Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How do you start?

I just got into an argument with a few white male friends who insisted that American white men are discriminated against, other forms of discrimination have nearly faded out of existence, and "racism doesn't exist up North."


At least one of them is genuinely a cool and understanding person. I think he's just burnt out on the atmosphere at this liberal arts college, where no matter what the class, the point is often that White Men Are Evil. If I had the emotional wherewithal to calmly discuss a few pertinent examples with him, I might be able to get somewhere. But I am an emotional person and I'm dissatisfied with my living situation and my body hates me and I'm underpaid and my dog is dying, and I just. Cannot. Do it.

So, Irrational Female I remain.

The other guy? Is a know-it-all engineering major. The numbers of disciplines in which he thinks he is an expert and is Most Emphatically not are ridiculously numerous, and no matter what the argument he seems to end it with "whatever, we're not going to agree anyway," with an undertone of "I'm right and you're wrong, no matter what you say." To which tonight, I had so say, "You're right, we're not going to," and refrain from saying "because you're never going to listen to a word I say." He's the one who said "racism doesn't exist Up North." By Up North he meant, mostly, Boston. Any minority Bostonians want to disagree? I'm sure you're out there somewhere. Not that he'll listen.

And my beloved Wulfy had to take me home and comfort me, after being astonished at the ire I showed in this argument. And, because I am a white female and this is what I know, the conversation turned toward "women's issues." Why am I a minority anyway? My "minority" comprises 51% of the population, I say. My "minority" also makes less on average than your "majority," for the same work, of the same quality, over the same time. A female coworker of mine was flat-out told by our manager that she doesn't make as much money as a man who works with us, despite doing the same work and having more experience, because "it's a man's world, honey." And here's how I really flabbergasted him:

"Can you tell me when the last time you were really scared you were going to be raped? Because I can."

My car wouldn't start and I was near my workplace, and after catching a ride over I got a male coworker who used to work as a mechanic to take me back to my car and get it to start. And I was scared shitless to get into his car, but I need my car and I knew he could fix it and I was afraid to piss him off if I told him I didn't want to ride with him after he'd gotten our manager to give him permission to leave work, and I knew for sure he could fix my car, for free, and in a far shorter time that waiting an hour in freezing weather for a AAA person who was a totally unknown quantity. And I had to weigh that against the fact that he's over six feet tall to my 5'3", and weighs nearly twice as much as I do, and I know he can lift me a foot off the ground at arm's length.

And my boyfriend had no clue that I was scared that night, that I would have reason to be scared. Because he has never faced that kind of fear.

And now I am so far away from that original argument that I don't know what to think. I'm just a mess of these stupid emotions and I've cried too many times today.


CrackerLilo said...

I hate that. I hate when I want to argue something that I know--KNOW!--in my heart is wronger than wrong, but I got nothin' except emotions. And then the smug know-it-all I'd love to debate with would inevitably respond, "But you're not being objective, you're being emotional." As if there's something wrong with having feelings; as if he's being entirely objective. For me, this tends to come up in debates over same-sex marriage, though I've also had it come up on occasions when someone wants to compete in the Oppression Olympics.

Sorry I don't have anything but sympathy for you.

Seraph said...

We actually make fun of the "no racism up North" guy for having no soul. He's like a Nobody from the Kingdom Hearts games, who can occasionally fake emotions, but don't actually have any.

Thanks for the sympathy, though. After going up against Mr. Nobody, it's good to hear that I'm -not- actually just a crazy woman. You're not either, btw :-)