Posts Tagged ‘Privilege’

Mr MacMaster, you should be utterly fucking ashamed of yourself. You think you can speak for the marginalised? Over the marginalised, making their lives more fucking dangerous while you carry on with your absurdly privileged life? And you think that’s okay?

It’s really, really not.

You wrote a story, constructed a fiction. You did not have to live that reality. You had the privilege to disengage. And you thought that doing that was acceptable. You thought that wearing an internet mask for a few posts on a blog could even approach the real experience. You thought wrong. Other people don’t have the luxury of being able to take the mask off – because for them, it’s their true face.

You appropriated people’s experiences, overruled the voices of those who actually had those experiences. You’ve made their lives more dangerous. You could have caused people to put themselves in truly dangerous situations, while you were sitting safely mired in your privilege. You’ve inserted your straight, cis, white, Western, male self into a discourse where you have no business being because you simply know nothing about the issue. I know nothing about the issues you attempted to write about, but I sure as hell know that it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance and imperialism, it would be totally and utterly wrong, to appropriate an identity, such as the one you took on. Rather, the role of those of us who have no place, in the discourse is to listen. To accept the conclusions of others’ discussions about their selves and try to aid them in their goals. Not to elbow our way in under false pretences and speak over others’ voices. Not to mention, you’re now the blogger who cried wolf. And that could
have serious consequences. You took people’s compassion, their trust, and you betrayed it.

We all know that online interaction is hard because there’s no way of knowing the exact truth. But that’s why, especially in internet
spheres that rest on people’s accounts of their experiences, it’s vital that people do not appropriate identities. Doing so is unethical, appropriative and deceitful. It’s made everyone’s online identities easier to attack, too. I can give no proof but my word that I am a young, queer, agender person from/in the UK. But how easy would it be for someone to claim that my writing was invalid because they thought I was someone like MacMaster? Very easy. And how could I disprove it? I couldn’t. The fact that I really am who I say I am is unprovable – but I swear that I am, and I don’t break oath.

Everything about this (and the Bill Graber/Lez Get Real thing) stinks of privilege, massive, unchecked privilege. Thoughtlessness,
entitlement, imperialism, appropriation. It stinks. I don’t even have a sense of smell and I can tell that. It leaves an utterly bad taste in the mouth, and they should both be ashamed of themselves.

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Look at virtually any protest or protest movement, and you’ll find a trigger mechanism. That’s just the way things are.

It cannot, however, be said that the trigger mechanism is the cause of it. The cause is the long-running grievances that underly everything, that often underly every facet of life. Perhaps, say, a riot was triggered by a single arrogant authority figure’s action – but it could never have happened without, say, poverty being a grinding force in the rioters’ lives. Anything that looms large in the collective consciousness can be an underlying factor for a movement, a factor that is more a cause than the trigger.

And those factors are big issues in the lives of those they affect, and to see only the trigger and argue that the movement was an overreaction is an essentially privileged point of view.

Underlying causes are often oppressive in nature. The oppressions themselves and the way they manifest – that’s something big and meaty to form a movement against. But they can still be invisible to the people who are privileged along those particular axis, and so the privileged still argue that it was an overreaction. Let me tell you, it’s hard to overreact to a kyriarchal system that breaks and kills. It’s really fucking hard. It’s hard even to react, since the system delights in turning groups against each other and themselves.

To have a movement against those oppressions is not an overreaction. There’s a great danger in generalising the response to one trigger to other areas where it’s not as relevent, and in the heat of the moment the movement itself may – often does – become poisoned; but the response is not disproportionate. It’s just that a trigger mechanism is generally needed.

There is so much wrong with our damn kyriarchy, with our world. It doesn’t help that there’s many people who have been shielded from many or all oppressions from birth, and who are too afraid to push aside the curtain and thus react to those trying to broaden their worldview with hatred and bigotry. Sure, you might only see one little action – but that doesn’t mean there’s not a whole lot more awfulness going on outside your line of sight.

When you hold the blinkers on yourself, don’t complain when you don’t get the scale of the problem.

Sooo, I’m back, very tired, and for some strange reason (if there’s weird typos here ignore them, I just wrote ‘straight’ for ‘strange’…) I’ve decided to write a post. Why? I’m sorry, I just can’t resist calling out one of the parties in coalition in our Government out on their bullshit.

Dear Mr Cameron and spokesman. Jokes are funny. Telling a woman to ‘calm down, dear’ when she points out inaccuracy is not. IT’S PURE SILENCING TECHNIQUES. I am fed up to the back teeth and beyond of the Tories’ and their ‘partners’ blatant contempt for anyone who is not a white straight cis conventionally able rich male who is neither too young nor too old. Fed up. Fed up.

Let’s see, now. David Willetts on feminism in its ‘first round effects.’ Clegg and Cameron claiming to have nothing to disagree on. The Government deciding that the rights of ‘women’ (not sure what their definition was, certainly fucked up anyway) were negotiable. Auctioning off internships for huge prices. Dominic Raab insisting that (cis) men were underprivileged. The rich having a proposal for their taxes to be cut while the rest of us get to keep VAT at 20%. And that’s just in 2011, on my blog, that I remember… Oh yes, and I remember that time Nick Griffin approved of what Cameron said about immigration, and that was this year. Then we see their contempt through their policies, and what looks like their sheer arrogance and lack of capacity to listen to others.

Why aren’t we utterly terrified? These people are in charge of our fucking country. And they hate us! Everyone who isn’t part of their absurdly privileged, pigheaded crowd! How did they get there? Who let them in?

Make no mistake, these are reactionary times for those parts of the world mistakenly styling themselves ‘developed,’ using their own societies as a tape with which to measure the rest of the world and find it wanting. Look at the burqa ban in France! Look at the efforts by many USians to control the bodies of those with uteri! It’s not just Britain, we’re part of a deeply frightening trend in Europe, in Australia, in North America and elsewhere as well.

And now comes the Royal Wedding. Come tomorrow, anyone reading this will be subjected to me ranting about it, about the monarchy, about the kyriarchy and various other concepts. Today, I will say, this is part of the trend. The adoring masses, forelocks a-tugging – propping up the kyriarchy, the reactionary, increasingly radical right-wing politics of the day, propping all this up with their blood and tears.

Trigger warning for discussion of rape and excessive, bigoted male privilege. Apologies for forgetting it.

Yes, of COURSE it’s (cis) men who’re getting the raw deal. And of COURSE I’m not being sarcastic at all. Why, don’t we know that the majority of rape victims aren’t female-assigned and/or identified? That female-assigned and/or identified people are generally believed as a matter of course in all court cases and never, ever silenced, all on account of them being FA/I people? That they earn more than male-assigned and/or identified people? That their appearances aren’t constantly policed and regarded as the most valuable thing about them? That their voices are mostly heard, listened to and respected? That their reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are rarely compromised?

Oh wait. I wrote ‘female assigned and/or identified’ where I should have written ‘male assigned and/or identified’. Yes, Mr Raab, we do indeed live in a patriarchy. So no, Mr Raab, feminists are not ‘bigoted.’ I think I can diagnose this as a classic case of displacement of one’s own faults. (during this post, ‘women’ stands for female-assigned and/or identified and ‘men’ for male-a a/o i)

Right. Let’s deconstruct your argument (most points are summarised). ‘Men work longer hours.’ Because in a patriarchy, the man is the provider and the woman is judged incapable of this role.

‘Men die earlier.’ Men are socialised to believe that masculinity=toughness. This means they’re less likely to go to a doctor for what seems like a minor complaint but could be the start of something serious. Also, they suffer more stress for several reasons, including the reason specified above and the fact that the man’s role is that of power and authority.

‘Men are discriminated against as regards paternity leave.’ The patriarchy believes that women are the only gender that can care for children, and forces them to do so. Therefore, because the patriarchy enforces a rigid binary, men cannot do these things. So yeah, you’re taking an aspect of women’s oppression and using it as an example of men’s oppression.

‘Men are generalised about.’ And women aren’t? Seriously, we live in a positive snake-pit of gender stereotypes. Women are all obsessed with their looks. Women are more emotional. Women are better carers. Women are weak. Women this, women that. Oh noes the menz are coming in for some of that. I’m sorry, Mr Raab, I really don’t think you’ve got anything to complain about.

‘Battle of the sexes/gender warfare.’ Grow up. That kind of thing is best left behind in primary school. And if you’d read anything more than one or two sentences of feminism, especially the more recent stuff, you’d know that your phrase is ridiculous. Feminists do not hate men. They hate patriarchy. It seems you do too. Now stop snivelling, ditch the Tories and do something about it.

Good! I found his actual stuff! More to deconstruct!

Mr Raab, you cherry-pick your data. You used women in their twenties as an example of your ‘non-existent pay gap’ for a reason; these are the women the patriarchy can tolerate. They’re young, attractive, often childless. After this point, the pay gap increases.

‘Boys are educationally disadvantaged.’ Yes – because the patriarchy tells them that the qualities needed to succeed educationally are ‘feminine’ and therefore off-limits!

‘Fathers lack access rights.’ Because the patriarchy believes that childcaring is ‘feminine’ and therefore doesn’t want men having any part of it, thinking that teh wimmenz are the only gender that can do the caring and that therefore THEY SHOULD, DAMMIT, THEY SHOULD.

‘Britain’s not perfect, and we will never eradicate all human prejudice. But, we have reached a stage where the differences between men and women in our society are less reflective of overt discrimination, and more their common challenge of trying to find the right way to earn a decent quality of life for their family, whilst sparing some time to enjoy it. That means taking a consistent approach to equality, ditching outdated gender warfare and finding practical solutions to the challenges couples go through together.’ This whole paragraph is you speaking through your cis male rose-tinted glasses. Talk to a couple of your female friends or relatives.

And ‘the double standard of sex morals’? You’re saying this goes against men? Holy crap! See my first paragraph. Also, slut/stud double standard, virgin/whore dichtonomy, privileging of masculinity, real/fake dichtonomy, androcentricism…

So yes, Mr Raab. Hopefully what you have taken away from this is that 1) your problem is with patriarchy. 2) women come off worse in a patriarchy. 3) feminists fight patriarchy (and if you’re going to criticise them, do it legitimately; criticise the transphobic, racist, kyriarchal history and current subsets of feminism rather than a strawman). 4) you need to educate yourself. However, I doubt that these points will ever reach you, and if they did I doubt you’d listen. *Sigh* Whyever did we vote in the Tories again?

The idea of (cis) male entitlement to have (perceived) female bodies on display for them is a concept well-established. It’s a form of entitlement that leads to a lot of sexual harassment and assault, and is damaging for those read as female as their appearance and choices are policed by assholes who really believe that shit, who really believe the people they read as female have an obligation to present themselves in a way appealing to them.

There’re many forms of this entitlement, in which a privileged group feels entitled to police the appearance of marginalised groups because the marginalised groups ‘should’ be presenting themselves for the privileged ones. It happens along any line of oppression when the difference is visible in some way; race, ability, size… and gender.

Cissexist (cis) people often seem to think that non-cis people’s genders and expression of such are there to be judged by them. They set themselves up as the standard for their gender, and then think that every time a non-cis person so much as moves, they’re presenting their gender for inspection. These expectations for the behaviour and presentation of non-cis people are almost always founded on really narrow, binary, binarist gender roles – because what’s cissexism without an unhealthy dose of sexism?- and expectations. Because of course, every cis woman wears makeup and shaves and has long hair. Is the sarcasm-detector overloading yet?

And every little thing becomes a gendered performance – an idea that implies artifice. An idea that implies a false facade of gender over the ‘reality’ – which is always, in the eyes of cissexists, the person’s assigned sex, thus degendering non-cis people even further. The way the person does anything becomes gendered. No thought to ‘x sits like that because x finds it comfortable’, no, it’s got to be ‘x sits like that because x is trying to be a y, and so x must sit like the cis y people.’ The person becomes reduced to their ‘attempts’ to ‘be’ their true gender, despite the fact that they are already their true gender. And then the cissexists look at the person and say, no, you’re DOIN IT RONG. No matter what, UR DOIN IT RONG and the person’s body, appearance, choices become topics of conversation, to be ripped apart by all and sundry.

That’s just for binary people. For non-binary folks, every little action is used to prove that we’re actually binary – because everything is gendered one way or another, in our highly binary society. And they expect us to provide them with a perfect blend of gendered traits, or they say, no, you’re actually binary and you’re in denial, LOOK, you did THIS, that’s so BINARY. Then once they’ve misgendered us, they’ll attack us like they attack binary folks, by saying we don’t measure up.

Well, you know what, cissexists? We don’t exist to be looked at and judged by anyone, let alone you. We exist to live our own lives, to make our own purpose, to do our own thing. To look our own way. You are not the supreme authority on our genders/non-genders, and when we appear a certain way, we’re mostly doing it because we want to. Not because we want your approval. Not because we want your attention.

And while you’re at it, if you feel entitled to police, to judge anyone’s appearance because of your own privileged sense of entitlement – JUST STOP. You’re being an insensitive, bigoted, kyriarchal shitbomb. It doesn’t matter what oppression/s your sense of that entitlement stems from – it’s all unacceptable. We’re all human beings, with selfhood and a right to our own personal autonomy. And remember – if you’re judging others, they will judge you. If you tell me I’m not myself, I’ll tell you that you’re an insensitive, bigoted, kyriarchal shitbomb. And I’ll have a lot more grounds for that judgement.

It feels free to say things that it would never say otherwise. Things it wouldn’t say otherwise.

Trigger warning for excessive, unchecked privilege, heterosexism and cissexism, also discussion of racism and racist attitudes.

I have been in white-only spaces and heard racist attitudes espoused, and left unquestioned. Once, thinking he had a supportive, white audience, a male acquaintance defended slavery. He was right about the white part, wrong about the supportive. But not everyone who does not support those views will speak up, and not every time this happens is there anyone to speak up. And it’s not just racism. It’s all the -isms, all the kyriarchal bullshit; when the privileged get together away from the marginalised, there’s a good chance the kyriarchal attitudes will rise.

And being brought head-on into these situations is horrible. I am currently studying sociology. The person who teaches it is white, cis, heterosexual, male, relatively class privileged, able by the standards of our society – basically he’s got all the privilege except excessive wealth. He also doesn’t acknowledge it – sometimes actively denies it.

So we’re sitting there writing. He suddenly comes out with, ‘What I don’t understand is, in all these lesbian couples, there’s the one that dresses like a man and the one that dresses like a woman. I mean, they say they’re attracted to women, but…’ Cue the rest of the class – and him – airing their gay stereotypes.

Sample phrases; ‘If you’re attracted to someone who dresses like a man, you’re obviously not attracted to women, are you?’ ‘They’re dressing and behaving like a man, that’s not… you know.’ ‘Couple of gay men – took one look at them and said, ‘that one’s the giver, that’s the receiver.” ‘I always think, when you’ve got gay people having children, some day, that child is going to have to go to school, you know?’ And more of the same. I’m sitting there frozen in my seat, gripping my pen like I’m going to crush it and clenching my jaw. There have rarely been lessons I have wanted to escape from more.

Then the conversation shifts to Thomas Beatie. I manage to unfreeze my brain enough to start planning ways of getting out of the room to escape the inevitable transphobia and cissexism that’s coming. They make do with, ‘I don’t understand why anyone would do that,’ and ‘He used to be a woman,’ and a couple of other muttered comments, and then it stops. We start reading from the book again. I unclench my fist, slowly.

Thing is, none of them would see their behaviour as homophobic or transphobic. Because they didn’t say anything advocating negative outcomes for non-heterosexual or non-cis people, they’d say they were just talking. Well, when you’re privileged and the subject of discussion is marginalised, there’s no such thing as ‘just talking.’ Especially when you think only privileged people are present. Stereotypes harm. They generalise. They create an ‘us and them’ dichtonomy. That leads to the least and the worst prejudice, discrimination, oppression and brutality.

Again, I wish I’d spoken up. I seem to spend a lot of time in that class wishing I’d spoken up. But… I spoke up in support of feminism, the first time I had ever publicly done so, and I’ve been ‘token feminist’ since. I can’t say I fancy being ‘token queer’ in that environment. No – it’s not just that. It’s also just this numbing, barely-acknowledged fear that if I say something, the people who seem to be okay with me but who say these things will turn on me. Will turn those attitudes towards me. And that the guy who teaches the class will bring all his cis, male, heterosexual, age, position and education privilege to bear on me.

Gender norms in ads

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Gender, Pop Culture
Tags: , ,

I’m not quite sure what point this ad is trying to make, but it sure as hell doesn’t include anyone who isn’t a stereotypical man. I’ve only seen it during rugby ad breaks, and rugby support is pretty gendered (although it’s assumed, where I live, that everyone of every gender drops everything to watch the national team – which is not an entirely incorrect assumption) so maybe they think that it’s not going to make much difference – or maybe they just didn’t think. More likely the latter. There is a nod to racial diversity, which I suppose makes it less of a disaster, but not much less. How hard would it be to include a couple of strong women pulling their weight?

Oh I forgot. Girls ‘aren’t physically strong’. That’s non-gender-normative behaviour, and god forbid it gets on our screens.

And there’s no such things as ‘girly,’ or ‘manly,’ drinks either. So that’s no excuse.