I’m Learning

Over the last few months, I’ve been slowly learning what it actually means to be me. I have a pretty major amount of privilege. My biggest privilege is that I’m white. It’s the most apparent, and still far and away the most catered to. I’m cisgendered. I’m a girly girl who was born with an X chromosome and solely female genitalia. I’m heterosexual. Each of these things makes me privileged.

I am part of oppressed groups, too. I’m female and I’m fat. But honestly, while these things do mean that I don’t partake in the privileges that males and the thin have, the privileges I do partake in are incredibly substantial.

I try to be a thoughtful person. Often, I’m not. I can be racist, cissexist, heterosexist… The best thing I can do is educate myself — educate myself by reading the material out there and listening when people take the trouble to correct me, not expect those around me who are part of oppressed groups to educate me — and when I fail in thoughtfulness and kindness, apologise and do better next time.

This is how to follow Wheaton’s Law and not be a dick: think about the person or persons you’re interacting with as persons, with unique experiences of their own that color the way they see how you act. Learn what privilege is and if you have it, step back when you’re called on it. Even if the person calling you out on it is being a dick about it. It’s not passivity, and it’s not about standing up for yourself. If someone is calling you out on privilege, they’re telling you that you’re using the advantages you were born with to be a bully, even if you didn’t intend to. So you’re not really standing up for yourself, you’re beating them down and they’re standing up to you. If you don’t like the way they’re doing it, simply say “I’m sorry I hurt you.” and walk away.

I’m trying not to use too much jargon, because jargon gets in the way. Suffice to say that if you’ve got any legs up on anybody else, a) don’t use it as a club to beat them and b) listen to them when they tell you you’re beating them.

My personal law is simply “Be kind.” For me, it’s not enough that I merely not be a dick, I want to be kind. I don’t always succeed, but I’m learning.

Tell me about it...