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Tinderp Tale #6: Accidental White Dude

Over the past few years, I have garnered the reputation of being the anti-white bitch on social media. But let’s be clear: I am anti-whiteness, not anti-white people. I take issue with the oppressive structure that upholds whiteness as the superior racialized social construct, not with individual white people. (Why is this so hard to understand?! Oh wait.) Basically, if white supremacy didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have a problem with white people as a whole. Actually if white supremacy didn’t exist at all, white people wouldn’t exist either, come to think of it, but that’s an underdeveloped train of thought for another time/blog post.

Anyway, ever since my women’s college shook me out of my apolitical stupor and opened my eyes to the necessity of a liberatory social justice praxis, I’ve been doing my best to abide by the feminist mantra of the personal being political, and I decided no exception could be made when it came to dating. Well, I decided that no exception could be made when it came to race within the dating realm, which is a pretty huge factor. White supremacy is everywhere; it didn’t have to get all up in my vagina too. Which basically meant I was reverse racial profiling on Tinder. On occasion, I would stumble across a really cute white guy with a semi-interesting, allegedly progressive profile and be sorely tempted to swipe right. But then I’d do a check-in with myself–Are white supremacy and white privilege over with, Learkana? No? Then swipe the fuck left like the decolonized ho you wanna be–and the moment of temptation would pass.

Racial profiling is pretty hard. I’m not sure how racists do it so effortlessly (well, being ignorant hateful fucks kind of explains it). Whenever a racially ambiguous/maybe just white passing dude popped up on my screen, I had to quickly decide whether or not he was white enough to have unconditional racial privilege, and honestly, I erred more often on the side of caution than not in that split second of determination.

But there was this one dude. Let’s call him Antonio. He looked super white: fair skin, light brown hair, blue/green eyes. But! He didn’t have a typical white boy name! And I think he had international flag emojis in his bio! So maybe he was Latino or something and was just really white passing in which case it wouldn’t be fair to swipe left because he wasn’t necessarily like full-blown white or anything and I mean he is pretty cute and seems nice enough okay damnit I’ll swipe right!


You matched with Antonio on 8/23/15

Antonio

Hey! Good morning!


Me

Good afternoon lol [Was not actually trying to be clever with this comment, I’m just compulsive about taking things literally and by the time I responded it was no longer morning ok]


Antonio

Hehe! How are you? Rough night yesterday?


Me

I’m a little tired but otherwise doing all right. I stayed up late hanging out with friends *beige OK hand sign emoji* how are you?


Antonio

I’m good! Sunday off, sunny day! Took a walk around lake merrit [sic] and done a few other stuff! I’m feeling productive:) haha


 

We made more boring small talk. I learned Antonio was born in Brazil, moved to Italy  with his family when he was young, and came to the U.S. for work, which meant he spoke like 3 languages, which was cool considering I barely spoke 1.5 (I blame Amerikkka). While this conversation was kind of informative, it didn’t really help me figure out whether this dude was white or not, and this became kind of a burning question of sorts for me.

tinderp 6.1

I was pretty well-informed on racial politics in the United States, but shamefully didn’t have much of a clue of how race plays out in other countries and cultures. Well, Antonio was Brazilian, right? I mean I guess he was Italian, but Brazil was his national origin, right? So, Latin American. Right?

“How does race operate in Latin America?” I casually asked my friend Andrea.

“The fucking same,” she replied.

Goddamnit. So I had matched with a white dude. An international, “exotic” brand of white dude, but a white dude nonetheless. Oh well. I wasn’t literally a bigot, so when Antonio asked if I wanted to meet up and get a drink with him, I said yes. He was probably a somewhat decent guy. (Maybe.) When I tested the sociopolitical waters by mentioning to him that I had recently attended a trans rights rally addressing the recent killings of transwomen of color, he took no issue with it and just made a weird joke about transwomen liking karaoke. Maybe his sense of humor didn’t translate very well. (Was that somehow racist? Oh, I give up.)

I remember feeling completely unexcited about this date. The novelty of using Tinder had worn off at this point. I was tired of going on disappointing dates, and my past record was strongly suggesting that this one wasn’t going to be any different. The only thing that stopped me from giving up altogether was this theory my roommate Mackenzie had mentioned to me one night when I was griping to her about my mediocre dating life. “So the theory is, somewhere between the 38th and 100th person you make a connection with will be the one person who is the most suitable for you to end up with.”

“Connection? Like, just messaging with them counts? Or do you have to meet up?” I asked.

“I don’t know, whatever falls under the definition of connection,” she replied, shrugging.

Keep in mind, this was one late night conversation I had a while back, so the details are a bit fuzzy and obviously I just paraphrased what I thought my roommate had said. But my takeaway was that I wasn’t meeting up with enough dudes to find someone to be in mutual like with. It was all just a numbers game. (A point that had been reiterated to me by my former boss–I rant about my mediocre dating life to everyone, okay.) So all I had to do, in spite of my anxiety and impatience and insecurities and uncertainty and judgments, was keep trying. I mean, there are so many fucking assholes in this world who are happily married! Didn’t I deserve the bare minimum of actually dating someone, at the very least?

So far on Tinder, I had met up with 5 dudes. Factoring in my numbers from OKCupid created a combined total of 21 dudes who hadn’t worked out. Which meant I needed to meet up with at least 17 more dudes to hit that window of possibility for meeting Mr. Good Enough. Antonio couldn’t be him, but he was #22 and therefore a necessary stepping stone, which meant I shouldn’t cancel on him even though I was kind of tempted to. (I know, I know, I’m a terrible person. But, like, we’ve already established this! Also Pottermore Sorted me into Slytherin, just FYI.)

Antonio and I met up at Beer Revolution, a divey sort of bar in the Jack London Square neighborhood of Oakland. Damnit. I was less attracted to him in person. He had a really big head on top of a slender body. And unfortunately, his bodily proportions would go on to bother me throughout the rest of the night. “Hi! I’m Antonio,” he said cheerfully. “Is it okay if I kiss you? I’m Italian, it’s how we greet people.”

“Uh–okay,” I said, and let him plant a kiss on each of my cheeks. I didn’t kiss him back. I was wearing lipstick so I didn’t want to leave marks on his face, but even if I wasn’t wearing any lipstick, I wouldn’t have kissed him anyway because ugh, that’s weird. I was even weirded out by him just kissing my cheeks. I hadn’t had a guy’s mouth touch me in over a year because I was too physically awkward for that (among other things).

We sat down, got a couple of beers, and talked. Blah, blah, blah, the usual stuff. He told me he worked at a pizza shop. I tried really hard to remove my internalized classist lens and not make a silent judgment on that, because whatever! It’s not like we were getting married and his income would determine the quality of life for our imaginary children, or something. He also talked about how Bay Area public transit sucked and how Australians were racist (although my guess was that he meant xenophobic in his particular case). I distinctly recall my conversation with him not feeling very datelike. It was almost like we had gone into that bar separately, happened to have sat next to each other, and struck up a conversation just for the hell of it. We were simply two polite, emotionally detached strangers passing time, trying to keep loneliness and awkwardness at bay and failing at it.

After finishing our beers, Antonio asked if I wanted to take a walk. I agreed, mainly because I needed more time to sober up. We left the bar and strolled up and down a few blocks. Some part of me was waiting for him to become attractive to me. Like maybe if the night went on long enough, and he talked long enough, and he smiled and said some of the right things, I would feel something. It never happened. He was still an uninteresting scrawny white dude with a big head to me by the time we called it a night. I wasn’t sure what was going on in his head. He probably felt a similar way, right? Or else he would have made a move by now. Ugh. I hated this so much. The ambiguity and nonchalance, the reification of gender roles. Was this really the only viable channel through which I could get laid? (In my situation, yes.)

tinderp 6.2

Antonio walked me to my car. He respectfully asked to kiss me goodnight. I let his lips touch my cheeks for the last time, got into my car, and drove away feeling empty.

We never hit each other up again. The usual mutual apathy and disinterest, as I suspected.

I inexplicably found myself on a semi-hiatus after this date. I chatted with a few guys, but never met up with any of them. There was one good-looking dude who expressed interest in devirginizing me, but we got into a huge fight about whether or not some John Mayer song was sexist (IT WAS AND IS) and we never talked to each other again. Story of my life. (Much later down the road, I would stumble across his Facebook profile and see a public Valentine’s Day post in which he sweetly referred to his mother as his Valentine and thanked her for raising him. I experienced some weird cognitive dissonance, reading his status. I couldn’t quite reconcile the sentimental mama’s boy on social media with the horny fuckboy who wanted to send me dick pics and got aroused at a picture I sent him of just my bare legs. Yeah I know, people are complex or whatever. But like, do cishet guys not get how hilariously fucked it is to act like fucking saints to the women whose vaginas they exited, then turn around and be fucking dickholes to the women whose vaginas they’re always trying to enter? Like, is this an Oedipal thing where they’re just mad that they can’t return to the safety of the womb because that would mean fucking their mothers and society makes that unacceptable so they displace that pent up sexual frustration and anger onto the hapless women they try to get it in with, whose vaginas don’t and will never compare to their original home? #FREUDIANFUCKBOYTHEORY #LongestParentheticalEver)

Anyway, a few months passed without a single date scheduled in my calendar. I hung out with friends, worked on creative writing endeavors, worried about the state of the world. I holed up in my room, my primary source of freedom and comfort. I went to bed alone, except on the rare occasion when a friend or family member spent the night. Sometimes I’d long for someone to curl up under the covers with. A cuddle buddy who wasn’t my plush Olaf from Frozen. A guy who could just come over on weekend nights and hold me until the ache went away. (You know, like that Sam Smith song, except hopefully like way less needy-sounding.) Why was it so hard to name that desire? To ask for it? To put it out into the universe in some way and wait for someone to answer?

You’re okay, I would tell myself. You are way better at being alone than most people. So what, you might potentially be unlaid and perpetually single for the rest of your life. These aren’t things that take away your self-worth. The ache will come, and it will go. You have learned to live with it. You’re okay. You’re okay. And for the most part, I believed it.

tl;dr Learkana is not racist! Learkana meets up with her first white dude in a while! Learkana survives another cold and bitter virgin winter by hibernating in her premature spinster cave! (Oh, and masturbating)

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Beer Revolution
Rating: **
Review: Too noisy and not enough seating. A good place to kick back with a good friend or two, but definitely not an ideal place to meet up with strange men from Tinder who want to put their penises inside of you.

 

2

OKBye Story #13: When Awkward Met Awkward

Doesn’t dating a white guy mean betraying my sociopolitical values as an intersectional feminist?

A couple of years ago, I posed this question to my ethnic studies professor. She said, “Well, dating men of color isn’t any better. You still have to deal with the gender aspect of it, which is fucked. If you really want to be political about dating, you would only date Asian women.”

“Oh.” I didn’t have the guts to be that radical. I had no burning desire to veer from the boring, normalized path of heterosexuality, so I decided that having a white guy as a boyfriend wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, if it happened.

So when Colin (name changed to protect the oblivious) messaged me on that arbitrary day at the end of last September, I was excited. Sure, his profile was kind of boring in a white dude way (carefully constructed sentences devoid of emotion or personality, painfully specific lists of obscure music and books, shitty “most private thing I’m willing to admit,” etc.), but he looked cute and dressed well and also, we had a high match percentage! (I don’t understand myself. I really don’t.)

And the message itself! A first message meant everything to me. I usually ignored generic greetings (“hey how’s it going”), negging (“you seem like you’re high maintenance”), unoriginal compliments (“I love your smile :)”), long rambling paragraphs that tried too hard to impress (“I noticed in your profile that you blah blah blah which is so cool because I blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”), and of course, downright creepy messages (“I’m stalking you via my astral body” –actual thing written to me). However good a dude may have looked in his pictures, and however witty he may have sounded in his profile, it’s what he wrote to me that was the deciding factor to whether I responded.

Anyway, I’m probably building this up to be way better than it is, but here is Colin’s first message to me:

RandomDude13 Man, the implications of “liking” someone’s profile are a total mystery to me. Actually there is nothing about OKC sociology that I feel I even vaguely understand. That’s why when I read someone’s profile and they seem cool/interesting/reasonable, I immediately message them the first fucking thing that comes into my head before I can start overthinking it.

I don’t get a lot of return responses.

Hi.

Sent 9/27/2014

Colin’s message was honest and endearing–in an awkward, neurotic, self-deprecating sort of way. (Now I’m realizing I liked the message because it reminded me of me. Such a narcissist.) Regardless, I was immediately compelled to respond.

But not before my friend Elizabeth texted me, “Hey! Did RandomDude13 message you on OKC?”

Wait, what the hell? How would my friend in real life know about an online stranger who had just messaged me? Unless she had used her own OKC account to…oh no. Oh no. OH NO.

I texted Elizabeth something to the effect of, “OMG PLEASE TELL ME YOU DID NOT TELL HIM TO MESSAGE ME!!!111”

To which she responded with something like, “I did! He came up in my matches and I thought he would be perfect for you because he has an English degree like you and mentions gender in his profile!”

To which I texted something like, “OMGOMGOMG THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING I HATE YOU WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU SAY TO HIM UGH”

To which she responded: “I just gave him your username and told him to message you, kbye. Talk to him!!”

This bitchhh. What kind of person tries to play matchmaker on a matchmaking site? The kind of person who would do a jogathan with me in high school while asking every boy who overlapped us if he wanted my hand in marriage, that’s who. (Yes, that happened. And obviously, all I got out of that was blank stares and humiliation. Thanks Elizabeth.)

In about an hour or so I got over the weirdness of it all and replied to Colin.

CrumpleHSnorkack Hahaha. Hi! Yeah that’s pretty much my understanding of this site, too. Also my friend is such a busybody lol

Sent 9/27/2014

Okay, not very witty, but probably one of the more friendlier responses I’ve given to a guy.

The conversation continued:

CrumpleHSnorkack Did you get your degree in English or did she just make that up? 

RandomDude13 Yeah that’s the first time someone’s ever messaged me telling me to message someone else. So new experiences I guess.

I did actually get a degree in English, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of what she said was true. Were you an English major also? 

CrumpleHSnorkack All she said was that we would probably get along and have a half-decent conversation, lol. Ah, I see it on  your profile now. Yep, English major too, with a creative writing emphasis. Where’d you go to school? 

RandomDude13 San Jose State University, where I was, er, an English major with a creative writing emphasis. There was no straight creative writing major. You’re not about to tell me you also went to SJSU, right? Because I have a terrible fear of coincidences. 

colin1

The conversation went on. And on. And on. And on. I found myself genuinely enjoying talking to Colin. He was silly and witty and smart, plus he seemed to be aware of his white male privilege (this I noted after some sporadic interrogation). Most importantly, he messaged me just as quickly as I messaged him, which indicated he actually took an interest in getting to know me and what I had to say. I soon got it into my head that having my friend play Cupid on OKCupid was the best idea ever.

Such a naive fool I was.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

At some point, I asked Colin for his number, and we started texting nonstop. We talked about how awkward we were, and left each other awkward voicemails just for the hell of it. (I was amused by how much he sounded like a 1920s newsie.) We talked about gender roles. I suggested we meet up with him wearing a skirt and me wearing a tie, but he declined, not because of some notion of masculinity he personally wanted to uphold, but because he feared being harassed publicly by femmephobic strangers (which was a valid concern). We talked about the highs and lows of our nonprofit administration jobs: he worked at some organization in SF that did stats on workplace safety, and I was pushing paper for the anti-trafficking cause in Oakland. (Still doing that, but whatever.) I started to really like him.

However, I knew that liking him solely based on the text messages we were exchanging was stupid, and unfortunately, I knew this from past experience. So a few weeks into our, uh, textship, I pushed for us to meet in person. He agreed, both of us knowing (and articulating to the other) that we were expecting the worst, but that was okay and also weirdly reassuring.

Colin and I decided to get drinks at a bar in downtown that one of us had stumbled across on Yelp and the other had deemed acceptable. (Clearly, neither of us were Oakland natives, nor people who went out much.)

In person, he not only sounded like a 1920s newsie, he also looked like a 1920s newsie, with his little cap and fancy vest and dress shoes. Not that I minded. I was more bothered by how skinny he was, like I could easily break him if I wanted. (As mentioned in previous stories, I have a thing about guys being just as scrawny/even scrawnier than me. Not a dealbreaker necessarily but definitely a turnoff.) But of course, I wasn’t going to body shame him right then and there, I’m not that much of an asshole, okay. We stiffly hugged each other and went inside.

The bar wasn’t too crowded, which was nice because we didn’t have too much trouble hearing ourselves talk. What wasn’t as nice was the spurts of conversation that would trail off into silence. It was just as we had expected/verbalized to each other: in person interaction was weird and uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. What was once a wavering ellipsis on my iPhone was now a pair of eyes staring intently at me.

colin2

I decided we needed a distraction from ourselves, and suggested we play “Never Have I Ever.”

Colin was down to play. The game ended up running for at least a couple of hours. I don’t remember much of what was said. I vaguely recall starting out with cheap shots: “Never have I ever had a dick. Never have I ever gone to a coed college. Never have I ever had white privilege.”

I was on my third drink and regretting it. The nausea was already kicking in. (Ugh. I’m such a fucking lightweight. Also possibly allergic to alcohol.) I coaxed Colin into drinking some of my beer so it wouldn’t go to waste, but he was a lightweight too and said he couldn’t finish it. One of us suggested we take a walk. One of us said yes. We both got up and left the warmth of the bar for the brisk night air.

We ended up walking along Lake Merritt. In my slightly tipsy state, I felt completely comfortable with Colin. At some point we took a break, sat down and looked at each other.

“This is very awkward,” he said suddenly.

“Really?” I said back. “Why? I feel totally fine.”

“I don’t know.” His brow was crinkled.

I wondered if it was because he was feeling some sexual tension I wasn’t. I decided (in alignment with my better judgment for once) that I wouldn’t bring it up. Instead, I suggested we walk back.

He ended up walking me to my car. I think we probably did the awkward hug thing again. As I got into my car, he bowed and left. I laughed aloud. Did this motherfucker just bow to me? (He mentioned he would do it through text for reasons I can’t remember.)

I drove home, not sure how I felt about him, or how things were unfolding.

We resumed texting and suddenly it felt like nothing had changed from before we met. As if our first date was just a bump in the road and now we were back to cruising along, using our English degrees to crack grammatically correct, rhetorical jokes and texting each other strings of emojis for the other to interpret (of course, I was the one who got him hooked on emojis).

I told him about getting a short story of mine published in an anthology. He actually bought a copy of it and read my story, which I hadn’t anticipated. I texted him that this was awkward. He texted does that mean I didn’t want to know what he thought of it. I texted ugh ok what did you think of it. He texted me the kind of unintentionally condescending review that of course a white dude with an English degree would give. Said he enjoyed it for the most part, appreciated the biblical pastiche, there was just that one thing that was lacking, but there were a few other things that compensated for it, blah blah blah. Something pretentious like that.

Out of pettiness and spite, I demanded to see an excerpt of his writing. He complied and emailed me a few pages of his unpublished superhero novel. It wasn’t very good, I thought with a sort of sick and twisted triumph. It was a bunch of fancy words stacked on top of each other like cardboard boxes with nothing inside them. The characters all had the voice of an old white dude. It was boring. It was mediocre. It was pointless.

I didn’t say any of that. (Again, I’m not a total asshole, just maybe like 3/4ths of an asshole.) I made a few vague, intentionally condescending comments and left it at that.

Well, mostly. This was just one example of what also became of great concern to me: his well-to-do white maleness. (An issue that also came up in OKBye Story #7: He’s All That.)  While I liked talking to Colin, I felt like I could only really show one side of me when I interacted with him: the whitewashed side. The truth was, I didn’t speak in perfect Standard American English all the goddamn time. I wasn’t always pseudo-witty and composed. And I would rather shake my ass to Beyonce in the club than go to the concert of some obscure indie band just to passively nod my head along. More importantly, I couldn’t imagine him meeting my family or me meeting his friends. Wasn’t that a bad sign?

Well, it’s too soon to tell, I rationalized. We had only met up once, after all. So I asked him if he wanted to get boba with me. (In Berkeley. No way was I taking him to my favorite place in Oakland.) Colin said sure, and admitted he had never tried boba before. Big surprise.

We met up at Sweetheart Cafe on a late Saturday afternoon, ordered separately, and sat down at a table together. I watched him very closely as he was about to take a sip of his first ever boba tea drink.

“You seem very intense about this,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

“I am. Drink it,” I ordered.

He took a sip. “This is pretty good.”

I suggested we walk around so we wouldn’t have to sit and stare at each other’s faces. Walking made things a little less awkward, but not really. I couldn’t help but be hyperaware of how we looked: an Asian female with a white male, your typical Berkeley interracial couple. Ugh.

We aimlessly chattered as we walked. Or well, we tried to. More lapses into silence.

colin3

When I pressed him to speak on the subject of racism, he said he would rather not talk about it at the moment.

Damn these dudes and their refusal to talk about social justice issues! I thought, annoyed.

Well, you are on a date, another voice inside my head countered. Social justice is important and all, but you can’t deny it’s a boner shrinking topic.

Okay whatever.

I asked Colin what he had thought about the boba itself. He said it was just okay.

I decided this date was not going well.

To make matters worse, we had somehow veered towards talking about how awkward we were being and how we seemed to have run out of things to say to each other. (Which kind of happened in OKBye Story #12: Bitch in Berkeley, but hey, this time it wasn’t just me. For some reason, I still hadn’t gotten it into my head that being meta was pretty much ruining everything.)

I did try to salvage the situation by going on a tangent about how chemistry wasn’t that important and that it was a gradual process, getting comfortable with someone you didn’t know very well.  He listened and said he agreed. But did he really believe in what I was saying? Did I believe in what I was saying? Looking back, it seemed we were just trying to convince ourselves of something that wasn’t true–a misguided attempt to sidestep the inevitable.

I offered to walk Colin to his car this time. As we waited at the curb for the walk sign to flash, I blurted out, “So…what’s happening? Are we going to never see each other again or…?”

“Is that what you want?” he asked.

“Well, it’s not that.” I backtracked. “It’s just…I’ve never gone on more than two dates with a guy.”

“So history is not on our side.” He considered this. “Well, I’d like to see you again. Because I like you.” He looked straight at me as he said this.

“Oh. Okay,” I mumbled. (Yes, that was my shitty response.)

The walk signal lit up and we crossed the street. When we reached the parking garage where his car was, we did an awkward hug thing again. My face ended up getting crushed into his shoulder.

“Quit being so tall,” I mumbled some more, and left.

At home, I turned his words over in my mind: I like you. He was only the second guy to ever say that to me.  (The first one being some boy in Kentucky who fell in love with the sight of me passed out on his couch at 5am wearing a shirt that read “vagina” across the front. But I digress.)

I like you. It’s kind of a brave thing to say in this fucked up millenial dating world. I admired Colin for saying it. I was flattered that he said it. What I should have said in return was, “I like you too.” But I didn’t say that. Why didn’t I say that?

Because I didn’t really know if I actually liked him. Ugh.

Why was this always happening? I was in a constant state of uncertainty when it came to these dudes. Not once have I ever thought, yes. This is it. This is exactly it. This is what I want. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

The fact that I enjoyed texting Colin much more than I enjoyed his actual company also still bothered me. I suspected it had to do with Colin being more awkward in person than I was, which had never happened to me before–usually I took first place in social ineptitude. I guess I should have empathized, but c’mon! We couldn’t bond over awkwardness forever. Besides, he was older than me! He supposedly had actual romantic and sexual experience! What the hell was he doing, acting all nervous and perplexed and uncomfortable around me?

It’s only been two dates, I reminded myself. Things would get better. I hoped.

We kept texting. Colin invited me to see a play with him. I declined. It didn’t sounded interesting to me, and as shitty as it sounds, I guess I didn’t like him enough to pretend to take interest.

Around this time, a lot of racial unrest was brewing, on- and offline. Of course, racial unrest is always happening, but it seems to hit its peak during the holiday season. There were multiple demonstrations in the streets of Oakland and the larger Bay Area, in protest of police brutality and the systemic killing of black people. (I joined in on one, only to later regret it when I found out it had been organized by a shady cultlike socialist group who had a different agenda in mind. Oops. Social justice faux pas. But I digress.)

The racially charged atmosphere got me thinking about the root cause of it: white supremacy. I felt angry, sad, frustrated, and helpless, trying to figure out what part I could play that would have any meaningful impact on the destruction of racism as a system of oppression. And while it may sound unfair, thinking about these things made me resent Colin and his whiteness. Sure, he acknowledged that racism existed, would never call someone the N word, probably never voted Republican–in other words, met the basic requirements of human decency. And obviously, Colin wasn’t personally at fault for institutional racism. But what was he doing with his white privilege, other than exercising it to his own advantage 24/7?

I bet his best friends were all white. I bet the subject of racism never came up, except at awkward Thanksgiving family dinners when his bigoted uncle or whoever came over and said racist shit and Colin wouldn’t say anything because he’s too passive and non-confrontational. I bet he was going to live all 26 years and counting of his life breezing by on his white privilege, blissfully complicit and only socially aware through a lens of detached self-interest. In the meantime, black people were dying in the streets.

colin4

These internal struggles caused me to bring up a question I had chosen to stifle the first time I looked through his OKC profile. One of the questions he answered concerned race. I think it went something like, “Is it okay to prefer dating your own race?”

He had answered yes, with the explanation that “positive bias” (e.g. “I prefer to date Caucasians [his word choice, not mine]”) is okay, whereas “negative bias” (e.g., “I do not want to date black people”) is not okay.

It sounded a lot like fancy white people talk excusing white people fuckery to me, but I let it slide initially because I figured he was just being an optimist who happened to be white. Now with the threat of white supremacy lingering on my mind, I texted him about the elephant in the iMessage thread: racism.

The conversation did not go very well.

I can’t recall the exact words that were said, but our little chat went something like this:

Me: Hey, this is random but I remember you answering a question about racial dating preferences on OKC. You said positive bias is okay but not negative…idk can you clarify that for me?

Him: Hmm, I don’t remember exactly how I answered but yes, I would say that having a preference isn’t an issue so as long as someone isn’t excluding a particular race.

Me: Uhhh well I would say having a racial preference is racist. Like, I would understand for people of color in terms of wanting to preserve their culture/heritage as racial minorities, but like for white people to prefer other white people…that’s pretty white supremacist

Him: Well, statistically speaking, most people date within their race. I would not assume someone is racist simply because they prefer dating someone within their own race. Often, this isn’t something conscious.  And people usually go with what they are familiar with.

Me: Well it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. People can be racist and also want to date who feels familiar.

Him: I didn’t say it was mutually exclusive.

Me: Well whatever, you implied it. I’m just saying, everyone is racist.

Him: I refuse to automatically assume everyone is racist by default, that is completely ridiculous.

Me: Well that’s easy for you to say, you’re a white dude

Him: I don’t think continuing this discussion is productive. Good night.

I didn’t respond. I was too pissed at his pretentious white pseudo-progressive rebuttals.

A couple of days passed. A week. Several weeks. I didn’t hear from Colin again. I realized after the first week I would never hear from or see him again, and that I was perfectly okay with that.

What a waste of time, I thought. Oh well. At least I got a book sale out of it.

Once unsure, I now knew for certain: Colin was not what I was looking for.

He was an ideal I had clung to in the past: a nerdy white boy I could exchange witty banter and affirm my normalcy with. But Colin was my last straw on the matter: I could never seriously be with a white guy. On a fundamental level, he would never understand me as a woman of color, especially as a socially aware woman of color who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. His privilege would always get in between us.

So fuck what my ethnic studies professor said: I couldn’t stop being straight, but I could certainly stop seeing white dudes. No more white dudes for this raging intersectional feminist of color!

Ah, shit.

My dating pool just got a lot smaller.

tl;dr Boy messages girl because girl’s friend told him to, girl and boy have an incredibly drawn out grammatically correct emoji-filled textship, girl and boy meet and it’s awkward, girl and boy keep texting each other, girl and boy meet again and it’s still awkward, girl gets fed up with white supremacy and takes it out on boy, girl and boy never see or text each other again

2

OKBye Story #12: Bitch in Berkeley

My retelling of previous OKCupid dates might make it sound like I was done with white boys. But I wasn’t done with them just yet.

What’s with this fixation on white boys anyway, you might be wondering. Well, living in a white supremacist world helps a lot, quite frankly.

And to be further honest, I don’t think I cared for white boys much until I got to high school. Probably because I didn’t see very many of them. Once I was a teenager, however, those messages from the media about eurocentric beauty standards started sinking in, reinforced by seeing a plethora of cute white boys at my school. It was ugly and awful internalized racism, of course, but it didn’t really register as such at the time. Ironically, white boys were a foreign species to me. Except for my next door neighbors, I knew little of the ways of my white male peers, except for what I saw on TV. So perhaps that was the appeal for me: a nice and wholesome, good looking white boy whom I could project all my heteronormative, vanilla fantasies onto. (I know, I make myself want to vomit.)

Online dating had unfortunately become an entry point into better understanding the white male as an identity, an identity deeply entrenched in privilege and entitlement. The more I interacted with white dudes, the more I wondered why I was interacting with them to begin with. I guess I didn’t want to come off as “racist.” (Social Justice 101: you cannot be racist against a people who benefit from structural racism, aka white people.) But if a guy was cute, kind, sociopolitically aware, laughed at my jokes and just so happened to be white, would I really hold his race against him?

Well, no, I grudgingly admitted. I just had to really make sure that this elusive white boy was actually sociopolitically aware though.

Which was why when a seemingly cute, kind, sociopolitically aware white boy messaged me, I decided to respond.

connor1

Our conversation went exactly like this:

RandomDude12 Hey, just wanted to say that I found your profile entertaining to read. What do you find fun about writing an OKC profile? Most people seem to hate it. Sent 9/13/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack I think the fun is in being able to create an impression of myself that isn’t totally restricted by standard social norms. I’ve noticed other people (friends included) who treat their profiles like a resume and write to impress, but who am I trying to impress on here, really? I figure if I’m going to go on and on about myself I might as well try to make it kind of entertaining, even if I’m the only one being entertained.

Also I’m a writer and a social media narcissist so the OKC profile is both a good exercise in character development and an excuse to talk about myself without actually talking to anyone about myself.

Do you hate it? Sent from the OkCupid app  9/14/2014

RandomDude12 I don’t hate it. It stresses me out, but it’s an interesting challenge. I tend to post very little on social media, but since OKC doesn’t really work that way, it gives me an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and try to differentiate myself from the hordes of other users. It’s a balance, I suppose, of writing to impress (shameful, I know), and trying to express the unfiltered me.

I find exchanging messages to be trickier, since I’m not only attempting to express myself, but also trying to emulate conversation in the absence of social cues. So to follow up on that, would you be interested in meeting up and continuing this conversation over coffee, maybe this Thursday? Sent 9/14/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Okay maybe I’m interpreting your invitation too literally, but I don’t drink coffee lol. How bout drinks Sent from the OkCupid app  9/14/2014

RandomDude12 Sounds good! I’m less familiar with drink places in Oakland, how does Jupiter in Berkeley sound? Say at 6:00? Sent 9/14/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Okie dokie. See you then! Sent from the OkCupid app  9/15/2014

RandomDude12 Cool, see you Thursday! I’m Connor*, by the way. Sent 9/15/2014
CrumpleHSnorkack Cool, I’m Learkana. Sent 9/15/2014

*name changed to hide true identity of generic white guy you are unlikely to successfully cyberstalk even if I had revealed his actual name, which is only slightly less generic than “Connor”–presuming you would even care to cyberstalk him, which you probably don’t, so whatever idk

I headed over straight after work. I ended up being kind of late because traffic was a bitch, trying to find parking was a bitch, and trying to find the damn pub was also a bitch (ugh, fuck Berkeley). Connor seemed pretty nonchalant about it however. In person, he was pretty cute. His voice was a little too squeaky, I noted. (I have this thing about voices. Don’t ask.) We briefly hugged, sat down at the table he had secured for us, ordered our drinks, and commenced with the awkward small talk.

God, what did we talk about? I think we went all over the place. We talked about all the boring stuff: work, family, school, interests. The more alcohol that went in me, the more I was willing to say whatever the fuck came to my mind.

“I really hate awkward pauses,” I told him. “Don’t you hate having pauses in the conversation?”

“I don’t mind them,” Connor said.

“Oh. Well, I just think they’re really awkward.” Thus making it all the more awkward, of course.

I wish I could blame it all on the alcohol, but all I had was a hard cider.

“So…can you define what rape culture is?” I asked. This had been my go-to first date question for a while now. A very straightforward approach to screening dating candidates. A method by which I have separated the decent guys from the rest. A litmus test for sociopolitical awareness and feminism (or a lack thereof).

Which was why I was completely thrown off when Connor pursed his lips and said, “I would rather not.”

“Wait, what?” I said. “Are you serious?”

“I don’t want to talk about rape culture,” he replied.

“But…why?” My mind was spinning. Obviously it’s an awkward subject to bring up on a first date, but it’s totally relevant! And if a guy knows what rape culture is, he’s less likely to be a thoughtless perpetrator of it, right? And if he was a feminist, he would totally be down to talk about it, right? Right??

“I just don’t want to,” he insisted.

I dropped the subject. For now.

We finished our drinks and a waiter came by with the check.

“Wanna split it?” I asked.

He said sure. He put down his card. I pulled out all the cash I had, but was short a couple of bucks. That was when I started counting out change for him.

“You don’t need to do that,” Connor said. “It’s fine.”

Still, I kept pulling out more change from my wallet. For some reason I was fixated on paying him the exact amount I owed him. It took a few minutes of him watching me helplessly as I very meticulously counted out pennies and dimes and nickels before I realized that I was being weird and should stop, immediately. “Uh. I’ll buy you a drink next time if you want,” I said.

He agreed to that. I got up. “I need to use the bathroom,” I announced. “Um. Feel free to leave if you want, I promise I won’t get offended.” Oh my God what the hell was I saying. Truth be told, I was kind of freaking out because this date seemed to be going terribly and I wanted to give him an exit if he needed one.

So I went to the bathroom, came out and couldn’t find him. Oh shit, he really did leave me, I thought. But then I spotted him waiting just outside the venue. Whew.

He asked if I wanted to take a walk and I said sure. We wandered through the streets of downtown Berkeley, talking about dating and relationships. Things quickly went downhill from there–figuratively speaking.connor2

I started ranting about how awful online dating was, and how I would go on dates with guys, make awkward small talk, then never see them again. All my pent up frustrations with being a heteronormative intersectional feminist came pouring out. I told him I was too awkward and neurotic and blunt to be doing this, then apologized for doing this while being awkward and neurotic and blunt. Nothing I said was charming, sweet, or alluring. Everything that came out of my mouth was enough to shrink the boners of the most sexually deviant and easily aroused men, and ward off any guy with even the slightest propensity for romance: just 100% unfiltered, self-sabotaging word vomit.

Connor kept reassuring me that he was having a good time, though, and that he was happy I was being perfectly honest with him. I was not convinced.

“You’re very interesting,” he said.

“Well thank you,” I said, somewhat gratified. “But it’s probably because I’m slightly inebriated right now. Although you did think my profile was interesting and I was sober when I wrote that, so actually I guess I am interesting without alcohol, so thanks.”

I started running out of things to say, so I brought up the subject of rape culture again. “Would you be okay with defining rape culture now?” I asked.

He didn’t seem upset that I asked again, and did a decent job of defining it (uh, don’t remember the decent definition he provided, but I would have definitely remembered if it was shitty).

After walking up and down and around several blocks for the umpteenth time, I offered to walk Connor to his car. On our way there, a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk looked up at us and remarked, “Cute couple.”

Awkwarddddd.

We ended the night with the lighthearted conversation topic of racism (he talked about racist microaggressions experienced by a friend of his). We finally reached the parking garage where his car was. Again, a brief hug. No sparks. My bitter feminist monologue had ensured there was nothing to ignite. Then I walked away as fast as I could before realizing oh fuck I don’t remember where I parked my car fuckkkk.

By the time I got home, it was late and I had already revisited the night a hundred times in my head. Every time I thought back to all the things I said to Connor, I cringed and groaned and facepalmed and probably smacked myself a few times as a reflex. But there was nothing I could do now.

Except apologize, specifically for nagging him about rape culture when he had explicitly stated he didn’t want to talk about it to begin with.

So the next day, I wrote him the following message:

Hey! I just want to apologize for being so pushy about talking about rape culture when you were clearly uncomfortable with it. I can be a pushy person in general but that’s no excuse. I usually bring up the topic as a way of screening out dudes who are ignorant/apathetic/disinterested in feminist issues, but I guess I’ve never really thought about other reasons why someone wouldn’t want to discuss it (aside from general awkwardness). So yeah, sorry for being a jackass.

To my relief, he responded soon after:

Hey, I totally get that if there’s a dealbreaker issue, you’d want to know as soon as possible. Honestly, I found it refreshing to have a completely honest conversation with someone, it made me happy. So you shouldn’t focus on the negative (says the eternal optimist).

Evidently our conversation didn’t make him that happy, because I never heard from him again.

Not that I was surprised or anything.

This may have been one of the worst dates I’ve been on. And the worst part of it is, ~I~ was the reason it was one of the worst dates I’ve been on. I wondered if Connor had secretly thought the same thing.

Then I wondered, is it possible to be even worse at dating than you were to begin with?

tl;dr Boy messages girl, girl and boy meet for drinks, girl word vomits all over boy, girl and boy never see each other again

2

OKBye Story #9: A Walk to (Not) Remember

Spring of 2014: You know the setup by now.

Nerdy ninety-something percent match white guy messages me and I respond, because he seems cute and nice and liberal-leaning and I hadn’t cut white boys out of my dating life yet. We exchanged several messages discussing our views on social justice, which confirmed to me that he was indeed not a total douchebag. Then he asked if we could meet up, and I said yes.

steven2.1

Then he asked for my number, which I gave to him. Then he called me.

He called me.

He CALLED me.

This bitch called me…TO TALK ABOUT OUR PLANS.

WHAT.

Introverted awkward millenial girl does not compute.

I had only texted or messaged guys so far in my dating ventures. Unless I was actually on my way to meet them and couldn’t locate them or something in which case–for practicality’s sake–I had to suck it up, whip my phone out and cringe-dial them. I thought there was an unspoken, textual communications-only agreement between me and random Internet dudes, but apparently not. Apparently a guy can just call you up out of the blue, like well-adjusted people who don’t have any phobias around talking on the phone.

Suffice it to say, I did not take him calling me very well. The phone conversation went something like this:

Me: “Uh, hello?”

Him: “Hi, is this Learkana?”

Me: “Uh…yeah.”

Him: “Hey, it’s Matt**, from OKCupid?”

Me: “Uh…is there a reason you’re calling me?”

Him: “Yes, you said you wanted to meet up? What do you want to do?”

Me: “Uh….I don’t know.”

Him: “How about a walk around Lake Merritt?”

Me: “Okay sure.”

Him: “Okay, so I’ll see you on Tuesday?”

Me: “Okay sounds good bye” *hangs up*

matt1

**name changed mainly because actual name has been forgotten.

I realized only after I had gotten off the phone that I should have at least pretended to sound like a decent human being. Oh well.

We met up in the evening, after work. I was walking over to the lake when I spotted him. Spotting a date from the Internet has always been a weird phenomenon to me. It’s like seeing an Instagram selfie unfiltered, or if you’re lucky, extra filtered. The person always ends up looking at least a little less or more attractive than what you assumed based on a handful of ill-chosen photos. I sometimes get this fear that I won’t be able to identify the guy, but I always do.

He was pretty much like his pictures except kind of more feminine looking than I was expecting, as per usual. (I know “feminine” isn’t the greatest or most specific term to use, but I can’t really nail down what I mean–CUZ GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT, yeah yeah yeah. I guess what I mean is shorter, thinner, features more refined, other stereotypical characteristics, etc.)

We greeted each other, said some words, went off and…um, well, that was it.

No, really. There is very little I can recall of what transpired on this walk around the lake, which is extremely telling of how the date ended. I know that we walked around the entire lake. I know at some point I remarked that there was a lot of bird shit everywhere. I know that he showed me some capoeira moves because I asked him to, only to regret him complying with my weird and awkward request. I remember thinking, I don’t think my outfit is appropriate for an evening stroll around the lake (I was wearing a blazer and a short, tight skirt). I remember saying, Wow, we’ve gone pretty far, how much further do you think we have left to go? when we were only halfway there. I remember feeling, this is very unromantic and strange and pretty fucking boring and a bad idea. Our small talk was stretched too thin by the distance, the silence between us made deafening by the quiet exuded by the still waters of the wide open lake. It was a disconcerting, almost alienating experience to take a walk with a stranger I had only a few handfuls of words for.

matt3

At the end of it, it seemed to me he wasn’t very interested either. He politely said goodbye, and walked off. I don’t think we even shook hands or hugged. I drove home, getting the sense that I would not be hearing from him again, and being okay with that, even if the petty, narcissistic part of me wanted him to reach out as proof that I had “won” (again with the evil mind games!).

He ended up texting me later on, asking me if I would like to hang out again. (I win!) I responded with “Sure, let me know when you think of something fun.” Then I never heard from him again. (I lost?)

My friend Chelsia suggested that I could have used better wording. “Your response sounded pretty rude,” she told me. “I would have been offended by that.” Ah Chelsia. Keeping it real.

Maybe she was right. Maybe I had sent him running with my vague and apathetic text message. But who really nitpicks about things like that, aside from super uptight, neurotic people uselessly applying their English degrees, a demographic I completely and totally have no relationship to whatsoever? (Cough, cough. Eyes shifting.) Repressing my urge to needlessly overanalyze, I figured it was mostly the fact that we had met up in person and had not been able to connect with each other that had caused the dissipation of our initial mutual interest.

But what exactly went wrong? He was nice. He wasn’t ugly. We were a high match and shared similar beliefs. Why hadn’t I liked this guy? Why hadn’t he liked me? I was seriously starting to rethink my dating strategy at this point. Maybe it didn’t matter whether or not a guy could define rape culture. Maybe it didn’t matter whether he self-identified as a feminist or was aware of the ramifications of white privilege. Maybe what mattered was whether I made him laugh, and whether or not he kissed me, and I let him. Maybe his worldview mirroring mine meant nothing.

But it meant something to me, I argued with myself. Everyone knows me as the annoyingly hardcore intersectional feminist who bombards everyone’s Facebook newsfeed with patriarchy-smashing posts. I eat, sleep, breathe, and shit feminism. Every little thing I hear or see or read is automatically analyzed and deconstructed based on its relationship to race, gender, class, etc. etc. I can’t just let my heteronormativity compromise my values!

And what if my worst fear gets realized? That I take social justice out of the equation and continue seeing guys. Find a guy I click with. We start seeing each other more. Take things slow. Then things get serious. He meets my friends. He meets my family. We move in together. We share the same bed. Then I wake up one day and he leans over, kisses me, and says something just really fucking racist. That’s what I’m afraid of. That I’ll fall in love with someone who was secretly an ignorant asshole all along. That I’ll fuck a racist. Or a sexist. Or whatever. God. Then what? Then I’d have to set my vagina on fire out of shame and disappointment and horror. Okay maybe not that exactly, but you know what I mean.

I had to keep doing what I was doing, I decided. Even if I was rendered a spinster because of it. Because the most important thing was staying true to myself, and that was exactly what I was doing. Right? Right.

But then, inexplicably, my OKCupid account was deleted. One day I tried logging in, and found that no matter how many times I very carefully typed in my username and password, OKC would tell me that there was an error. My account was an error. My dating life was an error. I was an error.

I asked friends who were on OKC to look me up, just to make sure. They tried to search for “stangrlthecat.” Nothing came up. My profile was gone.

I was kind of upset, mainly because I liked my profile, but also because I didn’t get a chance to respond to messages from 2 different guys who actually sounded promising (one who will later show up again, pssst). But now I had no way of ever contacting them again.

I took this as a sign that I wasn’t meant to be doing the online dating thing, and called it quits.

(For a few months. Then got back on again upon realizing that unfortunately I was still a straight girl who had no other way of meeting guys. But that’s another story, for another time–specifically, another blog post for whenever I feel up to regurgitating more cringe-inducing memories of awkward and anticlimactic dates from my brain.)

[Edit: Okay, so it actually only took me a couple of months to return to the online dating cesspool. Guess I was more desperate than I remember, oops. I regret the error–and the fact.]

tl;dr Boy messages girl, boy calls girl, girl freaks out, boy and girl decide to go for a walk around the lake, girl and boy walk around said lake, boy asks girl to hang out again and girl says sure, girl and boy never see or hear from each other again

3

The F Word

I am in pursuit of meaningfully embodying intersectional feminism, because feminism alone has been coded to mean liberation of white women, and their liberation means nothing for me and fellow women of color. My liberation is bound up with all women of all ages, races, classes, bodies, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender alignments, not just the select few I’ve been conditioned to look up to and revere within the confines of Western white supremacist colonialism. That said, I still choose to identify as a feminist, because I don’t think racist/colorblind white women have the right to push me out of a word that steps so easily on my tongue and gets my heart riled up in a good way. While aware of the implications of what feminism alone may mean, I will make room for myself, and others like me, I will make room in the word feminism and in the concept of feminism until there is a space for all.

I’ve been thinking about how the general definition of feminism has been the “equality of the sexes” but these days I’m not so sure if that phrase, which has been carelessly tossed around a lot in mainstream media, truly captures the meaning of feminism, especially since it seems to me we are more so striving for equity, not equality. Equality implies that I want to be treated the same as a man, which is not true: I want to be treated like a human being, as a woman. You might not understand the distinction, but it’s an important one to me. I don’t want to conform to socially constructed and masculinized ideals of intelligence, knowledge, or power. I don’t want to be made into a man’s image and likeness in order to be respected or liked. While some desire that option, not all of us do, and I believe choice and self-love to be two of most important tenets of an actualized feminism. I want to be acknowledged and respected in my femininity and womanliness, however that is defined–there are no fixed meanings (when will people stop thinking in essentialist boxes??). What is considered feminine to me may mean something different to someone else; what is considered womanly today will mean something different later down the road. Regardless, there should be no guilt or shame or othering for not fitting into the status quo’s expectations for who deserves respect, dignity, and kindness.

“Equality of the sexes” is ultimately a limiting definition of feminism to me. It glosses over the fact that women in all of their variations have disproportionately bore the brunt of violence and oppression at the hands of men, particularly hetero cis white men. It ignores the fact that sex and gender can mean different things. It also ignores the fact that we have yet to implement a true standard of equality for any of the genders that exist–yes, even men, although the conversation has been appropriated and centered around them for far too long. I think we need to overcome this one-dimensional view of feminism that is always contingent on whether or not we hate men: “Feminists hate men.” “I’m not a feminist because I love men.” “Oh my God I just realized I can be feminist and love men.” Feminism at its core is not really about whether or not I love men. It’s about whether or not I love myself. I choose to try loving myself. I don’t see how someone professing an act of self-love and demanding respect for it should be stigmatized or disregarded.

And evidently the words “feminism/feminist” are threatening because what, narrow-minded individuals feel threatened when they see or hear “fem”? Femininity is not exclusive. They make it exclusive, because they are afraid of it and ashamed of it and push it away. Who is really the victim when a man is not allowed to cry, masculinity or femininity? Femininity is laughed off, ridiculed, and even murdered when it slips on another skin. Masculinity in its different guises often triumphs. When you start seeing both ideas and individuals, you start to understand.

No, the idea is not that all men are evil or that women are all good. That is a cartoonish view of feminism. People need to start looking beyond the person and at the bigger picture. There are men, and there are women. Let’s destroy that division. Let’s include the rest of the categories that exist or could exist. Let’s have all of them blend into one, split apart, blend again, however you want and feel and need. Let’s split open our minds into ten different possibilities at once when you see a stranger’s face, instead of pigeonholing them into this flavor or that–how boring and limiting is that, to think you only have a choice on either palm, read to you by others who look to more others to read their palms, when you can simply spread open your own hands and see that there are whole worlds that could be at your fingertips?

0

The P Word

Is it ‘patriarchy’?

Is it ‘problematic’?

Is it ‘praxis’?

Okay, your mind probably jumped to ‘penis’ or ‘poop’ before it jumped to any of the above words, but whatever. This is my intersectional feminist blog goddamnit, so either way, you, dear hypothetical reader, are imaginarily incorrect–the ‘P’ word I’m talking about is PRIVILEGE.

What is privilege?

I am not going to do the dumb dictionary thing again. (And seriously, if you find yourself frequently resorting to simple, straightforward, and superficial textbook/dictionary definitions for conceptually complicated words and you’re actually SERIOUS when you’re doing it–I’m not when I do it, fyi–you really need to polish up your critical thinking skills, bro.)

So, no textbook or dictionary to be seen (I promise), this is my not-so-great-but-mostly-straightforward definition:

Privilege is an advantage given to you not by way of individual choice; rather, it is through the systematic oppression of others that you are awarded this benefit, whatever it may be–and it can be a LOT of things, really, things you probably didn’t even stop to think about because yenno, you’re all privileged and shit.

Hey, don’t get all OFFENDED because I’m telling “you” off. I really mean “we,” because EVERYONE has some amalgamation of privilege! (Funny how we social justice people are stereotyped as “overly sensitive/easily offended,” when it’s so clearly a two-way street. And how is you taking offense at my offense any less take offense-y than me taking offense to begin with? I mean I would think that you taking offense at my taking of offense is way more of an offense, because you are simply offended by my offense, whereas I am offended by things like racism and sexism aka things that are actually detrimentally impacting the world, kthnx, and so actually you’re the easily offended one otherwise you wouldn’t be so defensive, I mean why would you be so defensive if you claim that you weren’t being offensive to begin with? Anyway. Back to the overall rant here.)

So people who haven’t really thought about the P word or don’t really think much at all, automatically think that privilege means class privilege.

NOPE.

But yeah, these people are like, “I’m not rich, so I don’t have any privilege!”

WRONG.

Yes, class privilege exists, but that’s just one of many privileges that exist in the world!

privilege1.2

I think the fact that so many people default to class privilege when they think of/about the P word just goes to show how deeply our minds are entrenched in a capitalistic framework–which, FYI, is BAD, becasue it’s limiting and also quite frankly dehumanizing–for yourself and others. Like, do you actually think that money is the ONLY thing that can benefit a human being? Get your head out of your materialistic a-hole. There are plenty of the other things. You just haven’t thought about them because you’ve taken them for granted because…ding ding ding! You are privileged, in some way or another.

(Don’t worry, all this vague ranting will yield some concrete examples soon.)

So what I’m trying to get at is, privilege isn’t as simple as, “Jane has one billion dollars. Dick has zero dollars. Jane is privileged. Dick is not.” It’s more like this: “Jane has one billion dollars because in this hypothetical scenario she can easily be described as magically having a shitload of money, whereas in actuality, her gender makes it less likely that she will obtain this much given the pay gap between women and men and the fact that men tend to occupy more lucrative job positions due to socially valued traits such as dominance, aggression, and confidence which are traditionally coded as masculine across different cultures, but even if Jane was super wealthy and Dick was not he’d still have male privilege ok.”

Privilege doesn’t have to be fancy, glamorous elaborate shit–the fact that you think that really just showcases your privilege, actually, and yenno, your total ignorance. Seriously though, privilege oftentimes manifests in the simple, little things you don’t even notice because those things have been normalized for you–you don’t see them as advantages. You see them as just the way things are, the way things should be. Hello! That’s your privilege talking. That’s your privilege showing.

Okay, I shall now cite a few examples of some of my own privileges so you can get a better sense of what I mean. I know there’s this trend where everyone likes to cling to their marginalized identities (yes, I am guilty of doing it), but since we’re talking about the hated P word, this is the blog entry where I will (guiltily and shamefacedly) talk about how I got it pretty damn good (in these particular facets of my identity).

I have cis privilege. ‘Cis’ is short for ‘cisgendered.’ It means that the gender I personally identify with aligns with the gender I was assigned at birth. Because I am cis,

  • Something as simple as deciding what bathroom to use isn’t a potentially life-threatening situation for me.
  • My gender is always an option I can comfortably check off on whatever form/application I need to fill out.
  • People won’t usually ask me personal, invasive questions about my genitalia.

I didn’t CHOOSE to be cis, the same way trans and genderqueer people don’t CHOOSE to be trans/genderqueer. It’s just the way things happened. Unfortunately, it just so happens that whereas being cis is a societal benefit to me, being trans/genderqueer is a societal detriment to others. Yes, it’s not *my* fault that cis people are favored in society, but it is also not trans/genderqueer people’s faults that they get shitted on by society. So, I have no right to start shitting on them for shitting on me about not getting shitted on because while here I am not getting shitted on, there they are getting shitted on, and I am just adding to the shit that is being shitted on them while lookie me I’m shit-free and guess what, that’s just shitty of me.

But here’s where I’m asking you to kind of try exercising your brain a bit more. Isolating the different types of privileges and oppressions is helpful when discussing them in theory, but reality is not so straightforward, because we’re all human beings with complicated, intersectional identities, right? (Well, most of us, I can’t really speak for wealthy cishet able-bodied neurotypical white dudes.) So by “shit-free” in the above paragraph, I mean I’m shit-free in the gender alignment department. I’m not quite so shit-free in the gender identification department or the race department or the class department.

BUT,

Bringing those other oppressions into a space focused on the marginalized experiences of trans/queer people is being an AWKWARD ASSHOLE.

It’s kind of like doing this:

Person A: My parents were murdered by some weird alien man without a nose who keeps calling himself the Dark Lord.

Person B: That’s not that bad. My parents had to raise a bunch of ginger-haired kids and we’re all poor and shit, at least your parents left you some money and now you’re all famous and shit.

^^Person B is an AWKWARD ASSHOLE. You don’t want to be Person B (aka Ron Weasley).

privilege2.2

There’s a time and a place to talk about your shitty experiences, and it’s NOT when someone else is talking about theirs. Besides, you know what they say–there’s no point in playing the Oppression Olympics, because everybody loses. What’s the sense in arguing about who is worse off, when no one ends up better off?

While the Oppression Olympics aren’t something you should actively participate in, looking at privilege/oppression as a multifaceted interlocking system of shittiness (aka kyriarchy) is an important and necessary social tool that will guide you on how to avoid being an awkward asshole. This means that although I identify as a woman and women are systematically oppressed, it would be awkward and assholish of me to complain about how bad I have it to a transwoman, because transwomen have to suffer the double marginalization of being trans and being a woman. This also means that if you identify as a white dude and you complain to ME about how I’m so bigoted for thinking you’re privileged and whatever Asian people are totally just as privileged as white people, then YOU are the one being awkward and assholish and totally ignoring my marginalization as an Asian woman while apparently having no conception of what race is whatsoever. (Yes, this example is oddly specific because it actually happened.)

It’s not that you aren’t allowed to complain. It’s just that you should complain to people who have the same privileges as you! Otherwise, yep, you’re just an awkward asshole.

So moving on to more privileges I have:

I have straight privilege. This means that

  •  Nearly all of the media I consume (be it movies, books, TV shows, magazines, etc.) caters to my sexual orientation.
  • I don’t need to worry about my loved ones ostracizing me because of my sexual orientation
  • People won’t undermine my [totally imaginary] romantic/sexual relationships as something trivial or deviant

Okay, so I guess now we’re at the point of, “All right I admit I have privilege. What do I do now?” Congrats, you are on your way to becoming an AWESOME ALLY and no longer being an AWKWARD ASSHOLE~~!!

And okay, before you’re like “UGH QUIT JUDGING ME MISS I-THINK-I’M-PERFECT” let me just add a fucking disclaimer here: look, I am far from perfect. I fuck up and make mistakes and shit, I’ll own up to that. But there’s one thing I’ve come to learn in trying to be an ally and it is to stop making X experience about me. The best thing to do as an ally is to LISTEN, UNDERSTAND, and SUPPORT–NOT to talk, demand, or offend. It’s about decentering yourself from the issue and strategically using your privilege to amplify marginalized voices without monopolizing those voices or appropriating their ideas.

You think being an ally would be a pretty simple concept to follow.

1. Acknowledge your privilege.

2. Listen.

3. Understand.

4. Support.

BUT NOPE! Few people can barely do #1, and that’s the foundation on which you would build the other pillars of solidarity. Sad. Actually, more like disgusting. Yes, it’s disgusting when a person can’t do something as simple as recognizing that they have certain advantages in society, when other people who DON’T have those advantages are forced to recognize and realize that every day through their LACK of advantages.

By the way, being aware of your privilege in an effort to minimize its collateral damage does NOT mean you can no longer have a sense of humor, which is yet another stupid stereotype about social justice-oriented individuals. As a matter of fact, the funniest people I know are fellow intersectional feminists who don’t need to rely on a one-dimensional gay joke in order to produce a laugh–because they’re smarter and better than that. If your sense of humor is contingent upon the oppression of others, you should probably reevaluate your life choices (and your life in general, cuz, no offense, you sound like a total asshole).

privilege3.2

Being an ally isn’t about being perfect. No one is. Being an ally is about trying. You’re going to fuck up. I’m going to fuck up. But as long as we keep holding each other accountable, we can foster an environment where everyone feels a little safer in their identities.

Here’s a final example of privileges I have: (Final for this blog post I mean. This should go without saying, but none of these lists are exhaustive–are lists ever exhaustive??)

I have thin privilege, meaning

  •  People automatically assume I’m healthy and don’t need to work out (shit I’m probably going to die early what with all the junk I eat although my friend Nicole doesn’t like me half-joking about that so shhh don’t tell her I made another morbid joke)
  • I don’t have trouble finding my size when I go clothes shopping
  • People find me attractive because my body type is closer to the socially constructed, fat-shaming ideal of beauty that is completely arbitrary and narrow-minded

Having a certain privilege and being aware of it, particularly in a situation where you’re surrounded by people who don’t have it, is certainly awkward. But your awkwardness about facing your privilege is nothing compared to the kind of challenges a person without that privilege has to face on a daily basis, whether through systematic/legislated discrimination or de facto social policing via microaggressions or street harassment. So your best bet as an ally is to shut up and push through that uncomfortableness in order to do some good.

Let me just add, you don’t get a trophy or anything for being an ally, which is really just a synonym for being a decent human being in social-justice speak. What you do get is feelings of lukewarm semi-satisfaction that you aren’t a total piece of shit human being. Yay!

Seriously though–being an ally isn’t about you, it’s about other people and how you should support them if you actually believe in practicing equality. Call people out if they make racist jokes about black people. Refrain from using gay as a synonym for shitty. Support your female friend when she confides in you about being sexually assaulted and DON’T ask what she was wearing. And when YOU’RE the one being called out, take a step back, reconsider your perspective, mentally remove yourself from your privilege, and say, “Hey. I’m sorry I came off like a __-ist. I didn’t mean to. I know actions are just as if not more important than intentions, so I will stop doing x in the future.”

I can feel the trolls swarming now: “YOU STUPID FEMINAZI BITCH! UGH, PC POLICE HERE! STFU NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY YOU EFFING HYPOCRITE”

To which I say: “FUCK YOU TROLLS I’M A FLAWLESS FEMINAZI BITCH AND I DO WHATEVA I WANT. KTHNXBYE”

(Semi-) joking aside, being aware of your privilege is an outlook you (and I) must continually cultivate in order to avoid exploiting and hurting others. But it’s not like this privilege/oppression stuff has to be your all-encompassing, energy-draining life’s work, necessarily. I know it may sound like that, but actually, there are many social justice-oriented individuals (like myself) who spend a lot of their time watching TV shows that are bad for them or working 9-5 jobs that involve more mindless data entry than mindful sociopolitical change (to clarify, my organization effects mindful sociopolitical change–my specific job within the organization, not so much). Being an ally and a decent human being is simply a matter of being considerate as a conscious individual interacting with others, engaging in different forms of media, and navigating a world that is undeniably pluralistic. You can choose to shut your eyes to what’s really going on, but then you’d be missing out on the transformative beauty and wonder of human empathy and understanding. And trust me, that’s way more soul-crushing than owning up to your privileges.

 tl;dr I’m privileged,  you’re privileged, we’re all privileged! Is it really that fucking hard to admit? Goddamn goddamn goddamn