Does it get better than this?


For the first time since I’ve started my Women’s Studies degree, I’m doing something that I would consider to be borderline radical feminism to some. In my next paper I’m going to take a project/organization that appears to do good and take it down. I am going to reframe it, and discuss how it might actually be harming the gay rights movement under the guise of equality.

I have mixed feelings about doing something like this.

I have always believed that doing some good is better than doing no good at all. My classes this term contest that idea. We are told that there are only organizations that are “less bad” than others. These organizations want to do good for the LGBTQ population, but they are doing good through frameworks that are already broken. Simply: working within a broken framework will provide you with results that are also somehow broken.

An easy example of this is gay marriage. Fighting for marriage equality has been framed at the forefront of equality, but should we be fighting for this idea of relationships that might not be super great already?

In writing this paper I’m going to have to shift some of my core beliefs, at least for the time being, in order to see things differently enough to write through this voice. To question something good, to break it apart, is something that has long frustrated me. It’s something that I have considered to be radical.

My initial reaction is “why can’t we just let the people who are doing good, do good?” 

The information I have picked up in this term responds to that question by saying that good organizations work with and within bad organizations and bad ideals to create only slightly better solutions. In doing so, only some people receive equality. And, in turn, we often give up a lot more than we receive.

I decided that the project I’m going to focus on is the It Gets Better Project. I know a lot of my friends dislike Dan Savage, but I’ve always kind of adored his personality and his writing and everything he’s put out there. He’s made some mistakes, but I don’t think that the It Gets Better Project is one of them. Still, I want to question how this project reinforces the idea that “getting better” focuses on putting visibility around people who have “gotten better” rather than the actual process of making the world a better place to live in.

There is a highlight to notable LGBTQ figures who have gotten better which ignores the privilege that these people have had which have helped them have the safety required in order to come out. I believe that we are saying it gets better for some people without acknowledging what it actually takes to get there, and how it might be easier for some than others.

I want to look more critically at this project to highlight both how it is useful and good and how it might be reinforcing a certain type of betterness that not all LGBTQ youth might want, or even be able to have if they did want it.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. jr cline says:

    Intriguing ideas. I’ll be interested in how it turns out.


  2. advizor54 says:

    your class sounds a lot like my gay friends who hate everything and are workng from the promis that Western civilization is fundamentally flawed and can do nothing “good” and needs to be destroyed from the foundation. The problem is that they have nothing to replace it with except these utopian fantasies where everyone is loved by everyone adn unicorn farts power floating flower pedal bicycles as we commute to the Ashram for meditation sessions.

    i think you are on to something with the privilege angle and the “It’s get better” project. It gets better only if…….Filling in that blank space may be very interesting. Certianly coming out within a fundamentalist religious community (of any kind) doesn’t make it better unless you accept the idea of destroying the “old” community in favor of a new one. Who benefits from Gay marriage? The couple, maybe, but only if their support network supports them.

    The argument that anything less than perfection is a target of scorn prevents a lot fo people from trying to help. I can not “fix’ racism in America, so, does that mean I shouldn’t even try? A kind-of good solution is, in fact, better than a no-good solution. Otherwise we start regressing and we let those with an plan (even a bad plan) get the upper hand.

    If Marriage Equality advocates stopped trying to work within the system because the system is flawed, then anti-equality forces have an open field to make the situation worse, and they will.

    Good luck wtih the paper, I’d work off the assumption that the professor is biased towards the status quo and you had better be ready to burn the world to the ground to make him/her happy.


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