On Tactics Re: Oppression

Okidokey. Look, I know I’m a cis-gendered white male, so I get that I have privilege issues, and I need to acknowledge that up front. If you don’t feel like listening to what I have to say, that’s your right.

So at least I'm not guily of this one (at the moment)
So at least I’m not guilty of this one (at the moment)

On the other hand, I’m gay and atheist, and unlike the new generation, I grew up when that meant being spit on, beat up, raped or killed for being who I am – far more so than it does today.

Thanks to people like these.  Hey, Is it wrong that I think the one second from the right is unimaginably cute? - Probably. But hey, at least I'm not participating in ageism, since that photo was taken before I was born.
Thanks to people like these.
Hey, Is it wrong that I think the one second from the right is unimaginably cute? – Probably. But at least I’m not participating in ageism, since that photo was taken before I was born.

I’ve lived in terror, learned to fight back, worked to change public opinion, been beaten, used, taken advantage of sexually; I’ve been told by people in uniform that since I was gay it probably wasn’t REALLY rape, was it, now. I’ve been shouted at by evangelicals and Phelps clones, been told I am dirty, disgusting, an offense against the creator, an abomination only worthy of death. I’ve protested against treating people Of ANY gender, genetic origin, political creed or gender preference, in a discriminatory fashion. And I agree that there are some serious issues with how women are treated – in public and in private – by cis-gendered hetero men of all origins. I also agree that as a man I am only capable of understanding a small portion of what it means to be a woman.

Oh, Oliver. Why must you feed into the patriarchy?
Oh, Oliver. Why must you feed into the patriarchy?

You can probably tell I’m leading up to a ‘but’ here, though. So here is my caveat:

The thing is that just like with the treatment of gays, lesbians, transgendered and otherwise queer individuals, the problems won’t stop unless we win hearts and minds. – ACT UP didn’t accomplish as much for gay rights as the nationwide movement to come out to parents, siblings, and friends, and put a personal, friendly, relatable face on the problem.

As opposed to this.
As opposed to this.

There are times when the hatred of an oppressor is justified – indeed, the only thing that is capable of sustaining one through a dark time. I’m not disputing that – I’ve been there in my own way.

But that hatred becomes self-defeating when it helps your oppressors create caricatures of you, and you of them; it stops dialogue and change dead.

It becomes a hindrance when it blinds you to potential allies – people who may be privileged in one way or another, but who abhor what is being done to you.

And it becomes delusional when it allows you to engage in the same hate speech against your oppressors that they would use against you in your place. I’m speaking to you, Michelle.

There are people both outside and inside the feminist movement who understand this: people like Theresa Warburton and Joshua Cerretti, who wrote an insightful article on white privilege, and also Dr. Nerdlove. – I don’t always agree with everything they say, but they aren’t vilifying me for existing, and seem interested in engaging all comers in a dialogue; that’s all I really ask of anyone.

discussing privilege - ur doin it right
Discussing privilege – Ur doin it right

I have lived on both sides of privilege – And I know that I can never be free of that taint, because many hardcore feminists will only see me for my gender and the color of my skin. They will name me oppressor. They will argue that I’m serving to uphold white male privilege – when I’ve spent my life (and blood – literally) working against it. It reminds me very much of how I was treated when I wore a dress or held hands with another man or marched for civil rights for alternative gender preferences. And it makes me sad that anyone part of a people oppressed would turn to oppression themselves.

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3 thoughts on “On Tactics Re: Oppression

  1. My previous comment was a bit flip, so let me provide you with something a bit more detailed.

    I fully agree with your points here. The fact is that at this point in our society, it’s reasonably acceptable for a woman to be tough and athletic and everything else, but boys are still encouraged to act “manly”. A boy who takes ballet is assumed to be gay, as is a boy who is into theater or even just doesn’t like to play sports. That’s every bit as big of a problem as women/girls being expected to fill certain gender roles.

    As a society, we still have much to learn; things we should have learned in the 1970s.

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    1. I think the main thing is to remember is that anything which keeps us from understanding one another on EITHER side is a bad thing. As far as cultural mores, change will come as a result of that open dialogue, built without prejudice – or in spite of it.

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