Monday, 3 March 2014

My White Straight Feminist Privilege

I do not hate men. Handsome men are my biggest weakness. Show me a handsome French-talkin' Frenchman and I'm there with bells on. I'm also a big fan of Scandinavian men. With good conversation, obviously. Line any and all of them up as far as I'm concerned.

Why am I even qualifying this? Fuck it, I'm a feminist.

I am a feminist mostly because I'm sick of straght white men being at the top of the tree in this world, regardless of whether their opinions, talents or qualifications have any relevance or not. But what really pisses me off is straight white men who refuse to acknowledge their privilege. What pisses me even more off is straight, white middle-class women who also refuse to acknowledge their privilege. I'm a straight white working-class woman - my parents don't have money and I have no trustafarian cause to align myself with in an attempt to act poor when I'm not. Can we leave off Jane Austen appearing on the tenner and work for the homeless single mothers councils are trying to dump on other local authorities instead? No? Fuck off then.

But I am still white. And that gives me far more advantages in life than most average white women like me would care to admit. Don't be ashamed of your privilege - we can't help that. It's been dealt to us. Just be ashamed of what your privilege causes. You can't be anything other than what you are, but I will and can use my position as a white straight woman to say it's not that easy for anyone else.

I know my white privilege is a thing. Even though in the patriarchal hierarchy I am still less than the white, straight male, I have a hell of a lot of power in this society. As the white straight female I'm second down the ladder, maybe even third behind the white gay man. And sorry to say that I have encountered more than one white gay man who has been horribly racist and/or misogynistic. I would be the last person to say that gay people have it easy but there is still a white male privilege there, especially if they're not out. Nobody is bound by any law or convention to be out, but finding bigotry within the confines of people who face a bigotry all of their own is the most depressing thing I can think of right now.

White, straight men who won't admit their privilege, or will even go on long and what they think are articulate, intelligent rants about how they're the lowest people in society now have no fucking idea what goes on with the rest of us. No fucking idea. Acknowlege your privilege. Otherwise you're going to look like an arsehole.

Why should I, an unpublished writer of urban fantasy who works in a bank when she's not being all kick-arse and awesome on this blog, have any more say in society than my black or Asian brothers and sisters who are doing exactly the same thing? There is no reason for my privilege, other than the fact that I am white and straight. I''ve done nothing to earn or deserve my privilege, and my non-white brothers and sisters fight all the time to be so accepted that their race doesn't matter. It still does, though.

You cannot be racist against white people. You can't. Nobody can. Racism is an exercise in feeling superior because it's not your problem. I may suffer sexism in my life but I will never suffer racism. Racism against white people does not exist.

I'm a feminist because I think the patriarchy is as damaging to men as it is to women. I'm a feminist because I want to stand up with a man and be his equal. I'm not interested in putting men down, or waving around a "man card", because I have no expectations from a man other than be my best friend and take sexual directions. In my experience, though, most men don't want a woman to be their equal. They want a woman they can control, just a wee bit. I am not that woman. And all the men I know who don't think that way found amazing wives, because they are men with high standards, and without exception their wives are beautiful, talented women with opinions and their own lives and friends and they are adored by their husbands, on an equal partnership level. I've never got that lucky yet. I'm a feminist because I want women to be the person they are, with or without a man, and whether they're gay/straight/lesbian/bi/trans* or any combination of sexuality or none. And I want them to be that woman, and have the men/women who would be interested in them to accept that task.

Women have far more to lose from not being themselves than they have to gain from acting the way society expects us to. Don't shave your legs for two weeks. Go on, do it. Does he or she still love you? They should.

In my mind, you are all my brothers and sisters. Work with me on that. We can do this. We can fight the white straight male patriarchy. I'm a white straight woman, and my privilege is part of the problem. We can change that. Let's go.


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