A few afterthoughts and reactions to my post.
I don’t have a problem with the awareness and understanding of privilege. Being aware of one’s advantages (luck, earned, given) is what’s known as “counting your blessings” where I grew up. It’s something every person should do at regular intervals. Counting one’s blessings is a private moment of personal reflection and it’s not necessary to be beaten over the head and/or ostracized if others don’t think you’re doing it right. There are ways of educating others about the concept of privilege and pointing out ways in which one may have an advantage. Then it’s time to move onto something else of greater importance: like changing laws that affect everyone regardless of any supposed privilege.
I apparently confused some [white] people by using the words “KKK” and “prejudice.” The KKK itself (or those who follow its value-system) hates quite a lot of people for a wide variety of reasons. It’s not all about skin color, folks. Prejudice and racism are different words, which is why I used “prejudice.” There is some overlap in concept (racism being a form of prejudice) but they do not actually mean the exact same thing. I wrote this post as clearly and simply as I could and it still confused people with too much schooling. Sigh. One activist who should know me better reacted as though I was a pet who pooped on the rug. No I’m not, and no I did not.
The UK seems to have some similar issues as the US. If you would like to take a look at thoughts from UK sex workers, please go over and enjoy the musings of Elrond and Douglas Fox — who made the most brilliant statement on the whole issue: “Activism groups have to understand that sex workers have many voices and many political allegiances and many experiences. Our diversity is our strength but instead it is being made our weakness.”
Furry Girl was inspired to bring the issue to a head. She is absolutely right in that it’s a (literal) working class issue. She boiled it down to 4 important points. I look forward to the start of her new project. Changing minds is changing minds. It needs to be done. Period.
10 thoughts on “ps: the invisible majority”
I always thought this was a big problem in all kinds of activism; it is in fact an occupational hazard for activists. At the beginning, it is usually difficult to convince most people that there are blessings to be counted (‘privilege? what privilege? I’ve never had any privilege!), so the activists have to argue a lot with people who just “don’t see it” or think that prejudice is simply “nature” or “the way things have to be”. By the time the message starts sinking in with larger and larger groups… the activists have grown so used to having to argue with prejudiced people that every new question that doesn’t agree with the party line is greeted as yet another “stupid prejudiced person” who has to be given the full awareness-raising treatment.
And that, to say nothing of having their own personal beliefs as to what a world without prejudice would be like — and rejecting dissenting ideas as if they again came from those privileged people who they had to argue with since the beginning of their activism.
It’s as if this initial phase of activism-against-everybody would harden the spirit of even the meekest and most empathy-filled activist and dull his/her perception of even his/her own brothers-and-sisters-in-arms, allies, and other positively oriented people.
“I wrote this post as clearly and simply as I could and it still confused people with too much schooling.”
Sad, isn’t it? And unfortunately the rule rather than the exception.
“Sad, isnâ€™t it? And unfortunately the rule rather than the exception.”
Indeed… And that’s unlikely to change. At least from the top down.
Amanda, speaking of the visibility of conventionally pretty prostitutes, I’ve just seen this article at Salon.com that caught my attention. Very well-written and reflexive, but with some claims I felt might be controversial.
Reading through it, I thought: why don’t people like Amanda or Maggie write at Salon? At least Open Salon is a possibility, and you can migrate to Salon itself. Wouldn’t this help in the battle to remove the stigma and change stereotypes? (I left a reference to your blog and Maggie’s in the comments thread to that article, by the way.)
Asehpe — I have never been an activist around any other issue — so I can’t comment on similarity of problems within activism. However, I do believe that some of the ultra-PC activists I know are indeed so ingrained in their reaction that they attack “friendlies” without a second thought. Hell, I’ve done it (usually when someone just hits the right nerve). Education and awareness of real issues open the mind and then you just want EVERYONE to know everything you do because it’s so great to have a new perspective on the world. It’s just the MANNER of educating everyone else that I question, especially in regard to ultra-PC activist credo.
Thanks for the Salon article (and the link plugs!). She’s a former escort. $pread Magazine was about the only publication that put out work by current sex workers. I don’t know why, though I can guess. That would be another post in and of itself.
Maggie — Weird how that works. 😉
PS: Okay, I’ve read the Salon article and looked at her blog. Maybe someone knows her and can verify that she’s real. I just got a whole feeling of deja vu. It’s like reading a higher-minded Alex/a. There are a couple girls who write like that, most don’t (nor do they have the time).
I saw that Salon article as well and noticed the very same thing. What a load of crap.
Re the rest – absolutely – time to set disagreements aside and focus on getting things done!
Kelly — 🙂
I can identify 100% with the Salon article’s points on insecurity and quantifying your value. So I deeply disagree that it’s a load of crap.
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