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Three Cheers for Eve
To the Woman of the Hour
2010-08-24 12:45 am (UTC)
hey. i don't think your existence is inherently evil.
and i think it's important to recognize and hold yourself accountable for your privilege, but that doesn't mean doing "penance" or hurting yourself. it just means realizing, as it seems you are, that you have a lot of benefits and advantages that most people don't have. and not defending that. realizing that the systems that allow for your privilege are fucked up.
and i think that when you realize that, it's really important, because it means that you're seeing things you didn't before. i often feel really guilty for my privileges, but i'm trying to work on transforming that guilt into recognition and action. and i don't think there's really any one way to act against oppression-- for me, personally, it comes about most in interpersonal interactions. in recognizing people who have different, and disprivileged histories.
sometimes it helps to get involved in activist movements (and sometimes not). personally, when i can, i do some social justice blogging, and i write and stuff. some people take part in rallies and protests. some people write and perform and make powerful art. and this is a really small tiny fragment of the millions of ways in which people can show that they are not willing to comply with and perpetuate systems of injustice anymore, or, that they're going to actively work to see and resist against the ways they do.
i'm reminded of what my girlfriend often tells me-- resisting means doing what you can. and i used to feel very guilty about not participating in a lot of conventional forms of activism (rallies, protests..) but, you know, it's very ableist to assume that everyone can do things in those ways, for one thing. i can't. and i'm trying to realize that that's okay. but when you are in a position of privilege, use that privilege to speak out against it, at the very least. and i think you're trying to do that. i just want to caution you that hurting yourself is not going to absolve anything. i'm not going to tell you whether to hurt yourself or not (and i hope this doesn't sound like that, because man would that be kyriarchal and fucked up of me, not to mention hypocritical, and i'm sorry if it does), but please don't think that hurting yourself is going to
also, no, "educating" people who are less privileged than you is not the answer, because you are assuming there that you know more than they do, or you have a better life than they do. and i think that one of the biggest assumptions that we make in our privilege is that the disprivileged would always choose to have our lives, if they could, and that they always have it harder. yes, it is harder because systems of oppression make their/our lives harder. but that doesn't mean that they/we would want to live like the privileged. what we/they often want or wish for (but not always, and obviously this is complicated, different people are different, different experiences are different) is to have their existences and their histories validated, respected, and appreciated. i think that, actually, what you should think about doing is learning
the disprivileged about their experiences. we already know what rich white girls are like; we're often forced to constantly try to reach up to that standard, which we can never "achieve". in fact, the oppressed usually if not always know FAR MORE about the oppressors than the oppressors know about themselves (and definitely what they know about the oppressed).
i imagine it is complicated moving from a background of not-as-much class and education privilege to a position of so much class and education privilege. i hope that you find ways to confront your privilege without self-destructing. ironically, it is also a privilege to be able to self-destruct with guilt.
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