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To survive, subjugated people must understand people with power, but the reverse is not true. When members of devalued groups have a critical awareness of their positions, they earn a standpoint that may allow them to see the world with less bias.
Standpoint theory claims that marginalized groups can generate unique insights into how a society works. Women, minorities, gays and lesbians, people of lower socioeconomic class, intersexuals, transsexuals, and others who are outside the cultural center may see the society from perspectives that are less distorted, less biased, and more layered than those who occupy more central social locations. Marginalized perspectives can inform all of us about how our society operates. Maria Lugones and Elizabeth Spelman (1983) point out that dominant groups have the luxury of not having to understand the perspective of less privileged groups.
They don’t need to learn about others in order to survive."
- Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, & Culture,
Julia T. Wood (via lola-forizzle)
Another reason why I’ve never truly envied my oppressors. Who’d wanna condemn themselves to an entire life of such ignorance and ineptitude?
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Dommingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that."
"How we embody the oppressor within is where all feminist work begins." I’ve said and written this many times. This self-exploration, introspection and critical reflection is so important. I do this with myself every day and also over time.
One of the ways I’ve embodied oppressive thinking that I’ve had to continually challenge and reject includes the faulty White supremacist and patriarchal notion of separating emotion from logic. This binary exists to disregard collective and emotionally expressive non-White/Afrocentric cultures as “primitive” and to raise individualist and less emotionally expressive facets of Eurocentric culture as “superior.” It is also patriarchal because though deeply feeling and erotic power (H/T Audre Lorde) are sources of intuition and great knowledge for women, they’re disregarded as inferior knowledge and “weak” because patriarchy teaches men to disregard this way of knowing. Most of all, as thinking and feeling beings, we’re rarely engaged in any logical processes that are devoid of emotion, only told that “warm” emotions (associated with women) are lesser ones.
Anger, when male, is still deemed “logical” since anger is tied into aggression which is a facet of patriarchal masculinity, and anger is then excluded from emotions. But even anger or apathy themselves are emotions. What men feel are emotions. Feelings and expressions of feelings associated with maleness such as anger and rage/aggression or fear of more powerful men (or women) and intimidation/resentment are emotions. Men’s actions are also guided by emotions.
Conversely, women’s calm or informed passions are written off as “emotional” arguments even when the same level of intellect, nuance and insight is made in a woman’s argument as a man’s. A man literally has to become verbally or physically violent before his argument is deemed “too emotional.” His anger and irrationality based on said anger is still viewed as “logical” as long as the escalation to violence doesn’t occur (and even at times when it does, since such aggression is written off as “just being man”). All a woman has to do is to be passionate about her argument and reject gaslighting or silencing while presenting her argument in order to be deemed “emotional” where “emotional” becomes a pejorative. The same thing tends to play out in debates between a privileged person and an oppressed person. The rules of tone policing and the devaluation of emotion will be arbitrarily applied to the oppressed person. And this emotion versus logic myth prevents true dialogue and discourse which is more than conversation or even argument/debate.
For me, rejecting the White supremacist and patriarchal idea that the absence of emotion is a higher plane of knowing and intelligence has been critical. And it has been a process. I’ve learned more about the power of my expression and my knowledge and how it involves multiple facets: it’s lived experience, which includes a specific subset of knowledge, emotion and intuition that no amount of essays or books can teach someone who isn’t a Black woman. As a Womanist, when I center my own experiences and the diversity of experiences of Black women, I am able to more clearly see others since centering Whiteness and maleness (as you learn to do in school and life) in terms of thinking or experiencing excludes many, and definitely dehumanizes those who aren’t White and/or male.
This re-centering shapes how I approach my reading, writing and learning. And to articulate this perspective effectively, I have to be fully engaged in how I experience my experiences, or be connected to, not disconnected from my emotions, as well as fully engaged in how said experiences shape my knowledge. And fragmenting them all as a form of “higher intelligence” actually makes little sense. Emotions are heavily involved in intellectual interpretations and learning itself.
Another reason that I suspect that emotions, intuition and lived experience are devalued is because they connect to a source of information that more accurately can characterize the manifestations of oppression. So it’s not a coincidence that White supremacist and patriarchal ways of thinking and feeling remain fragmented. How could one articulate the inferiority of others without the delusions involved in believing such thought is logically abstract and involve no emotion? Entire frames of thought are built around rejecting said guilt, self-loathing and resentment that the dehumanization of others naturally create in a human consciousness. Then the rationalization that if some people are actually “less than human” then subordination, domination and oppression are the “logical” responses to their existence comes about. Some of the “greatest” White male thinkers of all time have articulated this point of view and have included it in everything from philosophy to science. It’s interesting how their suppositions, clearly based on a politics of emotion—on hatred and a need for dominance to mask emptiness, self-loathing and fragmentation—are called “natural,” “logically made” inferences.
I view it as a strength to be in touch with the multiple ways by which I acquire information and express knowledge. I continue to reject that only that which I acquire through abstract absorption and shaped by perspective external to mine is valid or the most important knowledge. Only by dismissing the heterosexist notion of humans as fragmented opposing halves meant to “complete” each other as long as we abide by rigid conceptions of gender (usually ones that are cissexist also) meant to keep women as “feeling-only beings” who are dominated and men “thinking-only” beings who dominate can all humans begin to get in touch with multiple ways of learning, knowing and expressing. Only by dismissing the White supremacist notion of centering Whiteness and Eurocentric ways of knowing as “universally" applicable and the "boiler plate" way of thinking, feeling and expressing can Black and other people of colour fully realize that our ways of knowing, feeling and thinking are just as accurate and even more applicable to our lives.
For Black women, this means that not just the fragmentation involved in emotion versus logic is rejected but also the sociopolitical fragmentation of gender versus race is rejected. We embrace ourselves as whole, feeling and thinking, where neither is privileged over the other. We connect to our experiences as women, as Black people and as Black women, specifically. All three, and any other identities (i.e. class, sexual orientation, citizenship, complexion, size, etc.) that speak to our experiences.
When those treated as the least among us are centered, those treated as the most among us are still included. And for the latter, having to give up the ability to oppress as a “logical” reaction to choosing to dehumanize others is not “oppression.” It’s actually embracing the idea that what they feel (and what others feel) cannot be separated from what they know (and what others know and experience). No more excuses can be made as to why it is logical to oppress.
The legacy of Eurocentrism.
I love how white people will tell PoC to take responsibility and do better but as SOON as you call them on their racism they want to say something like "but it's not my fault I wasn't taught!!!" I honestly try to say that I don't hate white people because that would be wrong of me,but deep down (actually not so deep down now) I do. I reeeeally do. And they don't understand nor will they ever understand in this lifetime. -sigh- God please help me ( actually please help them).
#they could spend their entire life “reading #they still wouldn’t fucking get it #because “reading” without action is just another fucking attempt to own the situation #yet again
petition to rename allies sidekicks
- sidekicks help u win ur fights but are never the heros
- sidekick sounds more sporty
- sidekicks are expected to screw up occasionally
- u can fire ur sidekick
- 'straight sidekick' is way more alliterative
#makes sense since sidekicks who can’t cut it usually come back as villains (via motherfuckingsassmaster)
I really like this. It automatically centers the marginalized and positions the members of oppressor classes on the side of good as supportive secondaries. It also implies action: the sidekick isn’t just someone who agrees with the hero’s cause and hopes they accomplish their goals, the sidekick is the spunky teenager who takes orders and helps out.
and main characters are usually and justifiably mad reluctant to take on them on so the sidekick has to EARN their place by them because it’s truly an honor to help the real heroes, to “take orders and help out” YES.
Too bad oppressors are by definition far more interested in leading and “saving” the oppressed rather than alleviating oppression tho.
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