The Dismissal Of The Women’s March And #BLM Shows Why They’re Needed3 months, 29 days ago
Mere days have passed since the historic global Womens March, and one of the topics buzzing around social media is the discontent some non-participants felt about the event. One position is that the march was unnecessary because women have all the rights we need and the only thing stopping us is ourselves. While not surprising, such an attitude reminds me of the discomfort some African Americans feel about #BlackLivesMatter. In both cases, these minority opinions make it easier for men and White people to reject such movements for social change. In both cases, heres the issue that gets to the heart of the matter 😛 TAGEND
If the only thing stopping females is ourselves, why do you think nearly 5 million females took to the streets to support womens rights? If African Americans already enjoy equal treatment and opportunity, why do you think #BlackLivesMatter exists?
In my experience, the response to both questions are similar, regardless of who dedicates them. They boil down to:( 1) theyre complainers who are never satisfied, and even build things up,( 2) theyre blamers who dont take responsibility, or( 3) theyre power-hungry schemers.
The belief that participants in social movements are complainers, blamers or schemers uncovers the very bigotry and misogyny that attains those motions necessary, because it assumes inferiority. It assumes weakness of character that those speaking out are too lazy to pull themselves out of their own( self-created) situation. It presumes incapacity that those speaking out havent explored other means of addressing their problems, or are incapable of using those means. It presumes poor mental health that those speaking out are pathological liars, or imagining experiences that arent real. The notion that women or people of color as a group are lazy, irresponsible, weak, incapable, crazy or dishonest in other words, inferior is the very definition of misogyny and bigotry.
The belief that participants in social movements are complainers, blamers or schemers points directly to the problem because it spotlights the power imbalance these motions aim to correct. First, addressing complainers with an attitude of youve already been given so much, and you want more ?! discloses a paternalistic relationship where one person with power gifts it to someone with less. Its an historical fact that men and Whites as a group have long been in the exclusive position to do only that( or not ), with harmful effects. This power imbalance and its ill effects are the problem, since theres nothing inherent in being male or White that merits them holding more power than others. Viewing those with less societal power as ungrateful complainers assumes they were undeserving inferiors who received an unearned gift, instead of their god-given rights to full humanity.
The belief that participants in social movements are complainers, blamers or schemers uncovers the very bigotry and misogyny that stimulates those motions necessary, because it assumes inferiority
Second, viewing women or people of color as power-hungry schemers also acknowledges the existence of a power imbalance, since someone cant want something they dont have. It is true that social movements aim to gain power for their constituents. However, the fear that striving for equal power means striving for power over assumes a level playing field which doesnt exist, and reflects the fearful people own neuroses , not the goals of the movement.
These neuroses, as well as naysayer opinions about #BLM and the Womens March also come from the diverse and confusing ways we think about power. While many types of power exist, in our culture were most familiar with the power over model where some hold more than others and exert their will over them, consciously or not. However, we often pretend this dynamic doesnt exist because were invested in the ideals of equal opportunities and republic our founding fathers emphasized( in writing if not in practice ). No one likes to feel powerless. But there is no question of impressions, or character. One can feel powerful and still not enjoy full economic, social or political equality. One can be personally empowered and still not enjoy full economic, social or political equality in society.
By most measures, women and African Americans do not enjoy full economic, social or political equality full structural power in US society. For US females, this is true even compared to women in some other countries. Not feeling it doesnt make it untrue. Not believing it doesnt make it untrue, either in fact, incredulity is a gateway to internalized persecution. Disbelief impedes solutions.
One of the weakness of the United States is our amnesia, and amnesia impedes wise decision. As a whole, our people are acutely ignorant of our true and complete history. Just like not all women support the Womens March or a womans right to choose, not all women were suffragettes. Just like not all African Americans support #BLM, not all Blacks supported the Civil Rights Movement. Yet today most Americans view a womens right to referendum and an African Americans right to be included in all spheres of society as a non-issue. One day Americans will have to remind one another that at one time, equal pay for women, access to abortion care, accountability for police shootings of unarmed Blacks and objective mass incarceration were controversial.
We fear the answer. The answer would change the world.
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