Agency

Truth - We should all be feminists. For the sake of the world and creating the best reality possible, we must prioritize dismantling the patriarchal system we have been indoctrinated into. Everyone and I mean absolutely everyone has a stake in the fate of womxn across all diversities and intersections of identity. The liberation of womxn is inherent to the emancipation of all from rigid gender roles, societal expectations, and adverse stereotypes that prevent people by from reaching their full potential. Agency is the ability to choose, and to choose for yourself. Feminism is about dynamic agency in all aspects of life.

"Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating." Andrea Dworkin


I am a feminist because people should be able to have choice in all aspects of life. Freedom is choice and to be so without the bondage of a world order that demands restriction, complacency, and success at the expense of others. Representation matters and all people should be able to aspire, achieve, and advance in any of the ways that they dream. Seeing yourself or someone you perceive to share a commonality with you is a potent affirmation. Womxn and non-binary folx are woefully underrepresented in many an area, particularly the government and major businesses, aka power holding bases (both legislatively and financially). Men being numerical less abundant in a career field is not equivalent because men still retain their male privilege in those instances. Namely, reverse sexism does not exist because there is nothing that womxn or intersex, and non-binary peoples can do to INSTITUTIONALLY (key word) disenfranchise men. Everyone can discriminate, have prejudice, and commit interpersonal injustices. But men having their bodily autonomy revoked, being misled with loans, major purchases, insurance, etc., or subverted through child-bearing/rearing expectations would take the entire social order being flipped. Even individual instances of such a thing (arguably a farce) would not do nothing to disrupt the social process, hence why womxn only showings of Wonder Woman, female empowerment seminars, and other affinity spaces are not exclusionary, but rather retreats from a "less-than" status in a hierarchy that values heteronormative men and gender-confirming masculinity above all. 

I'm going to center myself in my masculinity for a second and break down toxic masculinity, the plight of stoic man, and why everyone (especially men) needs feminism. In dismantling our inherently sexist, heterosexist, queer-phobic, etc. social hierarchy, men are also included in freeing themselves from the cage we have placed ourselves in. Masculinity by no means is under attack, instead more and more folx are taking a long overdue critical perspective to this facet of human behavior. This socialization that sometimes produces expressions of anger, violence, thrill-seeking, etc. that are ultimately destructive to self and to others, is rightfully being interrogated. Even more so is a call to combat the expectation of stoicism in men. This apathetic, emotionally immature, protector persona where men are shamed or lose social capital when they step outside those constricting boundaries has got to go. We have generations of men with no idea how to process emotion, unable to express themselves, and stuck being caricatures instead of full-fledged people. The mental health implications can be deadly, and the likelihood for men to recognize they need help, let alone ask for it is dangerously low. Men (and everyone as well) are suffering in silence, trapped in their own imprisonments, constructed by society, their communities (across all genders), and internalized by themselves. Feminism means that men, and everyone else get to choose how they show up on their own terms, as opposed to being limited to an unattainable ideal of manhood. That agency of choice is operative to all of this. Enjoy aggressive pick-up football, cry at the passing of your father, parent your children, love cars, and define yourself in your own way, not in relation to competing with other men and the conquest of womxn. 


Allyship is a simple concept but becomes complicated when put into practice. It is something you truly do practice daily - not a one and done thing. Ally is not a self-proclaimed title but rather one bestowed upon you from someone as part of a marginalized community. It's a title that is constantly in flux. Sometimes you are a strong ally, and other times you mess up, say/do some heinous stuff, or retreat into your privilege/reify interpersonal & institutionally oppressive systems. What makes allies unique is their willingness to do the following: do the actual work (both that of self-awareness & intervening externally), asking what those they are supporting want/need, setting up the microphone/amplifying voices not taking up airtime, and most importantly being able to be called out/in to conversation and taking responsibility for their words/actions. That last one, being able to be checked, and better yet, checking yourself is of the utmost importance. Instead of being caught up in fragility and clinging on to privilege (which is never really at risk), its taking ownership for the harm you have caused a community member, making amends, and working to be better. That's the caveat, once you know better, you're expected to do better. Nobody expects perfection but it problematic to think allyship is automatic "get out of perpetrating injustice free" card. Your membership as an ally can and will be revoked as necessary, but if you are genuinely committed to actively working against the system you benefit from, then you continue to do the work. Being an ally to one person again does not blanket cover you for a lifetime with everyone else. You have to show up, again and again, for others. 

Relational allyship is not allyship, it's exploitative positionality. Performative allyship is insidious psychological warfare. Either you support folx because you value their humanity inherently or you don't. It's not because you have a female friend, a mom, a sister, etc. That still center men. That's the agency you have someone with a social identity that is recognized & valued by our society.  Allyship is a choice. You get to freely walk in and out of conversations/situations of social justice as you please. Allies are absolutely imperative to movements though, messaging is perceived differently from them talking to those with similar life experiences, and they are the ones that have the most direct power/influence to make tangible social change. Allyship is also inherently self-serving. It is about pandering and posturing with the language of social justice while continuing to partake in microaggressive slights and macroaggressive structures. It is not about absolution or removing yourself from complicity - you are always implicated by nature of the existence we find ourselves navigating, however it is a distinction of choosing to put in the effort to learn about social issues, how they impact targeted populations, and interrogate their connection to your life experience (or more likely, the absence of certain negative barriers, doubts, and experiences). The goal of allyship is to put yourself out of use. To address an issue so thoroughly that you are no longer needed because intentional equity, reconceptualized equality, and liberation have occurred. 



Intersectionality is key to any social movement and efforts to create justice. Acknowledging my privilege here to be talking about feminism to begin with and give my thoughts on but feminism is not feminism without considerations of other minoritized identities. Class, race, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, ability, mental health, etc. all impact the ways that people are able to exist and persist in this world. Ignoring how intersections of social identities change people's life experiences does nothing more than validate the harm, trauma, and emotional labor they are subjected to. Feminism is for all, and creating spaces for intersections to voice the variation is key. Equality for all or equality for none. The humanity of all must be valid not exceptional. Feminism does not excuse your racism, classism/elitism, transphobia, and religious intolerance. All social justice is connected and that means knowing your identities of privilege, doing the work from those places, just as often, if not more, as you fight the good fight from your place of marginalization. Supporting the rights of womxn and other folx is by no means the end all be all.

Gender is part of our lives - and we often experience the world in gendered ways, but that is not the only way. That is to say that it is not wrong, but there are equally valid ways. We get to choose for ourselves, and language is one of those choices that might seem small but has a huge impact. Assuming gender can do some serious damage and purposefully misgendering people because you don't recognize their existence is verbal violence. Folx will identify how they feel comfortable and as they feel safe. Introducing yourself with your pronouns is a way to normalize that practice. Referring to people with gender inclusive "they/them" pronouns or gender neutral descriptors (friend, partner, everyone, guests, staffperson, etc.) is an easy way to make sure all are included. Take some time to think about all the things that are unnecessarily gendered and how those expectations impact what people are able to do or the assumptions we make about people who operate outside those expectations. Agency is choice, choose to be inclusive. X

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