My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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The privilege to not fight

[I posted this entry on Misbehaving and i would love to have folks comment over there.]

Pete, the author of the blog entry that i previously critiqued apologized in the thread. I was going to address him in that thread, but i decided that it belonged as a general discussion for all readers here.

In a sexist society, men and women do not have equal voices. Men acquires a level of auto-privilege; they don’t have to fight to be heard. Women, on the other hand, are often fighting to be heard or must play into the cultural norms dictated by men in order to have a voice.

Pete argued that he was just trying to express his exasperation. I believe that exasperation must be deconstructed. What does it mean for a privileged individual to express exasperation over issues of marginalization? I mean, we’ve all thought “wouldn’t it be great if inequality just went away?” Goddess knows i’ve felt more than enough exasperation in my lifetime, including the exasperation over constantly fighting to have a voice and still not being heard or being misunderstood as my voice is translated by normative culture into something unrecognizable.

With privilege comes responsibility. It is my belief that a feminist man has a responsibility to refrain from expressing exasperation over this topic because that expression is a dismissal, that expression is an execution of privilege with continues the power differential. I believe that a feminist man has a responsibility to be hyper-conscious about how he throws his voice around, knowing that his voice has undue power. In other words, i think that a feminist man needs to also take on the burden of fighting that women have inherently.

Disagree. Discuss. I want to hear what people think.

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