“I’m all for women standing up and fighting back when they’ve actually been raped or assaulted, but what’s going on in the #metoo thing, and with black lives matter, and all the PC Fascists out there isn’t about standing up and fighting. It’s gone too far. You know how many times I’ve been fucked where half way through I’m like…I don’t want this anymore. I want to go home and eat pizza, but I’m stuck, this asshole is back there going at it, so I suck it up. I don’t accuse him of rape later because I had to live with my choices. The other thing, I’m a gay man, I know what it means to be oppressed. Stop acting like just cus you’re black or brown or trans or whatever, you own oppression. Plenty of white guys have struggled with oppression. What did we do? We fought back. We changed things.”
This from a cis-gendered white man in his 20’s.
And in one way, I understand what he is saying. As a gay man in his 50’s I’ve watched people I love die from AIDS. I lived under a government who refused to do anything while the disease was wiping us out. I’m HIV Positive. For most of my life I couldn’t marry the man I loved. For much of my life I didn’t feel safe kissing the man I loved in public. This guy is right, Queer People have spent, and continue to spend, our lives under regimes built on homophobia and oppression.
BUT, I’m also a cis-gendered, white man. And it’s easy to say “I’m an ally. I know I’m Privileged. I use my privilege as an ally.”
I think using my privilege to help others who don’t share in that privilege is essential, I think it’s important. I think being aware of my privilege is also essential and important.
But the insidious thing about privilege is how it seeps into every aspect of your life, into the very air you breath: it isn’t something that is happening around me, it’s part of who I am: it’s part of how I think.
To be honest, no matter how aware of or insightful or thoughtful I am about my privilege, about race and diversity and gender: I’m still shocked at the way racism and prejudice, misogyny and transphobia and homophobia still exist. Because for me, for most of my life: I’m just a white man moving through a world that was built to support and provide for me.
In my life I rarely experience any of those things.
True privilege is not even having to think about it.
When I was a kid I was raped in a bathroom in a mall near where my mother lived. It’s hard for me to use the word rape. I wasn’t forced. I wasn’t held down. I was 12 years old. He was in his 40’s. My dick got hard. I remember it started at the urinals, though that might not be true. I remember we ended up in a stall: though that also might not be accurate. I think he held me down at one point, I think it hurt, but even that is hard for me to grasp. Because I don’t remember it well. I don’t know why I don’t remember it well. I remember the after affects very well: I remember everything that happened the moment I stepped out of that bathroom clearly and exactly:
I walked up to my mother and told her what happened. And my mother turned into an angel of violence and fury, storming into that men’s room. I’ve never seen anything more terrifying in my life than that look of rage on my mother’s face.
I remember the police arresting him. I remember being on the stand in a court room, crying, trying to answer the questions that the DA and the Defense Attorney were asking me.
But what actually happened in that bathroom, I have no idea. That’s the truth.
Here’s a weird thing: In my head, I sometimes think I enjoyed it. But that also might not be true.
Because reality doesn’t always add up in our heads. Reality is colored by emotion and fear and desire, it is colored by survival.
I’m not telling you this because I want sympathy, or because I’m trying to join a movement that honestly isn’t about me: I’m telling you this to say that I do get how hard it is to find the truth, inside ourselves, to say: I know this was rape but I can’t exactly explain it to you. I can’t exactly tell you why. In my case it was rape because I was 12 and he was a good 20-30 years older than me. Because regardless of the ways my brain tries to redefine the truth: nothing can change that basic fact. And nothing can change this: that regardless of what my brain says, regardless of how I try to recolor what happened: I am ashamed to write this. I feel gross and deeply embarrassed: not for something I did, but for something that was done to me.
So here’s the thing: Yes, cis-gendered, white men get raped too. And it fucks with us, and it seeps into our lives and our sexuality and it is absolutely horrible, but it still isn’t the same. Because the whole world is set up for me.
Because on some level, it all comes down to power: and in this world: white, cis male, wealthy, these things are what power is all about.
I had a really hard time when white cis gay men were joining in the #metoo movement, sharing their stories of rape and abuse. Not because I think they should be silent, not because I don’t think they also have a right to their voice and to their experience, but because these movements aren’t about us. And that is really fucking important to remember.
The whole world is about us. Everything is for us. No one really tries to deny us a voice or a right to our experiences.
But if you are a cis-woman, or a person of color, or trans, that is not true.
The world is designed to hold you down, to oppress you.
And while yes, at times these movements appear messy, and it feels like there are a lot of unnecessary casualties, and sometimes the rhetoric feels extreme, and for many of us we are struggling to find our voice in it all, which, as a cis white man feels incredibly new and awkward, these movements are also incredibly important: because they are about empowering people who have been sidelined, about giving a voice to people who have been denied their voice.
And I’ve decided the best thing I can do is sit back and shut the fuck up. My voice is clearly being heard. I live in a world that is designed to provide for me. Power and Privilege are my birthright: because of race and gender and nothing else.
My queerness does not negate my privilege. My struggles, my childhood, even my rape, do not negate my privilege.
I’m sick and tired of listening to cis gay white men bash women. I’m tired of listening to them complain about the #metoo movement. I’m tired of listening to guys equate what is basically a demand that all of us think about words, and about the meaning behind our words and how we define each other and ourselves with words to PC Fascism.
I just wanted to get this off my chest. I’m sure someone will be mad at me. And that’s ok. We are all struggling to make sense out of what is happening in the world. We are all in this together.
In my Utopic fantasies I do hope for a world where we stop defining each other based on the circumstances of our birth and instead on who we are as human beings. I hope for a world where instead of judging each other we focus on compassion, and on being kind to each other. I don’t think I’m naïve to believe that when we gossip or criticize someone, when we unleash fury or prejudices behind closed doors that we are participating in something ugly.
But here is something important to remember: Queer People of all races, People of Color, Trans and gender-queer, women, we are all under attack right now. And if we allow ourselves to become divided, to fight amongst ourselves, to discriminate against each other, then they win.
I’d really like to hear your thoughts. And if I fucked it all up, or said something stupid, please remember: I am trying. And I do believe we are all in this together.
And the only way we will ever change any of this is as one.
If we let them divide us, if we divide ourselves, then we are fucked.
You can find more of my writing in my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.
One thought on “I Don’t Care if This Pisses You Off: Being a White Cis-Man in the age of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Make America Great Again and All the ways The world Oppresses Some While Supporting Others”
I think you’re spot on, even with the colon overuse. 😉 I was abused as a child by every member of my family. At first I thought I could contribute the most to #metoo by sharing my experiences. However, as I watched it unfold, I realized it wasn’t about me. I needed to step aside and do what I could to be supportive without taking the spotlight. Even if my intent was good, the fact I am a white cisgender male immediately changes the dynamic, and I know it. Cheering from the sidelines while lifting others up doesn’t diminish me or minimize my own experiences. It just gives others a voice, and there is no downside in that.
LikeLiked by 1 person