Is This Feminism? – Visibility & Erasure
The word Erasure is getting used a lot. We are all facing the question of what privilege means, do we have it, how much of it and what this bodes. Race, caste, gender, religion, language. Privilege creates barriers & hierarchies. Because it’s inherently unjust, it’s also subtle & silent.
People with privilege literally cannot see it. Because their whole existence is based on believing in their worth & rightness, being the default setting of humanity and others being abnormal or undesirable or wrong. Privilege conversations are made further complex by intersectionality. A person may have one kind of privilege (race) while lacking another (gender). We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do. So we miss (ERASE) those who have neither.
JK Rowling thinks someone whose lived experience is different from hers is ‘erasing’ her own. But to say trans women are not women is actual erasure. Same for All Lives Matter or Not All Men. Focusing on one group is not discrimination against another.
When a group of people say Stop erasing us, they are saying that they exist, they are not abnormal, not deserving of less. To think this means erasure of others is to assume there is only room for one kind of person to live with safety & respect. When someone asks you for respect, they are not asking to disrespect you. When a group asks you for safety, they are not demanding attack on you. They are saying you run the society they live in and have overlooked their needs as human beings.
The only thing the above threatens is the privileged person’s sense of absolute, unquestionable superiority. If you believe that people should not dare to question the treatment you mete out to them, you are being discriminatory. This is not an attack, it is a fact.
Erasure is bad so let’s use the word with care. The page is big enough to accommodate us all.
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A friend has been sitting and arguing with me quite insanely when I wrote about privileges and bullying that creates such an unfair system where others’ rights are taken away. You’ve explained it so well. I don’t know why people are justifying some people on the top taking everything for them and the rest are denied of their rights.
Because feminism is an ideology which touches the lives of people across a spectrum of needs. We are each limited by our own perspectives and informed by our experiences. We can try but it’s very hard to surpass our individual needs and think about something as lofty as justice, human rights etc.
I think it’s a mistake to assume it’s not deeply personal. Remembering it’s so makes it possible for us to be more empathetic of other viewpoints and also protective of our own needs.