Category Archives: Privilege

I’m tired. I’m exhausted

There I said it.
Definition of tired

This malaise is more than normal.  It’s a sickness.  I’ve lived with anxiety for a long time.  It’s my not so friendly hyena.  The beast that hugs around my throat, neck, it’s fangs dripping and every now and again it tears a piece from my insides, slowly ripping, staring into my eyes and pulling and tearing, ever so fucking slowly.  That’s the anxiety.  That’s my hyena.
Lately events have been making me more sick.

I could pretend that this is all to do with my exams.  I could sit in that pre tense with rose coloured glasses and pretend that everything is normally peachy, but that’s simply a bullshit lie I’m telling myself.

I’m tired because it’s really tiring holding up the social justice platform.  It’s really tiring when you lose friends because of it, and they think you’re mad.  I’ve lost countless friends over my social justice platform.  There are some who would say don’t push it.  There are some who trot out maxims like “valuing the relationship over what you’re saying”.  There *is* some truth in that, I do not deny that.  There is also the sly undertone in that, don’t speak out, don’t make me feel uncomfortable because I don’t want my vision of reality challenged.

I’m sick because I do challenge things and I can’t unsee them.  There are days I wish I could.

At the moment in New Zealand we are going through our own Steubenville.  I won’t bother you with the details, but it’s horrific.  It’s nasty and it feels like someone has just shat another dump load of crap on my shoulders.  Why mine?  Well, because those of us who are social justice advocates are out there trying to pick up the pieces, trying to point out to those well meaning outraged people that more often than not they are propping up the very system that causes things like Steubenville to happen.

Once again I have thrust myself into the breach only to be called names.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been called a feminazi.  Although recently I did get a new one, apparently I’m a pedophile for suggesting that children should have sex education.  Oh the irony is not lost on me.  Me, pedophilia, it’s just so ridiculous it’s laughable.  It’s a joke, a bad one, but the most awful thing about it was that this person believed it.

I’m tired because so called allies cannot see the good that I do, cannot see when I challenge things, and think that, frankly, I’m a bitch.  I’ve seen it in their cold shoulderedness when they believe that I have gone too far.  They rally around the privilege distressed like you wouldn’t believe.  Again, another incidence where if it wasn’t true I could sit and laugh.  I remind myself it isn’t my place to coddle the privileged, frankly I don’t need to, because the privileged do a damn fine job of coddling themselves half the time.  Their whining of “but I’m not a bad person” is really not the point.  When you come from a place of privilege and expect to get cookies when you’re doing one thing good then yeah, I will call you out on it.  The sad part is when those bridges behind you fall, and they do.

Being a social justice advocate is damn hard.  It’s lonely.  It’s isolating.

It’s why I have a small, very small, select group of friends where I can take the piss online, where I have surrounded myself with the most amazing of women.  Where they have not put me on a pedestal.  Where they accept that I make mistakes, that I’m not perfect, that I don’t have to be held to a different standard all the time.

See the problem with being a social justice advocate is that others who respect you often put you on a pedestal.  It’s a dangerous place to be.  Why?  Because the second you act human and make an error they get upset.  They don’t realise they have put you on a pedestal.  They don’t realise they have put an “ideal face” on you, they just didn’t see the pieces that made you human.  So when your idealised self falls, to them, you have commited a mortal sin, whereas to you, you are human.

Those people, those people are not the people who hold me up, who keep me alive, who keep me going.  However even those people are not enough right now.

So, I’m going to reassess some things.  Going to take stock.  Going to breathe.  Going to look at the meaningful relationships, the ones where I am seen for who I am, the ones where I am “accepted” and I’m going to prune the others back.

Sometimes the social justice advocates need a break from holding up the world for others who frankly don’t give a shit about doing it, or would rather the rest of us hold up the load.

Right now I’m taking a breather.  I need to catch my breath.  I’ve been running so hard and so long for such a long time and doing the breathing for so many other people that I need to stop.  I need my own air.  I need my focus back.

Time for change.  Time for me.

Being a Mother is Not the Most Important Job in the World

I get it, I do, I get what people are trying to say when they say that being a mother is the most important job in the world.  They are trying to put value on something which is devalued, and which historically has been very devalued.
But what does this actually do?  Let’s take a look at it.  It says that ALL other jobs are not as important.  It tells the father that their role is not as important.  It tells the gay couple raising their children, that they aren’t and could never do as good a job as the mother does.  It tells the women who don’t want to have children that nothing that they can do will ever be as important as being a parent, and it tells the people who have infertility problems and cannot adopt that they have failed.

So how should we respond when someone asks that curly question, what do you do for a living and we are a stay at home parent?  I’ve heard responses that range from the mildly humourous to the downright offensive.  I’ve heard the “I do the most important job in the world,” I’ve heard the “domestic goddess” amongst many others.   Somehow we seem to think that by valuing parenting, particularly mothering over and above what other people do we have somehow rectified the past.  No we haven’t.  We don’t gain credibility or traction by climbing over other people, we simply don’t.  It also plays into the deification of motherhood, something which Maria, from Barrel of Oranges discusses here.

When people use all those cute and what are considered to be funny phrases to say what they are doing is creating further division.   Being a stay at home parent is not more valuable than being a parent who is paid for their work. There are plenty of parents who work and don’t want to, they would rather stay at home, but they are not privileged enough to do so.  Equally there are plenty of parents who want to work but may not be able to do so.  There are parents who want to work, who do not wish to stay at home all day with their children, and that’s okay too.  Saying you are a full time parent doesn’t make a parent who works a part-time parent, but that’s what it implies, and it’s simply false.

When people ask me what I do for a living I try not to use those phrases, I try and say that I stay at home and look after my children, I’m a student, and I run a small business, and I am very conscious that I have a degree of privilege in being able to do that.   The key for me is in not devaluing other parent’s choices in how I respond.

We don’t raise the status of parenting by crapping on other people’s choices.
We don’t raise the status of parenting by crapping on other people’s choices.

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