This is not an Apology

While browsing Facebook today, I came to find out that a friend had deleted me from his friend list. I know- THE OUTRAGE.

Okay, Okay, being de-friended on FB is not a priority issue. It’s petty. And silly. And SO UNIMPORTANT. However, it was my initial reaction to being de-friended that really concerned me.

But before I get into that, let me give you the back story.

A few weeks ago I shared an article about privilege on Facebook, you can read it here: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/05/proof-male-privilege/

In no way was the article meant to condemn men. Instead, it was meant to stimulate important discussion on some of the privileges that are afforded to particular bodies and identities. So gentleman, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me say that I HAVE PRIVILEGE. As a cisgender, heterosexual, white woman, I absolutely breathe privilege every single day, and I am okay with admitting that- indeed, I feel as though we must start to recognize our privilege in order to better confront social injustices. By recognizing our privilege we take necessary steps in recognizing disparate treatment and disparate opportunities, and we can begin to engage in a dialogue that confronts these inequalities.

So long story short, I posted this article only to be immediately bombarded by private messages and comments in response, and these responses were rooted in ANGER and laced with blatant sexism. This article that I thought was beautiful, poetic, and meaningful had somehow become a Facebook controversy- and I was quickly trolled, condemned, and “verbally reprimanded” by a handful of men on my friends list. Because how DARE I accuse men of having privilege- (again) THE OUTRAGE.

One gentleman in particular found the post repulsive. He said that the author was a “self deprecating human seeking favor from a collective without offering much of a solution.” And then he mocked me and the author for seeing dialogue as a probable solution.

And these words made me ANGRY to my very core.  The article was NOT about self deprecation, it was about admitting to social injustices, inequities that don’t deserve to exist. I was angry to my core because I do believe words, discourse, and advocacy mean something, and I DO BELIEVE that AWARENESS is fundamental in our battle for equality. Yet despite my anger, I tried to stay calm, and I typed (what I believe) was a well articulated response. I then prepared myself for a comment battle of sorts, and I was determined to defend my position eloquently in hopes that it would encourage people to think critically about the post. However, BOY X never responded.

And a part of me rejoiced- I thought that perhaps I had reached him. Perhaps something I said had changed his mind, and I declared it a sweet victory (Hallelujah!) and went on with my day.

Then today, I found out that he deleted me as a friend, and it troubled me deeply.
Maybe it was because I thought I had reached him.
Maybe it was because I never thought that equality could be such a divisive issue.

But I was hit with this strange sadness, as if I had done something wrong. So I started to apologize-
The cursor blinked at me in the personal message box as I typed:
“Dear BOY X,
I am sorry if I hurt your feelings. I did not mean for the article to upset you.”

And then I stopped, and forced myself to press the delete button.

Because I wasn’t sorry that I posted the article.  It would be a shame if I felt guilt or regret. It would be a shame to diminish my fight for justice to an effort deserving of an apology. It would be a shame to apologize for disrupting a world of privilege while my sisters face these very real injustices every day.

Because while he de-friends me on Facebook for offending him, women will continue to make 78 cents to every man’s dollar. One in three women will continue to be sexually assaulted. Women will continue to be restricted in making health care decisions about their own bodies. AND THAT’S THE REAL TRAVESTY.

The travesty is not that I lost a friend on Facebook, it’s that someone was unwilling to listen. The travesty is that my initial response was to apologize for having the courage to speak. The travesty is that until people will open their minds and their hearts, women will continue to face these injustices.

That, my friends, is the travesty.

This is not an Apology

The Last Week of April: A Memo on Confronting Privilege

My heart hurts this day.

I have long contemplated where my voice belongs on issues that are “distant” from my own personal narrative and identity. Many times, I am fearful that my words will be out of touch from the very real and lived experiences of those who face social injustices on a daily basis. I am fearful that by speaking from a point of privilege I will cloud or disrupt the narratives that truly deserve to be heard. Yet my heart hurts too badly to say nothing. I am fearful that my silence or inaction will imprison me to perceptions of apathy, or worse, will serve as an endorsement of social injustice.

So today I speak.

I am a White, Cisgender, Heterosexual woman and as such, I am afforded privileges unknown to countless equally deserving persons. I’ve come to realize that my privilege is more visible to me on some days than others. This week especially, as I watch the LGBTQ and Black community fight for their much deserved equality, I have become acutely cognoscente and overwhelmingly ashamed of my privilege because I have watched it manifest into the mistreatment of others.

Let me explain.

My privilege allows me to one day marry the man I love. For this I am truly blessed. Through marriage, my partner and I will enjoy governmental benefits, we will be able to celebrate our commitment and admiration for one another without disparagement or judgment, and together we will be able to apply for housing without a fleeting concern of potential discrimination. My privilege allows me to love, and be loved freely- a right that should be available to all.

My privilege assures that I will never personally face the visceral horror of racially motivated police brutality. I will never wonder if my arrest or conviction was somehow dependent on the color of my skin. Should I ever take to the streets to fight the good fight for justice, my privilege would paint me as a martyr, while my brothers and sisters in Baltimore are condemned for their “thuggery.” My privilege affords me protection from the abuse and tyranny of the state – again, a right that should be available to all.

So, yes, my heart hurts this day. Today I am ashamed because our world is a place where people still have to FIGHT for the rights that were arbitrarily handed to me. Today I am ashamed of those who denounce and criticize people’s efforts for inclusion and equality. Today I am ashamed by Facebook posts and Twitter updates that are apathetic to an endless history of marginalization and oppression.

Today, I am ashamed of privilege and the blindness it has caused.

So while I do not speak in place of those who are suffering, I do speak to honor them: I speak of their valor, their resilience, their courage, and their strength. And on this day, let it be known that their story, the injustices that they have endured are not (and will never) be lost on me.

The Last Week of April: A Memo on Confronting Privilege