I wanted to have something personal and worthwhile to say. I tried. I spent the night and morning hoping I’d be able to add to the conversation. I can’t. I feel like an outsider trying to sound important. A middle-class white guy playing at understanding discrimination and how dehumanizing it is to the people it targets.
I don’t have a vagina. I never will. I’m going to be a white dude for the rest of my life, and I’m going to be treated a certain way because of it. The only stories I have about real discrimination are other people’s. I feel those stories, sometimes very personally, because they’re indignities and hurts inflicted on those I love. They’re still other people’s stories. They’re once removed. I try to save my projection-into-other-people’s-problems for fiction. Outside of my land of fictional make-believe, pretending to get it feels too much like condescension. Too close to suggesting that what ladies really need is a man to take up the charge and win this battle against sexism for you.
That doesn’t mean I’m blithe about the recent volcanic eruptions of sexism and racism we’ve been seeing recently from politicians, pundits and media critics. Quite the opposite. Though it’s not the events themselves that really bother me. Yes, silencing a woman for saying vagina on the House floor is insulting, demeaning and frankly insane, but it’s a symptom. In some ways, symptoms like events in Michigan are a painful blessing. Cancer is untreatable until you know it’s there. A lot of people simply don’t realize how pervasive discrimination is. Politicians silencing women for using the biological term for one of their body parts makes it very, very hard for people to deny that there is a cancer, and that it’s going to get worse until we treat it. In a very cynical way, I’d like to thank the Michigan GOP for keeping sexism in the public eye.
If not for them, people wouldn’t be gathering on the steps of the Michigan house to protest. It wouldn’t be visible. It wouldn’t be public. Discrimination hates daylight. Even the worst discrimination, the kind that leads to murder, torture and genocide, survives by cloaking itself in other issues. No one wants to think they’re biased. They want to think they’re enlightened, acting on a keen understanding of the inherent weaknesses of others. Today, a lot of people are going to bring the sunlight, and I hope it makes a difference.
Fight discrimination. Say vagina in public. Refuse to be silenced. Make them admit their sexism in public. Make them defend it.
Not for me. I’m affluent and come equipped with a caucasian penis. If you’re a target of discrimination, vaginal or otherwise, do it because you should never believe defiance isn’t your right. If you’re vaginaless like me, do it because you should, because it’s right, and because not having anything meaningful or personal to add is no excuse to be silent about your support.
Fight until the battle is won.