In the usual world, the occasional anomaly Elliot whatshisfucks not withstanding, it seems it’s always the ones who say “I’m not that guy” who fall the hardest when they behave like one; the ones who deny their darkness as from another breed are, of course, the least capable of fessing up and overcoming their embodiments of it.
But the fact of the matter is, in our culture, we are all covertly groomed to one degree or another into being sexist rapist fucks.
I’ve found immense power and clarity in facing and integrating my darkness around what I’m capable of. In there, I am that guy (and so are you).
I do my very best to make the choices not to behave like that guy, probably like you do, too. But when I fuck up, I am capable of seeing it and doing something about it.
That’s more than I can say for the entitled ‘nice guys’ I’ve encountered in my life.
So what to do about it?
Let’s take an example of a conversation on facebook that stemmed from this meme about men who interject in the conversations of women which depict their experiences of sexism with the age old defense “Not all men do that”. AKA, “I don’t do that”.
Let me first start by saying; bullshit. Yes, you do. In fact, you’re doing it right that second. *cough*maleprivilege*cough*
A person is exercising their privilege when they enter into a conversation regarding the experiencing of oppression by others who do not share that privilege and attempt to turn that conversation into one about them by interjecting their dismissive viewpoint.
AKA “No, that’s not what’s happening.”
In the case of men chiming in about women’s issues in being consistently marginalized in patriarchy soup, that tends to happen a lot. By pointing this out, I’m not discounting maleness. I’m discounting the use of maleness as privilege to dismiss the real experiences of women.
The answer is for the men who want to make the totality of the conversation about their kneejerk defensive argument that ‘not all men’ behave in the way that is being described, to shut the fuck up.
Literally, just keep your holy always-more-important voice to yourself. I know how hard that is. But just do it. Practice. It gets easier.
Instead, listen and do your best to empathize with what is being said about the experiences that are being had by the people who are complaining about the way they are being treated in a society you directly benefit from.
Jumping in to defend yourself says a lot more about your shame and need for validation than it does about the person who is expressing their distaste for their lifetime of being treated as subhuman, whether it’s worded more generally than you’ve deemed necessary or not.
It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.
Repeat: It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.
I’ll just throw in here that I learned what I said because I was once the dickhead who kept asking angry black feminist women why they were so pissed off at all the white feminist women, because as a white feminist woman who cares about race issues, I took it personally. *I* am not that guy!
Surely it was incredibly important that I stomp all over their conversations regarding the oppression and vindictiveness they’ve experienced from white feminists that plagiarize their work, and disrespect them over their semantic transgressions I have decided to knitpick them about.
Because I had FEELS, and I had privilege, so fuck these meanass bitches. So what that they deal with hate and racism every day of their life, I needed to say my righteous piece! Sexism effects me, too; I’m a feminist, too, so I must speak to this perceived injustice in how they are handling their injustice! It was so important for me to say what I was thinking!
I was used to my feelings and my important behavioral insights being the most important thing in the feminism room because that’s what society has told me all my life as a white woman with charisma and social power. MY voice MATTERS.
Newsflash: They aren’t. It doesn’t.
There’s real work to be done here, everywhere, and it starts with the people who are in socially groomed power positions shutting up, stepping back, and giving those who don’t have that power a voice, the opportunity to speak, to express their realities, and to exercise their own agency. Especially in the conversations THEY ARE FUCKING STARTING AMONGST THEMSELVES!
It’s incredibly painful to go through that process, to stand by and not be able to make a struggle or a triumph about you, straight white guy. I really feel for you and your confusion if you’re relating to this threat to your entitled position in the world.
And I get it. I’m skinny pretty straight white well-spoken cis girl. I’ve been there. I am still there. It sucks, it’s confusing, and none of us asked to be in the power positions we were born in. And we were all born in at least some.
But if you actually wanna do something about this, rather than leveraging angry marginalized voices to rationalize your clumsy privileged butthurt, you’re gonna have to sack up and learn that not every conversation is about you and your fucking feels and your fucking opinions.
My observations of others, and of myself, indicate that in general people grow by recognizing one extreme, trying on the opposite extreme, and then settling somewhere in the middle.
As for social justice, it seems to go: ‘Not my problem/don’t notice/I don’t see color’ to ‘ohmygod I am so freaking out here guys ohmygod here let me fix that for you also poor me I’m so INVESTED look at how invested I am in being on your side oh my god my privilege is choking me aahhh!!’ to, eventually, hopefully, actual allyship – which lies in the middle.
As for snapping out of being a perpetrator or aggressor yourself? Well, one fast track is getting caught, called out, and not being let off the hook.