On the snowball effect of fighting against oppression
There’s something really awesome that happens when you notice an injustice you suffer because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. You think it’s the start of your fight against this grave injustice, but I think it’s more. It ignites a spark of something bigger than trying to eradicate one type of prejudice.
Because, okay. Let’s say you come to understand & get angry about some prejudice you deal with as a woman. And you get pretty informed (or so you think, anyway), pretty involved. Maybe you go to some marches, maybe you write a manifesto or start a feminist blog, maybe a zine. You think it’s going great. The fight feels good. Like you’re a bastion of justice.
And then WHAM! someone calls you out on your views. Maybe they call you prejudiced, privileged, ignorant, or some combination of all three and more. And it really fucking throws you off for a moment. You feel like shit. Hero to zero, baby. They called you ignorant. YOU. The BASTION OF LIBERTY! But wait a hot minute — this can go two ways. Maybe you’ll get angry, shut yourself off from their cause and maybe even your original one. Or MAYBE you’ll listen. And learn. And become inspired to become more informed, better, more inclusive, understanding. And since you’re this super awesome, brilliant, progressive chick (in this example, anyway) who believes in equality for all and knows how awful it is to be discriminated against & generally treated like crap because of some feature about yourself. So, in all likelihood, you’ll choose the latter.
And so you learn. And you expand your horizons. And you become a better person. Maybe it’s a bit awkward at first, and at points after that. But it’s just because it’s new and you’re learning. But eventually you can fight not just for a personal cause, but for something bigger. It’s a step toward a fight for a real emancipation of all oppressed people. And that’s so incredibly beautiful.
“The derogatory label of ‘barbarian’ was also associated with Europeans in the cultural history of Han Chinese. The ancient literature ridiculed their white complexions as ‘ash white’ (huibai) and considered their heavy hair and red beards as evidence of savagery.”—
Global Cinderellas by Pei-Chia Lan, p. 63
Obviously, no racial/cultural prejudice is good. But how fascinating to read how ancient literature spun race into savagery in such a different way from how you constantly read about Americans & Europeans doing it?
I’m in a race & american political development class so I’ve been just reading so much about how America has created race to serve different purposes, but those narratives from my class, while disturbing, aren’t so different from what I’m used to reading. But this is just so cool in that it provides contrast to utterly prove how all racism is constructed to fit the needs of a certain culture, how ‘darkness’ has no inherent or even blanket historical link to ‘badness,’ ‘danger,’ etc.
i once confided in a friend— we aren’t terribly close, but we connect well— about how this or that aspect of my life was making me unhappy. and his response sort of surprised me.
“well, i didn’t think you were the kind of girl who cared about those things.” “really?” “yeah, you always seem like such a free spirit, like you don’t care, you’re okay.”
if you’ve read this blog for longer than thirty seconds you will probably understand why i collapsed into a fit of laughter when he said that. because i do care. always. terribly. generally too much. and i am a free spirit yes like all the cool girls do but free spirits can have feelings and cool girls do too.
and i can put flowers in my hair and roll around and still have wants. kiss different mouths and still fall in love and be vulnerable and i would hazard to say that i’m free not because i don’t care but because i am merely foolish and expect others to care for me too.
i’m wondering if i should remind the world that i am soft and squishy like all people are. not a dream, not a wish, not a phantasm-ghost maybe i act like i breeze around but no. i got coffee with a friend from high school today and she rolled her eyes at how crazy i am. “i have feelings though,” i said, and then wondered why i had to say it.
Have you ever had a guy come up to you — on the street, in a bar, whatever — and just straight-up say, “hey, I wanna talk to you?” Happens all the time, right? Happens to women, all the time. But have you ever just straight-up said, “no?” Not “no, I have a boyfriend,” or “no, I’m busy,” or “no, I have to race to save the city from the Joker’s diabolical machinations, for I am the Batman,” or any other excuse: Just the word “no,” by itself?
Yeah. So you know what happens next, after you say “no.” The guy always keeps talking. He tries wheedling, or begging, sometimes. But if you say “no” firmly enough, or often enough that he gets the point, the dude just starts yelling. He tells you that you’re not that hot. He tells you what a bitch you are. (“You bitch, I have a Rolls Royce,” was my favorite of these.) Sometimes he follows you down the street, yelling at you; sometimes, he follows you in his car. These dudes are always so fucking certain that they’re entitled to your time and attention that they will harass you until you give it, or at least until you’re scared and sorry for not giving it. You do not have the right not to interact, as far as these guys are concerned.
But sometimes, I still don’t feel like playing nice. So: Have you ever had a random dude come up to you and say, “hey, I wanna talk to you?” And have you ever just said “no?” Then you know what happens next. The dude keeps talking. And if he doesn’t get what he wants, he lashes out.
THIS THIS THIS. I’ve ranted about this so many times, specifically in the context of guys hitting on me at bars, trying to buy me drinks or just chat me up. If I ignore them, decline, try to walk away, etc, I’m a “bitch,” “stuck up,” etc. But it’s applicable in all situations. You have every right not to talk to someone, but if you’re a woman, people like to forget this.
“ If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”—E.B. White, 1976 (via beneathwaves)