How about checking your OWN privilege first?

B.S. vs. Activism: I dare you to read this article in its entirety and then talk about privilege.

Every minute privileged people like you and I are writing up on our fancy MacBooks crocking up bullshit and sipping on our $5 lattes, there is a man serving in the armed forces — some who have literally lost their limbs, being shot dead in his line of duty as a cop, committing suicide, picking up our trash, and shoveling your snow, my snow — call me lazy. I call up “two strong dudes” when I need my furniture moved (hint: you can come up with a needle in a haystack example to counter this and yell, “You are wrong!” if it helps; it doesn’t make the haystack magically disappear).

These poor men keep me pretty privileged, and safe:
Because I do not want to take up the responsibility of doing so myself. But he’s privileged for he’s white, straight, cis and male. 🙄

He may have to work his ass off in the summer heat and in the winter snow — risk his life daily at a job including the chance of being electrocuted to feed a family, while truly privileged motherfuckers like us enjoy coffee, fancy dinners, our Cabernets and even the ability to work from the comfort of our homes. But, he’s privileged.

There are ample women in developing and underdeveloped countries suffering from grave sexism, rape, violence and misogyny; engrained at an institutional level not just in a made-up fantasyland or derived from biased “gender studies” researches. Catcalls are bad enough and we — good men and women alike detest the catcaller very much, but what some of these poor women go through in their daily lives is incomparable to the distress of a catcall. To give you a very mild example, last I checked, there exist “women only” seats in some of the public transportation systems across the world, including in India and China — for reasons good or bad, this is one solid example of how some government institutions view men and women differently. I’m sure we just heard about Saudi Arabia’s move to let women drive which was appalling: something I wasn’t aware of. That’s oppression; an extreme side, but it is real oppression.

Oppression and privilege are subjective.

You could be a straight, white, cis-male who has to literally do the heavy lifting as a construction worker or have a shit job to keep your family afloat, or you can be a woman or a gay man of color who is highly successful, living a comfortable life and killing it, that is if you choose to see beyond your past struggles; or that of your ancestors and acknowledge what you have now. Or you can be a person in a developing country who has no time to think of privilege. For him or her, their life is dictated by need, the man has to go out, as does the woman to find work; the kids being neglected if not forced into child labor — the family living in despair; all impoverished, barely surviving. Boy, feeling very privileged now aren’t ya?

Why are you writing about it, Axhole?

Why the fuck does a seasoned technologist schmuck like me even bother to write about this?

A. I receive toxic garbage dubbed activism on my news feed daily which lacks facts, victimizes one privileged class of people while claiming another class as highly privileged and the grass being greener. I have come to the understanding that this notion is not objectively true; though it is being marketed as such.

B. Politics have already crept into objective fields like science and technology. You can’t be just left alone to code; or have an open discussion about anything anymore without taking into account the consequences. Just because some people, or I don’t want to discuss some very valid subjects, that is reason enough to invalidate them. The point is not whether an opinion is right or wrong but that we simply want a filtered version of reality in which Santa Claus may be real — I mean he is, don’t get me wrong. I’m not this guy.

C. I was once a proud liberal, “activist” but the status quo just isn’t permitting me to stay that way. I feel betrayed. Fuck, turns out I’m not the only one. Don’t worry, I’m not yet a conservative either. I prefer to be an individual.

Define ‘Activism’

There was a time activism was about giving voice to people who did not have a voice. I’m talking about the times of Sir Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who actually went through the persecution at a time discrimination was deeply rooted in people’s minds and prevalent at an institutional level. The ‘activism’ you see today is nothing short of a class of privileged people: women and men victimizing themselves and focusing on what they don’t have, all while denouncing the legitimate struggles of other, underprivileged women and men.

Opposite turn. All these so-called “social justice warriors” who are just angry complainers, in my opinion, think they are doing great service by writing emotionally charged pieces which lack rationality — take Jessica Valenti for example; God knows how she manages to receive thousands of claps for writing pieces lacking common sense. Pathos much? Follow the comments on some of her pieces and it’s proof that sane people exist, who can see through BS. I do like some of her works but a lot of them are based on flawed premises and assume straight men to be “guilty be default.” Nah.

Diane Lockhart

If today there does exist a “silent majority” who actually feels they can’t speak up their mind, despite supposedly being privileged and in power, well, I’m not sure who the oppressor, the oppressed and the privileged are anymore. There was a time I felt that way; oppressed. I don’t, now.

Modern ‘activism’ is easy

True heroism is about standing up for a cause and swimming against the tide. Isn’t that what we learned from the past?

It is far easier to support an argument when you have the Supreme backing of the mainstream media, your HR department, and the “popular vote.” It’s the bearers of unpopular opinions who are often persecuted, marginalized and must be protected.

It’s far easier to mince your words or turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room to keep peace and go with the vocal beliefs, isn’t it? But it takes balls to point out the unfair and be a fair judge. Denying facts does not make them disappear.

People will tell you emotions and empathy are important. That is what makes you human. I argue that emotions can also be harmful: you CAN win the trust of millions with just emotion, but you can never be a fair and objective judge of ‘issues’ with them alone.

Photo credit: http://gph.is/1IF8KEP

For example, talk to me about, I don’t know, trans rights: make your case for or against it. I would be able to defend the trans rights as it does not personally impact me. There is somewhat of an emotional detachment. Send me your best arguments against gay marriage and I’ll be an unfair judge: I’m biased towards it. I cannot-not support it even if the best arguments were made against it. My emotion renders me unfit to effectively judge the pros and cons of something so controversial, being sold and perceived by me as a fundamental right. The key difference however is that even though I’m biased towards such a divisive issue, I would have unequivocal support of the mainstream media, the law, my employer, the HR and the “vocal majority” should I choose to voice my support for the cause. On the other hand, anyone who objects to gay marriage for reasons valid or not, may come under fire big time. This is called modern, privileged activism.

Privileged activism has a pre-approved institutional endorsement attached to it.

What is ‘Privilege’

having more of something others don’t.

In my opinion, the ability to be yourself; to be free from persecution, to be able to speak your mind freely, to do what you want, no matter how nonsensical or sensible your opinion may be.

My issue is not with anyone standing up for what they believe in.

My issue is people doing so at other people’s expense; by throwing others under the bus to enhance their agenda.

My issue is people believing that grass is truly greener and perpetuating flawed beliefs; and even hate towards a particular class — largely straight, white, cis-males. Objectively, this is no different than someone hating on African-Americans, Jews, women, gays or any other group due to their perceived hatred and prejudice against that group. Surely, you may be able to justify it by blaming patriarchy, or it’s because the majority is already powerful, so we have a license to trash them. No sir, no miss, you don’t.

If the Western straight, white, cis-males were really as powerful and oppressive as we often declare them out to be, we would not have gay rights, gay marriage, feminism or any of the progress we have made thus far. The person I just criticized above in fact wrote the piece, “Dear Men, Feminism Needs You.” Yes, the early activists helped big time — but the efforts could not have succeeded without people from the majority playing some part in it. If anything, wouldn’t you think that someone with a lot of power and malice, an oppressor would have squashed you like a cockroach on the street, given their mighty power and resources?

Anyway, back to exploring privilege:

Privilege as a male

  1. Is it a privilege in being able to not be catcalled, or be able to walk alone at night and feel relatively* safer? Or be perceived physically stronger? Or even be physically stronger in a lot of cases?
    Absolutely.
    *relatively: you can still be mugged at gunpoint or stabbed or punched by a bigger guy, but the likelihood of rape and sexual assault for males is much lower, duh.
  2. Is it a privilege for your family and friends to assume you are smart at Math and Science by default because you are a man; perhaps an employer offering you a higher salary because of this inherent bias, even though that may be debatable in reality? Yes, it is. Third-wave feminism is working hard to change that for sure. But the movement seems to only focus on what “women don’t have” rather than being egalitarian for both sexes. If you are already starting out with a flawed premise that men, or a certain class of people have it easy all the way by default — without even trying to find opposite facts, you are too blinded to perceive the naked truth (“shades of gray”). Basing an entire movement on a flawed premise is bound to spiral downwards: either by increasing the divide in the society or by simply making others see you, a fool.
  3. Is it a privilege to grow up being expected to “man the fuck up” or “grow a pair”?
    Umm, not so much. Yes it is a patriarchal ritual but even in matriarchal times — think in terms of reigns of Queens of England, or feminist societies aka now, males continue(d) to be the expendable; disposable sex and the activists are not so concerned. If you are so concerned about equality, please step up and take the load off the shoulders of the underprivileged men: take the lawmakers by force to push for an equal representation in combat military operations, have more women undertake construction work, plumbing, mining and other dangerous jobs as well. Also, push for an equal representation in female dominated professions. The inconsistencies and being selective when it comes to professions helps no one. This is not anger or malice but it’s a fair argument. Without vouching to take on more lesser appealing responsibilities, one comes across as having their cake and eating it too.
  4. Is it a privilege to undergo domestic violence and be told to not hit back because well, you are a man?
    Nope. If you do, you will be seen guilty: even in same-sex relationships.
  5. Is it a privilege to be a good man, fully support women’s rights and yet be seen as a guilty asshole?
    Not fun. As a matter of fact, it’s what drives us away.
  6. Is it a privilege to be expected to deal with misandry on a daily basis, even though you hate misogyny? And mind you, societies (aka women and men) have consistently moved away from sexism and continue to do so.
    Nuh-uh. We can only take so much hate; it affects us too.
  7. Is it a privilege to have little say in how to raise your child? Or having to pay alimony, child support, and lose custody if you are sued in family court?
    Nope. Fatherhood is hard. Feminism is trying to change this but very slightly so.

I’m not trying to go all M.R.A. on you but at the same time, if you want to denounce this reality, you are doing yourself and everyone a disservice.

As a woman

First and foremost, women do have it hard in a lot of ways. The internet, the news, the media is filled with examples. Society expects women to be the primary caregivers; to give up their careers and raise children, or treats women as fragile and pretty (objectification). And of course, workplace sexism in form of behavioral expectations. Men definitely have had more leeway here. Good thing times are changing.

Misandry is in the air, cheers!

I still think we can make a point without the unnecessary misandry.

It’s funny, if this were earlier times, I would let it go — because gender dynamic was different. But even in this day and age, I witness misandry everyday on mainstream TV and news, in a society which pretends to favor equality, not supremacy. Only yesterday, I watched in disbelief a female character on one of my favorite TV shows jokingly taunting how it would have been a “turn on” had the male character Cary Agos been raped: “Any gang rape [occurred to you in prison]?” (Season 6, Episode 6 of The Good Wife). 😮

I thought rape wasn’t funny — apparently it is when it occurs to men. You will find ample articles about sexism on the show or rape when it concerns women but not one that covered anything about this instance. Ouch.

If you keep an open mind, much like it’s easy to witness sexism and misogyny everyday, it is easy to witness subtle misandry too. The key difference is misogyny is and always has been denounced — in patriarchal and feminist societies alike, while misandry has been and is being encouraged even though it may have nothing to do with equality.

If you are truly for equality, you denounce misogyny, misandry… or hate for anyone. You do not try to justify or encourage misandry and expect to be rewarded.

Here are some prime examples from the current decade:

The Independent, 2018: “The fact that we’re considering making misandry a hate crime should concern everyone who believes in equality”. Wow. That’s some equality. That Handmaid’s Tale image is pushing it too. You know that is fiction. Last time I checked fiction did not equate reality.

It’s okay to write an illustrated guide about kicking guys in the nuts, 2014: “How to Kick a Guy in the Balls: An Illustrated Guide”.
As a last resort form of self-defense when there’s an imminent threat of danger? Understandable.
2017/18: Kicking males in the testicles … for this, or killing him like this over a minor offense? Horrid. And of course, because it’s about male genitalia a lot of the times, we all laugh about it.

You can experience more of subtle and upfront misandry on TV for yourself if you are looking with an open mind, but here are some reddit anecdotes. If one of the goals of feminism was to also help men break away from their patriarchal roles (“men are strong and can suck it up”), it’s regrettably failed and failed big time.

Ok, the “privilege” if I may

Not talking about the choice of different dresses, makeovers, hair, or high heels which make me a tad envious but:

  1. The choice to earn your living or marry into money; or do both. Meghan Markle, I’m very jealous — you stole the Prince away from me. People don’t like to hear it. Working women look down on other women who take this route but the choice very much exists even today: some of my female friends have readily taken the traditional route and chosen to be full-time mothers. And while couples may exist where Dad is staying-at-home and Mom is the breadwinner, such an arrangement is exceptional and often frowned upon.
  2. Reproductive choice, and the upper hand in family courts: I’m pro-choice and pro-abortion by the way but the debate is about a woman’s choice to begin with, irrespective of your partner’s consent. I’m biased towards women on this one but think about it for a second. The choice exists though to legally claim “child support” in case of an accidental pregnancy even if the man isn’t ready yet to be a parent, even in relatively egalitarian times of today — why? Or the choice to claim alimony or get custody during a divorce. If you are a “good feminist,” you may never take advantage of these choices in order to prove yourself but the choice exists, should you ever change your mind.
  3. The ability to actually practice and openly encourage misandry; hit men, write garbage about men, expect them to “drive you around” (I am guilty of this too — the driving around part) and make unlimited dick and ball jokes, or use curse words exclusive to men (“bastard”, “dog”, “pig”, “asshole”, “dickhead”, “motherfucker”, “creep”) and get away with it. On the contrary, the word “b*tch” even when used colloquially just naturally sounds way more offensive and sexist. For the record, majority of men — fathers, husbands, boyfriends are decent human beings and deserve respect too you know?

Conclusion

Yes, in this imperfect world a penis and a pair of testicles fucking helps, and are even beautiful to look at for some of us, but they won’t make you richer or build you castles overnight without putting in any effort. Honestly, the time you are wasting complaining about an issue — you, Mr. or Ms. Activist, could use to look up a “NodeJS how-to guide”, write up your own app and solve a very real objective problem that impacts many people; and maybe even make some money. Your privilege, in this case, is having a computer and the Internet — not a penis or lack thereof.

I tried to remain silent on the issue; it’s far more easy to go with the flow, you know, the PC route but if privileged people like you and I don’t denounce the very “myth of privilege”, the truly marginalized men and women who had to work it and earn it will suffer. And people do retaliate; as they did in 2016, and now we are all screwed. Personally, I believe all different people; including both genders have their share of struggles — more for some than others but for anyone to assume that a certain group equates “privileged, guilty, asshole-bastards” is a flawed premise. At the same time, dwelling only on the past struggles won’t help you move forward in life.

Know what’s a privilege? The ability to read this piece, having access to a roof over your head or uninterrupted heat in your apartment; to be able to afford material resources way beyond your essential needs. The privilege of having access to a 100,000 brands of yogurt at your grocery store even though you may only be craving Chobani, and others will be thrown out. Oh, even if none of that applies to you, the sun will rise again, highly likely there is peace around you right this moment, and that most of your loved ones are likely alive and doing just fine. There’s an awful lot to be pretty fuckin’ thankful for. The glass is rather more than half full on an average day — or completely empty for a kvetching activist.

So… next time you anger yourself up, fantasize about what you don’t have, and make up toxic garbage which exists largely within the frontiers of your mind, stop, and check your privilege.

Happy New Year.