The Intersections I know Best Occur on Street Maps (and other musings)

Posted: March 5, 2011 in "Those People", Humans, The Hardline According to Ren

So yeah, recent shit in Netganistan is causing my overworked and highly underpaid grey matter to spin out like a fuel injected dervish all over the place.  And in theory I get intersectionality (is that even really a word?) and all that stuff….but you know what?

I think people write and analyze best what they know, and that there are certain experiences in life that one can hear about, or empathize with, or understand on various levels, but if they have not, oh, lived them personally, well, they aren’t ever truly going to grok how it is for people who have nor how that dovetails with numerous other facets of life, society and culture.  It just ain’t happenin’.   Present stuff sorta in mind and all…guess what?  I have zero idea what it is like to be a trans person.  I have zero idea what it is like to be a lesbian.  I have zero idea what it is like to be a man.  I have zero idea what it is like to be Non-US American. I have zero idea of what it is like to be black.  I have zero idea what it is like to be over weight.  I have zero idea what it is like to be wealthy.  I have zero idea about what it is like to be a lot of things, and no personal experience to call upon when pondering those things.  Can I imagine what it would be like,  or what issues I might face were shoes traded and all that ?  Sure I can.   Can I educate myself on the matter, ask and learn things?  Sure I can.  But will I ever fully get how it is and how it goes with the rest of life and the world or how it affects things in various ways?  Nope.  I won’t.   That’s why some stuff, well, amuses me in that snarky cynical way of mine.  There truly is just shit out there that makes me roll my eyes and smirk…I do when MRA’s, or hell, Some Male Feminists, talk about women….what they are like, what they are after, what they want, what they need, what they need done to or for them, what is good/bad for them, so on, so forth, as if…you know..maybe us girls couldn’t speak up better on our own behalfs on that shit. Flip that back on over for women who do the “all men are” shit too.  Discussions on class often cause me to blow a damn gasket, cause often they end up with a bunch of holier-than-thou people ‘of class’ telling other people of lower class to check their privilege or mocking their lack of advanced education or getting all preachy on the lower class persons “ignorance’ blah blah fuckity blah….they end up reminding me of a person from my youth, Mrs. Dolan….

sidebar story : Growing up well, as I did there was this woman named Mrs. Dolan who in some way or manner knew my parents.  Mrs. Dolan and her family were, simply put, freakin’ rich.  Huge house, nice cars, kids always dressed in the preppy trendy expensive clothes, the ski trips in Europe, all that shit.  My family?  Yeah, totally none of that.  Now, Mrs.Dolan made a point to look upon us charity cases with “empathy and understanding” and all that shit; she gave us her kids clothes that they had grown out of, would loan us a car when ours wasn’t working, have us over for dinner when, well, no food at our house, so on, so forth…bascially get her good deeds in on us, blah blah blah, but there was always this very there and very evident edge of disdain with her, it wasn’t right there on the surface, but it was there…like even as a kid I knew she thought of us as white trash and all that, figured nothing good would ever come of us or any of that shit…..well yeah, that’s what sooooo many of these people in discussions on class remind me of.  And I will say with evil delight that I laughed my fucking ass off when I found out that while I was working hard to put myself through college and doing well there, her precious princess of a daughter who had treated me the same way, but in that special vicious laced way teenage-ish aged girls are capable of, had barely gotten into college, flunked out when she did, and got freakin’ arrested for shoplifting and writing bad checks.  The little Princess never needed to work, let alone steal because she had too, she did it for the thrill, and fucked it up even!  And oh my, wasn’t this wrong turn in her life scandalous?  Didn’t it reflect poorly on her well-healed family?  Hell yes it did, and I fuckin’ laughed.  So yeah, Mrs. Dolan and her Princess….?  Remind me a fuckton of people out here in the Peoples Republic of Netlandia who talk about class and how it affects….

Cause I suspect a lot of them don’t know what it’s like to be poor.  And I’ve seen a lot of supposedly very open minded and liberal and politically correct folk become classist and bigotted asshats when it comes to, oh, say Southern Folk for instance?  Or Straight, Married Women with Children?  Hell, I could and have ranted about that shit all day…

But yeah, there are a lot of things I can’t, having not lived them, know how they really feel, or how it would impact a person, or how it places them in the world and all that.  I can ask, guess, imagine, learn, empathize, all that….but I cannot KNOW.

I know about being low class, I know about being a sex worker, I know about being -ahem- outspoken, I know about various shit I am, or have been, or lived, or seen or done…that I know.  And I can see how that meshes with the world and other people in it…. but that’s me, in my car, at the intersection….I got no real idea what it’s like for the other drivers….and I am not sure I ever can.

And that right there?  That, I think, often makes understanding itself a very difficult thing.

  1. Brilliant post. It’s more-or-less the reason why I talk about being a feminist-ally wanting male liberation from gender/patriarchy. Because I can’t really know what shit teh laydeez need, but I can see, “Hey, it looks like you getting your shit helps me get my shit too, and heck, maybe we can work together on this?”

  2. Beste says:


    Great post but…

    What is a Non-US American?? How can one be Non-US but American?? I am from Australia and have never heard of this term. I always thought Non-US meant the rest of world.

    • Ren says:

      alot of folk say “AMerica” and think ONLY of the US. Well, there are other places in “America” besides the USA…like, oh, Canada? I feel Canadians get shit on when everyone hears “…America” or “North America” = USA ONLY….so I started saying US American…because hey, Canada and Canadians deserve some love and respect too!

      • I once got right royally told off by more than one Canadian for arguing that “America means all of the Americas, North and South, and that’s what I mean by the term when referring to ‘Americans’.” I wish I’d used the term “transpondian” instead (meaning “from the other side of ‘The Pond'”), except that to someone from the Americas, I’m the transpondian one.

  3. Gaina says:

    Intersectionality = overly pretentious word for ‘common ground’ used by snotty, patronizing so-called intellectuals to make regular people feel stupid or ‘less than’ in some way. A bit like your Mrs Dolan

    I had a lecturer that used to make up all kinds of words to make his students feel stupid so he could bask in his own smugness. The most important lesson he taught me was that someone can have all the book knowledge, know all the trendy words and still be as DUMB AS A BRICK.

    As a disabled person I do feel sorry for able-bodied people sometimes because when they want to learn and ask questions they often get their heads bitten off by a particular type of disabled person who expects A/B people to be some kind of mind readers and always know exactly what to say and – what not to say – to disabled people (ironically the type that also read all the trendy books and come out with non-words like intersectionality 😛 ).

    For people like me who really welcome the chance to build as much mutual understanding as possible, it really does make the job a nightmare because able-bodied people have a bad experience and are understandably nervous of asking any more questions!

  4. Synaesthetik says:

    “Education has opened my mucal membranes to a world of nocturnal commissions….” pfft.

    Good lord, get over yourselves, America. Canadians, Mexicans, Central and Mesoamericans, and all the people on the left side of the hyphen have to live here too.

    The United States of America is the home of Americans, and with good reason. *ahem* Otherwise…There is a difference, but this isn’t really the place to get into it. (Canada, for example, has gun control and socialized health care)…

    • Xena says:

      Remind me to never leave this page open when I’m using my sister’s equipment again. I like you guys. Really. I thought Snowdrop and Ren’s comments were cute.

      I ADORED most of the Americans I met on my travels. I could take or leave some of them. Some of them could actually goad me into abandoning my gun-free lifestyle and teabagging their warmongering grills right back, but those idiot ideologues were few and far between. (And that’s teabagging in the gamer sense, not the icky sense.) The US is a big place, you know? Different strokes and free speech and free hooey and all the rest…

      Lemme try and give you a more *ahem* CONSTRUCTIVE explanation as to why some Canadians (am I loud and clear enough about the fact that I’m not one of them?) don’t want to be mistaken for Americans. First off, our lawmakers are big on legal positivism. There never was much debate up here about separation of church and state. People make laws. People live and die by the laws a handful of people make. People are answerable to people. And the only thing that determines who has the right to govern is competence. ‘Divine King’ myths don’t fly with us. If our gvt. is staffed with idiots, We The People toss them out. End of discussion.

      Our needs are fairly simple. Stay warm, stay fed, stay healthy, stay educated. Neo-Imperialism isn’t on our list of priorities because there’s more than enough of everything up here for everybody. (But yes, our First Nations people got screwed. And yes, I’d be more than happy to accept a one-way ticket back to the Isle of Skye if it came down to that :-)) Up here, it’s more important that everybody have those basic things because we spend more than half the year buried under several feet of snow. It’s a whole lot harder to believe that some god will rescue us in a climate like this. We don’t have time to fight about it. Remember what Napoleon got for trying to invade Russia? Kinda hard to fight when you’re starving to death. Toques, beer, cozy fireplace, free healthcare…who needs war? We’re very practical people.

      So, some Canadians see our relationship to the US as kind of a smaller, smarter, nerdier little sister’s relationship to her moonshine guzzling, pud pounding, violent loudmouth older brother. He’s always picking fights, and she’s always cleaning up the mess and talking him out of legal consequences. She only puts up with it because he knows just when to go all sheepish and start walking little old ladies across the street or something. And he can weave a yarn. And man, can he sing and play football. Excuse the painfully geeky comparison, but you could say we’re like Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. Of course, the Lisa Simpson types among us would pop a stress vein at my comparing Americans to people so untouchably cool as the Gryffindors.

      Again, my apologies for my asshat sister. She’s as white trash as the rest of us. Her teeth are almost as bad as mine. She just gets pissy around Americans because she hasn’t met enough of them.

      • Ren says:

        that is the most awesome comparison of Canada and America that I have EVER read. Oh I feel a post coming on about the time a good friend of mine from Canada and his gal pal came to visit us there in the US….its pretty funny….

    • Ren says:

      We have gun control too…have the self control to only aim at what you intend to kill.

  5. Synaesthetik says:

    I’m not an asshat…and I apologize for my American mode of telling people off…

    But I will agree that we were the VICTIMS of “Manifest Destiny,” not the perps. 🙂

  6. Xena says:

    So now that we’re all done hijacking this post…

    I agree with the worst anybody’s said about MRAs and then some. Don’t even get me started. But most male feminists aren’t so bad, if they mean it. It has to start somewhere, and for me, somewhere was John Stuart Mill. Ok, somewhere was actually Mary Wollstonecraft, but Mill was the person who was able to DO something about it, rich white British intellectual or not. He made the first steps toward de-privatizing education in the uk, too. Great man. He’s also a great test of feminist-manhood if you’re ever in doubt about a guy’s sincerity.

    As for rich white quilting bee ladies and their simpering back handed charity…Don’t I know it. I usually try to take the charity (if I’m that far down on my luck) without talking to them. And I try to only take charity from gvt. funded places who pay ‘them’ to hand it out. Taking charity from snooty neighbours is a whisper campaign waiting to happen. They ALWAYS want something in return. And they never tell you what it is. And when you don’t give it to them they start with the Harper Valley PTA slut shaming bullshit, even if you’re allergic to alcohol and haven’t been laid in half a decade.

    Nice rant, Gaina. Is that a dash of Foucault? I can’t be sure. Most of my profs “don’t teach that continental stuff”, so I have to teach it to myself. If they can’t make you feel stupid, they try for irrelevant or ‘disruptive’. When is questioning some arbitrary pecking order ever NOT disruptive?

  7. Xena says:

    Hey, I just watched S’s clip. I’m going all apologetic and Canadian over nothing. I thought it was another more offensive scit In Living Color aired around that time. At least it would be offensive coming from me. I’m too white to even think about it, it was so Wayans-Brothers-subversive.

    • Gaina says:

      More of an observation of the University culture and the crusty old farts therein with no real-world experience than I rant (I’m rarely moved to rant, but when it happens it makes the New Year Fireworks in Sydney Harbour look insipid and can run into several thousand words LOL).

      As for Foucault, we used to joke that he was well named because we learned f**k all from the lectures about him that was relevant to us and yet he was banged on about after after hour, every ruddy week. In fact I think I’m coming out in a rash now just from the mention of his name.

      The last straw for me was when (able bodied) tutors started telling me I should explore disability in my work and which artists I should take my inspiration from that my hackles started to rise. People ‘teaching Grandma How To Suck Eggs’ does nothing to endear them to me.

      • DebSens says:

        All I can say is great post! Snobs are really annoying…especially the ones that think they are doing a great social service somehow! People are human which means that most people suck!

        Although I am partial to the maid up word manspaining along with ablespaining and whitespaining! Can you tell that self rightous people annoy me lol

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