Sense & Sensitivity

“oversensitive”

This is such a delightfully useful term. It’s a quick, simple, thoughtless way to dismiss other people’s feelings and experiences that seems to be a favourite among people today. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to consider changing your behaviour or your attitude – when you label someone as oversensitive, you are erasing their experience. It is a term held dear by the privileged.

If someone tells you you’re being racist/sexist/heterocentrist/whatever-ist, or something you said makes them uncomfortable… well that runs the risk of making you actually consider the consequences of what you’ve done, now, doesn’t it? But if you say to yourself “they’re just oversensitive”, that’s an amazingly quick way of putting it aside. You don’t have to reconsider your worldview when people are just “oversensitive”.

It’s a judgement term. Because it never applies to you. Like slut is for sexual activity – a “slut” is someone who’s having “too much” sex in your opinion, thus you are never a slut… “sluts” always have more sex than you. Oversensitive is just someone who is “too” sensitive… someone more sensitive than you.

Are they oversensitive, or are you just insensitive?

Why do people not consider that second half of the equation – themselves? Because that’s what using the term “oversensitive” is all about. Erasing your responsibility for your own actions and interactions with other people. It moves the problem from you to them, so that you never have to change.

Oh hello there, privilege.

How the Grinch murdered christmas with a huge meat cleaver

“You don’t have to be in the pews every sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate christmas.”

Apparently?

Or some shit?

Yes, we all know that Rick Perry is an asshole and not worth an ounce of attention, but I’ve been hearing this sentiment a hell of a lot this holiday season (no, let’s face it – this christmas season, considering the specific type of people I’ve heard this stuff coming from). Not just from the likes of Mr. Perry. People complaining about how PC the world has become, you can’t even say “merry christmas” anymore! And although I think that yes, calling the beloved pine tree with a star on top a “holiday tree” is going overboard, I think people getting riled up about this are missing something very big. Missing it because of their privilege.

OH HOW DARE YOU, WE DON’T HAVE PRIVILEGE.

Okay, first things first – we should call a christmas tree a christmas tree. But I’m of that opinion because… that’s a tradition specific to christmas; no other holidays (that I’m aware of…?) use the pine tree as a symbol of their holiday. So it’s pretty pointless calling it a “holiday” tree when it’s specific to one particular holiday. Which actually sort of brings me to my next point.

People renaming things the “winter holidays” instead of “christmas break”, cards saying “happy holidays!” or “season’s greetings!” instead of “merry christmas”. BLASPHEMY, THIS IS A WAR ON CHRISTMAS! But take a moment to look at those cards. What imagery is still used on the huge majority of them? They may read “happy holidays”, but they make it very clear which one they’re assuming you’re celebrating. Pine trees, silver bells, baubles. And those “winter breaks”… what days are they perfectly placed around? Every year without fail, do you happen to get december 25th and 31st off? Because I know that this year not all of the days of chanukah fell within our winter break. I know I can certainly see whose celebrations we’re prioritising, and I’m no detective.

And speaking of the 31st. Are people forgetting what calendar we’re on? That not every culture or religion uses the january-through-december structure for their years? And yet it’s the christian calendar that is standardised throughout most of the world, in the governments and businesses. It’s just taken for granted that stores will be closed on christmas, on easter, and that you’ll have those days off from work or school. But what about ramadan? What about all the days of chanukah? What about the endless other holidays that nobody really hears about because of this standardisation of christianity?

And by the way, this might come as a huge surprise, but there aren’t actually any Speech Police out there stopping you from saying “merry christmas”. Go ahead and say it. Though you’d be a bit of an asshole if you assume that just everyone you meet happens to celebrate the christian holidays. So guess what – maybe it is a better idea to say simply “happy holidays!” to people you don’t know. Instead of showing your wonderfully ingrained christian-centric worldview.

So yes. Go ahead and celebrate christmas and new year’s, and shout “merry christmas you buzzkilling bastards!” from the rooftops. Because nobody is stopping you. And before you open your mouth to moan about how christmas is being stifled by all those PC jerkwads out there, take a moment to remember upon which religion the entire structure of your day, your year, your life is based.

And since nothing is original, this has of course been talked about elsewhere in the blogosphere. I enjoyed this post: http://fanniesroom.blogspot.com/2011/12/tis-season.html

All About Me

Oh gosh, an intro!

As I’m sure you’re aware by now, since you’ve found your way to this blog, there are as many definitions of feminism as there are feminists in the world. The feminist movement has had issues with privilege and exclusion of certain groups throughout its history, each wave has had its own focus (and its own flaws), and everyone within the waves has had their own personal priority list. It depends on each feminist what it is that their personal feminism focuses upon. This is mine.

Feminism means:

  • Fighting sexism
  • Fighting cissexism
  • Fighting heterosexism
  • Fighting racism
  • Fighting ableism
  • Fighting ageism
  • Fighting classism
  • Being pro-choice
  • Being sex-positive (including supporting sex workers of all kinds)

…and ACTIVELY TRYING TO ACT IN AWARENESS OF AND IN SUPPORT OF THESE ISSUES 24/7.

That’s the kicker, really.

More about me…

I am also a socialist, though my focus is on my feminism so I have not read too much around all the different types of socialism. I guess I’d be categorized as revolutionary-socialist, and more equal-opportunity oriented… but as for the other sub-sub-sub-forms and whatnot… no clue. So I’m rather informally socialist, really.

I am currently a student at a university here in Ontario, Canada, in my third year of music performance. I play the baritone saxophone primarily (although I also play the alto sax, guitar, and tin whistle just for the FUN OF IT, CHYEAH). Despite being in an “artsy” program, the atmosphere of my peers in my department is still depressingly anti-feminist.

I am a cisgender, middle-class, neurotypical white woman with no physical disabilities*… so although I am in the marginalized group in terms of gender, I’m aware that I have been born into many other privileges, and thus I try to be incredibly careful around these issues.

I am also queer – I tend to identify my sexuality as “fluid” although I don’t mind being referred to as bisexual or pansexual. My sexuality has always been able to be put on the backburner for me, first because I considered myself heterosexual for the first several years of my sexual life and thus I was granted the privilege of being left completely alone about my sexuality… then when I came out as bi/pansexual, I had the great privilege of being a part of a generally very accepting family and community, and so even then my sexuality has never been a big issue.

I was also raised in a way that meant I was just never too concerned about exactly what to label my sexuality as. Unfortunately, outside of my support circle (and sadly within it every once in a while) I am still presented with heteronormativity/bi-invisibility, everyone assuming that I’m straight, and it’s especially offensive when they assume the attitude of me being “One of Us”. So probably expect to see some ranty blog posts on such topics.

I am also a peer sex educator, having volunteered with the ever-amazing Scarleteen for about a year and spreading the knowledge I gained from that to my peers in my social circle. Sex, relationships, gender, and sexuality is a major focus of mine… I’m forever fascinated by the complexity of human sexuality. So you may notice a lot of tangential stuff around that in the future of this blog…

Now I promise that’s it from me for now. How about you?

*Is there a better word than this that I could use instead? I always try to be on the lookout for more positive words for marginalized groups, but I don’t know of any for the word “disability”.

What it’s all about

Why start this blog?

I have run rampant in the feminist/socialist/activist blogosphere for quite a while now, discovering new blogs every day (though rarely ever commenting). But every so often, I’d find something about a blog I’d previously liked that didn’t sit well with me. Bloggers getting called out for some privileged talkin’ on their part, and then their refusal to accept this… I’ve seen it on feministe and feministing with race issues, and just recently on my-previously-most-favourite-blog-ever-who-I-thought-got-everything-right Shakesville with trans issues.

I don’t think any of these issues I found were in bad faith on the bloggers’ parts – I think they legitimately didn’t realize that what they were doing was way uncool. The problem is not in making the slip-up with their privilege – it is, after all, a part of privilege to not be able to tell when you’re exercising it – but in how they dealt with it. When someone from the marginalized group tells you you’ve fucked up and calls you out on it, it’s probably a good fucking idea to listen up. Especially when you are called out repeatedly for similar things. It’s time to take a step back and seriously think about what you’re saying.

And fucking apologise. Gracefully. With no “buts”. No “you could have been nicer…” As feminist bloggers, you should know how angered you get when someone repeatedly exercises their privilege and then denies it. Of course people are going to be pissed with you. Don’t take it personally, because it isn’t. Or at least, it’s not until you continue refusing to give a decent apology.

So I realized, after all of this, that the number of feminist blogs that deal with their own privileges well dwindles the more time I spend in the blogosphere. And it dawned on me that, if I can’t find a blog that satisfies me… why not try to make that blog myself?

Thus Hot Air was born.

I can’t promise to never ever ever say anything privileged ever, because that’s hard for me to know because of the whole privilege-being-invisible-to-those-who-have-it shenanigans. As is proven by so many well-meaning bloggers getting it so wrong. I don’t think anyone can make that promise. I know I can promise to try my fucking best to always be aware of it.

And what I can definitely promise you is this.

My vow to all of you who may read this is to always always always listen when I am called out, to always always always be wary not only of other people’s privilege but especially my own, to never say “sorry, but…” and if I ever fail to do any of this, which I’m so scared I will… well the blog will be moot and I’ll close it. And do call me out with fiery, passionate, unrelenting anger.

I will hope to whatever deity(ies) there may be, that I never stop listening to other people. I don’t want to let you down like that.