I will write this piece from my positions as a cis, hetero, male, able-bodied, et cetera. I will be discussing from my own experiences as a man of colour and as a person attempting to be a fem-ally (feminist), LGBT ally, disability ally, et cetera.
#Notallmen, #notallwhitepeople, #notallcishetpeople, etc.
I have seen various threads, and those who are privileged, ironically responding to tweets.
I have had various conversations around these generalisations.
Typical responses include: Not all men are like this. Not all men are acting in a way that oppresses women. These responses stem from the personal premise that ‘I have tried hard to make a change’.
I would postulate that these stem from a position of frustration and a fear of change. When we harbour such feelings, fragility often follows, but more on this later.
Let’s take this from the start; you have a woman describing her position and oppression in society. A man then questions the validity with an ‘all men’ statement.
Now the conversation has moved from the oppressed group to being centred the around the feelings of the privileged. We move from the woman’s voice to the man’s feelings. Removing the emphasis is a form of fogging. The act fogs, it takes away from the voices of women, anything which takes away from their narrative of resistance furthers the original oppression.
In my own experience, the phrase ‘not all white people’; adds to the problem, in the case of white supremacy, this act is certainly not anti-racist.
But Pran, it isn’t all men or all white people.
When people talk about their oppression, we may use broad strokes, when white people, when non-disabled people, when cis people, etc. It is necessary.
I would ask anybody who challenges these generalisations to look within themselves and the broad strokes they also use daily.
Boys will be boys.
Manchester United was crap last night.
England needs to be better.
Society is terrible.
No one cares.
(All) people need to be kinder.
None of the above elicits similar responses; these responses do not challenge they reinforce the status quo. We have been taught to accept these as the norm. They maintain the structures that society has built.
What follows I say as a man who has and continues to benefit from those structures. Fragility manifests when we are scared of losing that power, and a fear that we have not earned our achievements through our hard work.
As a person of colour, I have faced overt/passive discrimination in the workplace, overcome this I to worked extremely hard. Even with this hard work, part the reason I became a senior leader was dependent on the fact I was born a cis man.
When a woman says all men, the statement is saying is be better as a gender, go forth and educate those of us in privilege systemically (including ourselves). Similarly, when a POC states all white people or discusses white supremacy, it is isn’t you. It is our collective duty to put away those feelings of fear. To overcome the fear and fragility for the greater good, by first keeping our mouth shut and second being better.
When a woman speaks about her oppression, our response should either be one of solidarity of one of silence. The most important thing to do here is to listen.