Is Tolerance on the Internet Possible?

Last week, I posted my illustration Vessels with my poem An Open Letter from The Little Book of Insurrection or the Poetry of My Discontent up on Tumblr. Within a short span of time, it had been reblogged on an anti-feminist site with a long diatribe showing how it is a prime example on how bad all feminist poetry is. It wasn’t excessively cruel, and the language wasn’t overtly violent or offensive, but I was amazed that someone had expended the energy to create an anti-feminist Tumblr account and deliberately searches the feminist tag for posts to mock. I went back the next day, though, and the reblogging had been removed. I don’t know if they actually did a little research and realized that my collection was only 1/12th of feminist leaning or what. I’d be interested to know their reasoning behind taking it down.

VesselsI, honestly, was more entertained than anything. And I felt rather bad that someone hates an entire group of people so much that they waste their time and energy on such a fruitless task. Truth be told, An Open Letter is my least favorite poem in the collection. It’s too long but didn’t lend itself to cutting it down. However, the message it contains is important, full of my righteous anger at the legislation being passed against women. I also love this illustration I created to accompany it.  And as a woman, the issues pertaining to women concern me.  So I included both illustration and poem in the collection.

A confession: up until my mid-twenties, I was one of those women that wanted nothing to do with the term “feminist”, except in a historical context. Part of my desire to be judged as an individual and not take on the characteristics of any group, I’m sure, more than anything else. But the pendulum of equality has really swung in the opposite direction since the economic downturn in 2009, for everyone, and I accept the label of “feminist” now. It’s difficult to be aware of the facts and NOT take on that label. Although, in broader terms, perhaps I’m more a secular humanist than anything.

Anyway, today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am acutely aware of my privileged position in society. As a well-educated white hetero married woman, I am granted access to opportunities and have a much easier time than I might otherwise. I mean this in all sincerity, that to only be judged based on gender and class and the fact that I’m an artist (and maybe to a certain extent my intelligence – smarts can be a detriment these days) means that my life is a piece of cake comparatively. But that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of fighting the good fight, working towards more social justice for everyone.

It seems to me that people who care passionately about societal issues, of which there seem to be a growing number, are all fighting different battles in the same war. We can’t, as individuals, possibly fight on every front simultaneously, and if we try, nothing will ever be accomplished. So it seems in our best interest to respect each other’s chosen path, to tolerate and try to understand alternate viewpoints, to build each other up rather than tear each other down, regardless of whether you’re fighting for women’s rights, class rights, race rights, education, animal rights, climate change, etc. The end goal, enabling everyone to live a quality life, not free of strife or sadness, but free of oppression and hatred, is the same. But we won’t ever get there if we hold our own path as superior to any and all others, in my opinion.

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