To begin, let’s get the obvious point out of the way:
Women’s oppression is a thing. A real, serious, major thing.
Has been for a long time.
For all of Western Civilization. Since the first time someone said, “Hey, you know what, let’s consolidate power with MEN and build an entire culture on the idea that women should serve men.”
We’ve been raped, abused, traded, kept as chattel, dismissed, blamed, shamed, silenced. We’ve been denied our rightful seats at the table, infantilized, disdained, paid less, required more of, we work twice as hard for half as much.
We walk into a board room and are told we’re abrasive, confrontational, too meek, too mild, too aggressive, too emotional, too cold, too bitchy, too distracting, too invisible. Our clothes are too revealing, too stuffy, too feminine, too masculine.
Everything we do is politicized.
I get it.
And we have every right to fight to end it. We HAVE fought, long and hard, over and over, bit by bit, to end it. We have won so much, and we every right to every bit of it that we’ve won.
One day, maybe we’ll even have a woman president.
I get it.
I get it.
I get it.
BUT. Listen up. Circle up.
We have a right to speak about our oppression.
We do NOT have a right to use our oppression as a weapon to oppress or participate in the oppression of others.
We do not have a right to use our oppression as a weapon for ANYTHING except against oppression itself.
But what do I mean by this?
I mean that we do not have the right to say “But I’m oppressed too!” in order to silence Black women when they tell us how white women harm them.
We do not have the right to erase the experience of trans men and trans women by insisting that their identity is their anatomy while simultaneously telling them “I’ll fight for you, boo!”
(I mean, fuck that shit. Side note here: You wanna see me mad, tell me you love me while you manipulate, undermine, and dismiss me or anyone. Wanna see me mad, call your abuse “love.” Say “I love you, but” while misgendering a trans person. Say “I love you, but” while you talk about the “sin” of homosexuality. Say “I love you, but” and in the next breath “all lives matter.” Say “I love you, but” while you gaslight and demean. Fuck. That. Shit. Okay. Back to the main point.)
Listen very carefully to this next bit.
Women have been badly, badly abused and used and discarded for all of Western Civilization’s history.
But *we are not the only ones.*
*We are not even the MOST abused and used in history.*
White cis women have had a terrible time of it. Black cis women have had a worse time of it. Black trans women have had an even worse time. Black trans disabled women have had an even worse time.
And that’s not even scraping the surface of all the potential intersectionalities that contribute to oppression.
I think this is not news to you.
I want to say that I don’t understand why it is, then, that white women are so resistant to allowing Black women to speak. Why it is that white women are so determined to shout Black women down when they disagree with them. Why it is that white women are so resistant to becoming educated about Black women’s issues. Why it is that white women think we have all the answers when it comes to fighting oppression.
I want to say that I don’t understand why it is that white cis women are so resistant to allowing trans women to claim their own identity. Why it is that white cis women are so determined to shout trans women down when they do. Why it is that white cis women are so resistant to becoming educated about trans women’s issues.
(Side note, sort of, in that toxic thread on Facebook recently, the first toxic response was a woman telling me I was “causing harm” by attempting to “educate women about women’s issues,” as though by posting articles about trans issues I somehow diminished her right to think freely about women’s issues, as though I had no RIGHT to be in that space because my identity includes intersections in ADDITION to afab–which identity, btw, was the one she was touting hardest as her own, and simultaneously equating with WOMAN. The absolute refusal to receive education about other people’s oppressions is what I’m talking about here.)
I want to say that none of this makes sense to me.
But I think it DOES make sense to me, and it makes me really sad.
And I hope you will stick with me.
It’s because of the dog treats.
Dog treats are what the white, patriarchal, “Christian” hegemony gives various populations in order to keep them in line, divide them from their own power, and divide them from each other.
For white cis men, the dog treats are obvious: Relative privilege in so many ways.
For white cis women, the dog treats are less obvious, but not non-existent. We get proximity to power in exchange for our subservience; We get protection in exchange for ignoring the suffering of others.
When the table that the patriarchy built finally, reluctantly, under great pressure, agrees to allow someone other than a white cis man to take a seat there, we white cis women usually get that seat. (Sometimes it’s a Black cis man or an openly gay white cis man, which is a whole other set of conversations and not my lane.)
Don’t be fooled.
But we ARE fooled.
We think that this hard-won space is OURS and we must defend it at all costs.
We must defend it against Black women and trans women and anyone else who threatens to usurp.
(What if Black women take up some of those seats! What will happen to the white women who fought so hard for them! What if trans women take up some of those seats! What will happen to the cis women who fought so hard for them! What if people with disabilities and people of other nationalities and backgrounds and and and… what if we have to share!!!!! WE FOUGHT HARD FOR THOSE DOG TREATS).
But, y’all. They’re fucking DOG TREATS.
DON’T BE FOOLED.
Don’t settle for dog treats.
Get a bigger vision.
Black women don’t want your seats. Trans women don’t want your seats.
They want a better fucking table.
A bigger table.
A juster table.
A more abundant table.
A table filled with all the beauty and diversity of this life.
They want more tables.
We don’t want dog treats.
We want justice.
We don’t want to oppress white cis women.
We want to end oppression for everyone.
But so many cis women get so attached to THEIR oppression + proximity to privilege that they can’t see how they’re using it to oppress others. They’re so afraid of losing what they’ve gained, that they’ll hold on to it at the expense of those who fought by their sides to help them gain it.
And do you see how absurd it gets?
White cis women say things like, “white people are killed by cops, too!” to deny the experience and the movement of Black people protesting police brutality.
White cis women say things like, “my sex isn’t my identity! I’m a woman! Not a uterus haver!” to deny trans women their womanhood.
AND THAT MEANS BLACK PEOPLE SHOULDN’T FIGHT AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY?
THAT MEANS TRANS FOLKS SHOULDN’T ARGUE AGAINST EQUATING ANATOMY WITH GENDER?
You’re not even making sense, white cis women.
You’re so damn attached to your oppression and your proximity to privilege that you can’t even see straight.
And it doesn’t have to be this way.
We don’t have to settle for dog treats.
GODS. Let’s stop fucking settling for dog treats.
For ANY of us.
Not even for white cis men!
Let’s not settle for dog treats for the white cis men in our lives who have been told all their lives that they get to enjoy all this privilege only in exchange for denying their emotions and never touching another human being except for sex or violence.
How about we stop settling for dog treats.
How about we make a whole new fucking table where everyone eats real food.
Food like justice.
Food like respect.
Food like dignity.
Food like access to resources.
Food like being heard.
Food like actual fucking food, which is something some communities are denied access to while white cis women argue about whether the Black leaders of a centuries-old Black-led movement know what the fuck they’re talking about when they talk about their movement.
LET’S BUILD A BETTER FUCKING TABLE.
Who’s with me?