I got into a conversation a few days ago on the topic “what can [privileged people] do to help [unprivileged people] without sounding like they want cookies or are using their privilege to dominate/take over?”
And while tackling this on a variety of spectra (as happens when a gay white man is talking to a straight white woman about privilege), talking about sitting down, listening, remembering it’s Not About You, I had a sudden epiphany.
All privileged people are some analogue of Schrödinger’s Rapist.
When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.
I’m a straight woman with Real Queer Friends. I know I’m a nice person, I know I don’t [consciously] judge people for being not-heterosexual. And after years of friendship, my friends may be working on the assumption that I am not a threat, not a person who is going to suddenly use “gay” as a derogatory term or crack hilarious jokes about buttsex.
Working on the assumption.
Because I am Schrödinger’s Heterosexual: my friends can never truly be certain whether or not I’m homophobic or transphobic or see the world in heteronormative terms until I demonstrate it. Until I fail the test.
And that goes for my race privilege, and my class privilege, and my education privilege.
And there’s no pass condition on this. A privileged person can simply never actually prove with 100% certainty that they will never be a threat or a problem or a trigger to an unprivileged person.
And lords and ladies, we’ve got more than enough extreme-headdesk-worth examples of people who really, really should know better pulling some serious asshattery.* Until now, they might have been Schrödinger’s Mainstream Feminists. Now we’ve opened the box and had a look and it ain’t pretty.
We privileged people do not “deserve” the automatic trust or assumption of good faith or patience of unprivileged people [especially while in the act of fucking up]. And that’s okay, because it’s not about us. And that’s Basic Ally-hood 101.
*Author’s note: I originally went to type that as “people who you would never think would be bigots”. I get to assume these people aren’t bigots, because I’m a straight white lady. That’s privilege.
It is 68% sure that I am male.
Now, having done similar tests before on my LJ account, it’s not surprising. A good proportion of my female friends’ blogs come back as “probably written by a guy” (strangely, the reverse is not true of blogs written by my male friends).
But when the creators say:
Behind the scene, a text classifier hosted over at uClassify.com has been trained on blogs written by men and women. In our lab it seems to works pretty well, we want to see how it performs on the web!
And (currently) 7,806 respondents, or 47% of total, say GenderAnalyzer got it wrong? Somebody’s telling porkie pies.
But God knows I’m just dying to see what their samples of “blogs written by men and women” are like.
Testing my confirmation bias:
Debbie Does Edmonds returns 67% female.
Renegade Evolution is 54% male, or “quite gender neutral”.
The Standard is 89% male.
And No Right Turn is … 66% female. Now I’m just confused.