Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

It’s My Privilege

I mentioned a poem to my discussion section today, in order to help my students see the importance of an issue that is dear to my heart. As minorities, I feel that we need to band together–there is a common theme that runs through these talks in that we are all being persecuted, in some fashion, because of who we are. We are hated or punished for things that we shouldn’t have to be apologetic about. Gender issues is one of the things that gets me up in the morning and causes me to get so mad that I can’t think straight; I’m so hurt sometimes by what I see that my only reaction is anger. In women, I see stories of struggle similar to my own; yet, unlike in other situations, I am in the position of power. I am an ally. I am part of the population who has power to change things. When it comes down to it, it’s not about reaching down to help women up–it’s about reaching across. It’s about realizing that women are, as they have always been, equals. It’s about realizing that those without power are stronger than I could ever be for they have put up with these issues all of their lives. Women are smart, are survivors, are capable, and tough. We ask so much of women and they have risen to the challenge; in a world that stacks the odds against them, women have managed to thrive. Surely, they are not the only ones to have done so, but their victories should be celebrated.

Below is the aforementioned poem that has helped me to understand the world from a different point of view. I hope that it helps you to do the same.

privilege
a poem for men who don’t understand what we mean when we say they have it

D.A. Clarke

reprinted from Banshee, Peregrine Press
Copyright (c) 1981 D. A. Clarke. All Rights Reserved

privilege is simple:
going for a pleasant stroll after dark,
not checking the back of your car as you get in, sleeping soundly,
speaking without interruption, and not remembering
dreams of rape, that follow you all day, that woke you crying, and
privilege
is not seeing your stripped, humiliated body
plastered in celebration across every magazine rack, privilege
is going to the movies and not seeing yourself
terrorized, defamed, battered, butchered
seeing something else

privilege is
riding your bicycle across town without being screamed at or
run off the road, not needing an abortion, taking off your shirt
on a hot day, in a crowd, not wishing you could type better
just in case, not shaving your legs, having a decent job and
expecting to keep it, not feeling the boss’s hand up your crotch,
dozing off on late-night busses, privilege
is being the hero in the TV show not the dumb broad,
living where your genitals are totemized not denied,
knowing your doctor won’t rape you

privilege is being
smiled at all day by nice helpful women, it is
the way you pass judgment on their appearance with magisterial authority,
the way you face a judge of your own sex in court and
are over-represented in Congress and are not strip searched for a traffic ticket
or used as a dart board by your friendly mechanic, privilege
is seeing your bearded face reflected through the history texts
not only of your high school days but all your life, not being
relegated to a paragraph
every other chapter, the way you occupy
entire volumes of poetry and more than your share of the couch unchallenged,
it is your mouthing smug, atrocious insults at women
who blink and change the subject — politely — privilege
is how seldom the rapist’s name appears in the papers
and the way you smirk over your PLAYBOY

it’s simple really, privilege
means someone else’s pain, your wealth
is my terror, your uniform
is a woman raped to death here, or in Cambodia or wherever
wherever your obscene privilege
writes your name in my blood, it’s that simple,
you’ve always had it, that’s why it doesn’t
seem to make you sick to your stomach,
you have it, we pay for it, now
do you understand?

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