Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page
If you travel to Google’s homepage today (in the U.S.), you’ll notice a little sentence below the search bar:
This brought to mind a post by Shelby Knox on Feministe – namely, that “Of 109 innovators, artists, revolutionaries and creators designated important or interesting enough for a doodle, only 8 have been women.”
Apparently, the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. is not a momentous enough occasion for crafting an actual Google Doodle, perhaps celebrating all of the women that worked long and hard to be recognized as active, contributing members of society, and not property.
I mean, come on, it took about 10 seconds of Google-fu to come up with this list. Imagine the wealth of knowledge on Wikipedia, or maybe in an actual book. This is just another example of minimizing women that, while taken by itself may seem insignificant, contributes to the oppressive behemoth that is our patriarchal culture.*
*For more dirt that we angry women use to make mountains out of molehills, see My Fault I’m Female. It is made of win.
I may come into possession of a small, fuzzy ball of cute in the next few days, so I’ve been going over in my head the geekiest names I can think of. My thoughts went back to Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, because Dickens’ character names are the amazing precursor to JK Rowling’s character names – i.e., they are novel, chosen/crafted very deliberately, convey the essence of each character, and are just damn fun to say. (Would this have been a much more fun topic to focus my thesis on? Quite.)
If I had any knowledge about gender politics back in my undergraduate days, I could have opened up a huge can of worms surrounding our conversation about names in Dickens, specifically the nickname David Copperfield’s childhood friend, Steerforth, gave him: Daisy.
Missed that boat.
If I do come into possession of a mewly little tribblekitten, this blog may temporarily descend into awwlookatthelittletailandthefeetzand bpabhbldhbhddb.
The other day when I was thinking about privilege, like you do, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies: a stunning piece of cinematic genius known as Power Rangers: The Movie. I know what you’re thinking: that PR:TM is slightly high-brow for a lowly blog, but bear with me.
So, back in the day, I was quite smitten with a certain Blue Ranger. The glasses, the overalls, the being socially ostracized – it just did it for me. And quite recently I happened upon a behind-the-scenes video from the bygone era of Angel Grove High that confirmed what I was too naïve to grasp in those glory days: Walter Jones was perfectly aware that he, a black man, was cast as the Black Ranger. I can also infer from this that Thuy Tran was well aware that she, an Asian woman, was cast as the Yellow Ranger.
This last paragraph doesn’t really have anything to do with my point. I just thought it was interesting.
My point is actually related to something Billy the (drop-dead sexy) Blue Ranger says on Phados when he and his buddies are fighting stunt actors in bird suits:
“Y’know the funny thing about Morphin’? You don’t appreciate it ‘till you can’t do it anymore!” [At which point he gets his ass handed to him by aforementioned feathered stunt persons.]
And – lo! – we do not live in a vacuum. Even movies like PR:TM are written/produced/filmed in a social milieu. (That may account for those egregious casting decisions I opened with! Look, I brought it around!) So, I thought, “Hey! What if I replace ‘Morphin’’ (as cool as that is) with ‘privilege’? With one word, I have successfully turned PR:TM into insightful social commentary.”
Some privilege doesn’t just go away, like Morphin’ can (if your head-in-a-tennis-ball-canister boss gets pwned, of course).
So, as a tool for folks when they come into a situation where their (white, cis, het, male, etc) privilege affords them an unearned advantage, just encourage them to imagine that they’re on an alien planet that looks a lot like Australia. All of a sudden they’re ambushed by wisecracking Tengu warriors, and they realize that their trusty magic gold coin, used to swathe themselves in Technicolor spandex, is gone, and without it their chances of escaping (psychologically, physically, emotionally) intact are, if not nil, at least drastically reduced.
That spandex – that’s privilege.
Seriously, use this in a conversation about the kyriarchy. It’ll help.
A co-worker just stopped me in the hall and said, “Do you think it’s rude that, when I walk into the employee lounge, and there are twenty people from India in there, that they’re all speaking in their language?”
“No,” I said.
“Well, I do. I mean, who knows what they could be saying?”
Having friendly co-workers makes your job easier. The vast majority of my white co-workers would not be as friendly with me if I were not white, and especially if English was not my native language.
This has been an episode of “a day in the life of white privilege.”