I’m bored and I’m tired

Let me tell you something about me. I let you see the flashes of rage, incandescent anger which invigorates me. It comes, it builds, it explodes like an orgasm and I collapse into momentary catharsis. It’s not a good feeling but it’s better than the alternative.

Most of the time I’m bored. I’m bored and I’m tired. It is grindingly wearing simply existing in oh so many spaces. It’s exhausting and tedious having the same fucking arguments time and time again, not managing to chip away at the immovable force.

It happens a lot in anarchist and radical spaces. The men don’t like it when you challenge their supremacy. A few weeks ago, all of this happened, and it was dismissed as nothing. Now we’re being told we should listen to some sort of TV celebrity because he made some vaguely supportive noises on some issues. From microaggressions to outright misogyny, it goes and goes and goes and it repeats and it repeats and it’s just fucking tiresome.

Social justice circles are no better. Too many feminists think they can get away with kicking down, not up and we’re expected not to challenge this because they’re making some vaguely supportive noises on some issues.

It’s a sinkhole of solidarity, that’s what it is. Unidirectional. I will pour my solidarity behind their causes and yet, do they ever have my fucking back? No. I am a trouble-maker, I am a monster, I am a liar.

There are so many privilege metaphors I could think of. I am Ginger Rogers, backwards in high heels and I want to kick off my shoes and sit down. I am being told the game is easy by someone who is playing it on easy mode and I want to throw my controller at their fucking stupid smug head. I am being attacked by an evil invisible zombie horde who are all armed with chainsaws and also invisibility lasers and I am too tired to make up a metaphor which actually makes sense.

I have goals in common with a lot of awful human beings. Why should I be expected to dash myself against the rocks repeatedly to support them while they would never do a thing for me? Why is it that I am expected to undertake so much thankless emotional labour, and if I don’t then I am the unreasonable one? Why is it me who has to do the heavy lifting?

And I know I’m better off than some. At least I’m white. At least I’m cis. At least my disability isn’t too bad. At least I have a livable income. And I try to do what I can to help with the heavy lifting in the struggles of those who get more shit than me. And for some reason, I have more energy for this than I do with the banal struggles of my own. It’s easier to direct my own limited resources into people who need my solidarity rather than the solidarity-suckers with all of their privilege.

What I need is something that I cannot foresee happening. I need for what I am fighting for to be understood. I need to be able to move freely, not to be constantly hampered by the same petty squabbles over what should be a tiny amount of ground. I need those with the capacity to take up the heavy lifting, I need support and to know that others have my back when I challenge the terrible or even just the mundane.

We need a revolution, but before that happens, we need to clean out the shit in our own back garden, because if it’s a tiresome struggle to simply exist amid fellow revolutionaries then it’s not my revolution.

So please, please can we start with the banal, before we expand to the grand? I am aware that for a lot of people, this will be unpleasant, and will require taking on a higher degree of emotional labour than they have ever tried before. But this is how so many of us live day to day, simply to negotiate spaces. It is this dynamic that needs to change, needs a complete inversion.

I know this can happen, because those who I can trust do so. There are some who fight at my side who are supportive and make the fight feel winnable. These few who have my back are unquantifiably precious.

I have seen so many people fall  from sheer exhaustion, from being hounded out of spaces. Voices silenced and bodies taken out of the fight because some would rather maintain and replicate hegemonic power structures within spaces rather than challenge them. I haven’t succumbed yet, mostly because I’m fucking stubborn and I don’t want to let the bastards win. But it hurts. It hurts my soul and it hurts my body, and I’m bored and I’m tired.

Further reading:

Activist Burnout Part I and II by Alice B. Reckless


7 responses to “I’m bored and I’m tired

  • Phil Hartup (@LevelTwoRogue)

    The problem seems to be a culture based not upon supporting that which is good, but in attacking that which is wrong. The pursuit of traitors rather than the promotion of leaders. Rather than a unified group of people with a shared goal we have a huge collection of people all pulling in different directions, all believing their direction is the right direction for right now, each believing that their struggle must not wait.

    No idea how long it’s been like this, though I remember reading about how groups of leftists turned on each other during the Spanish Civil War, killing each other even while the fascists were right there, winning the war, while the socialists gunned each other down over details of policy. Seems like an endemic problem to people with profound ideals.

    The bankers, corporations and fascists have the right idea. Politics is a long game. They all clubbed in together, putting their differences aside until they froze everybody else out of the system. Now they get to divide it up unmolested.

    Without compromise there can be no progress, which sucks, because it means accepting that you’re on the same side as some unspeakable arseholes, and of course one can argue that compromised progress is no progress at all. Which again brings us back to nothing getting done.

    No wonder you’re tired of it all.

    • stavvers

      No. That’s actually the fucking excuse which keeps getting trotted out every time I go “hey stop being shitty”. This comment is unhelpful and can fuck off.

      Don’t bother replying.

    • linkshund

      Wait, are you calling anarchist/socialist opposition to Stalinism a “detail of policy”? Pretty important detail wouldn’t you say?

      I don’t *want* a “unified group” all “pulling in the same direction” if it means forcing people in it to put their own revolution on the backburner and march behind us”. I don’t *want* a “common goal” if it means ignoring anyone who has a slightly different goal. I don’t *want* a revolution at the cost of enforced homogeneity – I want a revolution *against* exactly that and fucking hell I can’t think of anything stupider for the anti-authoritarian left to do than to “promote leaders”.

      We don’t need to suppress messy, tangled homogeneity and diversity of goals and tactics, because that will literally involve suppressing actual people. We need to accept it and work with internal diversity – fuck, weaponise it if we can. But if you try and streamline revolution to a single unified goal, all you get is a coup.

    • mhairi

      Yup – emotional labour is something that is very badly done on the left. It used to be always women;s domain – from making the coffee and tea to doing the shitwork of a ringround with all the consequent smalltalk, to patching up quarrels between men.

      Funnily enough women got sick of constantly being expected to do this, we have their own struggles to face, but few others took up the mantle.

      Patriarchy says that women are the ones to care, to nurture, to develop, so when women refuse the burden of emotional labour, few do it. Liberating women means everyone taking on emotional labour, building constructive relationships and walking away when they are unable to, rather than demanding emotional labour from others.

      Emotional labour should be a gift, based on need, however it is also a resource and as such it is frequently demanded, along with time and attention, by those most acustomed to receiving it, and those who are most accustomed to receiving other people’s resources are the privilaged, who barely even notice the resources they are consuming.

  • jemima2013

    huge huge hugs…i so understand this right now with what has gone on with me…i actually think the answer is different…but intend to write so will wait until I do.

  • Batlash

    I love this.Power to the people xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: