Monday, April 29, 2013

"Yes But..."


I've just got to get something off my chest.

I'm done with the words "yes, but..." I'm done with them in a general way but especially in social justice circles. I'm talking about things like...

"Patriarchy really oppresses women."
"Yes, but it hurts men too."

"Society is so fatphobic."
"Yes, but there's body shaming of all women."

"White privilege is everywhere."
"Yes, but I'm white and I've experienced racism too."

It makes me want to scream for 72 hours straight. But instead I'll try to get through this calmly. Basically, "yes, but..." is a way of essentially negating everything just said while trying to not look like a total jerk. But furthermore, when you enter discussions of oppression and social justice and you carry a privilege, it's not your place to bulldoze and talk over others. Instead, it's your opportunity to listen and learn. When you use "yes, but..." chances are that you're treading into privilege denial and a derail. It gets the discussion no where.

And someone tell me WHY oppressed people, in their own spaces, must stop and consider the dominant group's perspective? Like I've said a million times, no one needs to be taught about maleness, straightness, whiteness, stereotypical attractiveness, able bodiedness, etc., because society teaches us ALL those lessons daily. It positions the straight, white, male experience as the default, so we need places to discuss the experiences of those who are traditionally othered without further oppression.

So forget "yes, but..." It is a worthless approach and neither you nor your listeners will benefit from the road that'll take you down. Just try listening for a minute.

Related: How to Enter Feminist Discussions at the 101 Level

1 comment:

  1. In the cases of "Yes, but..." that you speak of, what would you make of it if the person had replied instead with a "Yes, and what's your point?"


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