I have a pretty intense post planned for the 20th (International day against Transphobia and Homophobia), but for now, I’d like to post something that I’ve kept in the wings and thought everyone should read.
If you read stumblingoverchaos.com, you’ll see that there’s a linkity every Friday–great posts, food ideas etc that lead to some eye opening articles, some funny, some sad, some moving. A few weeks ago, I came across this post that talked about a woman who was approached by a “white man” in the park. Another man, also white, started to berate the author of the post about how she singled out “white men”. It wasn’t the post that caught my attention, nor was his comment, it was another commenter who responded to the man. Here is what she said and I thought it should give everyone food for thought because it was so eloquent and so articulate.
Just a heads-up, but when someone explains that white men use power in ways that make them uncomfortable, the correct reaction is not “what’s wrong with you”. You’ve been super defensive here, while forgetting what I consider to be the number-one rule when talking to a minority about their experiences with prejudice: assume that they understand the situation better than you do, because they’re the ones who live it.
I am a white cis-woman, and I tend not to notice the subtler forms of trans*phobia out there. A lot of my friends who are trans* will point it out. My initial reaction is to be uncomfortable — I feel weird that I missed it, and I knee-jerk want to go “maybe you’re overreacting, maybe they didn’t mean it, maybe you’re hypersensitive”. But you know what? I don’t ever have to deal with the shit that trans* people have to, so of course I’m not hyper-aware of it. They are, because they have to deal with it every day. So I shut my mouth and assume that they know better because it’s part of their daily experience. For-ever, probably.
> You’re a white dude, so this ingrained cultural attitude towards women, and especially women of colour, is probably not something you’re going to notice. Why should you? It doesn’t affect you. You’re not going to be looking for it. So this is your time to take a step back, go “people who have to deal with this probably have real experiences and feelings about it, I’m not going to invalidate their experiences”, and resolve to be more attentive in the future. Period.
This doesn’t mean you can’t join in discourse about these issues, but it means that you have to stop approaching the experiences of a minority with skepticism and defensiveness. I know why you want to be defensive; I hate the idea that the group that I belong to can be so unconsciously privileged and hurtful. But the fact is, as a member of privileged group, you don’t get to experience being a victim of that privilege. Asking questions in order to understand somebody else’s experience better is fine. But saying “you just hang out with the wrong white dudes!” is not. It blames the victim in a society where we already do that way too much.”
Yes, on the 20th I have plenty of swag to give away–The details will be posted on the May 20th blog post. In support of the gay community, I am buying one lucky winner a t-shirt from the HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN. I suggest this one-as it’s my favorite:
Two other winners will get the m/m novel or gay fiction of their choice. Any novel, it doesn’t have to be mine. I have to limit the amount to $10 on these.
If you do choose my novel, you can also get it in paperback and I’ll sign it and send it to you (This is probably the lamest award of them all–but hey, my sister-in-law made me sign books. It gave me a big head).
I’ll have a new post every day in honor of the fight against homophobia. Hope to see you here.