White men can you please let me have the mic just for a while.
Over the last few days, I’ve had ‘disagreements’ with a lot of white men I love and respect including my family. It’s traumatic, upsetting and indicative of what has happened my whole life. Yet when I try to explain or put over a perspective, when I try to help you to understand what it is like to suffer from an ‘ism’ in this country you centre yourself in the argument, take it personally and deny this is happening. It’s painful, to say the least, and dangerous to our growth as a society and community at most.
You see, whether you like it or not the system we live in is made by white straight males and therefore you are advantaged by it. Yes, you might be disadvantaged in other ways but not by the system. I try and explain this and you tell me it’s a lazy argument but a lot of our policies, ways we deal with health and wellbeing and economic systems are built on data mainly gathered from white men. The system is built around you and is, therefore, disadvantages to anyone that isn’t you.
Why do women take on the husband’s name? It stems back to a system where men ‘owned’ woman. And yes we have the right to choose and a lot do but that doesn’t negate the fact this is the norm. Why are workplaces set up more for men than women? How many businesses have childcare on-site and cater to help mothers and? Yes, there might be some but a not a lot and yes you might have been responsible for the childcare and ferrying children to and from childcare. But when were you asked in an interview when you were thinking of having kids? When were you asked what your other half thought about you going back to work? And when were you asked don’t you miss your children? And for the one man who is going to tell me, they have, whoopee-do! Most aren’t. Everywhere you look ‘the system’ is set up for someone like you, ‘the system’ does not affect you based on your gender in general. So you can’t tell me this is not about the system, it’s all about the system. If it wasn’t, schoolgirls would not be sent home to change because they are distracting the boys; think about that for a minute.
You say you treat everyone as equal, that you have never been sexist, racist, etc. and you honestly might believe that and in some cases, it might be true. But what have you done to bring light to a system that oppresses some and gives advantages to others? All I’ve seen when I call this out is that you get defensive, tell me a time when something has happened to you, throw facts at me or tell me I’m generalising.
You try and shut me up. Make yourself right and me wrong.
And then you wonder why I get offensive, guess what, men have been telling me to shut up my whole life. From the ego-driven chefs, I used to work with other police officers and now on social media. We take it personally because it is personal, it happens to us daily all of your lives. Every time we go to speak about something important the white men try and shut us up. And now I see you doing the same and centring yourself in racism and trans arguments and it just brings up all the trauma I’ve had all my life by being silenced by white men in the streets, in meetings, on-line.
Women journalists are subjected to much more hate than male journalists.
And then you try and centre yourself in feminism and sexism. I put up a feminist quote and you turn it around and make it about you. You tell me the one time someone cat called you, you remind me we have had TWO female prime ministers, you tell me about the few times the media talked about Jeremy Corbyn’s clothes. When were you scared to walk to school because men shouted inappropriate things at you, when did you worry about what you were wearing and was it showing too much skin or not enough, when were you so frightened to walk home you fashioned your keys to form a weapon, when did you get felt up on the tube? When did someone of the opposite sex rub up against you provocatively in a crowded place, when did someone of the opposite sex try and take a photo of your undergarments without your knowledge? When did a bunch of women shout at you, ‘Show us your penis!’ as they drove past and when did you get told you would be so much prettier when your smile? When did you get told to smile by a random stranger who knows nothing about you?
These are the kinds of things that happen to us weekly, daily often, it is something we have had to deal with our whole lives so forgive me, I don’t find your comments to my feminist quote funny. It’s not funny, I’ve been dealing with this my whole life and I’m frankly sick of it.
It might not be you doing these things but centring yourself and reminding me that men suffer from this too is not OK. Let us speak about this. Let us have our moment. Let us vent our anger. We have had enough. You may not have been sexist, that’s fine. You may have even called it out when you see it happen, I doubt it but you may. That time you laughed when a bloke smacked a woman’s arse, all those times you heard lad’s jokes and said nothing are all part of the problem. All the times you said, ‘Let me do it for you love!’ or even worse explained to a woman how to do something she knew how to do is all part of the problem.
I have spent my whole life fighting to be heard, fighting for my place and fighting to be treated just the same as you are, so don’t tell me you don’t have advantages, don’t put yourself in the middle of my fight, it’s not about you it’s about me and women like me who have had enough.
And yes, I’m generalising about men but how can I not? I’m not blaming your personally, it’s not about you as an individual it’s about accepting that the system that was built for and by men doesn’t work for all, It’s not about taking from you it’s about working with you, But we can’t, you won’t listen, you take the mic, you take the stage.
THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!
It’s about listening, appreciating and understanding rather than acting like you are hurt, acting like you are a victim too. I don’t understand why this is so hard. We have been dealing with trauma caused by men our whole life.
People of colour have been dealing with trauma from white men their whole lives, Trans, gay, binary; the list goes on and on. Why can’t you just listen, we have to listened to you our whole lives.
Understandably we don’t want to listen anymore and I’m not sorry if that offends you.
This really isn’t personal, it’s about humanity and decency, it’s about listening and understanding, it’s about us levelling the playing field.
Dear white men, it’s time to listen, not speak.
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