Monday, June 23, 2014

3 Overly Defensive Reactions To 'Check Your Privilege'

Cracked just published a piece by Gladstone called 3 Ways 'Checking Your Privilege' Never Fixed Anything. While Gladstone claims that "this is NOT an article about poor white men feeling like they're under attack"... it reads exactly like an article written by a white dude feeling like he's under attack.

It's pretty obvious that someone told him to check his privilege, and it's equally obvious that it didn't go down very well. (Gladstone has a minor track record of turning "an argument I had with one person" into "EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET IS WRONG".)

Because Gladstone says he'd like to encourage people to share information, out of the kindness of my heart I will gladly explain, point-by-point, why the problem is not with the concept of "checking privilege," but instead with the way people respond to being told to check their privilege. And by "people" I mean "Gladstone".


“Check your privilege” makes assumptions… but nice ones. 

“OK, let's say you're arguing over one of the many things people love to fight about and your adversary has expressed an opinion directly opposite to what you believe to be true.”
Like something racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or some other dehumanizing bullshit?

Dude, that’s not shit we like to fight about.

The phrase “check your privilege” is only ever brought out when someone thinks you’re not just wrong, but that you’re actively being an asshole. Or at least that you did or said something that makes you seem like an asshole, to someone who has seen a lot of assholery over the course of their life.
“What does 'check your privilege' say? It says you believe the root of the disagreement is your adversary's background. He or she feels this way because they're white, because they're straight, because they're rich.”
And that’s a really nice assumption to make.

Step back a second and think about it. There’s two big reasons why people sound like bigoted assholes. The main reason, of course, is that they are bigoted assholes. They’ve carefully studied the issue and made the conscious decision that the minority group under discussion is, in fact, a lesser tier of human being. And we can all agree that those people suck.


You know who you are, and you suck so much.

On the other hand, some people who sound like bigoted assholes are more or less doing it accidentally. They’re not really thinking about what they’re saying, and they haven’t considered that it might be hurtful. Maybe they’ve never really talked to anyone that’s been bothered by it before. They’re lucky enough – one might even say privileged enough – to never be personally affected by that sort of bigotry, to the point that they might not even notice that it’s bigotry.

That’s the assumption behind “check your privilege”. Given that you already engaged in some fuckery (from their perspective), they're assuming that you’re being the oblivious sort of asshole instead of deliberately choosing to be an asshole.

“Check your privilege” is cynical… if you don’t understand how empathy works.

“Now you've pointed out he grew up richer, straighter, whiter than you? And?”
In the best case scenario, he reflects on what it would be like to experience things from a different viewpoint, giving him a new perspective on why that thing he said might have sounded assholish.

Or pretty much exactly what you said here:
"Ideally, the 'check your privilege' movement is about encouraging others to understand how their own backgrounds might blind them to larger issues…”
YES! EXACTLY!
“…but I see no evidence of that.”
Ugh.

Okay. And some creationists can honestly say that they see no evidence of evolution. It might be true that you, personally, have seen no evidence, but in that case you need to look a little bit harder. What do you think “check your privilege” means, if not “use your empathy to think about how you sound to someone who’s not you”?
“You're not like me, and therefore you're incapable of empathy."


If we thought you were incapable of empathy, no one would bother talking to you. Instead we’d either ignore you entirely, or at the most we’d keep a wary eye on you from a safe distance. No one tries to argue with Stormfront.

It’s true that “check your privilege” points out that you aren’t currently using your empathy. But the good-guy response to that is to start using your empathy. If instead you whinge about how cynical it is to point out your lack of empathy… that does not actually make you sound very empathetic.

“Who would want to overlook our common humanity?”

Stormfront, for one.
These fuckers.

It’s not the people asking you to check your privilege who are overlooking our common humanity. It’s the people who spout intolerant bullshit who fail to see their targets as fully human. “Check your privilege” is a reminder to see other people as fully human despite the differences between you – specifically, to treat other people’s experiences as if they were just as valid as your own. (Because they are.)


“Check your privilege” ends conversations… if you’re willfully ignorant.

“I've had friends explain that to me -- "check your privilege" is only trying to start a dialogue. That's almost the equivalent of saying that "check my cock for your wife's lipstick" would start a dialogue about the state of one's marriage. The phrase is insulting.”
Even leaving aside the whole “fucking your wife as a personal insult” thing (that’s what Fetlife is for), Gladstone thinks being told to consider a thing from a different perspective is a grave insult.

… That explains a lot, actually.


“[‘Check your privilege’ is] a shortcut allowing you to dismiss the opposing views of your adversary. It does absolutely nothing to illuminate.”
Only if you actually ignore what the imperative statement “check your privilege” actually means. If I wanted to tell you you’re wrong and leave it at that, I’d say “you’re wrong” and then leave it at that. (I’m simple that way.)

Being told to check your privilege is literally receiving instructions on how to be less wrong. It's like being told to take a biology class during an argument about evolution. Even if you don't take their advice, you should know there’s a high probability that you fucked something up along the way.
"[I]f those behind 'check your privilege' really want to foster a better world of mutual respect and understanding, I'd encourage them to share information with those they view as their oppressors. Share and explain your identity instead of merely tearing down others."
This is better known as the If you don't teach me, how will I learn? argument, and better writers than me have dealt with this in much more eloquent ways. But the tl;dr is this: So now I'm responsible for teaching you how and why not to be an asshole? You want me, a person who has been through shitty things, to tell you, the person who has already said something that I found ignorant and shitty, about the most vulnerable parts of my life?
Believe you me, lots of us have tried leading that horse to the water, wasted eons of time trying to get that fucker to drink, and got a kick in the stomach for our troubles. And we've found through experience that the horses who are actually thirsty will get a damn drink themselves, if they know where the lake is. "Check your privilege" is us pointing towards the lake. Go and drink, or don't, but either way stop blaming us for your choices.

You can't learn anything new if you already think you know all the answers. If you really do want to respect and understand the perspectives of marginalized people, you can start by putting aside your preconceived ideas, suppressing your tendency to get defensive, and actually listening to what marginalized people have to say.

Or, in other words: check your privilege.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Because I'm Happy!

I love that Pharrell's song "Happy" has turned into a protest anthem.

While the most-commented-upon version is Tunisia's explosion of happiness - which has been criticized by conservative religious folk there as "moral decay" - there's also one that involves dancing street protests in Iran. My favorite so far is the one from Kiev, embedded below.


Right now I'm jamming out to 24 hours of Happy - which is exactly what it sounds like. It's gorgeous, and it makes me happy!

My steadfast support goes to all those around the globe who yearn for freedom, respect, safety, liberty, and/or basic human rights.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Depression

Today I woke up with depression, which is a fitting term since to me it feels like a cavity just behind my breastbone. It also feels like my limbs have been weighted down, almost like gravity has increased in strength.

It's days like this when it takes a serious energy expenditure to do basic life tasks like eating, showering, getting dressed. It's days like this when I am amazed at my favorite bloggers who somehow have such a bottomless well of energy that they manage to post every day.

It's days like this when I am profoundly grateful for my companion, who I can rely on to do nice things for me when I would otherwise be lying in bed with this hollow feeling eating me up.

I've had a lot of days like this, but it's especially craptastic right now because there's a lot of things I want to do - and I'm doing some of them, but I know that this depression is going to suck my motivation into it and I'm not going to get all of it done.

I'm not going to focus on that, though I could make a long list.
Instead I'm going to focus on what I have done.
I have...

  • Gotten up in the morning (11:30 AM! Woo!)
  • Eaten breakfast
  • Started two loads of laundry
  • Folded the towels and PJs that my roommates had left sitting in the dryer
  • Put away dishes from the dishwasher
  • Brought in the trash cans from the curb
  • Taken an armful of recycling out
  • Eaten lunch
Now I can also say I've written a blog post, though not the one I'd wanted to write. Even putting all that down makes my limbs feel a little more loose, as if the extra gravity is releasing its hold.

I am going to go finish up that laundry now, and perhaps when I come back I will get started on one of the other things.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special video review, n'at


Here's what Moffat said about Rose, which sums up why I'm ok that Rose was absent:
"I thought the story of Rose, which was beautiful, was done. I didn't want to add to it, I didn't feel qualified to add to it. That was always Russell's [T Davies] story. The way Russell ended it in The End of Time was perfect. I didn't want to stick another bit in. It would be wrong. But we did want Billie Piper, one of the absolute heroes of Doctor Who, back in the show without interfering in the story of Rose Tyler. I think I might of spoiled something if I had done that."
What Moffat said about the upcoming Christmas special:
"It's a proper finale to Matt Smith, it's the story we've been telling since he put the bow tie on. A lot of stuff we've left hanging, we tie up there. And it's Trenzalore!"
Soooo basically, take all my predictions and hold onto them for Christmas. Except also add in the hope that they'll place the 50th in there as well, in terms of continuity. Because CONTINUITY, DAMN IT.

More links:
Xmas episode teaser trailer
One reason I have hope for continuity in the Xmas episode (from the 50th)
More reasons I have hope for continuity in the Xmas episode

Monday, December 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo: FOR THE WIN

 I DID IT!!!!!!


The last day was a serious push for me - more words of fiction than I'd ever written in a single day before - and to be completely honest, if it weren't for my Kickstarter backer's support, I don't know if I'd have finished. If it weren't for my roommates' support, I am 100% sure I wouldn't have finished. That last day, Saturday, was a cleaning day. Not just any weekly cleaning day, a post-Thanksgiving cleaning day. Yet they very kindly let me skip out early so I could get to writing.

Another victory, not quite as great but just as important to me:


I wrote every day during the month of November. Even during my bad depression days, even during my super busy days. Every! Day!

I am super proud of myself, y'all.

Thank you for all of your support, and I'll definitely be keeping y'all posted as my novel progresses from fifty thousand hastily-written words into a published book. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who 50th: Prediction Time!

Alright, if you've been following along, you know that I've made some predictions about 11's timeline during the Fall of the Ponds, namely that it's been in the wrong order. 

Well, actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's been in the right order, but what I mean to say is that I believe the Doctor experienced S7 in a different order than Amy and Rory, as well as the viewer. I made some specific predictions about the order, but I'm not really confident about most of them. Though I will bet my bottom dollar that The Power of Three came before A Town Called Mercy.

This is from The Power of Three (S7E4)

This is from A Town Called Mercy (S7E3)

This hasn't been explicitly referred to in canon, only in hints like the above (which to be honest were pRETTY STRONG HINTS i mean HE SAID IT OUT LOUD WITH WORDS that is NOT A COINCIDENCE), and that means I don't get to officially gloat about it.

Yet.

But, do you remember how The Name of the Doctor ended? Do you?


That's right. The Doctor (SPOILER ALERT, DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU) jumps into his own time-stream.

Which means (and I'm going to call it here and now) that the 50th anniversary episode will take place within the Doctor's own timestream, and it will finally be revealed that he hasn't always visited his companions in a linear order.

Moffat, you terrible, gorgeous genius. Don't let me down.

*crosses fingers*

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is 1:36 AM

... which means technically, it's Day 13.


I fell behind again over the weekend, and haven't really caught up. Part of this is because of the ridiculous sleep/insomnia issues that my jerkbrain has been throwing at me over the past few days. However, please do notice the upward progress!

FYI, most of that is due to this:


DAT'S RIGHT I KEPT UP MY STREAK
BOOYEAH!

New plan: Instead of fighting my body, I'm going to start using its powers to provide me with words. Sleep during the day, spend time with household in the evening, write my face off by night. I've already put that plan into action somewhat. Notice the significant bump that Day 13 already has. And it's only... 1:43 AM!

Now it's back to the writing! Let's see how big a jump I can really get on Day 13.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Crossing the line!

I caught up! Check it out:


That is totally crossing the grey line!! MINOR VICTORY!

Another minor victory: I have over 10,000 words!

And another:


IT LOOKS LIKE I MIGHT ACTUALLY MAKE IT THE WHOLE MONTH
HOLY CANNOLI, BATMAN

Hold onto yer butts, because my next goal is to actually get AHEAD of the grey line. Let's see how that goes! I will keep you posted!

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Beginnings

Good news everyone! My Kickstarter got funded! Which means I get to do NaNoWriMo without job-hunting for the duration. This is awesome. I sent out some surveys, and then sent an update to direct folks here. So if you're here from Kickstarter: Hello! And also: Thank you! You have good things coming to you. This update is one of them! (So is this youtube video that I made.)

The first writing day was a Friday, and I didn't meet the "average daily goal" of 1667:


Screenshot taken from 750words.com , which I highly recommend. I signed up for the November monthly challenge, which gives me an extra incentive to actually sit down and write every day. Not tomorrow. Not later. Today. Now.

My weekends are generally busier than my weekdays, which is one of the joys of being the marginally employed partner of a full-time worker, but not so great for writing. And this weekend was the weekend after Halloween! That's prime party time, y'all. The only time I had to spare was my Tumblr time, so my Activity dropped off precipitously.

Worth it.

But at the end of today, my word count looked more like this:


YES MUCH BETTER.

Another reason that I got off to such a slow start is, well... I'm a slow starter. It takes me a while to rev up. But I feel pretty good, and I'm super confident that by the end of the week I'm going to cross that grey line...


Stay tuned for more updates.