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Jun 2

On Privilege, Racism, and Oppression

Posted on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 in Theories

Let’s talk privilege. So, I’m a middle class white female-bodied genderqueer mentally ill Jew. I’d be the first to admit I have some privilege but I am also fairly oppressed by the system as well. There are people who hate me because of my heritage. There are people who hate me for being queer. There are people who won’t view me as an equal if they knew about my mental illness. I wasn’t born into money. My family was lower class and worked really, really hard so that their kids would never know what it’s like to go without food. My class status is a result of hardwork, not old or blood money. So, because my family wanted a better life for me than they had, somehow my privilege state is somehow my fault that I need to take responsibility for. I am being told by peers that it’s somehow my fault I am white and middle class. I never asked for this life. I just happened to be born into it.

However, for everyone person like me who admits their privileges – there’s a thousand people who don’t. I was talking to my friend about being privilege. My friend mentioned when she got home from work she turned on the television and “Desperate Housewives” was on. She watched the opening scene and one of the characters stated, “I am privilege and I don’t care.” That sentiment is a majority of people in my position. Yet, I do care and I am trying to use what I got to better the world – not just my own personal interests.

I keep being told I don’t understand racism but no one can explain to me how I don’t get it. I might not have to deal with racism but I do have to deal with the threat that people will hate me for my last name or being visibly queer. How is that any different? Yet, somehow, I am told by anti-racist racists that my experience as a human being isn’t valid because of the color of my skin. Just because I was born into a white meat suit, my whole life and experiences don’t matter. To classify a group of people, due to their skin color, and to automatically decide that people of a certain race experiences aren’t as valid as another race experience, is no different than what Hitler did by blaming the Jews.

Racism is always going to be a problem and I know class/race is related. That most people in prison are people of color and there’s racial profiling. But, if there were more people of color than whites, the situation would be reverse. If there were more queers than heterosexuals, the heterosexuals would be oppressed. It’s just dumb luck that things are the way they are.

Now, I have been told I’m not being a good enough white ally because of my lack of understanding that no one can explain how I lack it. I know my life and personal experiences. I know when I go to people of color events to try to be a good ally they don’t want me there because I am white. I’ve had people who won’t date me because of the color of my skin. I have never rejected anyone based on skin color. The anti-racist racists have already judged me and decided they don’t want me. Why should I bother trying to befriend people who don’t want to be my friend or want my support? Why should I go out of my way to try to support people who won’t support me? What about people caring about being an ally to me for being queer, Jewish, and mentally ill?

I’ve lost lots of friends over being mentally ill. I have people who I’ve known for years turn on me for something beyond my control. I’ve been assaulted for being a homosexual. I don’t know many people of color who’ve been assaulted for being a person of color or lose friends over it. It’s not like they wake up one day and they’re a person of color like I woke up one day with a chemical imbalance. I deal with anti-semantism due to my heritage. Yet, due to my visible race, I am being told I don’t understand oppression?

I am not trying to play the who’s more oppressed than who game. But I find the radical circles intolerable of differences. They want to be project an image of representing a minority and apart from my class and skin color, I am a minority. But all that is ignored and not validated because of my skin. I am told I don’t understand. I do understand and can relate because I am oppressed to.

With that being said, I am doing the best I can do to make the world a more loving, tolerant place. I am trying to be the best ally to everyone but to be told I am lacking without being able to be told why is madness. I would never turn to anyone and say, “You aren’t being a good enough ally.” Or “Your experience aren’t valid.” Or even “You don’t understand.” That’s hateful and violent within itself to not valid another’s experience. I do understand and know what it’s like to be hated for something that isn’t your choice.

To automatically declare I am an oppressor based on the color of my skin is as ridiculous to decide I oppress due to my gender, sexuality, height, weight, type of peanut butter I eat. It’s to make an enemy out of a friend. It’s to become the oppressor yourself.

To simply be told by people who don’t know me that I’m a “privilege rich white kid” and I’m “not a good enough white ally” without being able to explain why other than saying “You don’t understand.” is to not even begin to examine the whole picture. It’s not validating the oppression I face. It’s not validating my family’s struggle so that I can have a better life than they had. It’s not looking at the fact I am using my privilege to try to fight against all forms of oppression. That I acknowledge my privilege but it’s not my fault. I can only work with what I am given and I doing the best I can. I don’t, however, see people of all colors lining up to be allies to me or approaching me to find out how to be an ally for what I need allies for as they expect me to do for them – which I do. I have had people get upset at me for asking how to be a better ally since I should “educate myself” which is what I was trying to do by asking. I’m not a psychic or a mind reader. I’ve never had anyone ask me how to be an ally to me for anything already mentioned. It’s not fair that so much is demanded of me but I can’t ask for the same in return. Because I’m white and I don’t understand oppression.

Dec 8

On Being Genderqueer and the Gender Binary

Posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 in Genderqueer

The interesting thing about explaining being outside of the gender binary is that you first have to explain what  gender binary is in order to understand what it means to be outside of it.  There is no quick and easy way to explain what it means to be genderqueer and even after several attempts at trying to explain it, people still don’t get it because they are stuck trying to put it in a box.

The gender binary is a form of hierarchy and oppression.  It divides the human race into two groups instead of uniting us as one.   Most people’s concept of self is centered around their identity and it influences the course their entire life.  It controls how most people will treat you down to which bathroom you can use.  I want no part in it.

For me, genderqueer is beyond male and female.  I don’t want people judging me based on genitals or my body.  My private parts do not define me as they do with so many of my fellow humans.  If we are to eventually have equality in the world, we need people to be treated as people not as genitals.

It is strange to me that I get treated with more respect and taken more seriously when I get mistaken for  a male verses a female.  I don’t like being called, “Honey,” “Sweetie,” or “Dear” because of the body I happen to exist in.  At the time it happens, I don’t even know where to begin because it’s socially acceptable.  Just because something is tradition doesn’t make it right.

It embarrasses me that our species didn’t have a women’s rights movement until War World II, that there was a division at all.  It wasn’t that long ago and it still isn’t over.  It won’t be over until we abolish gender all together.  As long as there is separation into groups, one group will oppress the other until people understand equality isn’t the same as sameness.

I imagine a world in which males wear skirts as often as females.  A world in which people can just be people.  No gender, no sexuality, no racial tension.  That we can be fluid and undefined.  Once you start worry about defining something, you lose it.  It’s like grasping sand, the tighter you grip it, the faster it slips through your fingers.   Be free.  As long as you know yourself, that’s all that’s important.  People like what they like and that should be it.

The problem with society is that most people don’t know themselves.  They know an illusion which they considered to be self – but all those layers are fake.  What’s real, is that we are all human and all need love.  If we learned to love and accept each other regardless of outside fluff, we can have utopia.

Being genderqueer to me gives me the freedom of having a label for those who need boxes but still be able to be outside the box.  It’s not fully definable and that’s okay because our language is flawed and can’t express all aspects of being human succinctly.

Dec 2

Essay: Genderqueer

Posted on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 in Genderqueer

Are you a boy or a girl?” A perplexed waitress at a Dunkin’ Donut in the heart of New York City asked of me when I entered the shop.  “I just wanted a muffin; I don’t think my gender matters.”  I said but she didn’t seem to understand, she was rather too interested on what was in my pants. “Are you a boy or a girl?”  I sighed.  I don’t identify as either being genderqueer but I don’t like having to explain myself all the time to everyone.  Mostly because people can only wrap their head around the gender binary and not think outside the box.  It got me thinking though, why do perfect strangers care too much about what’s in my pants?  It doesn’t matter to anyone unless they wanted to sleep with me.  But, for some reasons, this lady’s whole identity was formed around a world of boys and girls.  I bite the bullet since I really wanted my muffin, “I’m a girl.”  She let out a relieved sigh and then got my muffin.  Again, I was forced into the oppressive gender binary to comply with the needs of an oppressive society.  It isn’t just the males that oppress; it is also other women who’ve been conditioned to think as such.

In an ideal society, I would have been able to get my muffin without being hassled about what’s in my pants.  However, this is America – home of the free if you are rich and fix into neat boxes.  Most people can’t wrap their head around genderqueer – which is outside of the gender binary.  I am something else – not just another gender but I am beyond gender.  People can at least understand transsexual, but when it comes to genderqueer, people just don’t get it.  They want to box you in.  I am sometimes envious of my transsexual allies because they have a gender identity to claim – even if they are handicapped by being born into the wrong body.  I, however, have no place to go.  No identity.  I suck it up and usually go with lesbian because I am female bodied and like women but that doesn’t describe me.  I’m queer but queer is considered to be such a dirty word by polite society.

The LGlittleBinvisibleT community has no love for anyone who’s not a Stepford Gay.  If you don’t fit the mold of what a “safe” gay is – being gay but assimilating, the community turns their back on you.  It is a threat to society, the mainstream, the social constructed order, to be an individual and think for yourself.  We live in a society based on group think with team sports, entertainment and job rhetoric paving the way for the classless individual who functions as a cog in the well oiled machine of greed and anonymity.  I – for one, am not going to be part of any machine.  I’m not going to wear the clothes they tell me to wear, I’m not going to watch their programming (it’s called programming for a reason), and not going to take part in their world of a giant rat race.

I am going to fight the system with knowledge and education, compassion and understanding.   As Crass said, “You can’t change the system by bombing number ten, the people will go into hiding but they’ll be back again.”  The only way to change the system is to change the people.  The only way to change the people is with education.

Sometimes, it’s really hard, trying to change things.  I struggle with trying to get people to understand what “genderqueer” means.  Sometimes, it’s dangerous just being who you are.  Every third day, a transperson is murdered.  I’ve been assaulted before at a punk show which was supposed to be about peace and equality for being a “homosexual. “  I just want a world where I can go to punk shows without getting punched and get a muffin without being hassled about what’s in my pants.  I can’t do it alone.  Will you help me?