so. so. there’s. mm.
there are a couple of posts going around re: noncis ppl hoping the petition for legal nonbinary genders does not do well for reasons that have to do with abolishing legal gender markers entirely and. it. makes me, a nonbinary POC, extremely uncomfortable for a lot of reasons. but here’s a thing.
if you’re white. like. don’t. don’t? don’t. a lot of gender binarism is rooted in colonialism and like. when you fill your mouth up with those words you are inevitably going to get grits of white supremacy and racism stuck in there too, you can’t escape that, not if you’re white.
like. there are safety issues here, and each person who would want to use a nonbinary gender marker would have to make those safety decisions for themselves, but they should have the chance, you know? they should have the chance to make that choice. whether or not you believe that gender markers should be abolished as a whole — i tend to agree with that as an ideal, i really do. but. here’s the thing.
my people have a very shaded and murky and uncertain history with gender systems and roles outside of the binary, and this is largely due to forced assimilation with white culture. i have to dig until i’m too tired of digging to think to find information about nonbinary genders in mexican history because so much of mexican history that isn’t written by white people (americans or spaniards) is just…nonexistent anymore. scraps that have been written by my people have been wiped out and rewritten by white people. there are traces there, there is history there — mostly in Native history, which i am not, so i do not feel comfortable speaking about because that is not my place — but it is small and hard to find because even in revolutionary movements re: gender and race, white people’s voices have been overpowering, and put into our mouths, and written into our history.
i don’t have access to my people’s history of gender because of white people. that is something that you need to think about if you are going to talk about gender systems, especially in western culture, ESPECIALLY in the USA where mexican peoples and cultures are extremely relevant — just as relevant as many other POC histories and cultures.
so when you talk, with your white history and your white voice, about prioritizing the abolition of gender markers over the introduction of nonbinary markers, you are putting your voice over mine. you talking over and spitting on the history i do not have access to, that i scrounge to find on a daily basis, because you have an access to relatively recent history of your own because you are a white person and this is a privilege given to you born out of your whiteness.
i do not live in a space where it would be safe for me to use a nonbinary gender marker. i risk a lot if i were to make that decision. but here is the thing that white people will never understand but you need to try to: my culture is already dying inside me. my very conception was, in part, an act of colonialism and white power and my childhood was entirely comprised of forced white assimilation. my history is dying inside me. my access to parts of me that are true and real and not white are slithering away from me for many reasons all the time, and each time a white person talks about gender with words created by POC and couches it in disfigured POC-oriented language, marred by their whiteness and divorced from their whiteness by their choice of language, i lose access to even more of those parts, of that history. everything about me that makes me mexican feels like such an effort. i struggle to be me, i struggle to relearn my own language, my own past, my own people. i am dying in your whiteness.
and so for me, for someone whose gender is inexplicably linked to my culture and my people and my history and my mexican mother and grandmother who both struggle with words and concepts that are lost to them and the hands of the white men in their lives and the white people in power over their work and their livelihoods, having a nonbinary marker is something like a revolution. it is a way to say “no” to the assimilation i have been forced into all of my life by primarily white people, white men. i am lost and sad and aching almost every day of my life as i try to navigate what it means to be me, mexican, in this very white world that i live in. and i have made the decision that i would rather be hurt more, i would rather die — as i inevitably will, whether physically or not — at the hands of a white person who cannot deny, cannot contradict my legal gender marker, than quietly clothed in the assumptions that white people have flung at me for my entire life.
that is a decision i am making, and want to make. and it will not be the decision that every nonbinary POC, nor ever specifically nonbinary mexican will make. but it should be a decision that is given to us, one that we are able to take from whiteness if whiteness will not hand it over willingly. and if you are white, your voice does not belong here, and if you want to be an ally, your place should be considering the implications of what you have to say about gender and nonbinary gender in particularly in a world that is not restricted to white interpretation and practice, no matter how much you have been coached to believe that it is.
your white voice starts out as poison. you do not have the ability to escape that. your white voice starts out louder and more important than mine. you do not have the ability to escape that. when you talk, your words are heard before mine, taken into account before mine, praised before mine — picked apart and even damned before mine, because even in the sphere of bad opinions, white words are considered more worthy of any reflection than POC words. you need to consider what a balm your silence might be. you have power that i do not, and when you use it blindly to express your white-rooted discomfort on an issue that is so wrapped up and involved in non-white histories, you are saying, whether your mean to or not, that your white opinion is more valid and important than the vast amounts of history that do not involve you positively — than the vast amounts of history i cannot access because of your voice.
if you are white and you want to be an ally, you need to consider every time you open your mouth. and when you don’t, when you defend your white discomfort tooth and nail without giving any kind of concessions to the POC you are actively hurting, then you prove that you are not my friend, not my brother/sister/sibling, not aligned with or aware of my gender, not my ally standing beside me, but my murderer standing above me. you are watching me die inside myself and saying “yes, okay, but gender as a whole makes me uncomfortable.”
and you are agreeing, now, if you continue to do so, that your discomfort still matters more.
When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk."
When [an abusive man] tells me that he became abusive because he lost control of himself, I ask him why he didn’t do something even worse. For example, I might say, “You called her a fucking whore, you grabbed the phone out of her hand and whipped it across the room, and then you gave her a shove and she fell down. There she was at your feet where it would have been easy to kick her in the head. Now, you have just finished telling me that you were ‘totally out of control’ at that time, but you didn’t kick her. What stopped you?” And the client can always give me a reason. Here are some common explanations:
"I wouldn’t want to cause her a serious injury."
“I realized one of the children was watching.”
“I was afraid someone would call the police.”
“I could kill her if I did that.”
“The fight was getting loud, and I was afraid the neighbors would hear.”
And the most frequent response of all:
"Jesus, I wouldn’t do that. I would never do something like that to her.”
The response that I almost never heard — I remember hearing it twice in the fifteen years — was: “I don’t know.”
These ready answers strip the cover off of my clients’ loss of control excuse. While a man is on an abusive rampage, verbally or physically, his mind maintains awareness of a number of questions: “Am I doing something that other people could find out about, so it could make me look bad? Am I doing anything that could get me in legal trouble? Could I get hurt myself? Am I doing anything that I myself consider too cruel, gross, or violent?”
A critical insight seeped into me from working with my first few dozen clients: An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong.
I sometimes ask my clients the following question: “How many of you have ever felt angry enough at youer mother to get the urge to call her a bitch?” Typically half or more of the group members raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many of you have ever acted on that urge?” All the hands fly down, and the men cast appalled gazes on me, as if I had just asked whether they sell drugs outside elementary schools. So then I ask, “Well, why haven’t you?” The same answer shoots out from the men each time I do this exercise: “But you can’t treat your mother like that, no matter how angry you are! You just don’t do that!”
The unspoken remainder of this statement, which we can fill in for my clients, is: “But you can treat your wife or girlfriend like that, as long as you have a good enough reason. That’s different.” In other words, the abuser’s problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable…."
Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (via seebster)
The North American Free Trade Agreement, passed 20 years ago, has resulted in increased emigration, hunger and poverty.
I wrote an article on this last year and all the undergrad kids thought it was stupid but now I guess it’s not stupid anymore ok ignore the person who knows what she’s talking about
Remember how people said Howie D. was the ugly Backstreet Boy? He was the only brown guy in the group.