Kathryn - Kat - Allen (katallen) wrote,
Kathryn - Kat - Allen

Male Pattern Baldness

Let's see how many flee my friend's list screaming this time :)


Some years ago a car backed at speed into the one I was sitting in as a passenger, parked up. The driver sped off. Details aside -- I told the policeman and he seemed perfectly happy with my version... till I realised that the driver concerned had just returned and parked nearby... He was a local store-owner. After a brief chat with him the policeman returned and questioned my story (white guy, big expensive 4x4 versus me in a battered old Metro and my dog-walking clothes). I refused to be convinced that somehow I'd been neither parked, in the car, etc... things were not looking so good, until I went to the station to make a statement (and yes, it was part of a 'try to make her go away' ploy) and another policeman calls out to ask what's up and... Oh yes, it helps having a brother sometimes. Suddenly I am not only being believed, but worthy of tea and biscuits and encouraged to go to the hospital (because I'd blacked out very briefly). It turned out later that apparently-respectable businessman was actually a bit of a crook... but that aside, there was never another word of doubt cast once I was 'family'.

And that's privilege... his privilege (white male businessman) trumped by mine (insider contact) -- and at no point did he say 'I'm a white man with money so you should believe me' (actually I don't know that he didn't say that... but I'd be more likely to go with 'she's a hysterical female making a fuss' as the content of their conversation). And I never said, 'my brother works here'.

I didn't say 'do you know my brother'... I didn't play the advantage. It never even occurred to me that it would make a difference, but I benefited from my familial relationship. Just as white male businessman benefited from the policeman's initial favouritism.

Still, I didn't have any more control over my privilege than I had control over the doubt.

I have been, at varying times in my life, as annoyed and frustrated by my being privileged as I have at being discriminated against.

But I've also accepted what advantages I can get -- as in the situation above -- where it didn't feel unfair to. (And that includes advantages like men buying me drinks).

In discussions about white privilege, there can be a thin line between explaining its existence and blaming someone for having it.

That blaming can be kind of unfair.

Even if I could correct every instance where I was favoured for being white (and mostly those instances are not obvious or blatant) I can't stop other people (white or non-white) favouring me (except by the whole losing points for being female, childless, disabled etc and dragging myself down wouldn't alter that I'll still have some white points).

I am as trapped into other people's assumptions and prejudices as... anyone else.

While it'd be plain silly of me to pretend my skin colour was different and predict how my life would have been. Heck, just considering the level of girl-cootie prejudice rampant from my physics teachers... (but then my parents couldn't have been my parents with any other colour skin so I wouldn't be in that school or those classes anyway...) There's a long list of 'things that would've had to be different for me to not be white' -- which makes it a pointless exercise. (But then some people believe that in heaven they'll pretty much be the same people they are complete with meat-puppet, there are streets and parks and harps... Come to think of it, people talking about the singularity talk as if they'd be the same "them"... It's hard to face how much your identity can be shaped by external forces, it can feel like a lessening of self)

Maybe one day -- a one day for more positive SF stories -- someone not entirely unlike me would find pretending she had a different skin colour a pointless exercise because nothing but the colour of her skin would be different. And maybe one day all those 'racial features' will be like fashion accessories... this month Nordic blond, next month Maori... (though I suspect I'd find that sad and troubling in anything but a utopian dream). This is not that day.

I can't change the colour of my skin any more than anyone else can. And I can't change history or biology or whatever else is involved...

And once I get beyond acknowledging that prejudice exists -- positive and negative, because WMP isn't a separate issue or a separate thing but the other end of the scale -- then blaming someone for *having* WMP, or just white privilege (and at some point let's have a chat about gypsies if you believe all white males have privilege...), gets a little too close to blaming black people for yanno... not being whiter.

So I've got to hope that what matters isn't whether you're on the prejudice/privilege scale somewhere, but everything you do that *isn't* as unchangeable as skin colour. All the rest.

Because if it is just about history and skin colour, if there's nothing we can change that matters... then we're pretty much fucked.

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.