I’m white. Not much of a bombshell, granted. I’m fairly confident none of you dropped your brew in shock. I’m just letting you know that I know a little bit about defensiveness.
I’ve always been interested in “black culture” – who wouldn’t be? The media tried to make me feel shit about it as a teenager, using words like “w**gger” to deter/ insult white kids attracted to the music/ language/ fashion of young black people, but they were largely unsuccessful where I’m concerned.
Black sub-cultural production is so infinitely superior to white, that any kid with any degree of taste couldn’t help but be completely drawn to it. But there are political connotations when you confront much of those sub-cultures, because they are derived from historical and contemporary politics.
You start to see that black people are and have been poignantly subjugated. Murdered. Enslaved. Abused. Violated. Treated with venom and contempt at work, at home, in hospitals, by the police, government, policy, education… It continues. We are not in a post-racist age. We’re living it. And no amount of me listening to Hip Hop changes the fact that as a white person, I belong to the race of people responsible.
Nobody wants to think of themselves as part of the problem. Particularly as it pertains to a group of people they particular like or admire.
This is why white people -such as myself -make fucking stupid statements about “using the race card” or “not blaming all white people for what some white people” do. This thing of, “Well, I’ve never enslaved anyone”, “I never treat anyone differently” bullshit. Or even worse, the classic reverse racism bollocks… the horrible, closed-minded, cowardly, reactionary, fascist arsehole UKIP/ BNP agenda scaring people into thinking that if they don’t “do anything” they’re going to somehow be marginalised on the grounds of race, despite whites maintaining a frightening socio economic advantage that is impenetrable. There is simply no basis for racism against whites. It doesn’t measure against statistics or societal truths.
But I know what the instinct is.
The instinct is to say… “The facts about racism show clear and definitive oppression of black people by white people, but not me. I’m different. I love black people.”
The instinct is to not want to align with oppressors.
Which is how I get why some men might feel so moved about International Women’s Day or feminism or the recent 1 Billion Rising Campaign, that they choose to write ignorant comments all over the fucking internet.
I am not for one second trying to suggest that the Women’s Movement is identical to Anti-Racism and the Black Struggle. I’m just saying that I understand what it is to be defensive when you belong to the oppressive group, and you’d rather not.
But it is only when we recognise that those clear oppressive struggles do exist, that whilst men are victims of domestic violence, that women are overwhelmingly more so, that rape is overwhelmingly committed by men, that there is the capacity for change. To do women the courtesy of respecting our anger is to change things.
I’m sick of having discussions with people who I actually quite like, but who seem to want to instigate a conversation about gender and “reverse sexism” provoking me into anger and then kind of getting a kick from that anger. Like the anger is unwarranted or unjustified.
Anger – irrational anger – is something levelled at all feminists. Which is especially silly given that wars and thuggery are an overwhelmingly male pursuit.
If someone kicks you in the crotch and then seeks to ridicule your aggressive response to it, it’s almost doubly oppressive. Because you’re pissed off you’ve been kicked and then you’re pissed off that you can’t be angry about it.
Well, fuck you. I am angry. I’m incredibly kind, optimistic, occasionally witty and a fucking phenomenal mother… but when it comes to the hugely unjust position of women in the world, I’d have to be especially thick not to be angry.
The good news about accepting that you belong to the oppressive group is that you can spread the word, that you can accept that patriarchy exists and get angry about it with us. Or continue the old “I’m not a rapist…” balls that only serves to keep us entrenched in the shit.
Happy International Women’s Day