There’s this idea people have of what a bigot is.
Bigots; they’re the people who spit out slurs to the exclusion of any other language to describe oppressed groups of people; they’re the violent ones who well, maybe not all of them will kick your head in… but they will certainly cheer on those who would. They’re the people who mutter darkly about ‘all sorts’ being let into the country these days, and their position on immigration runs to ‘no-one with skin darker than a Milkybar or people who worship god(s) other than the big man spoken of in the New Testament’. They’re nationalists; they might not be Nazi supporters but they think Hitler had some good ideas about segregation. They’re the cross-burners, the Westboro Baptist Church, the English Defence League.
Or, less extremely, they’re your Granddad; a product of an older time, when the n-word was just how you described black people and whilst they might not hate LGBQ and trans folks, they still don’t really hold with that sort of thing, feel that marriage equality is not really appropriate and that adoption should be out of the question for queer couples because well, it’s just not right you know, children need a father and a mother.
People don’t think of themselves.
They’re good people; they know that people of all colours are equal, and the same for women, and trans people, and gay, lesbian and bisexual people too. They don’t even use ‘gay’ as an insult, and they love Oprah and Kanye West. They might not want to see queer people being queer, but they totally have queer friends. And yeah ok, they did tell that one joke about Obama… but it was just a joke. Hell, it was ironic.
Feminists and other social justice warriors, they certainly don’t think of themselves; they’re for equality, damnit. And well, why derail the discourse around abortion with the inclusion of trans people, anyway? Right? I mean, come on, everyone knows that abortion primarily affects cis women. Trans women aren’t affected at all of course, because they don’t have uteri. And come on, they’re feminists, they’d never enable rape culture. Look, gender and sexuality minorities don’t count because rape culture primarily affects straight cis women; they’re the ones who are being targeted by the straight cis men, duh! No look, prison rape and the fact that trans people and people of colour are more likely to be raped is just derailing. No, erasure isn’t as bad as direct persecution, so shut up. Ableism isn’t relevant to this discussion, they don’t care if you’re disabled: it’s not relevant.
My sister doesn’t think of herself as a bigot. Yeah ok, she might say unkind things about sl*ts and fatties but they deserve it, right? I mean, they do it to themselves, right? And it’s not like she hates them, she just judges them. And ok, so yeah, she uses ret*rded a lot, but that doesn’t make her a bigot. She’d never be horrible to a disabled person. Ok, so she made that joke that one time about tr*nnies, but that was just a joke, it was funny.
None of these people are the British National Party, they’re not the sort to go burning people’s houses down, they aren’t extreme. But they are bigots, in one way or another.
My friends and family are bigots, and I’d wager yours are too. This doesn’t make them screamingly atrocious people; it makes them products of their society.
People have this idea of what a bigot is, and it’s that idea that rises to the fore of their mind when someone calls them out, or explains that they have privilege. It’s a function of the insidious nature of today’s fundamentally bigoted society that a large amount of bigotry is deemed, well, not bigotry at all.
This is why finding ways to explain why certain things are bigoted- especially things that most people won’t even think about before doing or saying- is so important. So we can get through to those bigots we love, respect and admire, those bigots who aren’t neo-nazi cross-burning obvious bigots, the bigots in our lives who have no idea they’re bigots at all.