The privilege of being non-political
Those who insist on keeping spaces “non-political” are usually oblivious to the fact that they can demand this because of their inherent privilege.
On certain online dating profiles, in certain FB groups, in certain conversations, etc, we’re often presented with people who advocate for being not “interested in politics”, or “not wanting politics to get in the way”, or “not wanting to make people uncomfortable with political opinions”. The only people who think that any space or relationship can ever be non-political are those who benefit from the status quo, those whose identities enable them to not ever rub up against the uncomfortable truth that their existence is political. Those who benefit from a privilege so deep they can’t even see that saying let’s put politics aside and be non-political is itself a deeply political statement and act.
As a fat disabled migrant woman, my existence is shaped by the political. So is most of those around you. So is yours if you are not a middle class cis-het white male of average age. For me, and for my friends who are indigenous or whose skin colour looks “different”( different from what?), and for many others, these identities which we can never remove mean that our interactions with the world around us and the people in it are, always, political, to some degree or another.
Insisting that we not “be political” or that we maintain “non-political” spaces is an inherently violent political act, which imposes the superiority of one identity and norm above ours, invalidating what makes us so special and insisting that we accept the dominant view or identity as being the base-standard, and our deviation from that as being a distasteful or unacceptable pejorative that they would prefer to ignore. We don’t have that privilege.
Maintaining the status quo is not “non-political”. It is rather being wilfully blind to the how the status quo inherently benefits you as politically acceptable or superior, i.e. your privilege. Trying to shut others down by insisting on non-political spaces is only safe or fun or comfortable or easy if you think living in your identity is itself not political. This is one of the most political positions you could ever take.
If this makes you uncomfortable, if you think this status is about you, if you think I’m attacking you, or if you don’t think you are privileged or political and you can’t understand why I keep banging on about stuff like this, read it again and sit with it. And don’t ever tell me you want to keep the space non-political, as that political act of asserting your norm as the standard is an attempt to erase the validity of my identity and the power of my agency in the relationship.
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