This time is a strange one. There have been so many events and upheavals and uprisings that, frankly, I’m feeling a little like I’m living in another decade. Surely this isn’t the aught-teens. Surely I’m not the same person I was in the late nineties when all we had to concern ourselves with were some pesky rumors about office aides and Whitewater (not that I knew a darn thing about either, at the time). Let it be known, also, that during that time, the main street in my town also had burgeoning small businesses aplenty with Enough To Go Around For Most.
What I’m saying is, I think we all got a little spoiled. And I can understand how people are really, super-duper upset right now—on both sides of the aisle, in Congress and at the grocery store.
However, let me plead with you for a second: please remember your privilege.
Today I sat preparing for my Composition II class, and I came across the following excerpt about monsters (the theme for my Comp II course is monsters, fyi).
‘This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.’ Monsters are our children… These monsters ask us how we perceive the world, and how we have misrepresented what we have attempted to place. They ask us to reevaluate our cultural assumptions… They ask us why we have created them. -J.J. Cohen “Monster Culture”
I had to stop for a moment, because holy hell: this is happening right now. Online. On the TV. In the papers. Everyone, everywhere. This moment in the United States is a moment which we’ve all helped to create.
Donald Trump was inaugurated on Friday as president of the United States. If you don’t like it, guess what? You still helped create a part of the culture that elected him. If you consider him monstrous, he’s still your monster. If you do like him and you find those that could have voted otherwise shameful, those people—those monsters—they’re your children, too.
More than two million women marched in Washington DC, all of the contiguous United States, and around the world. They were and are fueled by feminism, egalitarian ideals, and—truly—decades of discouragement. The march was peaceful, but many, even women, are disparaged in the wake. Women say that these other women, those marching, need to just stop, to sit down and be quiet—life is good here, as this is America! But this situation, this need to march, is a monstrous one. Again, guess what? You helped create a part of the culture that allowed this. This monster is yours, too, no matter which side you call home.
What I’m saying is, we are all a part of what is happening now. Please remember to think fairly, as we truly are going to sink together if we can’t surmount these issues.
Just yesterday, a middle-aged woman whom I truly care for posted to social media an article against the feminist movement. I almost screamed out loud: “One must sit in a pretty plush seat of privilege in order to tell other women how equal they should feel. All two million of them!!!” I was astonished, but mostly just frustrated. I do not claim to know everyone’s personal lives, nor do I want to, but I’m not about to tell someone they cannot march peacefully for a cause they believe in. Or that because we have some advantages that other countries do not that we are simply Doing Swell. We, obviously, are not. Even the fact that we—they, ME—can get annoyed is proof of our privilege. We have been lucky enough to live somewhere which allows us to express our annoyance (which, again, is privilege).
This unfortunate attitude is true for all movements right now. You don’t think black lives matter? Surely then you yourself are not black and / or have not struggled their struggles. You don’t think equality for women matters? Take a look at your situation, and I’m sure you’ll see you have a lot going for you that many women do not. Apply the same concept to: clean drinking water, adequate plumbing, access to reading materials, quality healthcare, taxes, gendered bathroom use, and so on and so forth until the end of time. As the world turns.
This election has shown many facets of humanity, but it has also cast into awful fluorescent illumination the privilege we all hold dear. If we acknowledge that others live and feel differently, I feel many are threatened that their way of life will be impinged upon.
But that outcome is not the case. We can be separate but equal. We can be two but not two.
I can still be the same person I was in the late nineties. I can still have enough to go around (God willing). But should I belittle those around me who are not as privileged when they get a chance to have their say… to speak, protest, and honor their truths? Absolutely not. Just because an issue isn’t happening to me doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
I will let them have their say. I will remember my privilege, and I will support those who do not have what I, by the grace of God, have been given.
*Disclaimer: I did not check this for typos because it was written in a somewhat hasty tangent fashion. Judge not. Know I’m exhausted and others’ hatred is literally sucking out my life. Perhaps in a more erudite state I could have made this a lovely satire, a la Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” As it is, I’m just thankful this post didn’t come out as: “Please stop being assholes to each other. Thanks.” 🙂