Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What other people are saying

Love this. LOVE this! Thanks Feministe for introducing me to this snarkalicious site, Derailing for Dummies:
You know how it is.  You're enjoying yourself, kicking back and relaxing at the pub or maybe at the library; or maybe you're in class or just casually surfing the internet, indulging in a little conversation. The topic of the conversation is about a pertinent contemporary issue, probably something to do with a group of people who fall outside your realm of experience and identity. They're also probably fairly heavily discriminated against - or so they claim
The thing is, you're having a good time, sharing your knowledge about these people and their issues. This knowledge is incontrovertible - it's been backed up in media representation, books, research and lots and lots of historical events, also your own unassailable sense of being right. 

Yet all of a sudden something happens to put a dampener on your sharing of your enviable intellect and incomparable capacity to fully perceive and understand All Things. It's someone who belongs to the group of people you're discussing and they're Not Very Happy with you. Apparently, they claim, you've got it all wrong and they're offended about that.  They might be a person of colour, or a queer person. Maybe they're a woman, or a person with disability. They could even be a trans person or a sex worker. The point is they're trying to tell you they know better than you about their issues and you know that's just plain wrong. How could you be wrong?

Don't worry though! There IS something you can do to nip this potentially awkward and embarrassing situation in the bud. By simply derailing the conversation, dismissing their opinion as false and ridiculing their experience you can be sure that they continue to be marginalised and unheard and you can continue to look like the expert you know you really are, deep down inside!

My favorite entry:

In attempting to communicate with you, the Marginalised Person™ may bring up examples of the sorts of daily manifestations of discrimination they face. Many of these examples seem trivial to Privileged People® but clearly reflect the way the Marginalised Person™ has been "othered" by society. "Othering" is a system of social markers that defines "Us" and "them", neatly and conveniently categorising people into their appropriate places within society. It's a way of defining a secured and positive position in the world by stigmatising "others". In other words, it's the process of dehumanising anyone different to the Chosen Privileged.

The Marginalised Person™ you're dealing with has been subjected to this "othering".

This means that their body is viewed as public property and the personal, intricate details of their lives and being are perceived as free information.

You must nod patiently as the Marginalised Person™ tries to gain your understanding of the many complicated and subtle ways this othering impacts their lives until they come across a point that seems particularly grating for them. Then you must say "oh, but I experience that too!"

For example, people of African descent often express outrage and irritation at the fact many white people believe they can freely touch their hair. This invasion of their personal space is dressed up as flattery - "oh, what beautiful hair you have!" and permission is not sought or granted before the action is taken. "That happens to everyone!" you must exclaim. "My child has beautiful white-blonde hair and people are always touching it!" Read more...

Dodai at Jezebel ponders "What if women weren't afraid to grow old?" The post tackles the pressure put on women, especially those in the public eye, not to accept natural aging. It quotes Madonna, who has said:

"Once you reach a certain age you're not allowed to be adventurous, you're not allowed to be sexual. I mean, is there a rule? Are you supposed to just die?" Read more...

Ya'll know the Daddy's place is the place to go for poetry. Since this is Nationap Poetry Month, you should stop by. His current post is about post Mari Evans, the African-American poet who wrote:

I am a Black Woman

I am a black woman
the music of my song
some sweet arpeggio of tears
is written in a minor key
and I
can be heard humming in the night



Women's History Month blog carnival: There's a battle here...

We got a late entry to the carnival by Anne Fox. Check it out on Women's Space:
I write from the perspective of a Canadian woman watching from the other side of the border and wondering how we'll come together after the Obama election… What will our share be in the dream of enlightenment which is to come as a part of this election. …There is a battle here and it is nationwide against the rights of women in general and against Aboriginal women in particular. Read more...


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