Here at Things That Piss Me Off dot com, we have another enraging thing to share with you: Some jerk with an uninformed opinion. This was brought up by my anger at a dudely acquaintance of mine, let us call him F. And in this case the F-word in question isn't Feminist. I can't be friends with him anymore because he constantly argues politics with me, which normally is great- for some reason I can't get anyone to talk politics, religion, or anything serious with me to save my life. (I love Buffy as much as the next fingers-in-her-ears-blocking-out-the-issues-with-it feminist, but come on, people! Apathy, much?) But this guy always seems to argue the opposite side of whatever issue we're on. Which gets tiring, but not so tiring as the fact that F's arguing with me about stuff he knows nothing about!
He's a straight, white, able-bodied cisgendered male who knows a lot less about feminist and queer theory than I do, and I admit to being maybe one step up from a novice. How, then, does he get to talk about racism, sexism, misogyny, abortion, rape statistics, and socio-cultural influences on rape culture? I'll give you a hint: it ain't by starting out "I know I'm privileged and have never experienced these things, but I've done some research and I thought maybe..."
No, that would be far too intelligent. He's another dude who benefits from the Patriarchy and his privilege, all the while denying either of those things exist. Wanna hear some of the things he does say? Well, I didn't want to hear 'em either.
-"Feminism is just reverse sexism. If you really wanted everyone to be equal, you'd call yourself a humanist."
-"False rape accusations are common, and I can prove it!" (He then sent me an article stating that 20-25% rape accusations are proven to be false. It was written as an opinion piece for Fox News by WendyMcElroy, editor of ifeminist .com, which I know nothing about. Anybody familiar with her or that site? And anyone who wants to see the article and can't find it, I'll email it to you.)
And variations on this exchange come up all the time. Yay for libertarians [snark].
-F: "Abortions aren't that hard to get. I had a friend who had one once; I went with her and she just did it."
Me: "Yeah, well, luckily we have a PP nearby. What about those women in rural areas? Or scary religious-type areas? Or hey, how about all the women who don't have the money to pay out of pocket, can't use Medicaid and don't have insurance? They're screwed."
F: "Then they shouldn't have had sex. Nobody should have sex who isn't prepared for any consequences that might come up."
Yeah. I can't talk to this dude without being angry for days. The thing is, he's not the only person like this. And I know anyone who's been in the blogosphere for longer than 10 minutes knows it, but I still don't fucking get it, as observed by my comments in this excellent post over at Questioning Transphobia, and Lisa's reply.
Great post; it really made me think. And honestly, I still don’t get wherein people don’t understand this simple rule: if you’re not part of the group under discussion, you do not get to define it, tell that group what it ’should’ do, or otherwise make sweeping generalizations about it. I wouldn’t dream of trying to define a trans person’s gender/sex or a POC’s experience with racism, because that experience isn’t mine. Not that I’m saying “I’m so perfect! I deserve cookies”; it’s a simple idea. It just stuns me how many people I talk to daily don’t seem to grasp it.
But thank you for writing this.
- Lisa Harney Says:
August 25, 2008 at 5:02 pm
Because people will do everything they can to ward off the knowledge that the benefits society accords them simply for being believed to be part of the “norm” are unearned and harm people who don’t fit into that same assumed norm... And I think that this knowledge makes people deeply uncomfortable, not that most people are actively invested in hiding the fact that they benefit from any kind of privilege. But this attitude, this reaction is what fuels racist and homophobic ideologies like white supremacist movements or Westboro Baptist Church. And there are people who are actively invested in refuting the idea that privilege exists.
I <3> PhysioProf writes about feminist issues even though he's a dude; there were IIRC other cisgendered commenters over at Questioning Transphobia; and I like Renegade Evolution even though I don't identify as a sex-positive feminist or a sex worker. Being supportive is totally okay, don't misunderstand me!
But the coworker who tried to tell me what gay folks shouldn't be offended by, the commenters who contested Ren's observation about how people describe sex workers, and oh by the way, F who isn't ever going to need an abortion and probably won't ever be raped: This isn't about you. You're coming from a position of privilege and serious ignorance. You don't get to have a dissenting opinion because you don't know what it's like, and therefore don't know what you're talking about, and therefore you sound like an ass.
Shut up for 5 minutes, listen, and accept that the person living the reality has way more right to define it than you ever will.
Gods, people are such jerks and they piss me off!