Thursday, May 01, 2008

trying

As anyone who's paid attention knows, this blog veers back and forth from total fluff to political commentary esp. re: feminism. Lately it's been fluff because I think I do some of my best patriarchy-blaming over on the IBTP Forum (follow the link to IBTP blog if you're interested). I'm more of a reactive writer than a pro-active one. Give me something to argue with, I'm on it. But if I try to come up with a blog post on something new, I'll get stuck. Why? There's too much out there to be righteously indignant about. Too much to be angry about. Misogyny, racism, age-ism, able-ism, and what do you call it when someone's anti-everyone-else's-religion? Religionism isn't right, is it? Anyway, that. So much fear and hatred that I wouldn't even begin to know where to start. So I guess I post happy-making videos of kitty-cats because a dose of teh cute provides a brief mental & emotional respite from the world.

I just finished a huge project at work, that almost went completely kablooey on me (as in, almost missed publication deadline for catalog of an exhibition). The day was saved by a cash infusion (amazing what money can buy) but it's been a stressful six or eight months. Now that the project is done, it's like the dam is broken and I am able to sit still and get small things done. Sure, I can spend fifteen minutes labeling and filing at work. I can finally, FINALLY, order those cute CD binders from West Elm and transfer my CDs from jewel cases to binders, thus freeing up space (both literal and visual) in my house. I can do them because I don't have Guilt - the guilt that I *should* be doing this Huge Project, so I can't even make myself embark on a Small Project.

The dam has broken & I'm using the Apartment Therapy eight-step home cure, but on my own schedule. It's supposed to be an eight-week process, but I skipped a week (too busy at work) and then Week Three tasks took two weeks, and now Week Four tasks are taking two weeks. Which is fine. I don't have a deadline, I just need to de-clutter and spring-clean my space. I've been in my house almost 7 years now and it needs attention. Having a tidy & serene & aesthetically pleasing home environment is SO essential to my sanity, I can't tell you.

And then I re-read those paragraphs and think: holy crap I am a bourgeois honky ASSHOLE. I should be sending my every extra penny to relief efforts or Planned Parenthood or my internet friend in Canada who's about to be homeless. GOD, I'm a privileged spoiled middle-class American white girl, and what the fuck do I do about it? How can I possibly justify spending $75 on cute CD binders to house my CD collection? How fucking ABSURD is that?

But wait, do I really even have extra money? Shouldn't I have spent that $75 on paying down my consumer credit? (Let us pass over in silence my six-figure student loans). Where are my priorities:

1. social justice/aid
2. financial solvency (getting out of debt)
3. self-care

What comes first? Where should that $75 go? I spin around and around these axes and no matter which one I choose, I feel that I have failed in my efforts with regard to the other two.

And then back to it: I'm SO privileged to be able to sit here in air conditioning in front of a computer having White Lady Angst about what to do with $75, which constitutes a week's salary for many, a month's salary for others.

And the privilege of money is only the beginning of it, isn't it? This is the problem I have when I talk to people about privilege: They think it means money, money ONLY. If I say "white people have privilege" they might say, "Well, plenty of black people are richer than me." Or, say, I point out male privilege by mentioning the daily indignities of sexism, both large & small. Mr. Male Privilege then denounces each of the daily indignities as minor at best, or pronounces me paranoid, or too sensitive. Mr. Male Privilege usually thinks he's NOT privileged because, say, he grew up poor. Or short. Or in an abusive family. But he's still got that Male Privilege, but he doesn't see it, because he does not speak my language. He does not understand how privilege DOES NOT EQUAL money. It's so much more than that. SO much more.

And I fear that my White Lady Privilege is blinding me all the time. It's like I have this inkling that it's there - I know it rationally - but do I *see* it, each and every day? I don't know how to see it. I don't know exactly which daily indignities I am spared. I almost said, "I should be thankful that I'm spared these things," but that's the Patriarchy talking. That's the P saying "Be glad you're at least doing better than those poor sods over there. You think YOU have it bad? Better be grateful that your crumbs are tastier than hers!" So, no: I will not be grateful. I will try to be aware, to look, to listen. I don't know what else I can do.

4 comments:

Cara-he said...

To preserve myself from honky angst about what I'm doing with my money, I try to make a kind of percentage budget that includes my donation/activism money as a regular percentage of the money I earn.

I'm not saying that I give enough, or have perfect solutions and deserve a halo. But existential crises (while valuable if you're not in the habit of thinking of others) are nothing but crazy making if you already devote time and energy to activism work.

For myself, OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR (essential to note this, rather than weekly or monthly), if I have spent between 10 - 15 percent of my budget on activism, and between 5 - 10 percent on self-care, I can release most of the honky existential guilt without feeling like a martyr (which does noone any good).

Michele said...

Heya Jez,

I finally got wise and added you to my gmail clips so now I won't miss your blog. Please email me when you get close to visiting NO, I'd really love to have a cup of tea and play catch up w/you. Best, Michele

Jezebella said...

Hey, Michele! Glad you found me. I should be in town in the next few weeks or so. Mom wants me to go see the Blue Dog show with her. Alas.

and, Cara-he, thanks for the reality check.

Anonymous said...

I was reading some of Twisty's old posts. One of your comments to one of her posts was really great and resonated with me. It was a response to "the post on marriage" wherein which you said something about your dude thinking you morphed into Betty F-ing Crocker when y'all moved in together. Thanks for being so awesome.
-mary.