Posts tagged ‘privilege’

December 24, 2011

Say what you want, but no guarantees I’ll listen

You’ll often see people loose their shit over their right to say whatever they want. They’ll see a post like this, and go, “I have the right to free speech.”

Which, of course, is true. You, and everyone else, has the right to free speech (this is excepting the cases of hate speech). What is not true, is that you have the right to be listened to. So, when a PoC (or otherwise marginalized person) tells you that they don’t require your opinion, they aren’t saying that you can’t have an opinion or that you can’t express that opinion. They are simply saying that they don’t want to hear you damn opinion, so kindly keep it to yourself. Or express it somewhere else.

This is one of the main reasons why we at the Biyuti Collective don’t do comments. Because we don’t want to hear the opinions of trolls or whomever. We just don’t want to hear it. You can say it all you want, just say it to someone else. Say it somewhere else.

Privileged people like to scream about how they are being silenced by things like hate speech laws or whatever. They want to ensure that their rights trample all over everyone else. The problem is, is that they don’t want the right to free speech but the right to be hateful and to shit that hate all over the place (especially in the faces of the people they hate).

It is the height of privilege to think that everyone must listen to what you say. Not so. I don’t have to listen to racists. I don’t. I don’t have to listen to homo-haters. I don’t have to listen to trans-haters. I don’t have to listen to their hateful speech, their bigoted comments, or their dumb as fuck opinions (about anything). Y’all can say whatever you want. But I don’t have to fucking listen. At all. Or ever. And I’ll be damned if anyone can compel me to do otherwise.

If you knew what real silencing was, you’d have a real different opinion about free speech. If you knew that people listen to your hateful words far more than they listen to anything I say, you’d get the hell out of my face about your right to free speech.

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October 19, 2011

Designated values and privilege

I’ve had occasion to criticize the cis/trans distinction. One of the commentators mentioned asked me if they should not identity as trans because their family didn’t reject them. It has take me a while to work through how I really should have responded to that comment.

Originally, I said that simply subsuming myself under the trans label totally erased my identity, not only as a POC but also the privilege my particular non-binary identity allowed me to experience. It was me wanting to *own* my privilege that prompted me to want to call out the inherent imperialism of including non-Western identities under the trans label. It was me wanting to credit and recognize both my family as well as my culture for allowing me to grow up *without* the pain of gender confusion.

Anyway, it was also out of a belief that while my gender expression is outside of the Western binary it may actually re-enforce the binary in the Philippines. When you look over the four categories of gender, you immediately realize that while it may be a little more fine-grained than the West, it still ultimately supports the supremacy of the binary identity.

The four categories are man, woman, bakla, tomboy*. This is also usually considered to be the proper order of importance. And the way that these four categories still manage to create a binary is via the mechanisms that allow for a multi-valued logic. There are logical systems that admit of more than ‘true’ and ‘false.’ The system may recognize ‘neither true nor false’ and ‘both true and false’ as valid truth values. However, in order to interpret these systems some of the values become designated and some are un-designated. See how above the layer of diversity there is a dominant layer creating another binary?

Of course, being an undesignated truth value doesn’t carry the exact same implications as being ‘false’ (or women in the case of either the Philippines or the West). In the above construction, the designated values are man and bakla, while un-designated are woman and tomboy. See? Gender diversity does not imply that a society will magically become an un-patriarchy.

This is why taking cultural variation for gender is important. One cannot claim that gender is socially constructed without recognizing that there are non-White societies. I find that the people who repeatedly say this always assume whiteness as default and filter everything through that white gaze.

It leaves no space for me to recognize that I received designated privilege while my Ate caught a lot of shit from my Tatay for performing femininity. Tatay never policed my gender and allowed me to as femme as a I wanted (which when I was cross-dressing in high school, was pretty damn femme). Whereas, when it came to Ate? She received the full brunt of rape culture’s victim blaming and was constantly policed by Tatay.

This highlights another problem with the appropriation of non-white gender variance by the trans movement. Ultimately, they are pointing to the other and exoticising it. It is another variation on the theme of ‘Noble Savage.’

* This reflects a personal understanding of the situation. I will say that, when I was in the Philippines, I never saw any Tomboys. They were invisible, whereas I saw Bakla in every town I visited (even some really small ones) — of course, I also saw men and women everywhere.