I've been pretty vocal this week on social media about my experiences of OPPRESSION and PATRIARCHY, and it feels good to share a digest of that experience here.
Disclaimer: When I say "white men" or "white man," I do not mean "ALL WHITE MEN." I'm aware that in calling out a category of people the way I have done, the humans in that category may feel targeted, marginalized and even attacked, especially if they're not taking time to really dive into the nuance of what I've so carefully explained.
To be clear, that is not my intention. However, I don't know how to be clear in my meaning without using this language, and I'm not going to avoid saying "white men" just to make sure that white men who read my writing won't get their panties in a twist.
You're right, white men! It doesn't feel good to be minimized. The fact of the matter is, most of the rest of the world--everyone whose body is de-prioritized by the system--is used to being called names. Marginalized people are used to being lumped in with a group and called "less than" because of their membership, because they've been dealing with it their whole lives.
When someone calls you out in future and you find their use of "white men" offensive, perhaps you'll want to pause and consider that the reason it feels so offensive to you is because you're not used to it. Can you imagine what it's like to have that happen to you your WHOLE life from the time you were a child simply because you are NOT white or NOT a man?
It fucking sucks.
So, white men (and anyone else who is blind to their own privilege), time to toughen up that skin, get over the shock of how much it hurts, and decide what side you're on, because your ignorance affects ALL of us. If you're not consciously choosing to be on the side of those who've been oppressed, you are an oppressor. Period. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse.
I've chosen not to copy the comment threads on these posts here, because it seems unnecessarily inflammatory to bring that kind of attention to the people involved. However, you can click through on these images to the original posts if you feel inclined to read the conversation prompted by my share, and if you do, please note that some of the comments have now been edited and are not as inflammatory as they once were.
If you've been listening to the podcast, it's worth noting that THIS (above) is the original post that catalyzed the unfolding I've been sharing around on air, wherein I had an uncomfortable exchange with a member of my boyfriend's family.
This next post is one I had already planned to release, before the hubbub around the first post. Of course, given the unwanted attention I received following that first post (from white men who made jokes, minimized my experience, took issue with my use of the phrase "white men," were condescending and downright aggressive with me, despite the fact that I communicated I wasn't comfortable with our exchange), I considered not posting this next one. I was afraid it would be perceived as AGGRESSIVE.
However, it felt really important not to back down from my plans simply because I was AFRAID of how people watching might respond. And so I posted:
As I continued to feel into the response I was receiving around my shares on this topic--highly affirmative from most people and minimized by just a few (who happen to be white men)--I decided to craft one more post, sharing my experience of feeling bullied and aggressed toward on that first post:
This last post was an especially bold move, given that one of the original aggressors is a member of Matt's family. What's more, I am 100% certain that despite the fact that this person's behavior toward me was completely inappropriate, he is a product of his privilege and honestly doesn't know any better. Not that that's any excuse at this point. If we continue to let one another off the hook in cases where an aggressor claims ignorance (repeatedly), this world will never be a safe place.
Might there have been a "better" or more "ladylike" way to handle all this? Perhaps. But I'll tell you what: I've been acting like a lady my whole life (for the most part) and no matter how "good" I AM, white men continue to talk over me, push me around, treat me like I'm unintelligent, question my experience and disregard what I have to say. And mostly, these are white men that I'm close to. Humans with whom I am in intimate relationship. And I specify "white men" here because I do not personally have this experience with colored men, which is a whole different topic warranting it's own deep investigation. And I'll say again, I do not mean ALL white men. If you are a woke white dude, I am not talking to you. If you don't know what I'm talking about with all this, I probably AM talking to you.
Bottom line: I'm done tip-toeing around those whose privilege makes them feel entitled to being an asshole. You want to be aggressive with me? That's fine. As long as you're prepared for me to CALL YOU OUT on your shit. Because at some point, your "ignorance" is nothing more than a refusal to listen.
In the wake of all this, I'll be honest: I'm feeling like a warrior goddess. I have had women reaching out to me all week to let me know how much they appreciate my presence. How my fearlessness in sharing my experience has inspired them to show up more fully in their own lives and relationships. And to be clear, "fearlessness" is simply something that was perceived by others. There actually was A LOT of fear involved in putting myself out there so vulnerably. I am also feeling humbled by how much I still have to learn when it comes to being an activist and ally who can change hearts and minds without triggering the shit out of her target audience.
Regardless, the support I'm receiving from my community--both publicly and privately--has powerfully emboldened me, and I'm proud of how I've chosen to handle myself.
If you'd like to hear more about my experience, I invite you to listen to my podcast. There are three episodes that came out this week, all of which offer gorgeous perspective on how we can move through the world with integrity, regardless of who we might make uncomfortable in the process.
- In this "Tuesdays with Tyla" episode, I talk about the root of my FEAR OF VISIBILITY, and how being sexually aggressed toward as a child has impacted my ability to move through the world and be in intimate relationship.
- In Episode 205 with Marlowe Holden, we talk about what it means to be empowered in our individual creative expression while also honoring the sacred nature of intimate relationship.
- In AYATAF - Episode 205, Alex Francis and I discuss how scary it's been for me to step into my voice so publicly, when my empowered presence has been a "problem" in the past, both within my romantic relationship and relationships with friends and family.
If you'd like to share any of your own experience around this, I'm open to receiving you! Put it in the comments or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). To be clear, if you're disrespectful or aggressive with me in any way, I will not hesitate to delete you.