When it comes to feminism, I attempt to be an ally. That doesn’t mean that I don’t make the occasional problematic statement, but just that I try to be mindful of the things that I say and do. I often call attention to my friends if and when they do something disagreeable, and they do the same for me. It really helps sometimes to be called on your shit in order to help you grow as a human.
The other side of the same situation is trying to understand privilege. Being a white, able bodied, cisgendered, heteronormative male is awesome. I safely walk the streets without fear of attack by people or the police, I notice that most advertising is geared towards people of my particular persuasion, and generally, when I walk around, I am not the subject of awkward speculation based solely on my outward appearance. There are numerous other things that privilege has granted me, but for the sake of remaining readable, I will keep it relatively short. It is kind of funny (and sad) how many people deny that privilege exists, and often one up it with an odd sense of entitlement. If you think back to what many people said about George W. Bush, one phrase in particular seems to exemplify the situation – “He was born on third base, but thinks he hit a triple.” Politics aside, you can see how many of these people who have supposedly “pulled themselves up by their boot straps” have actually had a quite charmed life, yet they try to justify the silver spoon that they were born with by claiming to have worked for it their entire lives.
After you notice your own particular set of privileges, it seems to be visibly apparent what others go through on a daily basis. This is how one night in early 2015, I accidentally scared the hell out of a college aged lady who just happened to be walking down the street. On this particular Wednesday, I had left my office a little later than normal due to having an extremely longwinded conversation about accordions. Every Wednesday, for us of the excessively nerdy variety, is the day when new comic books come out. That means that each and every week you will find me visiting Velocity Comics immediately after I leave the Hohner building. On this particular night, I drove extra speedily towards the comic book shop, and had to park on one of the not so well lit side streets of Richmond. Running a few minutes late didn’t quite give me the opportunity to take in my surroundings though, so I jumped out of my car and proceeded to power walk in the direction of the comic book shop. As I was approaching the corner of the side street, I came upon the nice college aged lady I referred to earlier. Normally, I would have tried to give someone a large birth and would have tried passing with quite the gap between us, but on this night though there just wasn’t the time, because I was running late and had to get to the comic book store before it closed. Unfortunately for both her and myself, this meant that I just wasn’t paying any attention at all. As I walked by, she jumped and put her hands up. This made me feel like a despicable human being. I blurted out that the comic book store closed in four minutes and that I was extremely sorry. She gave me a look that quickly went from alarmed, to confused, to some weird form of pity. It was as if I went from would-be rapist to extreme nerd in a matter of half of a second. I was particularly thankful for the slight change in her demeanor, though, because I would much rather the world sees me as the nerd than the alternative.