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Project X: We haz a rant.

February 29, 2012

We realize that Project X is about finding constructive conversations. About trying to have difficult dialogue while being civil.

However. This week, we’d like to talk about anger. Mainly because… we have some woman anger right now. So that got us thinking about it.

There is a lot of discomfort in our society around anger, particularly minority & women anger.  We don’t want to blame Booker T. Washington (cuz he did great things! annnddd that would be hugely ironic) but… that whole cooperation-with-the -system-slash-non-confrontational-cuz-otherwise-the-majority-will-lash-out-at-you thing.

Look. Despite our discomfort with it, anger does not always have to derail conversations. Might be tough to keep it from doing so, but figuring out how is actually really important because the reality is, when discussing things that we’ve been focusing on in Project X, people are going to come in with some anger. Maybe a lot of anger.

The critical point is that anger is valid. They have a right to that anger. Period. Full stop. That right means their anger is not a reason to negate further conversation. Period. Full stop. Moreover, allowing some one’s anger to end a discussion is, well, once again kinda about privilege. That is, your privilege means you haven’t experienced whatever harmful, horrible, shitballs thing that made them rightfully angry. To tell someone “hey, you need to go calm down, yer all angry n’ stuff” as a reason you can’t engage them? Well. That’s pretty much belittling their experience – and illustrating how your privilege allowed you to not be harmed and therefore are not angry. And just because you’re not angry, they don’t have a right to be either. Yeah, no.

In addition, it’s more than just not wanting to deal with someone who is upset. We’ve actually got all kinds of narratives to help you avoid dealing with them, too. Narratives around the anger of marginalized groups: Bitchy PMS-ing women who just need to get laid, fear of/laughter at the Angry Black Man/Women, the Drama Queen Gay.

These narratives marginalize appropriate and legitimate reaction of anger, frustration, and pain. So, you know, we won’t have to deal with it. Because it’s that group just acting all bitchy/angry/crazy/drama again. Couldn’t poooooosibly be something legit. So feel free to ignore them or tell them they’re just being an Angry Black Dude again.

But anger is a legitimate response to complete shit that is allowed to happen due to social constructs and privilege. And, like we mentioned, right now Katie* and I have some woman anger.

Don’t really want to pick n choose between any of the ridic bullshit crap regarding women’s health/rights these days. Komen’s bullshit, ultrasound bullshit, birth control vs. religion bullshit. It’s all shit. And it’s made us very very angry.

We don’t really want to argue over these specific instances. We already do that elsewhere. Here? We’re using them to make a point about the legitimacy of anger (check) and to ask some questions/ponder some things that these various (various! Augh!) “controversies” have to say about our society collectively.

Oh, say, for instance… how the fuck can we deny the existence of male privilege? Of patriarchy? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so how’s this for exhibit A?

It is literally unfathomable to think this could happen to men. That we would be this invasive. That we would allow the government to have these conversations about men’s health and rights and bodies. That it would be ok for even an instant.

That we would have a Committee hearing of only women. That a woman would deny men entry to a discussion of men’s health at the government level. Not to say women are incapable of such shit (I am sure some of them would be), but to say… that. would. not. happen.

It would not happen.

No. There is no argument here. Really.

And this from the very people who believe the government should have little to no say about their lives. That want to reduce government.

The ones who say they don’t trust the government.

Again, we don’t want to get into specific here. Yes, we are mad as hell about all that, but the point is: THIS SHIT WOULD NOT HAPPEN TO MEN.

And that, dear readers IS patriarchy. It IS male privilege.

The FUCKING privilege not to have to deal with this shiz. The privilege to not have someone feel they have a right to your body or your choices. To define for you what your health care is. Your privilege means you will never know this kind of invasion simply because you were born with a penis. Not (heavens to betsy) the ladybits.

Moreover, how can we deny the existence of racism and classism here? Again, this picture was viral on the internet – anything but white in that room? In addition, rich people, who are mostly white in this country, are always going to have access to birth control and abortions. Even if you make them illegal. Always going to happen. But make them difficult to get? You automatically harm the poor – and it is undeniable that “the poor” in this country is inherently linked to race. The vast majority of low-income socioeconomic persons are minorities. Period. Full stop. And don’t think for a second the people in that room and making these decisions don’t know this full fucking well.

Moreover – which religions were chosen to give testimony? Which ones were told their views were valid in the “religious” debate? Which were not?

Who made these choices? What are their thought on who is legitimate in this country? Guess what allows them choose which voices are allowed in the conversation? Their white, Christian, socioeconomic, male privilege.

But, hell. These men are also quite happy to police the bedrooms and private lives and personal fucking pursuit of happiness of those that aren’t hetero like they are. Again “No big government for me, thanks – but lawdy would you start government-ing the hell out of those people??” Thanks straight privilege!

OK. Now. We need to emphatically stress that this rant is not aimed at men. We actually understand that you didn’t go out and get your privilege. The fact that you have it isn’t intrinsically your fault. So please – we’re not man-bashing you here. Really really really.  That’s been part of our point in these posts – it’s not about you personally – it’s about the narratives and the societal constructs and the privilege provided to one group over another.

In fact, you menfolk ought to be as pissed off as we are. You understand the importance of affordable health care that includes sexual health (ahem it’s not just the vaginas and boobies that need looking after). You plan your families. You have lady friends, and Moms, and sisters, and nieces, and aunts. You like the sexing with the ladybits that are all nice and healthy without the babies – oh, and without les condoms. Don’t you?

But. You never have to go through this shit. You never have to know what this feels like. The fact that, even though these things totally involve you, men are somehow being left out of the equation. It’s not religion vs. all those people out there gettin’ down with they bad selves. It’s not that horrible woman who worked at Komen vs. all people who use Planned Parenthood. In reality, these issues do not involve gender lines – yet the arguments over them DO.

Nope. It’s about the ladiez. Menz – you get the penis pass.

But see, a key point is we don’t want you to know, either. Our anger is not so you have to go through it too – heavens! where would that get us? what would be the point! This is, actually, one of those privilege-things that actually (weirdly) good – as in, we ALL want to be treated as you, my fellow menfolk, are treated.

We do, however, expect you to take responsibility for your privilege. We do expect you to acknowledge this, to actually think about the fact that this will never happen to you. To think about how it does affect your friends/Moms/sisters/cousins/nieces/aunts/lady friends AND THE SAFE SEXING and the NO CONDOMS and the FAMILY PLANNING and to, you know, DO something. SAY something.

But, for the LOVE, not: What are you complaining about???

Of course, we are a lil specifically angrypants at all those old white dudes who are happy to exercise their privilege the way they are apparently deciding to do so. They are taking it a step further, and using their privilege to do wrong. Another point – we know most men would not do such things with their privilege.

Fuck you, those dudes. Fuck you.


Nikki & Katie*

*PS Simone recently came out of the blogging closet. Her real name is Katie.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2012 12:28 pm

    DISCLAIMER: You’re a brilliant writer and I enjoy reading your blog. I think it’s interesting to find out about others opinions. That been said…

    If you’re talking about requiring women to have an ultrasound prior to abortions, I’m have to disagree with you. Women getting abortions have to get an ultrasound prior to abortions already to see how big the baby is; the only difference is that they don’t have to look and realise that it’s a baby.

    I believe that abortion is inherently wrong. If something is right, more information won’t change it, so why are you against women having to see the life they are stopping is a tiny baby?

    • February 29, 2012 2:51 pm

      There are times when people disagree – even vehemently – and that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t respect/like each other. I’m ok with disagreement.

      As for abortion, you and I are never going to agree. No one has found a way out of that argument, as far as I can tell, so I am not sure about engaging that here – when you and I both know the outcomes.

      Furthermore, that isn’t the point of this post. The point here is: white men are making these decisions that are not representing the majority of their constituencies, and women are often and wrongly left out of those conversations. In addition, no matter how you or I feel about it, if men could suddenly get pregnant we would not be having these conversations in the way we have them now. Yes, we would still have them, because you and I feel very strongly, but they would not result in legislative action like this. I really do not believe it would. THAT is the issue I’m addressing here – the disparity and inequality in that reality – not my personal thoughts on abortion.

      All that said – I just might point out that NO ONE likes abortions. If there were never to be another abortion carried out, other than for health concerns of mother and fetus, I would be one happy gal. Because that would mean everyone was planning their pregnancies, there was no rape, no incest. Sex ed, contraception and family planning was accessible and available to all (dream world, sure, but still). That is how you prevent abortions – because the bottom line still remains: making abortions illegal doesn’t stop them from happening. They will still happen – but more women will die, and it will be the wealthy and the white who have the best access. We’ve done that before, and that is the result. It just is.

      Instead, it’s through education, enlightenment, empowerment to make one’s own choices, and access to safety and services that make the difference – to decrease the number of abortions. That is provable fact. However, these men want to cut even that off. It makes no sense – I mean, it does, but it’s clearly their own personal and convoluted agenda they are forcing on women.

      Can we find common ground there?

      • March 1, 2012 6:40 pm

        I don’t think we can.

        I believe that a morality exists outside of us that says it is wrong to take a human life unless that outcome is saving a human life. Statistics show that most abortions are done for convenience. I know several women who put up with the “inconvenience” that women have been dealing with for centuries to give someone a life.

        In terms of rape, babies should not be killed due to either of their parents bad decision.

        This is your blog, so you can reply to this and I won’t reply to that. You can have the last word.

      • March 2, 2012 9:48 am

        Ok – right. So I was hoping we could find common ground on the fact that I don’t like abortions either, and on the ways in which we can *prevent* abortions and move towards fewer abortions happening, as opposed to arguing over abortion itself – because we clearly aren’t going to find common ground around that.

        But, now that it’s been said, I don’t believe the majority of abortions happen out of “convenience”. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, convenient about having a baby – we should, as a society in a world of increasingly limited resources, be taking having children very very seriously. Women who decide to have abortions are doing so because they don’t have the resource to have a baby. Moreover, I take significant issue with the diatribe that the *majority* of women who have abortions take it lightly, or are flippant about it – or that they use it as some form of birth control. And, yes, it should be a last resort for people who have sex – not a reason to keep people from having sex.

        ALL THAT ASIDE – again, key issue is making education and access to birth control and family planning services affordable and easily available.

    • March 1, 2012 9:27 pm

      Though I vehemently disagree with your view on abortion, I can leave that aside to deal with the issue of requiring women who want an abortion to undergo an ultrasound.

      The problem with this new form of anti-abortion legislation is that it requires women to undergo a completely unnecessary medical procedure in order to receive a completely unrelated medical procedure. That’s like requiring men to undergo a prostate exam in order to have a vasectomy procedure. That’s like requiring a kid to have a complete physical in order to have their broken arm reset. That’s like requiring a back cancer patient to have a foot x-ray in order to receive their chemo. You get the point.

      The problem, as Nikki points out, is that these decisions are being made, in large part, by men, and it only further takes away the control that women have over their bodies. To require a woman to undergo an unnecessary medical procedure in order to receive a medical procedure she wants and needs is to say to her that she does not and should not have complete and total control over her body and her medical history and experience. Plus, most of the states do not cover the costs of the extra medical procedure, so it says to women that if they want a medical procedure that they are already going to have to pay for, they must then take on the further financial burden of a completely unnecessary and somewhat expensive medical procedure (ultrasound procedures run between $100 and $1000 dollars).

      As a man, I have no right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. Plain and simple.

      • March 2, 2012 9:51 am

        Yes, this.

  2. Mike permalink
    March 4, 2012 10:25 pm


    I really appreciated the responses you wrote to me in the last thread from Project X. I didn’t want to comment again there because your point for that post seemed to be just about how we should all hear each other, and I don’t think there’s any debate about that.

    In this new post, however, I find that I’m suffering from the same skepticism that I felt in the first place about the entire theory of privilege.

    I want to begin by pointing out that I believe abortions should always be legal I do not like moralistic arguments, so for me harm reduction is the best argument (they’re going to happen, legal or otherwise, so we might as well ensure that they take place in a medical setting).

    It’s when we move into moralistic arguments that I begin to have a hard time with privilege.

    The argument, as you have laid out here, makes perfect sense: women have a right to control their bodies, men attempting to usurp that control is an example of privilege.

    Yet, if we assume, arguendo, that the religious conservatives are correct, and that abortion is truly murder, then the entire privilege structure discussed here falls apart. Instead, we are left with a situation where women, in general, can casually and unilaterally commit murder without consequence, a sure sign of privilege if there is one.

    Furthermore, there is no equivalent male version of this murder, a man cannot unilaterally decide to kill his own unborn child.

    From this viewpoint, women hold a privilege that they fail to recognize because to them it is a “right” not dissimilar from the “rights” often claimed by the rich/the white/men to cover for what is obviously unearned privilege. The government action then represents a counterattack on this privilege which is, unsurprisingly, being rejected by the privilege holders.

    I’m not saying this is the right way to view things, but I do believe that it is illustrative of the problem with using “privilege” as a structure for analysis in the first place. The definition of who holds the privilege seems to really depend upon the underlying morality of the person making the argument, as opposed to an objective observation. If you believe abortion is about the right to control one’s own body, then obviously white males in government that limit this action hold privilege. If, on the other hand, you believe that abortion is murder, then a case could be made for women generally holding a privilege that they fail to recognize.

    This is why I continue to struggle with the idea of privilege. It seems little different from a repackaging of pre-existing narratives, rather than a tool that can be used to cut through said narratives in the first place.

    • March 6, 2012 8:57 am

      I see your point here, Mike, and I know you’re playing devil’s advocate a lil (and because you’re still not sold on privilege).

      To respond, this might be a lil wonky for me, as I don’t have the educational background to do it justice (will try to get Katie over here).

      First and foremost, the example you give here is fundamental based in taking someone’s *religious* beliefs as fact – which they are not. Scientific evidence is actually in complete opposition to the religious belief that life begins at inception (and abortions are, what, illegal in late-term pregnancies, and even then were only performed in cases of significant danger to mother and/or fetus). As you and I are solidly in the scientific evidence camp, than I don’t have to explain to you that this underlying premise, taking a religious/moral belief with no evidence aside from someone’s beliefs over scientific and provable fact, is therefore flawed. While I am NOT trying to deny someone their beliefs, they cannot force those beliefs on everyone else, especially given the lack of evidence for their beliefs beyond moral conviction.

      As such, despite the fact that I see the point you’re trying to make, the path to get there is the problem.

      That said, the argument I’m making here is not really about abortion specifically. What I mean is, I do not believe, if we were to suddenly wake up and men were the ones getting preggers, we would come close to having these kind of conversations about men. Abortion and contraception would be a dead issue, in terms of legislative action (again, we’d still talk about it because people feel strongly, period). Moreover, can you imagine a time when women would be allowed to have a hearing, of all women, and bar men from entering? And then have it be about men’s health?

      HOWEVER – a KEY point to keep in mind is that this DOES NOT MEAN the absence of female privilege elsewhere, as I pointed out in my example on the other post. The existence of privilege in certain spheres does not mean you are never marginalized.

      • March 6, 2012 11:59 am

        Hoo boy! So many good discussions going on!

        Regarding your questions about privilege, Mike, I would not argue that privilege is a way to cut-through and see “the truth” in pre-existing narratives. Re: recognizing your privilege doesn’t make you have cultural narrative x-ray vision. Privilege is a complicated beast and not all privilege is bad…meaning it would *suck* if some “rights” bestowed by privilege were taken away — we should, instead, want *all* people to have these same rights.

        In terms of your specific argument, it’s difficult for me to argue against b/c I don’t think your analogies are quite right? Meaning, I agree with Nikki that abortion = murder is a subjective stance. In order for women to have the “privilege” of accepted homicide, they would have to objectively be committing homicide.

        Instead, I see the argument more along the lines that Jamie introduced. This is about the right to have control over your own body. It is a man’s *privilege* that no one attempts to legislate what he can and cannot do with his body. This is a great right bestowed by privilege! I would never say that that a man should have this privilege taken away but only wish that it be bestowed upon all members of the population (women, transgender, etc.).

  3. March 5, 2012 11:53 pm

    I’m going to steer clear of debate and take the easy way out … that comic strip is AWESOME.

    • March 6, 2012 8:46 am

      Right??? Pretty good at summing up what I take pages to say.


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