Latest posts by Gianna Trocino (see all)
- Fat Shaming & The Backhanded Compliment - February 11, 2016
- Stages of Allyship: Which One are You? - January 5, 2016
- Stop Using Mental Health as a Substitute for a Debate on Gun Control - October 15, 2015
What fueled your passion to stand up and fight against oppression? Where did your motivation stem from? What do you strive for? Are you an ally?
An ally is someone who is committed to social justice reform and equality. Someone acting as an ally works to support diverse groups which they are not necessarily a part of. Positive allyship includes knowing the issues, building relationships, and being willing to receive constructive criticism.
The customary steps to becoming a social justice ally are: an ally for self-interest, for altruism, and for social justice.
Does your motivation bud from a personal experience to help the people you know and care about? For example, I started off as an advocate for women’s rights because I am a woman. Every time there is a conversation on women’s rights, I can conceptualize my individual struggles as a woman. This personal relationship as a member of an oppressed group helped me create a bond linking self-interest to potential allyship.
Once I emerged from self-interest, I was capable of understanding altruism. Instead of thinking solely about my own strife as a woman, I began to see my experiences as a very small part of the battles that women all over the world face. Instead of saying, “I do this for myself,” I was able to say, “I do this for women everywhere.”
When you are an ally to a target group, you help empower them. How can we go further? The last step, the step we all strive for, is just a leap away. An ally for social justice is an ally for all. Instead of thinking only of the women of the world, I began to realize that all forms of oppression are interlinked.
This is where intersectionality comes in! Intersectionality is the concept that all oppressions are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. We have to graduate from thinking “I do this for me,” to “I do this for them,” to “I do this for us.” When I say “us,” I mean for everyone.
Being an ally does not mean we can forget about dominant groups, such as cis men. Patriarchy impedes on their lives as well. When men are taught to conform to society’s patrilineal standards, it creates a “masculine standard” excluding men who speak, behave or dress in a feminine manner. This ultimately fosters homophobia, sexism, and devalues femininity.
Now that we know the stages of allyship, let’s look at how we are all socialized to become, or to not become, allies. There are two steps: the Cycle of Socialization and the Cycle of Liberation.
Cycle of Socialization.
You are first socialized on a personal level by your parents, teachers, and societal norms. Their values and the positive and negative reinforcements that come with them shape you. Your institutions such as schools, churches, the media, etc., are sanctioned by privilege, discrimination, and rewards. All of these contributors can result in dissonance and/or ignorance. After these socializations have formed you, there is a choice to make. This choice, consciously or not, will occur. It all depends on how aware you are of the status quo. If you are attuned to social dysfunction, you will have to ask yourself: What comes next? Do I seek direct change? Do I interrupt, educate, question, and take a stand? Or do I do nothing and promote the status quo?
Cycle of Liberation
If you choose to challenge the status quo, you can now advance into the Cycle of Liberation! During this process, you will develop an awareness of how the system of oppression and cycle of socialization reinforces dominance and control. This journey begins by moving away from self-interest and progressing toward experience and exposure. On an interpersonal level, you start to build coalitions. You change how you were taught to value others by questioning the roles and assumptions of the world. Naturally, this would lead to organizing, educating, and recognizing privilege. By doing this, you become a role model. You transform institutions and definitions by influencing change. By maintaining this role, you can spread hope, inspire integrity, and model authenticity.
During your ongoing journey, your call to action will require a recognition of the ally objective: impede, amend, redefine, and destroy the system.