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privilege part one

21 Sep

Discussions of privilege are always, always, always necessary. I will save generalities and lecturing on privilege as an abstract concept for another time. For now, here are the specifics on how I am privileged:

1. I have light skin, what some might call “white.” I do not use “white” as an personal identifier, but see it merely as a trait, just like curly haired or right-handed. This is not because I do not recognize the privileges others bestow upon me given the color of my skin, but instead because I do not believe that my skin color is a trait that should take precedence over any other trait. “White” is not a race, and rejecting my title of “white person” is how I demonstrate my rejection of the idea of a “white race.” See here to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

2. I am able-bodied. This means more obvious things, like the fact that I can walk, jump, run, dance without impediment. It means I have access to all buildings, rooms, events, and activities, and am not prevented from entering or attending anything because there is not a walkway or elevator. It also means equally important, but less frequently mentioned, things, like the fact that I do not have to worry (as much) about being unable to defend myself in the face of sexual assault or other forms of violence.

3. I am college educated.

4. I am middle-class.

5. I am read as straight.

6. I am cissexual. This means that my gender identity and biological sex characteristics match up, and thus I do not experience gender dissonance or dysphoria.

7. I am young. Although there are benefits to being older, for the most part, our society places great value on youth, with even more value placed on youthful looking women.

8. English is my first language. This may not always be a privilege, but it certainly is in the United States.

9. I am what some might say is “conventionally attractive.” That is, I fit many societal standards for “beauty.” In conjunction with that, I often fit the female=feminine standard (although sometimes not, depending on the length of my hair, whether I wear makeup, if I’ve shaved recently, how tight my clothes are, etc).

Let me know if you think of any other ways I am privileged which I may not have noted here. That’s the tricky thing about privilege…it’s difficult to recognize if you have it.

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Another reason

6 Aug

Bones rocks:

Jack Hodgins: I thought women liked it when we fought over them

Cam: “Women” is an unacceptable generalization

Yes.

Beginning again

20 Jul

Alright, so I caved. Once you have a blog, it’s hard to stop having one. I’ve been sticking mostly to my tumblr these past few months, but I’ve been doing so much thinking and exploring on my own about lots of stuff (things like where I want to be in one year and what my gender identity is) and it’s driving me a little crazy that I don’t have anyone to talk to about them. So here I am, back in the blogosphere, spewing personal thoughts into the nether. I hope you guys will help me sort through some of the things I’ve been wondering about, and maybe propose new ideas for me to spend a lot of time contemplating.

Just started reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. (I can never remember if you’re supposed to underline or italicize or put quotes around book titles, so I just picked at random) Anyway, I’m only 2o pages in, and I’ve already marked three quotes that stuck with me:

1. “Even feminists buy into traditional sexist notions about femininity – that it is artificial, contrived and frivolous; that it is a ruse that only serves the purpose of attracting and appeasing the desires of men. What I hope to show in this book is that the real ruse being played in not by those of us who happen to be feminine, but rather by those who place inferior meanings onto femininity.” Love this, because although I’ve been a self-declared feminist for as long as I can remember, for a long time I regarded a shift toward stereotypical masculine tendencies as the only way for women to be seen as equally important members of society. Now, I believe that there is strength in any and every way a woman chooses to express her gender, sexuality, self, life. I’ve re-embraced the femininity that, as a feminist, I have occasionally called into question. This idea leads into the second quote from the book:

2. “No form of gender equity can ever truly be achieved until we first work to empower femininity itself.” Yes yes yes, all the time, yes. Femininity is not inherently weak, vulnerable, emotional (although it can be all those things). Femininity is strong and beautiful and thoughtful and rash and everything that we believe masculinity is and more than what we believe masculinity is.

3. “We make assumptions every day about other people’s genders without ever seeing their birth certificates, their chromosomes, their genitals, their reproductive systems, their childhood socialization, or their legal sex. There is not such thing as a “real” gender – there is only the gender we experience ourselves as and the gender we perceive others to be.” I disagree with nothing she writes here, but would like to point out that our tendency to make assumptions goes beyond gender. One of the biggest problems with our world is that we tell people they are what other people think they are, rather than what they think of themselves. Telling someone she isn’t a woman, when she very clearly lives and identifies as one, is a way in which we communicate that our perceptions of ourselves are inferior to other people’s perceptions of us. Telling someone (through words or actions) they are unwelcome in this country because they are immigrants, when they know themselves to be an American citizen is another way we do that. Yet another way is the judgments we make about a woman’s sexual activity because of the way she dresses. And what right do we have to make any of these assumptions? Appearances often don’t tell you any (or most) of what a person might want you to know about them. Thus, I’ve been trying to stay away from making judgments about people. Partly because I don’t think anyone could know anything about me based upon my appearance, and partly because I think being open to learning about someone organically, through interacting with them, makes my relationship with them much stronger and purer than it would be if I made judgments based on nothing.

More thoughts will come as the book progresses. Any of your thoughts are super appreciated, always.