arvan's picture

Privilege within communities working to lessen privilege

Audre Lorde once spoke at a feminist conference, noting that she was the only black lesbian there and one of only two women of color.  She was pointing at privilege and exclusion within a group formed to remedy and address privilege and exclusion.  In this address, she pointed to the language and organizational structure adopted by feminists to address patriarchy was formed by patriarchy to reinforce patriarchy.  That language and organization are the "master's tools" she speaks of and her assessment is that by using them, privilege will not be eliminated, but instead renewed and sustained.  

That metaphor has resonated with me since the very first time I heard it.  I started blogging for a number of reasons, including identifying, owning and interrupting privilege.  I have come to some conclusions which I will share in this post, namely:

- Privilege is always happening, in everyone's life and in every group.

- I can only interrupt, acknowledge and impact my own privilege.  This seems to be true for us all.  It is also true for groups.

- Denial sustains and reinforces privilege and honesty creates an opportunity to interrupt privilege.

The very instant any group or community is formed or declared, exclusion and privilege are established and instituted.  

Exclusion: some people are in that group and some are not.  

Privilege: the group has leader(s) / former(s) / administrator(s) / public & private voice(s) in some form or another who agree to their ability to declare the identity of that group.  There is also privilege in the selection of new members to the group or the expulsion of current members.

This can be problematic for any group whose stated goal is to address or lessen privilege.  This is often a group whose members and lives are often largely defined by their experiences of having been excluded by privileged persons and groups.  How such an organization or group addresses its privilege and exclusion will impact how successful they are in their efforts to impact privilege elsewhere and as a group or individuals.

arvan's picture

oh noez, the divorce monster!

Do you ever think back to shit you said and realize what a jackass you are/were?  It happens to me all the time.

When I was 9, I had a conversation with my childhood best friend about the evils of divorce and how a woman can take everything a man works for.  We talked about how unfair that is to men and we promised to a) never marry and b) never join the army.  I kept neither promise.

Where the hell does a boy of 9 get such thoughts?  That sexist message came from the adults around me - along with a great many other messages.

In the fishbowl of our childhood world: school, playing outside and family time - we took in the news, values and questions of the world around us and struggled to form our own minds.  As kids, we traveled in and out of these vastly differing conversations of the adults around us.  Our world was a maze of sidewalks, alleys, classrooms, kitchens, yards, church basements and family gatherings.  My friend and I roamed the self-carved paths and tunnels of our daily navigation like ants in a colony.

The world was changing.

arvan's picture

The Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Project: "Back Up"

I found this one through someone that RT'd one of our tweets today.  This whole idea seems rooted in the context of the world of cons, but I think the idea is brilliant and well suited for all gatherings of people. 

They have the list below in a couple versions of flyer, that you can download here.  I condensed the two, to include the most complete variations in one big list.  I hope you love it and pass it along.  I sure as hell think it's nifty as all get out. 

Oh, and be sure to give the project their props - they should be rewarded for being this damn awesome.  Look over the rest of their site for allied sites / orgs and you can even purchase "Back Up" gear on CafePress at no mark up.


The Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Project - real world help for a real world problem

The Project aims to make help against harassment visible and available, to create safer environments, to help women to support other women and men to challenge other men. We want sff, anime, comic, and other cons to be safer spaces for women.

I will break through your Somebody Else's Problem invisibility field and come over and ask if you're okay.

I will help you contact help: your friends, the event organizers, or police/security officers, if that is what you would like.

I will help you to the best of my ability if you're being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable.  Just let me know, even if you don't know me.

I will not tell you that you must have been imagining things.

I will not say to you to go home, or go hide in your room, or just stay away from that guy.
I will not make you feel like your right to control over your own body is not a big deal.

I will do this whether or not I like you, or even know you. It's not about liking you. It's about the fact that we need to back each other up, and I will need you to do this for me some day.

I will remember that you are in charge, and if you don't want my help, I will go away.  I will be there to help you in the future if you need it.

arvan's picture

Surgeon pays damages to Christiane Völling

According to information from Christiane Völling, the surgeon, Prof. Dr. L. has given up and will not appeal the latest judgment after losing for the third time and he has already paid the damages! This is a victory from beginning to end for Christiane and her courageous lawyer, Georg Groth.

The payment [of damages] brought the "Hermtrial" which has been ongoing for over two years to a historic end more quickly than expected: for the first time ever in Germany a surgeon has been held accountable in a civil suit for non-consensual castration of an intersexed person - and the decision was upheld at all levels of the judicial system!

A huge day for all intersex people and all those who support them in their struggle to stop nonconsensual genital surgery and other nonconsensual treatments and those who support the right to self determination and human rights for intersex people.

- Translation, Curtis E. Hinkle, Founder of OII

(Source Intersex News)

arvan's picture


A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.

Women should learn self-defense.

Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark.

Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts.

Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended.

Fuck, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all.

Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and tell the guy he's a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

If you agree, re-post it. It's that important.

This goes for any gendered rape, male on female or female on male or female on female or FTM on MTF or non gendered to dual gendered and so on and so forth....

-author unknown

(Thanks, Dr. Diana!)

arvan's picture

USA: Treaty signing signals policy shift

2009-07-25 11:32:42

Disabilities Convention Will Be First Human Rights Treaty Signed by US in Nearly a Decade

(New York) July 24, 2009 -- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which President Obama is scheduled to announce today that the US will sign, will be the first international human rights treaty signed by the United States in nearly a decade, Human Rights Watch said today. Obama is scheduled to make the announcement at a White House event this afternoon.

"This treaty was created to make sure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else and are fully included in society," said Joe Amon, director of the Health and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "This is a real victory for both that goal and for the disability rights advocates who have worked so hard for it."

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and was signed by 82 countries when it opened for signature on March 30, 2007. Today 140 countries have signed, and 61 have ratified. It requires governments to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and support their dignity, autonomy, and full participation in society.

Amon said that signing the treaty sent a broader signal about US respect for international law.

"For nearly a decade, the US has been on the sidelines as new treaties have been developed and existing treaties gained international support," he said. "By signing the Disabilities Convention, the US is beginning to reassert leadership on international human rights."

Syndicate content
Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system