Guys, I need to vent. I have an acquaintance who periodically shares these really awful transphobic radfem treatises (not written by him—he's linking to other people's articles) on facebook. I think he considers himself a radical feminist and a super progressive lefty—he also links a lot to articles on environmentalism and such (some of them even border on conspiracy theory-level shit). He is also someone in an extremely trusted and highly educated medical profession, which makes it even worse.
In the past, I've responded to him very briefly when he does this by just identifying the transphobia and saying that it's not okay, and I've seen others respond the same way. He seems quite unfazed. I may just unfriend him at this point, though I'm usually of the mind that it's nice to refrain from burning bridges and to try to change people's minds as long as what they're doing isn't so hateful and aggressive as to be intolerable.
The latest thing he posted was this, and I'm not going to respond just because I don't even know where to start. I'm not upset—mostly amazed that he's still at this garbage. I just need y'all to confirm that it's the steaming pile of horseshit that I know it is.
This choice quote is really the icing on the cake—such woe-is-privileged-me lip service to recognizing one's own privilege without his actually making an effort to recognize his privilege beyond a totally superficial and self-serving level. UGH.
Before defending this assertion, there's a reasonable question to consider: Who cares what I think? I am, after all, a middle-aged white man, a tenured full professor at a large state university, with a U.S. passport, married to a woman. In privilege roulette, I am a winner on all the big identity markers: race, sex/gender, economic class, nationality, sexuality (the last one is complicated; more on that later). According to the rules of progressive politics, I'm supposed to preface every assertion I make with self-abnegation. Who am I to make claims about the proper analysis of these systems of illegitimate authority, given that I live on the domination side of all these dynamics?
Humility is a virtue, and people with my unearned advantages should double-down on humility. But false humility can become a rationalization for silence. Accepting the leadership of people from oppressed groups is an important principle, and privileged voices are not always needed in some debates. But on matters of public policy we all should be part of a collective conversation, and there also are times when people with privilege can say out loud what others say quietly in private. This essay offers my own analysis, but in solidarity with many others who share these views but feel constrained in speaking, out of concern for institutional standing and/or personal relationships.