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We should think about being good the way we think about being clean

February 19, 2013

You’ve probably seen the thing on twitter about Owen Jones and Zoe Stavri having a spat? If you haven’t, Zoe’s post on the subject is here.

So, there’s been all sorts of discussion on twitter which has been interesting and informative, and is skirting around the edge of something which we so very frequently misunderstand.

There are sexist people, and racist people, and homophobic people, and dirty people. But far more frequently, there are people who are basically okay, but who inadvertently say something sexist, or something racist, or something homophobic, or don’t have a shower one morning when they probably should have.

We need, particularly those of us who are on the receiving end of criticism and correction, to start thinking of being good people the way we think of being clean people. Most people are clean most of the time, and that takes a certain amount of maintenance, and for the most part this are habits that we don’t need to think about.

Sometimes, we don’t notice that sitting all afternoon not saying anything after that very garlic heavy lunch has meant that our breath could knock out rhinos, and we need a friend to gently point it out and offer us a stick of chewing gum.

Sometimes, we don’t notice that something we’ve said is inadvertently sexist, and makes it obvious to all the people listening who have been in X situation that we have never ourselves been in X situation, because if we had, or had had it explained to us by someone who had, we would never had said that inadvertently sexist thing, and we need a friend to gently point it out and offer us the opportunity to apologise and learn how to not do it again.

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