I winced at the pain of the tattoo machine on my soft forearm and my phone buzzed.
“You discriminate against people based on their DNA? How much more shallow can you get?”
A man I barely know is railing against the statement “The Future is Female” which I posted on the way to my appointment and against the fact that I have chosen to tattoo it on my body. I did it because I have fought and worked on behalf of women since I was a teenager. The feminist struggle has been the defining feature of my adulthood. I did not have much to say to him at that moment. I was busy. Still, this is one of the most common accusations that the privileged hurl at marginalised people when we fight for our own causes.
Let me be very clear. Marginalised people reserve the right to demand the fight for the rights of our group without giving a second thought to the feelings of our oppressors.
I was raised by diplomats, so my habit through the years has been to make sure that even when I was engaged in activism, no one felt hurt. I have not stopped caring deeply about individuals, I think that is why it has taken me so long to get to this place. Still, the years of running up against my detractors and being personally attacked for my beliefs has allowed me to cease caring.
The same goes for “Black Lives Matter”. It has been such a flashpoint because black Americans have grown tired of tiptoeing around the issue and watching their brothers and sisters be slaughtered in the street. Everyone who reacts to that statement with the earnest insistence that “all lives matter” is simply wishing for a time when their feelings mattered more than the lives of bright young people cut down by their government.
They do not.
So no. I don’t care about how my feminism makes men feel. No part of me is sorry for that, and the men in my life who stand with me in the fight are not threatened by that. If you are a member of an oppressive group- be it gender or race or whatever, you are either an ally or an enemy. It is easy to identify the enemies by their reaction when people stand up for themselves. Call it harsh, but we have wasted so much time worrying about the feelings of white men. Hoping that maybe by not angering them too much, we may get away unharmed. That did not work, with every polite comment our cause was made weaker.
That is precisely why I chose to put The Future is Female on my body for all time. It allows me to sort my enemies from my allies quickly. I have no desire to spend time with someone who does not believe in my right to stand up for the rights of female presenting and bodied people.
Sorry not sorry, boys.