Why write in online journals?The second incident that caused me to realize my motive in journaling was my challenge to a friend's heterophobic, racist, sexist language, specifically this sentence: "Fuck them in their straight white male talk."
She had made the post in an uncomfortable state after having spent the night at a straight bar (she is gay) with her sister. Straight white males had repeatedly touched her on her back against her permission, seemingly came on to every white, presumed-straight girl they wanted to, made racist remarks and were making out and/or having sex with the only other two girls in the house where she would be sleeping the night while the others lurked over her. She felt out of place and agitated at their behavior.
My key mistake was in not validating her situation before offering up criticism, which relates back to my disconnect with a need to state what's virtually universally agreed upon to be obvious as opposed to my desire to challenge what's accepted by some or most to be the obvious.
I told her that her insults should be directed toward behavior rather than phenotype. It was their homophobia, racism and sexism that should have bothered her, not their sexual orientation, race and gender. Furthermore, it's counterintuitive to her activist cause to exhibit the same fundamental errors made by those she opposes.
She circumvented my point, reframing the debate to one of acknowledging my privilege as a straight white male. I validated this reframing rather than bypass it as the diversion tactic it was. I explained that I lived and worked at or below the same class level as people with different skin tone than me. Thus, I did not feel privileged. I was told I was using privilege by questioning rather than validating her as though if I was of another race, gender or sexual orientation I would not be afforded the same privileged ability to question and forego validation. I explained to her the privilege she sees ingrained in whiteness, straightness, and maleness is really a privilege rooted in wealth and social networking. While the former are sometimes factors, sometimes mere confounding variables, the latter are always determinants.
This example shows my opposition to conventional wisdom is not always directed against mainstream culture but counter-culture as well. I am even-handed in some respects.
This debate may be viewed as purely academic, but it has real-life repurcussions. Attitudes shape everyday interactions, moods, behaviors, policies, the list goes on and on. It's important to strive to form and reform our attitudes as accurately as we can so as to be more in line with facts and to be viewed as legitimately as possible when attempting to affect change.
(to be continued)