By Phoenix Calida
When a group higher up the social ladder tells a another group what is appropriate to complain about, there’s a something disturbing happening.
It’s reinforcing the idea that “inferior” groups lack mental acuity and the right to autonomy. It’s reinforcement of the social hierarchy by pretending that all inferior groups cannot be trusted to speak truth, make rational observations, and therefore, must be infantalized and spoken over.
When men tell women what is or isn’t sexist, they’re really saying “I can’t trust your judgement, let me dictate how you should feel about my behavior, because I know best.” This dovetails perfectly with the other misogynistic messages in society- Women are inherently untrustworthy. Women are emotionally frail. Men are rational and strong and need to be the decision makers, because women are incompetent. Hence, we can’t trust women to correctly or truthfully recount storied of sexual harassment or abuse.
When white people try to dictate the terms of racism, they’re really reinforcing the stereotype that people of color are stupid and unable to understand complex social ideas. We people of color are perfectly capable of understanding that police target white people sometimes. BUT our direct life experience- validated by statistics- notes that police are more likely to target us than white people. Yet we can’t be trusted to speak truth on that, and the white saviors must strip our autonomy and save us from ourselves, and convince us we’re post racial.
It happens again and again in regards to the lgtbqia, the poor, the disabled, and the otherwise disenfranchised or marginalized. Those with more privilege speak over us, and in doing so, they reaffirm the social constructs that excluded us from mainstream equality in the first place. Speaking over our experiences isn’t just dismissive, it’s malevolent. Keeping those social heriarchies in place isn’t just mean, it’s murder. We die because these social heriarchies teach people not to value our lives. And that dehumanization starts with n0t valuing our voices and stories.
Think about it.