Later edit, in light of the possibility of this post being associated with right-wing propaganda.
Reflecting on the issue, it’s understandable that someone’s (even unwilling) lack of information regarding discrimination of any kind may be frustrating. However, each individual comes into a discussion with only their knowledge and life experience; it should not be presumed that they are 100% aware of all aspects being discussed.
It should also not be presumed that they are at fault for this lack of in-depth knowledge; we all come from different backgrounds and only experience bits of reality in our limited time.Taking an interest in matters which don’t affect a person directly is an exercise in openness, not an affront. If a quest for open communication is met with acrimony (i.e. “you should already know all this”), nothing good comes out of that.
Needless to say, the concept of “privilege”, while containing some truth, is highly debatable and should not be thrown around as a label, towards individuals it might not apply to (as it is nowadays).
Whenever too many questions are asked regarding someone’s claim of being oppressed, this seems to be a retort of choice. Of course these questions might have perfectly valid answers. However, enter the new attitude.
I paraphrase: “It is brazen for someone of privilege, such as yourself, to demand explanations from us regarding the harm we keep claiming you are causing us. It is not our job to educate you. Regardless, we reserve the right to assume you fully know what you are accused of and why, and treat you accordingly.”
This type of reasoning fails to take a very important issue into account.
When one is accused of something (in this case holding privilege over others), it is their accuser’s responsibility to present any evidence regarding said situation (wrongdoing would be an inappropriate term as this is supposed to be a passive, unacknowledged form of aggression). Otherwise, the accused cannot be held morally responsible for not taking the time to verify that which they are accused of, especially when oblivious to the possibility of such allegations before they were made.
In everyday speech and everyday situations, this would translate as follows:
“You know what you’ve done, so you’d better make amends!”
“No, I actually don’t. What have I done, exactly?”
“It’s not my job to tell you. It’s your job to figure it out. And if you don’t, I’ll call you every name under the Sun and tell everyone what an asshole you are.”
“I honestly don’t know what this is about. All I know is you’re pissed off.”
“Then you haven’t been paying attention, which makes you even more guilty.”
“Of what ??”
“Oh, so now, after you’ve wronged me and won’t even admit it, you expect me to waste my time explaining it to you? The nerve! Would I be upset if it wasn’t your fault? Think about it! If I’m upset, it means you’ve done something!”
In an everyday conversation, that attitude would not only be counterproductive but in fact manipulative (if not psychologically abusive, if sustained); it is somewhat reminiscent of the one women are often portrayed to have in domestic arguments.
Here’s a stereotypical post on the subject (though I have read quite a few).
Do you know what I love? People who say “It’s your job to educate me.” Because of the work I do, and because of the fact that I’m basically an intersectionality salad, people are constantly telling me that it’s my job to educate them.
I had this realization the other day: Jobs are paid. I don’t remember filling out a W-2.
Does this job come with benefits? Because I could really use some dental and some optical. How long is our lunch break? Do y’all do direct deposit?
That’s all fine when that education refers to sharing certain knowledge in a neutral way, in a neutral field. However, accusing people left, right and centre of -isms and -phobias without an explanation does not qualify.
It is so demeaning and dehumanizing to explain to people of privilege why people like them have historically and currently oppressed people like me.
That’s not where it ends though, is it? You’re extrapolating to make it look like they are oppressing you by default because people like them have oppressed people like you in the past (or are still doing it). Which is a whole different take on it, as everyone (I assume) has some knowledge of history and would not dispute that. Which is when they ask how exactly they are oppressing you in real time and you respond with “Google it“, apparently.
Reducing someone’s identity and personality to a group they form part of (often through no fault of their own) is a conversation stopper.
Feeling like you’re entitled to firsthand accounts about the abuse that I’ve experienced as a minority in this country reeks privilege.
Feeling like one is owed an explanation as to why they are arbitrarily placed in the same category as aforementioned abusers is only natural. Keep in mind that the individual you are speaking to might share no other traits with them but immutable ones (race, ethnicity, background etc), and should not be associated with them at a simple glance.
Have you ever had somebody demand that you educate them about a personal struggle that you experience?
If your stance is that it’s a major, common problem and should be addressed, it’s not surprising that they would take an interest, and it makes no sense to be offended by that.
Secondly, here’s another article from the same website (the gift that keeps on giving in terms of feminist propaganda). It’s titled “Is it your responsibility to educate a person you’re dating on race and racism?”
No matter what, a partner shouldn’t rely on just you to always play the role of a social justice educator. You’re not on call to unpack systemic oppression for another person.
You shouldn’t have to educate your partner on issues of social justice all the time, especially as they pertain to your own lived experience. Giving love and support shouldn’t require “evidence” on why someone needs it.
When it comes to race, dating, and intimacy, I’m learning that it’s less about education and more about openness when it comes to listening and believing. Social justice is a collective process – and that should also apply to dating and partnerships.
In this instance, the “education” caper usually translates into motivating why you keep attacking this person and others, while demanding they shut up and listen at all times. By the way, bringing politics into one’s bedroom is usually detrimental.
It’s not someone’s responsibility to be an on-demand resource or be forced to speak on behalf of “their” people.
The person referred to is obviously from a different background since they don’t share the same experience. Asking might just be their attempt to get to know you or what you have experienced. A cold refusal based on the fact that they should’ve “educated themselves” is not conducive to efficient communication, let alone warmth (which is presumed in a relationship).
It’s not always so much about educating one’s partner, but on how to communicate ways that person can be more affirming even if they don’t intellectually or experientially understand something.
In other words, pardon the acidity, turn this person into an emotional bidet and a parrot of one’s attitudes, at all times. That doesn’t work if they truly seek to understand you and share their honest observations regarding a situation you are describing. Your interpretation is not right by default; everyone is fallible.
Sure, all of these moments could be complete accidents – or they could be moments where implicit racism and sexism show up. (…) Sometimes he’ll wonder why I’m so frustrated.
This might be true – the other person wasn’t maliciously intending to do harm. However, that doesn’t change the reality that my feelings are hurt and that I’m expressing those hurt feelings to my partner.
In other words, the author plainly admits to taking offence in situations others normally wouldn’t, which has a few descriptions of its own: nitpicking, pettiness, childishness, hypersensitivity, a victim complex, immaturity, a propensity for whining gratuitously etc. This is not an attractive trait (or easy to live with).
Feelings are not absolutes. They are also behind stalkers’ obsessions, murders triggered by fits of jealousy or paranoid people attacking those they feel are attacking them. None of this is justifiable, especially when it causes great harm.
A partner can acknowledge your feelings and at the same time offer a different interpretation to the situation you are referring to, at least to provide some nuance. Their awareness that you’d automatically take offence to that and your opinion must be considered valid at all times keeps them from communicating openly (and that can’t be a good thing).
But if I were just to share a story about how someone cut in front of me in line or cut me off while driving, there might be no reason to explain the specifics of why I’m frustrated.
Reckless driving can and does result in serious injuries or death, which is a real possibility in the real world, not just your head. It’s not exaggerated for someone to say they escaped death narrowly when put in danger on the road. It cannot be compared to “microaggressions”, which have no consequence whatsoever and are unintended.
We look to our partners to believe in us and affirm our experiences rather than making us doubt our observations as real.
Unless you are really clutching at straws, causing needless negativity in your life, which is when any good friend and especially your partner will tell you that your attitude is detrimental. They do not have to put up with it, especially when you single-handedly admit to the potential irrelevance of your grievances.
What often happens when my partner wants an explanation of oppression is that I just splutter back all of my feelings. For me, this isn’t just about having a conversation – I have personal stakes in the outcome of the conversation. (…) But rationality is often evoked as a silencing tactic and has made me feel that he was detached from my experiences. My emotions – my anger and frustration over issues of racism – are rational.
Someone who is articulate can analyse and discuss their feelings rationally, with their nuances, limitations and traps. It is not unfair to ask that of them, especially if these conversations are very common.
Oppression isn’t rational, at least not to me, so how could I ever explain it in rational terms?
If you want it to be addressed, especially through legal reforms, you have no choice. Seeking solutions involves rationality and objectivity, as in their absence tyrannical, inquisitorial practices can be instated.
The hypocrisy is monumental here.
Hence, explaining why you’re complaining requires emotional labour, but for someone to put up with that on a constant basis, without being able to ask you for details (to actually understand you) doesn’t.
Again – prior knowledge of one’s experience should not be presumed. Demanding unquestioning support from someone on an issue, without the availability to communicate at length why that is necessary, is more likely to alienate them.