Worth The Fight: An Open Letter to Oppression Deniers (Part Two)
By Ali Owens
...that he misunderstands the movement entirely.
Mistaking "equality" for "special treatment" is the hallmark of people who have never needed to fight for equality in the first place.
Obviously this man has never experienced womanhood, or everything that goes along with it. He most likely did not grow up being taught that his body was shameful; a thing to keep hidden away, lest he invite sexual violence upon himself by displaying it. He's probably never been denied birth control at a pharmacy or reproductive care at a clinic because his health and family planning needs are upsetting to someone with religious beliefs. He doesn't have to worry about whether or not he'll be impregnated during a rape, then forced to carry the baby to term. Maybe he's never even been catcalled or sexually harassed - and even if he has, he probably wasn't called a "bitch" or a "prude," or even threatened, when he denied the unwanted advances. And he almost certainly doesn't get paid less than different-gendered people with the same amount of experience who do the same job as him.
In short - as a man, he has no idea what it's like to be a woman.
And, because this is the case for everyone belonging to a mutually exclusive group (which accounts for the vast majority of the population), the same applies for me and what I believe about the experience of being a man. I have no right, for example, to state that it's not difficult for men to win custody of their children in court. I have no right to claim that men are always treated fairly in cases of alimony and child support, or that there's no societal pressure towards males to display machismo and "act like a man." Why? Because I am not a man, I do not have the experience of being a man, and I can in no way know what it is like to be a man.
If the oppressed can exercise this kind of objectivity about the very groups that oppress them, why are there so many oppressors who can't seem to do likewise?
Of course, there are many people who align with a cause simply because they believe it's right, even though they themselves are not directly impacted by it. There are lots of men who fight for equal rights for women; there are straight allies in the LGBT community and white people who believe #blacklivesmatter. Those people understand what it's all about; this article isn't for them.
It is, instead, for the folks out there who see fit to project their singular experience of life on to a whole group of people in drastically different positions. It is for the fundamentalist homophobes who incite people to "pray the gay away," insisting that sexual preference is a choice. It is for the white people in America who think that ending racism equates to giving minorities special treatment. It is for the man who left that ignorant comment about the #freethenipple movement, and all the other people who are saying similar things. For those of you...stop.
You don't know what it's like to be anyone but yourself, and you never will. Furthermore, you're not in a position to say whether or not any fight for social justice is "worth it." It is always worth it.
It is worth it because women, and minorities, and homosexuals, and the transgendered or gender-fluid, and the impoverished, and the disabled all deserve to live a life free from oppression and discrimination.
It is worth it because we know what we are worth... even if you don’t.