Such A Beautiful Disruptive Moment

the dam finally broke, and
I just kept smiling, smiling,
smiling like Aphrodite.
and why wouldn’t I?

tornados run across this fruited plain
fires race around these redwood trunks
each one natural, powerful, hungry,
and THOSE things, well…
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I think I would run
I know I would

but a dam? well, pshaw!
a man made that, thinking
to choke out a river?  HAH!
stupid dolt, we just kept pushing

Aphrodite and I.
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I kept smiling because She
gives me Her Nod, Her
quick chin lift and dancing
bright flashing eyes that tell me

every hour is Holy
every sensual second
is Sacred in its quick
butterfly rise and its

sad sinking sunset.
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and that pile of patriarchy
eminent in threat and rattley-death
hard and straight and deaf and dumb
(fee fie foe fum!!)

jammed down Her fertile river-craw,
those dirty fingers down the throat of love
that choking violating deep and rough and raw
in turbine hums exploding in the cries of mourning doves
crosses
well it’s blown now…and on the run
in painful splintery disjointed strides
streaked with dirty water and rust
and ruined careful engineered remains.

and Aphrodite, that river, and me
lick at the bones with our eyes
and our waters and our ululating
triumphal throat-splitting ear-spitting

SCREAMS OF RELEASE!
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We suck, we clean, we set free and tear
the stench of man right out of marrow
and sow Sacred Communion, Holy Power
of Body and Blood anew across the waters,

alive again, alive
those waters once again
alive
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So…keep smiling and just yank
that unruly thread until it comes unfurled
and falls apart, all fall down
in one beautiful disruptive moment

such a beautiful disruptive moment.
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Extremely Powerful Thinking: On Femininity and the Patriarchy

Constance…please read thru the sections I am sharing below.  Read it slow and let it sink in.

This is my life.  I am living these sentences (word chosen to echo and double back on itself, those with eyes let them see).

Consider the way that my sentences being served also impact you…and the way that yours can set me free, if you will but begin to speak them.

Just read up on the Bell Hooks-Laverne Cox talk, thought it was really uncool (and unfemininist) of Hooks to chide Cox for her presentation.

I mean yeah, I get that for (feminist) cis women, femininity can start to feel constricting after a while, but trans women have a very different relationship with it. Patriarchy wants AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) people to be feminine, it does not want AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) people to be feminine.

For a person that was assigned male at birth, it absolutely can be revolutionary to embrace femininity. It is anathema to patriarchy for AMAB people to embrace femininity, why else do you think trans women get any and all femininity beaten out of them for the first part of their lives?

Besides, cis women had all their lives to try it out and grow tired of it. How many cis women haven’t smeared their mum’s lipstick all over their face as a little girl? At least have a heart and give us some time to experiment with femininity, you were given that time while you were growing up and I don’t see you high-n-mighty feminists going after teenage cis girls for it.

I would like to expand on this, and say that the patriarchy derides and punishes femininity in general. That’s why men who like female-coded activities are mocked. that’s why “girly-girls” are derided as shallow or high-maintenance.

But with trans women, expressing femininity is particularly revolutionary because it isn’t just about social conditioning–it’s a complete rejection of masculinity as the “valuable option.”

Many women–trans and cis–find value in femininity, but when cis women embrace it, everyone assumes it’s because it is expected and because that’s how they were trained. It isn’t considered unusual, because society insists that’s the punishment you get for being a woman, and if you’re very good you’ll reject that and try to act more like your “betters.”

But trans women are offered masculinity on a platter–it’s assumed to be our birthright–and we reject it. More accurately, like most people we reject parts of it. We’re proof that masculinity isn’t inherently valuable or precious–it’s just another thing.

And of course, patriarchal ideals double down on us for that. Our punishment for embracing the feminine and not being “rightly” ashamed of it is to be chained by it, and punished for any infraction. Male-coded interests are “proof” that we’re faking it.

Not appearing feminine enough is grounds for firing or banning us from homes (or from the lives of our own relatives). Expressing anger or standing up for ourselves is interpreted–even by self-proclaimed feminists–as our being aggressive and “really” men.

And revealing anything about our genitals is literally grounds for execution.

People hunt down the tiniest nuances–our shoulders, our voices, or hobbies, or age–and use the smallest infraction against gender norms to completely invalidate our statement that masculinity isn’t precious at all. This despite the fact that trans women, like everyone, aren’t inherantly “pure women” or “pure men” any more than any cis person–we’re mixes of social messages and biological impulses, some accepted some rejected, that go into forming a complex human being.

Trans women highlight that there’s no superior gender or gendered form of expression, and that pisses people off.

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The Mean Streets of Baltimore Look Like Human Hearts

I haven’t said much about Baltimore…others do it far better than I.

Clearly, something is very very wrong…and all the things I have been speaking about related to privilege and patriarchy pretty much determine whether you see this or not.

And let me (once again) be clear:  my own eye-opening is a matter of about the last 5 years, and it has been accompanied by plenty of mourning and sorrow for the many lost years…just had to say that since there are those who think I merely ape the views of others and have a free pass from consequences…consequences I have been paying longer than these accusers have lived on this planet…but I digress.

Baltimore:  what is there that the likes of I can say?  So instead, I will post pics of the thing that makes the most sense as a response to what is taking place…and vicariously post this as my own cleansing ritual over my own soul and heart in order to be divested of the pollution and defilement of the past month.

Here is a novel idea…it would actually resolve Baltimore…and other matters as well:

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.
Love, Charissa

 

A woman burns sage on the streets of Baltimore – 

Shameeka Dream walks along a line of Maryland State Troopers stationed on North Avenue while burning sage in the wake of protests for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28, 2015.19

A Thoughtful Implication In Favor of Relationship…

Constance, this lil essay below illustrates a similar experience that I have virtually everyday, except from the other end of the spectrum and working back.

I liked it, for it did a great job of revealing the underlying obligations that the paradigm encumbers all of us with.

Please chew on it awhile…and then think about how you can take people for who they are as the inside soul reveals, rather than how the outside accoutrements imply…one involves assumption, and one involves relationship…

“swanjolras:

okay, i have been trying to say this in a way that makes sense for ages, so here goes:

a lot of hatred of dresses, pink, stereotypically “feminine” stuff is based on internalized misogyny. and that’s definitely something we all need to look at within ourselves and address and work on.

but: a lot of hatred of dresses, pink, stereotypically “feminine” stuff is based on the fact that femininity is compulsory for people who are assigned female at birth.

like, this is a fact. this isn’t something i’m making up. femininity is compulsory. i have to wear dresses and makeup to be taken seriously when i go to job interviews, when i go to social occasions, when i present myself in any formal setting. when i don’t do that, people notice. they’re rude to me.

when i shop in the men’s section, store employees and customers glare at me! my relatives press feminine clothes on me during the holiday season because they think i should dress in a more feminine way! when i go to get my hair cut and ask for it to be cut in a certain style, the woman cutting my hair literally ignores that explicit instruction because it’s “too butch”. femininity is compulsory! i am not allowed to present my gender the way i would like to present my gender!

it’s not the fault of femininity that it’s being forced on me. and the patriarchy does devalue femininity. and the current rhetoric of “you can wear pink and skirts and still be a feminist and still be queer and it’s other people’s fault for not taking you seriously, not yours for dressing that way” is great.

but i’ve heard people say to me, “you can wear lipstick and dresses and still be a feminist” about a thousand times, and i have never, ever,ever heard someone say to me, “you can refuse to wear lipstick and dresses and you are no less of a woman than someone who does wear them.” i had to figure that out all on my own.

i’m allowed to be angry at the cis women who force me to present myself in a way that i don’t want to present myself. i am allowed to do that.

I will scream the bolded from the rooftops for you if you want. <3″

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Remind me again how the patriarchy does not oppress women and children?

“message to all you privileged white american girls saying “we don’t need feminism” because you don’t “feel oppressed” here’s an example of why we DO still need feminism and a friendly reminder that the rest of the f**kn world exists too”

IMPORTANT!!!

More Lara Croft Than Lana Turner

Speaking for us,
making a way
for those of us
shattered by abuse
and raped by men…

defending the powerless,
which is (unfortunately)
most all of us (even men)
in this paradigm
of patriarchy and privilegetumblr_nkee9iBwQ81qzs7m3o2_1280It is far,
far deeper
and more complex
than anyone
lets on or is allowed
to show…

I could be wrong…
I could be vapid as vapor…
(or wapid as waper, you wascally wabbit!)
but my heart tattoos say otherwise

they are more Lara Croft than Lana Turner.tumblr_nkhrs3tQ911qk2poao4_1280

This is the Gospel Truth

The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.
bell hooks

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Charissa Meditations on Rape, Gender and the Patriarchy

Idaho Chief of Police Mic Drops On Transgender ‘Bathroom’ Bill Section.

Good Morning Constance…

I am pressing this article here on Grace Notes for a couple of reasons:  the low hanging fruit here, of course, is the putting on blatant naked display the kind of ignorance and misogyny that transgender people face…but specifically transgender women face to a far larger degree than transgender men do.  As I read the kinds of assumptions that are made and asserted, I am astounded at the towering lack of knowledge and the even deeper unwillingness to be educated about the issue.
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But let’s dig a bit deeper here…note that the primary canard that is hysterically hurled over and over again is that “men” want to rape women, and so they will go to any length to engage in this violation, including “dressing up as a woman”, entering a bathroom, and then feasting like a wolf on defenseless denizens within.  Thus we cannot risk allowing transgender women to use the women’s restrooms, but will force them into men’s restrooms…

…Constance, did you catch that assumption that slides right by and gets a nod of tacit agreement?  And did you see the inherent contradiction that is actually supported by documented epidemic-like numbers?

The assumption is that men are creatures with one primal driving force in their lives…having sex.  Even if it means taking sex from unwilling females who are just in the general vicinity.  The assumption is that we need to build our society around this reality and do our best to just “limit the damage” caused by this basic fact about men.

Rape is institutionalized as an accepted feature of our society!tumblr_nit5kckaeX1s1vn29o1_1280

Rather than deal with that underlying horror and the cultural constructs that have given rise to the unspoken reality that men not only take what they want sexually but are entitled to this taking, we instead get ourselves all twisted up over the bathroom.  Rather than teach our little boys how to be real human beings and what being male means, and what it does not mean, we just sort of wring our hands and hide our eyes when the moon is full and hope the werewolf stays away from our door.

We are fully capable of this teaching…if:  if anyone really knew anymore what it means to be a man!  What does that mean, men?  To you…what does it mean to be a man?  And, as part of your journey of discovery, have you ever inquired of women what being a man means?  Have you ever even thought to seek some of your self-definition in the understanding and grappling with what it means to be a woman?tumblr_nipdsiK2LD1rv5690o1_1280

See how this would preclude rape as an even slightly acceptable option for men?

But no…this is not what we do with that subject of rape:  we continue to keep it disconnected from the poison and demonic roots from which it sprang, and those are the roots of patriarchy and male privilege.  Women already know this, men, but for your own education…ask any woman you know what kinds of situations does she feel safe from the possibility of being raped.  Ask yourselves how you have socialized your own daughters regarding dress, safety in public places, when to be outdoors and when to be home “safe”.  Ask any woman if they think they are made safe from the possibility of being raped just because transgender women are kept from the right restrooms…

And that leads us to a deeper reality:  the reality, backed up by the blood and tears and horror and even murder of transgender women…who have been forced into men’s restrooms and there been harassed, assaulted, raped, and left for dead (if they are lucky) or murdered outright!  This is an actual fact that happens hundreds of times a year.  The dynamic I wrote of in the preceding section of my essay here is given free reign!  As a society we are demanding that some women be placed into serious jeopardy to their very beings and existence…because we refuse to deal with the horror of rape as a feature of the patriarchal paradigm we are all enslaved by.tumblr_nhp3bxAGEi1r3lb7ro1_1280

It is another example of how rape is sanctioned as part of the price that must be paid by women in order for all men to retain their granted privilege…and the really awful thing about this particular expression of this blood-spattered reality is the sad result on display of how some women become collaborators with the paradigm:  they would rather consign their transgender sisters to this fate than stand against the oppression and iron-fist of the patriarchy!  This is a phenomenon not unlike how certain Jews collaborated with the Nazis in the hopes that they would then be left alone and unharmed.

It is a Mephistophelian bargain…the soul is lost in the gaining of a few untroubled hours.  Sadly, it puts the pervasive infestation of the patriarchy’s insidious distortions of masculinity and femininity on furious display!  And the fruits…rotten, poison, despairing.tumblr_ni8qguc8Kd1qkezoco1_540

But now I want to get to the deepest reality for transgender people and specifically transgender women:  the deepest reality for me.

When people rant and rave in public hearings such as happened at the one the article speaks of, they communicate to me that I am utterly worthless of knowing, inquiring of, or understanding.

They blatantly display their own ignorance, assumption, and unwillingness to have those things enlightened and transformed!

I can tell you that when I read about what they think I want to do in the restroom, I am staggered with the mainifestations of their own evil imaginations of things that have literally never entered my heart at any time…and then I am defeated by the weights of ignorance and unwillingness that press down, inexorable and unrelenting.

All of the ignorance about transgender is displayed as if it is a float at the Rose Parade, and then it is lauded and institutionalized…and the marginalization of an oppressed segment of people is further cemented.kushiel

There is a logical question that comes to mind, as we work our way thru the house of mirrors that is the current paradigm, and that is this:  Why not make a place for transgender people to testify at these hearings…to say why they want to use the bathroom of their choice?  After all, that is what happens at other hearings of any kind:  testimony is sought from all parties interested and affected, so why not here?

Ahh…you follow me, don’t you?  Because our perspective is considered invalid at best and insidious at worst.  We do not have any valid standing in this present paradigm.  We are human chattel, and need to be either “fixed”, “healed”, “delivered”, or forced to “repent of the sin of being created transgender”.

And what is worse?  Even if there was a forum offered us to testify, very few of us would come forward…because that would be to make ourselves visible, and incur the wrath of family, so-called friends, and virtual strangers.  From that moment on we would hear the snickers when we walked by, the shouted insults and slurs, the out and out hatred blazing from the eyes of people who have never even talked to us but somehow know we are “bad” because they know we are transgender.tumblr_nibcqj8GLi1s5neh1o1_1280

So, sadly…we hang back.  We stay silent…and suffer.

Listen:  if you know of a transgender person, take some time to get to know them.  Talk to them, and not with an agenda.  Treat them the way you yourself would like to be treated.  Use their name.  I can tell you this:  when people use my name it is the most gentle and tender healing in my soul.

Hey…we just want to breathe, like anyone else…and use the bathroom when we need to potty.

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.
Charissa Grace10168117_776099229127125_8050935839656435878_n

Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

So Constance…I was wracking my lil pea brain, trying to find a way to begin to teach others around me about privilege.

The man that I interacted with last week was so steeped in privilege that he was like a fish in water, who would be befuddled if you tried to explain privilege to him…

…and I am going to have to become erudite on this topic, beginning today.  So when I found the article below, I decided to just post the whole thing here…I hyperlinked the title so you can go to the website itself, Everyday Feminism (which I highly recommend as a good source of information).

Join me on the journey?  Let us resolve to live like this: giving to others the privilege we want for ourselves, for if we all of us did that…

…yeah, that would mean that we

did justly
loved mercy
walked humbly.

Love, Charissa

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Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

Source: No Greater Joy

“Privilege” is a word you’ll hear often in social justice spaces, both offline and online.

Some people understand the concept easily. Others – and I was like this – find the concept confusing and need a little more help.

If you’re willing to learn about privilege, but you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place!

Before we get started, I want to clarify that this article is not entirely comprehensive. That is to say, it’s not going to explain everything there is to know about privilege. But it’ll give you a good foundation on the basics.

Think of privilege not as a single lesson, but as a field of study. To truly understand privilege, we must keep reading, learning, and thinking critically.

Defining Privilege

The origins of the term “privilege” can be traced back to the 1930s, when WEB DuBois wrote about the “psychological wage” that allowed whites to feel superior to black people. In 1988, Peggy McIntosh fleshed out the idea of privilege in a paper called “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.”

We can define privilege as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.

Society grants privilege to people because of certain aspects of their identity. Aspects of a person’s identity can include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability, and religion, to name a few.

But big concepts like privilege are so much more than their basic definitions! For many, this definition on its own raises more questions than it answers. So here are a few things about privilege that everyone should know.

1. Privilege is the other side of oppression.

It’s often easier to notice oppression than privilege.

It’s definitely easier to notice the oppression you personally experience than the privileges you experience since being mistreated is likely to leave a bigger impression on you than being treated fairly.

So consider the ways in which you are oppressed: How are you disadvantaged because of the way society treats aspects of your identity? Are you a woman? Are you disabled? Does your sexuality fall under the queer umbrella? Are you poor? Do you have a mental illness or a learning disability? Are you a person of color? Are you gender non-conforming?

All of these things could make life difficult because society disenfranchises people who fit into those social groups. We call this oppression.

But what about the people society doesn’t disenfranchise? What about the people society empowers at our expense? We call that privilege.

Privilege is simply the opposite of oppression.

2. We need to understand privilege in the context of power systems.

Society is affected by a number of different power systems: patriarchy, white supremacy,heterosexism, cissexism, and classism — to name a few. These systems interact together in one giant system called the kyriarchy.

Privileged groups have power over oppressed groups.

Privileged people are more likely to be in positions of power – for example, they’re more likely to dominate politics, be economically well-off, have influence over the media, and hold executive positions in companies.

Privileged people can use their positions to benefit people like themselves – in other words, other privileged people.

In a patriarchal society, women do not have institutional power (at least, not based on their gender). In a white supremacist society, people of color don’t have race-based institutional power. And so on.

It’s important to bear this in mind because privilege doesn’t go both ways. Female privilege does not exist because women don’t have institutional power. Similarly, black privilege, trans privilege, and poor privilege don’t exist because those groups do not have institutional power.

It’s also important to remember because people often look at privilege individually rather thansystemically. While individual experiences are important, we have to try to understand privilege in terms of systems and social patterns. We’re looking at the rule, not the exception to the rule.

3. Privileges and oppressions affect each other, but they don’t negate each other.

I experience my queerness in relation to my womanhood. I experience these aspects of my identity in relation to my experience as a mentally ill person, as someone who’s white, as someone who is South African, as someone who is able-bodied, as someone who is cisgender.

All aspects of our identities – whether those aspects are oppressed or privileged by society – interact with one another. We experience the aspects of our identities collectively and simultaneously, not individually.

The interaction between different aspects of our identities is often referred to as anintersection. The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who used it to describe the experiences of black women – who experience both sexism and racism.

While all women experience sexism, the sexism that black women experience is unique in that it is informed by racism.

To illustrate with another example, mental illness is often stigmatized. As a mentally-ill woman, I have been told that my post-traumatic stress disorder is “just PMS” and a result of me “being an over-sensitive woman.” This is an intersection between ableism and misogyny.

The aspects of our identities that are privileged can also affect the aspects that are oppressed.Yes, privilege and oppression intersect — but they don’t negate one another.

Often, people believe that they can’t experience privilege because they also experience oppression. A common example is the idea that poor white people don’t experience white privilege because they are poor. But this is not the case.

Being poor does not negate the fact that you, as a white person, are less likely to become the victim of police brutality in most countries around the world, for example.

Being poor is an oppression, yes, but this doesn’t cancel out the fact that you can still benefit from white privilege.

As Phoenix Calida wrote:

“Privilege simply means that under the exact same set of circumstances you’re in, life would be harder without your privilege.

Being poor is hard. Being poor and disabled is harder.

Being a woman is hard. Being a trans woman is harder.

Being a white woman is hard, being a woman of color is harder.

Being a black man is hard, being a gay black man is harder.”

Let’s look at the example of people who are both poor and white. Being white means that you have access to resources which could help you survive. You’re more likely to have a support network of relatively well-off people. You can use these networks to look for a job.

If you go to a job interview, you are more likely to be interviewed by a white person, as white people are more likely to be in executive positions. People in positions of power are usually the same race as you, so if they are racially prejudiced, it’s likely that they would be prejudiced in your favor.

A poor black person, on the other hand, will not have access to those resources, is unlikely to be of the same race as people in power, and is more likely to be harmed by racial prejudice.

So once again: Being white and poor is hard, but being black and poor is harder.

4. Privilege describes what everyone should experience.

When we use the word “privilege” in the context of social justice, it means something slightly different to the way it’s used by most people in their everyday environment.

Often we think of privilege as “special advantages.” We frequently hear the phrase, “X is a privilege, not a right,” conveying the idea that X is something special that shouldn’t be expected.

Because of the way we use “privilege” in our day-to-day lives, people often get upset when others point out some of their privileges.

A male acquaintance of mine initially struggled to understand the concept of privilege. He once said to me, “Men don’t often experience gender-based street harassment, but that’s not a privilege. It’s something everyone should expect.”

Correct. Everyone should expect to be treated that way. Everyone has a right to be treated that way. The problem is that certain people aren’t treated that way.

To illustrate: Nobody should be treated as if they are untrustworthy based on their race. But often, people of color – particularly black people – are mistrusted because of prejudice towards their race.

White people, however, don’t experience this systemic, race-based prejudice. We call this “white privilege” because people who are white are free from racial oppression.

We don’t use the term “privilege” because we don’t think everyone deserves this treatment.

We call privilege “privilege” because we acknowledge that not everyone experiences it.

5. Privilege doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard.

People often get defensive when someone points out that they have privilege. And I totally understand why – before I fully understood privilege, I acted the same way.

Many people think that having privilege means you have had an easy life. As such, they feel personally attacked when people point out their privilege. To them, it feels as if someone is saying that they haven’t worked hard or endured any difficulties.

But this is not what privilege means.

You can be privileged and still have a difficult life. Privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy, but rather that it’s easier than others.

I saw this brilliant analogy comparing white privilege and bike commuting in a car-friendly city, and it inspired me to broaden the analogy to privilege in general.

So let’s say both you and your friend decide to go cycling. You decide to cycle for the same distance, but you take different routes. You take a route that is a bit bumpy. More often than not, you go down roads that are at a slight decline. It’s very hot, but the wind is at usually at your back. You eventually get to your destination, but you’re sunburnt, your legs are aching, you’re out of breath, and you have a cramp.

When you eventually meet up with your friend, she says that the ride was awful for her. It was also bumpy. The road she took was at an incline the entire time. She was even more sunburnt than you because she had no sunscreen. At one point, a strong gust of wind blew her over and she hurt her foot. She ran out of water halfway through. When she hears about your route, she remarks that your experience seemed easier than hers.

Does that mean that you didn’t cycle to the best of your ability? Does it mean that you didn’t face obstacles? Does it mean that you didn’t work hard? No. What it means is that you didn’t face the obstacles she faced.

Privilege doesn’t mean your life is easy or that you didn’t work hard. It simply means that you don’t have to face the obstacles others have to endure. It means that life is more difficult for those who don’t have the systemic privilege you have.

So What Now?

Often, people think that feminists and social justice activists point out people’s privilege to make them feel guilty. This isn’t the case at all!

We don’t want you to feel guilty. We want you to join us in challenging the systems that privilege some people and oppress others.

Guilt is an unhelpful feeling: It makes us feel ashamed, which prevents us from speaking out and bringing about change. As Jamie Utt notes, “If privilege guilt prevents me from acting against oppression, then it is simply another tool of oppression.

You don’t need to feel guilty for having privilege because having privilege is not your fault: It’s not something you chose. But what you can choose is to push back against your privilege and to use it in a way that challenges oppressive systems instead of perpetuating them.

So what can you – as a person who experiences privilege – do?

Understanding privilege is a start, so you’ve already made the first move! Yay!

There’s a great deal of information out there on the Internet, so I’d firstly recommend that you read more about the concepts of oppression and privilege in order to expand your understanding. The links in this article are a good place to start.

But merely understanding privilege is not enough. We need to take action.

Listen to people who experience oppression. Learn about how you can work in solidarity with oppressed groups. Join feminist and activist communities in order to support those you have privilege over. Focus on teaching other privileged people about their privilege.

Above all else, bear in mind that your privilege exists.

Sian Ferguson is a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. She is a South African feminist currently studying toward a Bachelors of Social Science degree majoring in English Language and Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town. She has been featured as a guest writer on websites such as Women24 and Foxy Box, while also writing for her personal blog. In her spare time, she tweets excessively @sianfergs, reads about current affairs, and spends time with her gorgeous group of friends. Read her articles here.

Update to Caitlin White’s Miranda Lambert comments

This is pertinent as well, Constance:

 

my heels & my hotels they just got taller by Caitlin White

 

Do you realize that even snippets of the female voice are used to degrade us? “Platinum” begins with several clips of women talking in signature female vocal patterns. The snippets are partially obscured but here’s what we do catch: “didn’t really take me seriously,” “eye candy” and later, “I mean it kinda worked for me.” Aside from containing hallmarks modern female speech like uptalk and vocal fry, they also address the way that women are often ignored and disregarded as not serious. I always think of Dolly circa “9-5” when I hear this intro, and it comes from the same place of using perceived weaknesses as hidden strengths.

“What doesn’t kill you only makes you BLONDER” Miranda belts out on the catchy as all hell chorus. Anyone who knows anything about my professional history so far understands why this line brings me to my knees. Brutal blows can reveal to you not only your own strengths and talents, but hone them into the sharpest point, so you can attack the things you really want with aggression. I’ve yet to hear a line that sums that up for me with more spunk and delight, especially as someone who has been in a work environment where failure felt built into gender. The music industry is not a place that welcomes women, in fact, it historically chews them up and spits them out, emotionally, financially and relationally. So when Miranda posits her increase in power in distinctly feminine tropes like hair color, heels and curves, she’s using girly traits as the source of her power instead of arguing that she succeeds in spite of them, they’re how she gains strength. That’s an incredibly powerful argument.

This would be a good place to note that Miranda is happily married to a fellow country superstar, Blake Shelton. While they’re probably about equally successful technically speaking, their bodies of work have come to a similar Beyonce/Jay Z breaking point. Blake may still be commercially successful but Miranda has more than surpassed him in creativity and critical admiration. So while she’s got Blake’s money, she sure as hell doesn’t need it. “My heels and my hotels they just got taller” she notes, jacking herself up, both in a traditionally feminine way (heels) and money/power/status symbol make way (hotels). And you better be believe she highlights that “taller” with a platinum-plated vocal fry squawk that ties in the earlier elements of stereotypical female speech with a gleeful twist of the dagger.

The kicker here is this line: “When your roots grow out and things go south / hey go back to the salon.” Who do women turn to for comfort when they’re dumped, fired or depressed? Their hairstylist. When things go wrong return to the place traditionally run by women and gay men as a haven for femininity. A place laughed off and glanced at uneasily by men—the same ones who she mentions historically prefer their women with glossy, blonde blow-outs. This is also a direct refutation to the “real men” prefer blondes with curls and curves—yes she’s got em, but not by relying on men or nature to deliver them. She achieved them after losing other battles and coming back stronger, she got em by sheer force of will. She got em just to spite the things that went south (and there’s another brilliant wordplay in this line, given her heritage). “You don’t need to be a fighter honey just go one shade lighter”—you can’t dismantle the patriarchy all by yourself. But with four platinum records to her name it looks like Miranda’s bait-and-switch is working. Excuse me while I go buy some heels online and practice my vocal fry—that’s just as feminist as a goddamn lean-in. * hairflip *

On “Passing” As A Woman | The TransAdvocate

I laugh sometimes, when I think of these re-posting jags I go on.  Usually I am dribbling around, bouncing my words like playground balls, off the walls of my heart and the floor of my soul.  But when I run across an article that just says it so well…that is cogent and clear, to the point and on point, well I simply must re-post it.

What I like about this article is it fuels my own growing infant of identity…my resolve to not be a “transgender woman”, or a “transgender poetess”, or a transgender anything!

Rather, I am a woman, and one facet of my life is my gender.  I am a woman, and one big central component of my being is an affinity for poetry.  I am a woman, and ________.

Fill in the blank, right?

I wrote a poem about this some time ago.  It is a bit wordy, and likely needs some distillation, but it is running fallow right now…perhaps I will prune on it in due season.  Check out

Broken Kaliedoscopes

again, and then read the article below.

 

On “Passing” As A Woman | The TransAdvocate.  by Dana Taylor  September 22, 2013

Right up front I will tell you that I cringe when I hear passing as a woman in relation to a trans woman. What this really means is passing as a cisgender woman. A real woman, right?

We see this all of the time in trans* related support forums where trans* women give advice to other trans* women on how to look like a woman. It is all based on the oppressive sex stereotype of what a woman is supposed to look like.  This is what makes the patriarchy happy. They want all women to meet certain stereotypical criteria which includes how you look, smell, walk, talk, etc.  We should never tell our sisters that they must meet this criteria to be a woman.

Even though you may think you are trying to help this person you may actually be causing damage to them. For instance, there are some trans* women who have physical male characteristics that will never allow them to meet the passing criteria.  I am one of those women. If I had listened to a lot of advice from trans* women on being a woman, I am not sure where I would be today. It is difficult enough to come out and try to be who you are than to have all these other requirements put on you. This can cause some trans* women who are not out yet to never come out thinking there is no way they could pass. And we all know what that could lead to. We are painfully aware of the attempted suicide statistics in our community.

A woman is a woman who makes her own choices on how she wants to look, dress, smell or anything else that has to do with her own body. If she wants to follow the stereotypical concept of being a woman, she should be free to do so.

What we need to do is this. With the help of our allies, educate the public on what being trans* means and to make transphobia and transmisogyny as unacceptable as being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. We need serious help from feminists and womanist groups to make this happen. One group of feminists have done just that and I must share this.  Feminists Fighting Transphobia has written an article about feminism being trans*-inclusive. This was in response to the comical The TERF Empire Declares War Against Trans People where an organization that doesn’t really exist wrote a letter telling trans* women how icky they are and had a small number of supposed feminists and academics sign it.  The Feminists Fighting Transphobia article has received close to 700 signatures and is still growing. They can barely keep up with the new signatures.

We need our cis allies to call out transphobia and transmisogyny when they see it, contact media outlets for the same and also to listen to us when we are talking about our own experiences. To those allies who are doing this now, thank you. Thank you THANK YOU!

And to trans* support groups, please think before you help someone transition. Ask them how they feel about themselves and how they want to express themselves.

Also, please take a look at 30 examples of cis privilege minus the one that shames sex workers.

In closing I would like to say I am a woman and i will look and act the way I fucking want to.

Dana Taylor

Plug for new website to stop online abuse
http://stopabuseonline.org/

Current petition to address Ask.FM abuse.

Dana Taylor

Contributor at TransAdvocate
Dana Lane Taylor is a SR Information Security Analyst with the University of Pennsylvania.
She is also owner of NI @root http://netinfiltration.com which discovered two remote execution vulnerabilities in Oracle Reports.
She is also a feminist and fierce trans activist.

– See more at: http://www.transadvocate.com/on-passing-as-a-woman_n_10218.htm#sthash.qnuE73bE.dpuf