Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I take this hand...

Okay one thing I've noticed is how people are so quick to claim their ally status with another group of people. Now I can agree that to claim ally status is an attempt to reach out to said group and show them that you wish to assist them in their efforts in any way possible (from marching with them in rallies to linking to their blogs to get the word out).
There is nothing wrong with that but at the same time I've never felt right claiming ally status with any group (and if you've been reading my ramblings for any amount of time you will notice this). There is a reason for that.

I don't think its my place to claim ally status with another group.

Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that I don't want to help other groups in their efforts. What I am saying is that in doing the things that I do to help other groups I just don't think ally status is something I can just claim and then act accordingly to maintain it.

Under normal circumstances when it comes to ally status its a two way street. The nations that formed the Allied Powers during WWII all agreed to form that alliance. It wasn't as if the United States just said one day that they were in an alliance with the other nations and the others just fell in line with it. Someone proposed the idea to the nations in question and it was up to them to accept or decline the offer. If one of the nations had declined I'm pretty sure the US couldn't or wouldn't just go around claiming to be allies of that nation. Now I am aware that the situation changes a bit when it comes to ally status between different groups.

Okay let's take the GLBT community for instance. Now if I wish to have ally status with that community I would have to actually do things to aid them and further their cause. Such tasks would be to change my own ways to ensure that I am not committing the same offenses that the community is speaking out against. Another would be to help spread their words (which other than asking questions is about as much as I could do since I am not a member of that community) to as many outlets as I can. In the midst of performing such deeds I just don't think it would be my place to claim that I am an ally of the GLBT community. That makes it sound like I'm encroaching on their territory. It seems to me that it would be up to the GLBT community to claim me as an ally.

I'm not trying to put any burden on them by saying this but I do think that it is up to the community (or at least members of it) that you are trying to assist to decide if you are an ally to their cause (which I think would most likely be based on whether or not what you are doing is aiding their cause). Again its not like I'm trying to pass the buck to them but in fact I'm trying to say that it is on me to earn their trust. It is up to me to help them in the best way I can. It is up to me to offer my hand. They just have to decide if they want to take it or not.


frau sally benz said...

I've considered this before, but think that it's important to state your position as somebody who supports the group in question and who actively wants to pursue furthering their agenda. Now, I can say I'm an ally to a group and they might reject me as an ally if for whatever reason I'm working against their interests.

I think whether you give the title to yourself or wait to be given the title by a group depends mostly on personal preference. I prefer to know that somebody I'm speaking to is open to my advocacy for women's rights rather than try to figure it out for myself and then give them that label. There are times when people might not realize they're an ally or, like you, don't give themselves that label, and I will still figure it out. Just like I'll figure out if somebody gives themselves the label but turns out not to be. But I think that if somebody wants to support me, they should give themselves that label.

ouyangdan said...

I think part of "claiming ally status" as you put it, is taking away that "us and them" separation. It makes it less of a grouping or othering, and makes it more of a human thing. Now they aren't just the weird freaks over there making a fuss, but there are people from all walks, showing that it isn't that crazy of a notion to give them what they want.

Just some food for thought.

BigFred said...

Danny interesting post. Your comparison to WWII allies immediately made me think how different these allies were in WWI. I think the earlier war describes the ally situation as it is today. For example, in WWI the U.S. maintained a separate army. President Wilson was a stickler for in particular so the U.S. would stand out. The alliance we see today is somewhat, separate groups but a similar fight. In that sense, I don't think it's a problem to claim yourself an ally to the other groups.