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You Are Not in the Fight for Equality if You Protect Your Privilege

You Are Not in the Fight for Equality if You Protect Your Privilege

You are not in the fight for equality if you protect your privilege.

You are not in the fight for equality if you protect your privilege.

You are not in the fight for equality if you protect your privilege.

Recently, I entered discussions with men in my life about women-centered, safe spaces. At least, I tried to talk about them and the need for them. Instead, we ended up talking about how I take things to extremes and how men get sexually assaulted, too so I need to acknowledge that.

*eye roll*

What I learned from these conversations is that one, knowing someone is derailing the conversation doesn’t necessarily prevent it and two, it’s hard to get men to admit their privilege. Using a mix of tone policing, false equity, and shitty attempts to discredit me by talking around the topic, I exposed a base level of sexism that I’d chosen not to challenge because I like having these men in my life. But now, I’m reaching a point where I’m wondering how to navigate this because, like with racism, this shit is everywhere and it’s toxic. I haven’t met the man who doesn’t default to this bullshit, and frankly, I’m tired of dealing with them.

So many men think they are not sexist. They think they are liberal and inclusive. Yet, the moment their male privilege is challenged, they expose that they are trash who don’t understand on a basic level how sexism works. It leaves me fucking frustrated and exhausted because they know they have male privilege and yet they vehemently protect themselves by trying to talk around the issue and victimize themselves. I’m still trying to process this shit cuz damn.

Men ain’t shit. Even the “good” ones.

*****

Privilege is an interesting concept. I can’t say everyone has privilege, because so much of it is circumstantial, but what I can say is that privilege is not a stagnant thing. It shifts based on environment, proximity, and circumstances.

I know I have privilege. I am intelligent by white people’s standards and educated in a white supremacist system that, while toxic, holds value in white spaces. I was born in the United States and have the documentation to prove it. I have an ivy league degree that I only recently finished paying for, 20 years after the fact. I am cisgender and heterosexual. I do not live check to check at the moment, but that can always change. I’m able to be openly affectionate with my Significant Other (S.O.) in many of the places we visit and I’m free to use the bathroom without fear of harassment. I do not need to worry about access to buildings, or whether sidewalks are wide enough for my mobility assistance devices. My health issues are manageable and I am insured through my employer. I have worries but these are not them. These are my privileges.

My S.O. is a white cisgender, heterosexual male born in the U.S. with documentation to prove it. He has an advanced degree and can work virtually anywhere he chooses. He shares many of my privileges, except he has the “bonus” of being white and male in a country that prioritizes that above all else. He is catered to in virtually every arena, except in the spaces where I’ve decided that he has no voice. He cannot speak to me about oppression because he is not oppressed. And sometimes he doesn’t understand that.

I have a Black male friend whose privilege is his maleness, not his skin color. You’d think being a member of an oppressed group would make you more aware and sensitive to the oppression experienced by others, but that isn’t so. Instead, you find them engaging in the very actions they advocate against for themselves. It is always amazing to me that so many Black men engage in misogynoir, especially as our struggle is their struggle, too.

Yet, when confronted with sexism and sexual abuse performed by men, both these liberal men, one white and the other Black, got defensive. When you talk about the rampant physical abuse and rape culture experienced by women, these men, instead of listening and discussing the contributing factors, leaped into the “not all men” rhetoric and start trying to deflect or dismiss the issues. They each became more concerned with proving that maleness is harmless and blameless. They prioritized their male identity and privilege over women’s oppression and it is ugly.

I pushed back. I explained. I gave examples. And every step of the way, I was stonewalled, either with accusations of extremism, tone policing, or outright dismissal. I was accused repeatedly of saying all men despite written evidence that I never did. They actively tried to silence me, and eventually, I wrote them off as irredeemable.

Except I am married to one of them.

Sexism has never been a big part of my marriage. I excel in many areas and often outperform my S.O., so while it’s come up, it has never been an issue. We’ve bumped heads on some of the Gamergate stuff, which made me realize he was getting his information from shitty sources, which then resulted in my providing alternate sources for information. Sources that he now uses, not exclusively, but regularly. There was mild awkwardness when I told him I wasn’t ever going to take his name, but that only happened when other people asked us about it. Cuz they ask and those in-laws I don’t speak to still send mail to Mrs. (S.O.’s last name) because passive aggressive shit is an olympic sport for them.

*pause to experience the rage passive aggressiveness ignites*

Anyway, I can understand forgetting that you have some privileges. I can understand how easy it is to take your “normal” for granted. What I do not understand is defending it, especially when you constantly see evidence of how it hurts others. I don’t understand how you can read about almost 200,000 known untested rape kits in the U.S. and not see there’s a big fucking problem when it comes to addressing and prosecuting rape in this country. I don’t understand how you can read cases where men receive reduced sentences for raping infants and not be outraged by how your privilege protects them. I don’t understand how I can provide a list of sexual assaults performed by men, most of which remain unpunished, and despite this, you still feel an overwhelming need to protect men.

He’s fucked up. Seriously fucked up. I need him to seriously re-evaluate his morality and priorities.

It’s becoming impossible to process how this man who does everything he can to comfort and care for me, can and will express ridiculous shit about men’s rights. This is a man who doesn’t sexualize women, who encourages my work, even when it hurts him, who will get up at 3am to make me tea when I’m sick, and comforts me without trying to suppress my emotions. This is a man who has always stood next to me or behind me, encouraging me to pursue my dreams. And yet, he devolved into some shitty men’s rights rhetoric because he felt threatened by something I said. I watched him become someone I don’t like and wouldn’t willingly fuck with.

So, I told him that he is still babystepping out of his privilege and fuck that. Do better. Remedial anti-oppression class is over. It’s time for him to step up or I’m not going to do this anymore. That he could sit there and defend some oppressive nonsense means that he’s not working hard enough to fix his shit. There are no more resets on this - either he’s in this fight or he’s my enemy.

This fight…it’s not just for women, or Black people, or POCs, or LGBTQIA+…it’s for EVERYONE. We are fighting to eradicate a poison that is decimating the world. White supremacy is an empathy snatcher. It destroys your humanity and encourages you to corrode from the inside to gain the illusion of power and independence. It’s a lie that creates false hierarchies of humanity and it creates divisions among people that lead to mass murder and genocide. White supremacy is a monster that is never sated, never satisfied. It is a soul sucking abyss that will never be filled.

We don’t have to be these people. But to change, we have to stop defending our privilege. When we defend privilege, we support oppression. When we defend privilege, we encourage tyranny. When we argue in defense of our privilege, we are advocating for violence against those who lack that privilege. When we defend our privilege, we are the monsters.

This isn’t debatable. This isn’t something you can parse out and only partially be a monster. It is all or nothing.

You are either my friend or my enemy. I’ve told you my criteria. You decide which one you’re going to be.

Protecting Becky at All Costs – Peak White Feminism in Wonder Woman

Protecting Becky at All Costs – Peak White Feminism in Wonder Woman

At the Intersection of Blackness and Nerdom

At the Intersection of Blackness and Nerdom