Is There Anybody Going To Listen To My Story?

I took a Women’s Studies class in college and I hated it. I thought I’d get a nuanced, wide ranging look at the unique challenges that women face. Instead I paid a bunch of money to be spoon fed ultra-liberal talking points. It fit with my political views at the time, but it felt ooky having it taught like that.

One of the only honest and intellectually curious class sessions we had during that course dealt with the topic of race, something Feminists often ignore even though it’s hugely relevant. This was the winter of 2002 and one of the professors asked whether we thought the United States would first have a woman president or a black president.

Us privileged white girls, born of the Gloria Steinem heritage, were sure we’d have a black president first.

Then, a fellow classmate, a black woman, stood up and said she emphatically believed the United States would not see a black president in her lifetime. She spoke of how she’d received more harassment and hate in her life because of her race than because of her gender. As much as we want to be empathetic, we just can’t understand what we don’t experience unless we’re told.

I thought of her the day President Obama won the election, feeling incredibly happy that she was wrong. (I also understood what she had said in class that day a little better after hearing the terrible things that were said about his race during the campaign. Not just by fringe wackos, but by presumably intelligent people in the public sphere.)

This is why the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag is so important. I’ve sent quite a few of them into the Twiterverse and received some quite interesting replies in return. It shouldn’t need to be argued, but I’ll say it anyway: #YesAllWomen isn’t anti-men. It isn’t whining. It isn’t not being grateful for our First World lives. It isn’t attention-whoring.

The misogynistic manifesto from a crazy person who randomly murdered people rung true to so many women for the simple fact that every single one of us has had the experience of being a target of misogyny.

It’s been powerful to read the stories of women’s’ everyday lives. Of the way all of our lives are shaped by people who hate women.

So naturally I thought about Donald Sterling. When the tape of him saying incredibly terrible, racist things came to light, us white folk didn’t feel the need to Tweet with #NotAllWhitePeople. Yet, SOME men on Twitter are losing their frequency over #YesAllWomen and breaking out their favorite #NotAllMen even though, duh, we KNOW not all men are like that.

It honestly made me wish there was a #YesAllWomen equivielent for people who are discriminated against because of their race because I know the things Donald Sterling said weren’t isolated. I know people experience racism on a daily basis.

I would like to hear those stories because I want to understand. Maybe we’ve had racial political correctness pounded into us since elementary school and it’s not interesting anymore. But it still exists, like misogyny still exists.

The error in that class about women and race was that the question on a woman vs. a black president tried to suss out who has it worse. Who cares who has it worse? We all have a thing like racism or misogyny (or both). Let’s listen to each other. Let’s try to understand each other.

Then, let’s fucking stop doing this shit to each other!

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