I would describe myself as a highly engaged consumer. Marketing people wish there were more people like me, as I teeter somewhere on the verge of information overshare. I take surveys even if they don’t offer prizes for my time. I write honest reviews on Yelp, leave tips on FourSquare, and tweet praise and complaints publicly to companies. I rate my purchases on Amazon. I write to people if something is misspelled on their publications. I frequent the “Contact Us” pages of websites and send unsolicited feedback.
Actually, maybe not all marketing people love me.
Every once in a while, as a result of one of these things, change happens. Recently I received an email from a professional organization I am in. The email said the organization was “looking for men and women interested in serving” as committee chairs and members. The use of “men and women” struck me as problematic in this email, and on their website, which housed the same text. I went to the site and found the contact information for the person in charge, as well as the email addresses of the folks soliciting volunteers, and sent them a message. I wrote that while I was not interested in a position with the group, I noticed the language used in the email was problematic. Saying the organization was seeking “men and women” excludes the transgender / gender non-conforming folks who are a part of the organization. More inclusive terminology would be “people” or “professionals” or something less gender specific, because there are folks who identify as neither, both, or somewhere in-between genders. I asked them to consider changing this language to be inclusive of all of their members.
It was a short message – to the point and requesting specific actions they could take to correct the issue and improve in the future communications. I sent it, as I do many messages like this, without the expectation of a return message.
To my surprise, I received a reply thanking me for the insight and asking the webmaster to make a correction to the site to reflect more inclusive language. In less than 24 hours, the change was made.
(Excuse me for a moment while I shake myself of this disbelief of change being made, easily – it seems too good to be true…)
It really happened. Just like that: casually, without struggle. I realized this: so many times I am triggered by instances of injustice or discrimination and I engage ready for battle, prepared to fight and ready for resistance. I feel like I get in the habit of pushing and pushing, and at a certain point I no longer assess if pushing is necessary – I just go in ready to give it hell.
You know what happens when you push on something and they pull at the same time and go with you? You fall on your face.
Today, I fell on my face in a good way. After days or weeks or months of microaggressions, it feels natural to operate in a daily space constantly in danger of snapping. Encountering such a positive reaction was like hitting a reset button, restoring my faith in people and my motivation to keep calling things out when I see them.
It is an amazing feeling to celebrate hard-fought battles and movements, but it is equally nice to celebrate change without resistance. Each small action can lead to greater change – sometimes, no pushing necessary.