Here are some facts.
I am a feminist and this is a feminist blog. If you are a not a feminist, don’t read this blog and expect anyone to give a shit about your opinion. It is a safe space for feminists and feminist allies. Don’t get it? There’s a blog for that.
I’m starting this blog because it has come to my attention that not everyone gives as much of a fuck about gender issues as I do, and that includes my nearest and dearest, and I often find myself the subject of polite nods or rolled eyes or arguments that make me question my own decision-making in letting them into my inner circle. Just as they don’t understand why I get “so angry” about all those fun -isms that make being a citizen of this shit planet so rosy, I don’t understand how they can let this egregious shit roll off their backs.
My solution for my own sanity is to start an obnoxious, self-indulgent blog where I can talk about whatever the fuck I want to talk about, in the most pretentious, vulgar terms available, and try to find some other passionately enraged human beings who want to be All Feminism All the Time in the limited, semi-welcoming arms of the cesspool of the Internet.
Today I’m going to talk about something I read about often on the blogs of marginalized groups. But first, a story.
The other day I went to a potluck thrown by the friend of a friend. (Let’s call this friend Janet). Janet’s friend Kevin was also present. Neither Kevin nor I knew any of the other guests. There was a transgender man there named Frank. At one point during this outdoor potluck, all of the Y-chromosomed members sans Kevin were playing soccer in the field, and the rest of us got on the topic of birth control.
“Haha,” Kevin said, “It’s funny that all the guys are out there playing sports while I’m talking about menstrual blood and birth control with you all.”
A hackle-raising comment on its own, but Frank’s presence made it that much more cringe-worthy.
“Not all the guys are out there,” he said, subtly.
Apparently too subtly, for Kevin replied, “What?”
“Don’t assume you know what everyone’s gender is just by looking at them,” Frank continued, less calmly.
The fog in front of Kevin’s eyes thickened visibly. “What do you mean?”
“I’m a trans man!” Frank exploded, then stomped off to kick the soccer ball and rant to someone he actually had met more than 20 minutes previously.
Everyone sat there awkwardly for a moment as I frantically texted a fellow-liberal-artsy-woman about how fucking awkward it was to avoid eye contact with anyone. Janet tried to explain to Kevin why what he said was wrong, but he just Did. Not. Get it. He later apologized to Frank, obviously unaware of what he was apologizing for, and another privileged individual stacked a card in the Deck of Why Are You People So Causey?
So what do you do in a situation like that? Some would argue that it is Not One’s Job to educate an ignorant person about their privilege. I get that. It’s fucking exhausting and no one gets paid enough ($0) to detail a lifetime’s worth of learning and unlearning society’s bullshit in a few pithy sentences.
And yet, how the fuck did we become who we are? Who was it that handed our asses to us on a regular basis and said, asshole, your privilege is showing, and I’m going to teach you how to be humble, for Christ’s sake. For me, it was one incredible sociology professor and her magic bag of enlightening reading material, but maybe it was your mom, or your uncle, or some old lady at the bus stop who had alienated one too many of her fed-up friends and lovers. (We should totally meet for crochet and brunch on Sundays).