Here’s a excerpt from an Absolutely Excellent, rad post, called (and I quote) “How to F**k Up”, by Teh Portly Dyke:
That’s what this post is about. “How to F**k Up” — and how to clean up when you fuck up.
I have a little tool that I call “The Four A’s” (I learned it from an absolutely fantastic teacher) and it has helped me through numerous f**k-ups in my life.
When you “F**k Up” (whether the f**k-up is minor or major) practice the “Four A’s”.
#1) Acknowledgment — is really important, IMO [in my opinion], because if you don’t realize what you actually did, and how it was “f**ked up”, there’s a high probability that you are going to do it again — a very high probability.
#2) Apology — is also really important — but it has to be genuine (which requires #1 – Acknowledgment). Saying things like “I’m sorry if you felt bad about what I said/wrote” or “I’m sorry if your feelings got hurt”, is, IMO, completely different from saying “I’m sorry that I said/wrote that. I see how it was f**ked up, and here’s how I know that it was f**ked up . . . . . “. (Keep in mind that “if” is a word reserved for hypotheticals, and doesn’t usually refer to real life. When used in apology, “if” is usually just a dilutive, and if you can’t really apologize, then don’t apologize at all. Sort of a perverse Thumper ethic.)
#3) Amends — sometimes the energy required to actually think about how you f**ked up and make an honest acknowledgment/apology is enough to return balance to the situation (depends on the type of f**k up, though). In some cases, “making amends” might also mean returning money/energy/time that your f**k-up created for someone else. This can be returned in any of a number of creative ways. Example: If you got all defensive in an argument, and therefore the argument took eight hours instead of 30 minutes (hey, I’m a lesbian — I can DO me some processing!), consider just giving the person with whom you got all defensive eight hours of your time to do for them something that they might have gotten done if you hadn’t been all uppity-up in yourself being a defensive sh*t (not that I’ve ever done that . . . .no, that has never happened with me. . . . . OK, maybe just that once . . . OK — F**k it! I’m completely busted here . . . .)
#4) Action — This may be the most important of the 4 A’s. If you know that you did something that was f**ked up, and you’ve expressed that you’re genuinely sorry that you did this f**ked up thing, then really, the only concrete evidence of this will be that you will change what you do in the future. For me, if I don’t take this step (action), the other three are just so much manipulation.
This post is rad because it:
a) Addresses the roots of the issue — humans, regardless of thing like gender, ability, race, ear size, class, etc, all f**k up! How honest.
This post is Absolutely Excellent because it:
a) Provides suggested guidelines — Oh how we oftentimes fatigue of criticisms made without suggested alternatives. Here’s how to get around that – a whole list of Things You Can Do! Excellent!
b) Offers honesty — Woah there partner: self-criticism? Well, that’s a nice change. You mean you aren’t going to list a series of people who screwed up? And, what’s that? You are going to provide examples of times you yourself screwed up?? Well, that’s refreshing! I can relate to that! Excellent!
c) Is SO well-laid out — 4-Step Process. One Word Each. This article goes beyond the endless talk and does more for practicality by essentially doing less. KISS — Keep It Simple, Soup-breath. Excellent!
d) Acknowledges that anti-oppression work is life long work — Participating in social justice work means looking at the ways that we are impacted by dominant society. It means looking at all the effed up things we’ve been taught and trying to unlearn them. Working with an anti-oppression analysis means we all have learning to do and that learning is never over.
So, if you find yourself on the receiving end of a conversation inspired by our last post — How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist — here is an Absolutely Excellent, rad guide for how you might want to respond!
And heck, if you want to read more, we ain’t gonna stop ya!