What does it mean to be priviledged?
“What does it mean to be privileged? It means not having to think about any of this, ever.”
This is from a wonderful post by Jamelle Bouie that you should read right now.
I think about privilege a lot. Because I am a white woman who was raised in an upper-middle class family in the Midwest, I was raised with an obscene amount of privilege. I’ve written previously about my transition from staunch conservative to pinko commie liberal. A lot of that had to do with trying to become aware of my privilege, and acknowledging how little I can ever know about other people’s experiences.
One particularly illustrative moment for me was when I was once out to dinner with my best friend from college, who is ethnically Indian (I won’t name her but she is probably reading this right now so HII!!!! LOVE YOU!!! MISS YOU!!) She is a vegetarian. Before we ordered, we inquired with our server about the meat contents of certain dishes. Our server immediately asked her if she went to the Hare Krishna temple, where they apparently have a vegetarian buffet. We were not amused. This was not the first time I had been witness to unnecessary comments like this. (Once, at a bar, she was cornered by a guy who wanted to tell her about all the Indian music he liked. My friend was 100% raised in America and could give two shits about your taste in Indian music, really.) Once he left we looked at each other, and I think I said something like “That was weird” and she said something to me I’ll never forget, “Now you know how that feels, well, you can’t KNOW how that feels, but you can see it.”
I was pretty floored by that, because she was right. I had no idea how that felt, and I never, ever could. We had joked about it before, but until then I don’t think I had really understood and internalized what it meant that my friend was treated differently or that it really bothered her. That had been hard for me to see. We had so much in common, she was no different from anyone else I knew, yet people said shit to her that they would not say to me simply because of her skin. In that moment, I started to kind of get how things like this really worked.
I wanted to try to understand that more; I wanted to relate to my friend better. I tried to think of times in my life where I had been treated differently because of who I was, and that led me to think about all the crap I dealt with as a woman. And between being sexually harassed regularly at my restaurant job to being told by boyfriends I was “unladylike”, there was a lot of crap there. So I realized I did, to some extent, understand what it’s like to be without privilege. When men did these things to me, whether they realized it or not, it served to remind me that I was not accepted as their equal. I was different, this world belonged to them, I served a certain purpose in it, and when I didn’t serve those purposes I wasn’t valued. So, in that way I can understand the bullshit that people are capable of when they don’t recognize their privilege.
But, I’m still a white lady, so my world is still filtered through that. I think, though, that being aware of that privilege is a good step to take. It means I can work to avoid making assumptions about people, and to treat people with the respect I might not even immediately realize I’m not giving them. I can better understand why certain things are wrong and so, so damaging to people. So I have to keep an eye on myself, and the people I care about, because even though I can never KNOW what that feels like, I can see it.
Super sexist things I really don’t appreciate because they are sexist.
The word “chicks”. Because, really? You might as well use the word “babes” and wear rollerblades and be named Blane.
Women in comedies who are played by models who aren’t funny. Because there are plenty of hot, funny women in the world, it turns out. And the second I see a hot woman in a sitcom who isn’t funny I check out because SHE MAY AS WELL BE FURNITURE TO ME.
Guys who refuse to admit female-centric entertainment is good. You were the one who actually insisted on watching the full first season of Mob Wives, bro, so stop acting like making fun of reality tv adds inches to your dick.
Tosh.O. Because, really, are you 14?
UPDATE: 5. Being called a cunt for expressing my personal opinions on the internet (see below).
A couple of years ago, I spent time with University of North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, who has won 20 NCAA titles and who also coached the national team in its early days, from 1986 to 1994. The cerebral Dorrance owes much of his success to identifying, understanding, and coaching to differences between men and women. “Women,” he told me then, “have the toxic combination of having incredibly high standards for each other and being amazingly sensitive at the same time.”
— Food for thought! I’d have to say Coach Dorrance may have a point there, if I may say so myself. http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/fivering_circus/2012/07/hope_solo_brandi_chastain_what_the_war_of_words_between_the_goalkeeper_and_the_broadcaster_reveals_about_the_state_of_women_s_soccer_.2.html
We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that,” Smith wrote. “What makes them think that we even want them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place?
“Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favorably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?
“This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any woman with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.”
Woman in Comedy: A really scary thing happened to me last night at a comedy show.
Part of me thinks it’s too soon to be writing about this because I don’t think I’ve completely processed how I feel, but I also think maybe this has happened to other women and I should talk about it in as raw a way as possible. I’m still really embarrassed and ashamed and garbled up inside, but maybe this can start a helpful discussion in terms of women and comedy.
Last night, I was on a stand up show in the East Village. The show started out with a small crowd and the host did an amazing job interacting with them and riling them up. By the time I got on stage, there were about 20 or so more people in the audience and the place had really filled up. The show was still kind of loose because of the back and forth between the host and the audience, so when I got on stage, I riffed a bit about the stuff that had happened before and then talked to one guy on the side of the audience who the host had dubbed “Banana Republic.” All joke-y. All in good fun.
Then, I start my actual set and do my first two jokes, which go pretty okay. I start another joke that is vaguely sexual - not crude, not crass - mainly silly and that goes well too. The next joke I do is about my boyfriend.
At a comedy show, when you’re on stage, usually you can’t see the audience because of the bright lights. So I’m looking into pitch darkness. As I start the joke, someone yells, “Does your boyfriend know?” referring to the sexuality joke I’d just told. I stop, laugh and say that he does because I think it’s just more of the loose environment that’s been going on at this show. I attribute it to an audience member just having fun.
I start to tell the joke about my boyfriend again, and at the midway point, the same voice yells something else derogatory about my boyfriend, homophobic and misogynistic towards me. I stop, confused. I can’t see who is talking to me so I make a HUGE mistake and say, “Sir, if you’re gonna talk to me, you need to come to the front because I can’t see you.” I think calling him out like this will shut him up.
My friend Krista just shared this post with me. She surmised I’d “have a lot to say about it.” I do.
(Hear me out before you sigh and roll your eyes at the upcoming feminist rant, I have a point that doesn’t involve blaming men for the bad things that happen to women)
For one thing, this is a terrible, worst-case scenario for an open mic. I have done mics where there are crazies and hecklers in the audience. Most of the time this just means free jokes at their expense, albeit tense ones. One thing I’d like to point out is that Gabby here is a straight-up innocent victim, no bones about it. But she’s not just a victim of a crazy dude. She’s also a victim of the club/bar that failed to protect her from an obviously above-average threat (see my previous post on the responsibility I think good club/bar owners/managers should take for the safety of their performers/patrons), and she’s a victim of a society that taught her, from birth, to smile and nod in the face of that threat. And I quote:
When he first started talking, I had tried to do that thing women are taught to do where you’re distantly polite to a man who is attacking you in the hopes that things don’t escalate. “Just smile and make a joke so he doesn’t hurt you.”
Part of me is so sick of that line of thinking.
Me too. I’m crazy sick at that line of thinking. If there is one thing I hope to get out of life, honestly, it is the ability to react. To do something, say something, ask for help. To understand that I don’t deserve to be yelled at or threatened or insulted or intimidated no matter what the situation. Basically, to stand the fuck up for myself.
I’ve worked as a receptionist for many years, and before that I worked as a hostess in a restaurant. Setting my personal limits and sticking to them, even if it leads to an uncomfortable confrontation, is probably the hardest and most important lesson I’ve taken from my experience. If you think it’s hard to stand up for yourself to a stranger in a bar, try doing it when your boss is calling you a retard because he forgot his camera’s memory stick. Or when your boss at the country club you work at is describing to you, in graphic detail, how your outfit is giving him an erection (To this day I wish I had just started screaming and walked out when he did that, I did not need that job that much.) I remember once after being cursed out by one of our company’s clients for something that wasn’t at all my fault, I was close to tears. One of the head assistants came to me and told me flat out, “You don’t have to let people talk to you that way. Next time, just hang up on them. No one deserves that.” It had literally never occured to me that just because it was my job to be nice, it wasn’t my job to be someone’s punching bag.
I think it’s important for all women, especially women who perform in comedy clubs, to fully appreciate their right to be here. We have nothing to apologize for. We worked just as hard as anyone else to get here, maybe harder. We shouldn’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers for the sake of making that clear. We should realize that the people who set out to make us feel like freaks for demanding respect are themselves the truly freakish ones. Most importantly, we are not obligated to be nice to people who aren’t being nice to us, because we don’t owe anyone anything.
Also, carry mace.
Basic Things Ladies Should Know (But Apparently Don’t): HPV
- If you’ve had more than one sexual partner in your lifetime, or your sexual partner has had more than one sexual partner in their lifetime, you probably have HPV. It is not really that big of a deal and, obviously, like everyone has it at some point. I know people who’ve had one partner their whole life who got it, and people who had fifteen who didn’t. Contracting it says absolutely nothing about you or your partner as people.
- When you get it, you will have to have a colposcopy to make sure you don’t have pre-cancer. You don’t have pre-cancer. This is just a precaution for pre-cancer. Pre. Sorry. Like I said, you don’t have cancer, you just have a thing that maybe in a few years, if it doesn’t go away on it’s own (which it most likely will) might give you cancer.
- Men cannot get tested for HPV and most likely will never know if they have it.
- Most of the time it goes away on it’s own. It’s a virus, so there’s no medication. There are also rarely symptoms. But it’s really not a big deal, this is the point of yearly doctors visits.
- Be careful not to tell people you have HIV. That’s a toooootally different thing.
Fortunately, I discovered that there is one health care provider that’s a pioneer in disconnecting birth control pills from mandatory pelvic exams: Planned Parenthood. So I went there.
Without insurance, the visit would cost $130, which isn’t cheap, but it’s still likely to be much cheaper than a full-on pelvic exam and all the related lab work. (Planned Parenthood also charges on a sliding scale, so the cost can be less depending on income.) It was worth it, mainly because I got my prescription without having to take my clothes off. And in a year, I might go back for a checkup with a doctor. But if I do, it will be because I think it’s the right thing to do, not because I don’t have a choice”
And most provocatively of all, LaShaun Williams, a “columnist and blogger who writes about parenting and culture,” uses her time at bat to declare feminism “a movement that, while liberating women to follow their dreams, devalued marriage and the familial and societal benefits of homemaking and encouraged self-indulgence.” People, this statement happened. In the New York Times. TODAY.”
— The NYT’s Ridiculous Motherhood Debate
To Be Fair To Hilary Rosen
Hilary Rosen’s point was that Ann Romney is a poor representative of the interests of most American women because she’s never had to work and also is a millionaire who owns multiple homes and cars. The same argument could and is being made for why Mitt Romney is a poor choice to represent most of the people in this country.
Also, “family should be off limits” unless family is cited as an asset in a stump speech, as Ann Romney was. If you’re going to show your wife off as your touchstone for the needs of the American woman, she becomes fair game. If Mitt didn’t want his wife discussed in the campaign, he shouldn’t have discussed her in his campaign.
Bottom line: no one called Ann Romney a slut or any other name. She’s a big girl participating in a national election. She can nut up and deal with it like anyone else.