My name is Brittney, and I have finally worked up the cojones to actually write my first blog post. This is for several reasons, the first being that I have decided it’s time to get on with it and network and share ideas with other feminists on a platform that isn’t Facebook. The second, and perhaps most important reason, is because I’m going to be graduating soon, and I know I will have feminist withdrawal as soon as I leave campus (as much as I love my friends and family from home, political activism and feminist theory are not on their priority lists). Anywho. During my internship at the Feminist Press, many staff memebers urged us to blog and Twitter and stay connected, but I’ve been putting it off (“You kids and your damn Facebook. I prefer people and faces and real conversation” and all that jazz). But The Reason I have decided to get my shit together and start throwing my ideas out in the abyss is related to the two links above.
Let me explain. Over the weekend, I enjoyed the privelege of attending the Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. with seven other students from my college. We attended workshops, listened to speakers, etc. But something that I picked up on was the reitteration of phrases like “The United States is the greatest country in the world” and “We are lucky” and “We can be engaged in our political process.” Because the truth is, not all people can be engaged. Not all people can protest in public spaces and collect signatures and profess their politics without being attacked, censored, and arrested.
When I think of women who are unable to do these simple things that I take for granted, it’s an abstract concept. I think of them almost like I would think about characters in a book; they seem so incredibly removed from my own life. I can’t imagine going to a protest with a few hundred women in Rochester and being shoved and groped in broad daylight (as Egyptian women were during International Women’s Day). I can’t imagine being arrested for participating in a silent protest or collecting signatures (as countless Iranian women have been while working on the One Million Signature Campaign). I don’t say this to boast about how lucky I am or to engage in some sort of imperialist “Thank god the West is so much more advanced and non-totalitarian like the poor Middle East” bullshit.
Someone at the conference this weekend was talking about the difference between having privilege and owning privilege. The distinction is that everyone is blessed with having some sort of privilege, whether it be based on race, gender, class, or a plethora of other things, but only some people examine, deconstruct, and attempt to understand that privilege; in other words, working towards owning privilege and not letting it own one’s thoughts and actions. By recognizing what others struggle with, I am hoping to own my privilege and not take it for granted. Part of not taking it for granted is expressing my views and exchanging ideas with others without the risk of censorship or elimination. I intend to take full advantage of my privilege in this way, and hope I don’t make a complete ass out of myself in the process =]