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To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitious and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a colleague. A white person will be happy to tell you about a “Black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in its title is a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history” or “political science.”
This invisibility is political."
privileged folks are literally so used to never being called out on their bullshit that when they finally are, they think it’s harassment
Do you not believe hate breeds more hate?
I believe “hate breeds more hate” is a phrase that
- is used to blame the victims of hateful actions for those actions
- deliberately ignores the source of the hate
- excuses the oppressor
- attempts to control how the oppressed react to their oppressors
If Person A says something cissexist to Person B & Person B responds aggressively, Person B is not “breeding more hate.” Person A is obviously already hateful. Person B has every single fucking right to be angry.
We have every single fucking right to be angry.
If the people who said this really believed that “hate breeds hate”, they would understand Person B’s reaction and be addressing their advice towards Person A.
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."
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