Ugh. The safety pin thing. I have heard different opinions from all kinds of people; everyone has a story. The mansplainy white blogger who shames allies for being allies. The self-righteous white lady who just wants people to know she didn’t vote for Trump. The woman of color who is fully over the safety pin thing. The Muslim woman who cried when she saw one. The gay guy, the transwoman, the aunt/uncle/cousin/etc. of a biracial bisexual. There’s no right answer.
If you feel like you want to make a more tangible statement of your support of people who are actually scared and angry and at risk in this “new” climate of hatred, make that statement. It’s ok. And if someone feels offended by that, that’s ok, too. People are allowed to have their feelings and responses. If people tell you to your face that they are offended or hurt by your decision to wear a pin because they think you are just trying to make yourself feel better, cop to it if it’s true. You’re allowed to do things to make yourself feel better; we are all grieving. No one gets to put a price tag on your grief. People do not get to value their grief higher than yours because it has been going on longer or more overtly. But, cop to it. Yeah. I am wearing this because I want to feel like I’m doing something during this time when I am not actually doing anything. And if it’s not true — if you’re wearing it, yeah, but you’ve also got boots on the ground, working to get shit done or if it’s something in between those two extremes — then it’s fair to say that, too. People do not get to ignorantly assign motivation for the choices you make.
So many people suffer more than I do. And so many people have suffered for longer. As a white, middle-class, employed, well-educated, healthy, able-bodied, cisgendered femme, I fully understand that. I have checked my privilege over and over. I continue to check it. But my privilege does not mean that I don’t also experience hatred and fear for the other identifications I hold. Or that, even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be entitled to express myself as an ally by doing something like wearing a safety pin on my shirt without getting dismissed or harassed for doing that.
Wearing a safety pin is not enough. (Did anyone ever say that it was?) Voting is not enough. Marching on Washington is not enough. Treating people with basic human decency is not enough. Respecting difference is not enough. Raising my son to be a feminist is not enough. None of it is enough. But all of it is something. Each one of those things is something. And maybe wearing a safety pin is all you can do right now.
Anyone with a genuine desire to treat people fairly and decently is struggling right now. Collectively, we are hurt, sad, furious, and frightened — some more than others. We’re all just trying to do the best we can in an undeniably shitty situation. So, wear a safety pin if you want to wear a safety pin. And if you don’t want to, don’t. I won’t judge you.