Tangled webs of privilege

Does using the term "PC" make you a reactionary?  Can minority groups engage in systematic oppression, and is that more reprehensible than other kinds of oppression?  These are the quandaries explored in the comments sections of a series of articles (via a Daily Caller link) about recent movement to stem the tide of culture-appropriative costumes in the drag-queen context.  If I understand correctly, it's OK to put on a drag performance in a gay-pride parade if you're trans-gay but not if you're cis-gay (cis- meaning that you continue to perform socially in the gender you were "assigned" at birth, and as you know, all gender is performance).  But not so fast--it's not clear it's OK for parade organizers to ask whether a performer is trans- or cis-.  It boils down to who is being most safe and inclusive.  One group's rule of thumb is that all doubts must be resolved in favor of "the most marginalised groups within our community."

Another deep concern is practices that make one or more of these groups into a joke, which would be bad.

The National Union of Students Women's Conference explains that "drag “as an expression or exploration of queer identity is to be encouraged”, and that this can be “easily distinguished” from other forms." In addition, the NUS LGBT Committee wants "to eradicate the appropriation of black women by white gay men," as in drag performers who claim they are "strong black women."

I lost track of some of the competing interests after reading the following explanation posted on Free Pride's Facebook page:
People appeared to understand that we attempted to communicate that trans drag performers' rights are secondary to other trans people's rights. We did not mean to send this message and apologise to trans drag performers for unintentionally doing so. Unfortunately this also appears to have offended trans drag performers. We did not in any way mean to equate cis (who are often seen as transmisogynistic by some portions of the Trans community) drag performers with trans drag performers. . . . 
We would like to reaffirm that this is not to say that we do not want gender expression, which we do encourage, at our event. We encourage everyone to wear what they want and express their gender however they please! There will be no policing of peoples gender identity. We will be re-inforcing our safer spaces policy at the event and asking that no-one assume anyone else gender and remember to always ask pronouns.
I have noted a deplorable failure to ask pronouns here at the Hall lately, and would ask you all to police your privilege.

17 comments:

The Pronoun Police said...

I have noted a deplorable failure to ask pronouns here at the Hall lately, and would ask you all to police your privilege.

Woo-ha. We've (note our enlightened avoidance of gendered pronouns, except when *not* using gendered pronouns is grossly offensive) got you all in check.

MikeD said...

I have noted a deplorable failure to ask pronouns here at the Hall lately, and would ask you all to police your privilege.

At this time, I respectfully decline to acquiesce to your request. You see, while I have no dog in the fight as to how anyone else prefers to be addressed, I do have a right to my own self determination and will speak as I see fit. If that offends, then I would remind all that there is absolutely no right to not be offended.

Texan99 said...

The pronoun I prefer is "scrimshaw," and scrimshaw would ask you to stop using the pronoun "you," which has unsafe and triggering associations for scrimshaw.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but I identify as a humpbacked whale, and I find you appropriation of "scrimshaw" to be deeply offensive and triggering.

LargeGrey1withBarnacles

(AKA LittleRed1)

Grim said...

I see the number of letters involved in this movement has now grown to "LGBTQIA+."

I know a girl who has started asking people to refer to her as "they." It turns out to be nearly impossible to construct meaningful sentences in English that way. "Are they going with them, or are... er... they going without... er... they?"

Texan99 said...

Your need for meaning must be subordinated to our need to provide a safe space for the most marginalized members of our community. In any case, all meaning is performance.

Jason said...

I'm just going to learn to live with being offensive. It's much easier:-).

Grim said...

I'm just going to carry on like I always did. That's easier still, and it does not offend but rather remains courteous to those whose standards aren't off plumb.

E Hines said...

I have noted a deplorable failure to ask pronouns here at the Hall lately, and would ask you all to police your privilege.

That's microagression. I'm tellin'.

Your need for meaning must be subordinated to our need to provide a safe space for the most marginalized members of our community.

How about a nice, safe place in the center of our solar system, where no one else can bother them? And they'll be the center of the attention they so desperately [sic crave [sic]?

Eric Hines

Eric Blair said...

While this is amusing enough, The media frenzy that accompanies this such things is exposing all of this for the medieval scholasticism that it really is.

It is already starting to eat itself, and one can only hope it continues apace.

Grim said...

Your use of "medieval scholasticism" as a term of disparagement is disturbing my safe space, Eric Blair.

Gringo said...

Grin
Your use of "medieval scholasticism" as a term of disparagement is disturbing my safe space, Eric Blair.

LOL.
Medieval Scholasticism: how many angels can fit on the head of a needle?

Postmodern Scholasticism: how many times in twenty years can you change the acceptable words for labeling something?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Real tragedy has a way of erasing these neuroses. Sad that we have to be driven to that.

J Melcher said...

speaking of a " gay-pride parade "

I was just having a conversation with my teen-aged daughter in which it became clear to me a modern usage/meaning of "pride" has changed shortly after the change (or coming out) of "gay" itself. (Himself, herselves, thizselfises, whatever)

It does NOT apparently mean the sense of accomplishment one has for setting a goal, making choices in support of that goal, working hard, and accomplishing what one set out to do. One can't be "proud" of being "gay" when you're (ze are, WHATEVER, okay?) "born that way" or "societally pressured to conform" either one.

What you (yi, zim, fex, *W*H*A*T*?) can be is the emotion that used to be called, " un-ashamed ". Like Popeye, who was not embarrassed to have squinty vision and hyperdeveloped wrists. "I am what I am and that's all that I am" now equals "proud".

Words accumulate new meanings and lose old ones.






Grim said...

Death, be not proud.

jaed said...

What I really wonder is whether these yo-yos are all monolingual English-speaking.

English is hardly gendered at all, but whatever do they do when confronted by languages in which every noun has a gender? Spin around and explode, Rumplestiltskin-fashion?

Grim said...

No, those languages are diverse, and therefore virtuous and without privilege.