There’s a reason that Gay Pride, the Women’s Rights movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Disability Rights movement and many others exist. It’s because these groups of people have historically had the most social, political, and institutional disadvantages.
Being forced to come together as a group to “win” basic rights creates quite a camaraderie among oppressed groups. They have a long and usually cruel history of mistreatment that has preceded a movement towards more equal treatment. There are a huge amount of organizations set up solely to work towards equality in many areas of life. The only reason for these relationships is that the oppressed were denied by the dominant group full and equal acceptance into society.
So when I hear about the Men’s Rights movement or Straight Pride month I wonder, “How ironic can you be?”
There are now legitimate movements towards Men’s Rights? Straight Rights? Really? If it isn’t already ridiculous enough that you are “working towards” something that you have always, unquestionably had, then let’s think about the source of these obnoxious movements.
For example, if white people had granted people of color basic human rights when they were initially fought for, or better yet not treated them as lesser to begin with, people of color would never have had a reason to begin a history of retaliation that is now remembered and celebrated.
And if we could have avoided this sequence of events I wouldn’t have to die a little inside every time I hear someone obviously ask, “Why isn’t there a white history month?” What would we even celebrate? Our achievements in the highly accurate science of stereotyping and racial profiling?
There is a disconnect in how people who have experienced more privilege than oppression think about the world and the way it works. Feminist activists aren’t attacking the rights of men, they are simply fighting for the same rights most men have always enjoyed. The LGBTQ movement isn’t threatening anyone’s ability to be heterosexual and enjoy a fulfilling opposite-sex marriage, the movement is just demanding the same privilege to a legally and socially recognized marriage.
So then, how is it so hard for some privileged individuals and groups to understand that without their interference in the lives of others, there would be no bothersome equality movement to haunt their dreams?
Most equal rights movements do not attack the people with privilege in our society, they simply ask that those who do possess privilege use it in a way that brings others to a place in society that has been long denied; a place of equality.
I mean, what do the Men’s Rights activists think feminists are trying to do, keep men as property? Use them only for procreation and expanding familial relationships? Strip them of their rights to decide what happens to their own bodies? In the same light, I have never once heard a LGBTQ rights activist say that straight people should be denied the right to marry. It is interesting that groups who have literally been treated as subhuman are regularly accused of trying to take something from men, whites, religious groups, etc. I think it would be a huge help to every human being if we could somehow realize that inequity is not furthering our society, but slowing our progress.
Michaela Jarrett is a second year ethnic studies student. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.