I have stopped blogging, haven’t I? It wasn’t planned and it certainly doesn’t feel definite. Yet, I have a grand total of 5,678 unanswered emails. No hyperbole, this is the figure accumulated in all 4 of my mailboxes that I stopped checking a couple of months ago. In the past week I’ve gotten…
It seems like ages ago now, but I wrote a lot about punk rock when I was younger, and it seemed like every month or so brought a new level of understanding.
What I gradually came to see about punk rock is that regardless of how it started or the politics (or lack of) that it eventually expressed, it was meant to give a voice to the voiceless. It was meant to let people on the margins scream their truths at the top of their lungs. It was meant to let people without a voice form a community, and not just support but actually amplify their voices to ensure that someone would hear, and that the people who heard would know they were welcome too, and in turn add their voices to the chorus.
However it started, whatever it evolved into, that summarizes what it should have been. A safe place for everyone. That it so frequently wasn’t is its eternal shame. That it so frequently served only to amplify the voices of white dudes who were mad about something and communicating their anger to other white dudes is its eternal failing.
There were politics, of course, and many bands which studiously reached out and tried to learn about privilege and explain how it operated and then work to deconstruct it, but the fact remains that many of those bands were white dudes, and that even when revolutionary movements like riot grrrl emerged, they were all too frequently marginalized and forced aside so another white dude could complain about … fuck, I don’t know. Feeling alienated in a society constructed specifically to support them and cater to their needs and wants without debate or question? Except the alienation they’re feeling isn’t because this system is inherently unfair and unequal to a majority of people in the world, it’s because they don’t think it gives them enough privilege and they want to be even more privileged? That sounds about right.
And that’s what Flavia Dzodan’s piece left me thinking about - how it’s always a white dude stepping up to the microphone to explain things. That even in spaces constructed specifically to amplify marginalized voices, it’s usually the white dude talking loudest (and saying nothing) and smugly waiting for applause and compliments while everyone else looks at each other, realizing in that moment that it happened again - another space that was supposed to be theirs was taken away from them by another white dude who just couldn’t shut the fuck up for one goddamn second.
And yes, I’m painfully aware of the irony in this moment, that I’m a white dude writing about my reaction to a blog entry about a white dude who wouldn’t shut up and entered into spaces originally created so women’s voices could be heard and amplified, that the white dude in question further marginalized women and especially people of color, and that he was finally revealed to be an irredeemable piece of shit.
And I’m writing about this because I’m trying to deconstruct my own privilege, to learn to see where and when and how it operates, and because the mess Flavia Dzodan wrote about has given me a different set of lenses to examine my past and see how privilege, specifically - but not limited to - mine, operated then.
And I just don’t even have the goddamn words.