“When we apply…unfair judgments to other people who are like us, when we see our friends as too slutty or too free, this is called horizontal hostility” ~The Ethical Slut
The words come out of my mouth so quickly and sharply, with a smile and nonchalance, yet a faint and pointedly ugly undertone of disgust.
“So, are you going to fuck her too?”
“Hunting again I see”
“Wow, I’m surprised you didn’t get her phone number. What’s wrong?”
Passive aggressive is an art form I have mastered. Not because I chose it. It chose me. In fact, it seems to have an entire nation in a choke hold.
Born and raised in a culture brimming with judgement, fear, resentment, jealousy, moral codes, and scarcity. And above all, righteousness. If I am good enough, I’ll go to heaven. If I am good enough, I will be loved. And what is good enough? Well it’s quite clear, it’s everywhere. Billboards, TV ads, media, church, parents, text books, teachers, well-meaning strangers – they all know the truth, and they deliver the message with such conviction. Such passive aggressive brilliance. I am that.
I spend all my days diligently tearing apart these beliefs, balming these deeply ingrained wounds from our ancestors, our contemporaries, our childhood. Learning how to speak and listen from a compassionate place of acceptance and forgiveness. Yet there they are at the surface, simmering, lying in wait for the next attack. I don’t need to put any effort or energy towards them at all, they have a consciousness all their own. In perpetual tantrum, they seethe and quietly calculate in the background, looking outwards for signs of “it’s not fair”. If I can’t be sexual, then no one should be. If I can’t express myself freely, neither should you. If I can’t (fill in the blank), sure as hell buddy I better not see you (filling in the blank).
Tragically, every one of those “can’t” statements is a belief I have internalized, allowing myself to be disempowered by everyone and everything.
Giving temporary yet false satisfaction in a vastly unjust world, out they come. Deliberate, active, carefully veiled hostile acts. I am judging you. I am judging you harshly, for doing the very things I wish I could do. I feel so small for this, and in that smallness, I kick it up a notch and lay it on even thicker. If I really speak from that place of righteousness, then maybe, just maybe, you will feel as small and dark and lonely as I do.
“Horizontal hostility occurs when members of a targeted group believe, act on, or enforce the dominant system of discrimination and oppression.”