Here you can find…
- my opinion on issues that I am passionate about
- education on issues related to sexuality, gender, and feminism
- the info you need to function and interact in our world
- all of the above in a quick, easy to read format
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On July 17th, 2014, in Staten Island, NY, Eric Garner was murdered by police using an illegal chokehold move that was caught on camera. Garner was approached by police after being suspected of selling cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. Garner told police he was tired of them harassing him and that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Shortly after, Garner was choked to death by police officer Daniel Pantaleo, even though he said “I can’t breathe” eleven times. On December 3rd, the grand jury decided not to even indict Officer Pantaleo, inciting protests all over the country against police and vigilante brutality, especially brutality against black people, which has taken media attention since Trayvon Martin in February 2012, Michael Brown in August 2014, and Tamir Rice in November 2014.
But you probably already know all of that.
The point of this post is to talk about white privilege in terms of these protests. So, fellow white people, like myself, you may feel angered by these police brutality issues and disgusted by the lack of action on the part of our government. You may feel like the system is beyond messed up, and may feel hopeless about ever changing it. But here’s the thing, it’s not our protest.
I encourage you to feel angry. I encourage you to Tweet, retweet, challenge your racist relatives over Christmas dinner, post on Tumblr, call people out. But white people can breathe just fine. It’s black people that cannot.
The system is made for us. We benefit from it. What happened to Eric Garner, or Yvette Smith, would never happen to myself or my family members. I have to fully recognize that. If I were jaywalking like Michael Brown, I probably wouldn’t even get approached by a police officer, much less killed. And if that were to happen to me, the police officer would face extensive jail time, not paid administrative leave, and no one would say that I was a thug who deserved it.
It’s okay to be angry about this stuff. You should be. I know I’m angry, and heartbroken, and hopeless. As you saw in the Vines above, a popular chant in these protests is “I can’t breathe”, echoing Eric Garner’s last words, and taking on a whole new metaphoric meaning in terms of our treatment of black people in this country. White people– this chant is not for you. We can breathe. Not only can we breathe, we have fresh air.
Stand in solidarity, but recognize your privileges in this system. Support, lift up, and help, but do not speak over. We can breathe. They can’t. Use your breath to support, not to drown out.
Mansplain (verb)– To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether (via Urbandictionary)
If you’re a woman who has ever debated anything with a patronizing man, you’ve been mansplained to.
The act of mansplaining is one that is becoming more and more recognized. Accomplished women will often get mansplained to about things they already know about. Often times it’s about the lived experiences of women, who, when they share about what it’s like to be a woman, a man will attempt to tell them that their experiences are wrong or their feelings are not valid. This normalized act is one that seeks to silence oppressed people and attempt to keep them from speaking up about what they face.
One of my favorite Tumblr blogs is Academic Men Explain Things to Me. This blog tells the stories of accomplished women in academia and how they are constantly undermined by misogynistic men in their fields. This is a very real problem– while annoying, it also shows the attitudes of men who may not even consider themselves to be sexist.
One of the most prominent cases of Mansplaining came from a CNN interview earlier this year after a video of a woman being catcalled in NYC went viral. Host Fredricka Whitfield invited writer and self proclaimed dating expert Steve Santagati and NYC comedian Amanda Seals to discuss and debate the video. When Seals says that she faces street harassment daily living in New York City, Santagati interrupts her (multiple times throughout the interview, I might add), and tells her that he, as a man, knows more about street harassment than her, a woman, who faces street harassment. He then proceeds to tell her that it’s just a compliment, that women love being complimented and would be upset if we weren’t complimented while walking down the street, and advises Seals to carry a gun and fight back if she doesn’t like it.
This is a prime example of mansplaining, and is one that is used to invalidate our feelings as women. So if you’re talking over someone, evaluate why, and if you try to invalidate someone else’s lived experiences, claiming yourself to be the expert, please, just shut up. You may be smart, but you’re not always the expert.
One of the biggest debates in this country that has baffled me from the day I learned about it is the debate over birth control. Why are people against it? Why shouldn’t it be covered by insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid?
Not only does it have immense health benefits for women, can help women with family planning and reduce the number of abortions (oddly enough, most people who are against abortion don’t support the use of birth control, even though it would help the cause they support), but it also is completely necessary in the treating of certain diseases and disorders.
You could try to argue the route that we don’t want to be paying for someone else’s sex life… but Medicare spent $172 million on penis pumps in the last six years, which don’t have any medical use besides treating erectile dysfunction.
Birth control (the most lasting and effective methods) can cost up to hundreds of dollars up front, which most people simply cannot afford without insurance. So why do we still refuse to cover it, and why is there still a debate on it’s morality? The simple answer is this: we don’t really like for women to have any sort of freedom, God forbid sexual freedom.
I guess the real question is, when will people come to their senses and realize that this is a positive investment? We may never know…
One very important thing to note about me is that I love Twitter. I’m always checking Twitter, tweeting, looking through trending hashtags, or finding new people to follow. Something you’ll hear commonly in my friend group is “somebody tweet that!” While Twitter is a huge way we interact with each other, it can also be an extremely important tool in organizing social justice movements.
Twitter is unique in the way that it can give a voice to those we don’t normally get to hear. For example, with all of the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri the past couple of months, celebrities and politicians have been able to retweet and publicize the words of people who live in Ferguson and the citizens who would never be interviewed on NBC or Fox. This allows us to hear the story of the people who are living through oppression instead of us speaking over them. It’s a simple and uncomplicated way to lift other voices up using our own power.
Twitter has also been used to call people out on their wrongdoings. For example, last year in Bath (south west England), a video went viral of a street performer berating and verbally abusing a disabled fellow street performer. Twitter immediately found the abusive man, named him, tracked him down, and forced him to apologize. This allows people to call others out on their problematic behavior and hopefully can enlighten them and allow for wrongs to be righted.
Lastly, Twitter has the power to organize movements. On August 10th, 2014, Twitter user Feminista Jones had the idea of having a National Moment of Silence for Mike Brown, the unarmed teenager who was killed by Ferguson police, as well as all other innocent black teenagers who have been murdered by law enforcement. She began trending the hashtag #NMOS14 in the hopes that cities all across the country would have a moment of silence mourning Mike Brown and sending hope to the people of Ferguson as they struggle with police brutality. By that night, more than 10 cities had organized their own events to take place on the following Thursday at the same time. By the time Thursday rolled around, there were around 80 different locations for National Moment of Silence across the country. This demonstrates how much a hashtag can do in order to get people moving and united towards a single goal.
I believe that it’s very important that we learn to utilize Twitter in order to reach different audiences. My peers aren’t likely to read a long news story, but we’ll read Tweets about issues and retweet them to spread the word to others. If you want to reach people with a social movement, get on Twitter, start a hashtag, and get some followers. This is sure to reach the widest audience possible and allow for more voices than you’d get on any other platform.
Blogging is an easy format to provide opinions and to keep yourself up-to-date on new things to follow, try, or know about.
If you’re interested in social justice and feminist issues, here are a few blogs you need to keep up to date on!
One of my favorite blogs is Feminist Disney . As an avid Tumblr user, this blog keeps my mind working while I’m enjoying things I wouldn’t question. One of my interests is media and the messages it sends. The author of this blog is constantly scrutinizing one of the most prevalent media companies in our world: Disney. As is stated on her blog, “we can’t escape Disney, but we can change it”. She provides reviews and commentary on various Disney films in terms of…
Through her blog and reviews, she helps to keep us looking for ways to improve Disney movies to make them inclusive and representative of our diverse world.
Geek Feminism Blog
If you identify as a geek of any kind, this blog is for you. Geek Feminism Blog covers any and all issues in geek culture, including…
The harassment of women in tech and geek communities is a huge issue– one that this blog highlights extremely well. In order to keep up on this, as well as other problems in geek culture like representation of women, I recommend you follow them!
Social Justice For All
Social Justice For All is a blog for all your basic resources on, well, social justice issues. Some categories on his blog are…
In general, this blog is a good resource to keep yourself up to date on news in the social justice community. There are always new stories and information. And the best part about this blog– the posts are usually short and easy reads! I recommend it for the feminist on the go.