TW – violent metaphor.

The kyriarchy, by definition, is all-pervasive. There is no escape from it. If you have privilege on an axis, any misstep you make is not ‘regrettable’ or ‘a problem’ – it’s oppressive. If you lack privilege on that axis, that misstep is treading on you. Hard. And it hurts.

It’s not conducive to great understanding between oppressor and oppressed. If the oppressed person is yelling ‘OW SHIT YOU HURT ME!’ and the oppressing person is yelling, ‘SHIT MAN IT WAS ONLY [X]!’ no-one’s really listening to each other. In a vacuum, it would just be an argument between two people. They’d shout each other down, maybe neither would back down – maybe they’d agree to differ.

But in a kyriarchy, in that situation, it is all too likely to end up with the oppressed person being squelched. Because that’s the nature of oppression. When an oppressed person is justifiably angry or hurt and the oppressing person feels that the oppressed person has overreacted, who has the weight of society behind them? That’s right, the oppressing person. Whose view is legitimated? The oppressing person’s. That’s one reason why the tone argument is bullshit. You just invalidated me – you caused me pain – you denied my selfhood – you contributed to my oppression – it is not my job to tiptoe around your feelings. And the other thing is, mostly, if we talk quietly and politely, we’re not listened to. I have had conversations online where I have told people gently that something was out of order and had them continue doing it – then I’ve blown up in their faces and made sure they knew exactly what the problem was and that it was a big fucking deal. It’s a weapon. And it’s a weapon that, deployed in the right way, can be damn powerful. But it’s also an automatic response that we should not have to apologise for.

The kyriarchy surrounds us, so much that it’s hard to even see it. It’s everywhere. Once you’ve come to consciousness, you find yourself being slapped in the face with it in every situation – pop culture, activities you enjoy, people you love, subjects you are interested in. There’s no escape from it. And that feels awful, a lot of the time, even when you only have an academic knowledge of some of the oppressions involved, even when you have privilege along some axes (as we all do). It hurts when that stuff hits you.

Yeah, sometimes it can seem like people blow up over the little things. But how little are they, when a thousand of them shred our skin each day, hammering at the barriers, giving us no safe space? From the kyriarchy, there is no escape. And when you’re ripped raw from scores of microaggressions, each one hurts a hell of a lot more than it would falling on intact skin.

How little are they, when they actively contribute to oppression? How little are they, when they actively harm people?

I don’t think they’re little at all. And we have a right to our feelings.

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