I’ve struggled with how to approach this topic for a long time now. I've been wanting to talk about some different conversations I've had about race, culture, and feminism that have weighed on me in the last little while. The last thing I want is to come off as patronizing or ignorant and if I do, please let me know.
So, let’s talk about privilege! I understand that it’s something that I have, and I fully acknowledge it. What I also understand is that I will never know the full extent of its power because I will never be on the other side of it and because of that I work to educate myself and have conversations.
An ex once told me not to post such “controversial” things online, this came after I posted a pro-choice article Facebook and got into a bit of a discussion with two Christian men who obviously opposed my views. After he made those comments I began to silence myself. Once we broke up I began to find my voice again and I became very passionate about various social issues.
Issues of race, culture, and religion are still so huge in the World and it's no one else's job to educate me or anyone else on these subjects. I make sure I continue reading books, listening to podcasts and engaging in discussions to gain a better understanding of these issues and have more educated conversations in the future.
What prompted this post was an article I recently shared on Facebook about cultural appropriation, more specifically dressing up as an Indigenous person for Halloween.
I was explaining my position to a friend of mine who didn’t see a problem with it. In doing so I was met with “calm down” and “relax” (a couple terms commonly directed at women with opinions). This (obviously) pissed me off but I tried my best to stay calm and continued to educate in my responses. Soon I had other friends jump in and back me up but to no avail, his stance remained unchanged.
What bothered me most was that he wasn’t even considering that there were real people who were personally affected by it. If someone of a certain culture tells you something is offensive, it’s offensive. If you need to ask why then, by all means, ask why, but it's wrong to dismiss the feelings of another person without having a proper discussion first.
I’ve also had experience with some face-to-face discussions about feminism; which is something I can discuss in a more informed way, as I can speak from first-hand experience. Some of these discussions have been amazing and I think I’ve even enlightened some people with what I’ve shared but some have also been terrible.
One discussion, in particular, began with a woman saying, “don’t get me started about those feminists.” My sassy ass chuckled and shook my head. She then proceeded to talk about how a mother at some school was being “over dramatic” because she was insisting that her daughter should be allowed to play on the boy's hockey team because there wasn’t enough interest for a girl’s team.
I explained that by the school not allowing her to play her sport in her own school (potentially for a scholarship) they are not creating equal opportunity for the sexes. She then went on to say that she shouldn't be allowed on the team because women are "not as physically able" as men, period. Implying she would bring the team down which also implies that the hockey career of the boys is more important than the girls.
The conversation went back and forth, three men jumped in on the conversation to back her up and the term “feminazi” was thrown around. I became incredibly frustrated and began to cry because it's truly exhausting when you have to keep defending your place in the world.
I have chosen to use my white privilege to personally learn and educate others as best as I can. I try to be respectful in expressing my side while (hopefully) educating some people.
Someone told me that I was “amazing” for using my voice to speak up on such issues and she was put off when I replied, “what I'm doing isn't amazing, I'm just contributing to the conversations that have existed for decades.”
For me to accept praise for speaking on a subject that has been talked about for years, decades, CENTURIES by the people who it actually affects would be wrong. In today’s society issues only seem to be real issues when white people say they are or when white people are affected.
We need to change the narrative and start listening to what issues affect others and learn to be sensitive to those issues. Dismissing these issues by simply calling it “political correctness” you are being ignorant the actual issues of another human being.