids were really little, they got praise for using the toilet. Now? Um, the Nuclear Kid is 15. No. Not shitting his pants is part of the baseline of socially acceptable behavior.2 So, yes, it’s good I’m not relying on T&A to sell books. Just like it’s good the Nuclear Kid isn’t shitting his pants.
Neither of us deserve praise for those baseline “accomplishments”.
And those who do use sexism, racism, and anti-equality messages to sell their wares should be treated with just as much disgust as an adult who just decided to take a big old crap in their pants.
1 I’m using “equality” here to refer to anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, religiously tolerant, equal rights sorts of things in a broad encompassing way.
2 Obviously, I’m not talking about people with medical conditions, ‘kay?