Before I get to the list, I'll tell you why I'm posting it. I'm posting it because my friends are not assholes. klwalton
is not an asshole for wanting to call Tim her husband. She's not even an asshole for being pissed at me if I refuse to do so. (klwalton
, I'm using you as an example because I'm entirely certain that you already know that I don't think you're an asshole, and you care about this stuff as much as I do.) My partner's partner isn't an asshole for thinking that my belief that it's unfair that she can call our lover "husband" legally when I couldn't call either of my two female life partners "wife" legally means I think she's the enemy, even if I don't.
But I was talking to someotherguy
, and I said something like this, and I hope I say it as clearly as it felt to me at the time: "I'm not sure it's possible to say to someone 'It's not fair that you get this privilege and that other person doesn't' and not have it heard, at least some of the time, as 'You're an asshole.' I'm not sure you can say, for example, 'You're soaking in white privilege' and not be heard a good deal of the time as saying 'You're a racist'."
In fact, I'm not sure there's a way to talk, even within one's own group, about stuff that one thinks is stemming from another's act of taking their privilege for granted, and not have at least some of those people hear "You are an asshole."
Well, my friends aren't assholes. Most of them, anyway. No, wait. I cut loose the assholes. My original statement stands.
A non-exhaustive list, in no particular order:
"It's not about you" ≠ "You are an asshole"
"It's not about you" ≠ "You are a self-involved asshole who should shut the fuck up and keep your opinion to yourself."
"You are soaking in white privilege" ≠ "You're a racist asshole"
"There's no reason you should be allowed to marry when other people can't" ≠ "You're a heterosexist asshole."
"If people don't have to treat my relationships as real, I don't have to treat theirs as real, even if they're on my side (unless I'm an officer of the government)" ≠ "You are an asshole"
"I refuse to be married until everyone can marry anyone they want to*" ≠ "You are an asshole if you're married"
If I think that you're an asshole, I'll say so -- ask anyone. If what I think is that your privilege is not as important to me as a message that needs sending, then that's what I'll say. Love or no love, and I do love all my friends, to one degree or other. And it's really, truly, genuinely, honest-to-atheism okay with me if they disagree with me, but I'd like to find ways to discuss this that don't come off as me saying people are assholes, because I don't hang out with assholes.
Some of the threads I've seen so far on this topic have helped me to start formulating ways to do this, and for this I am ever-so-grateful to my circle of online friends and acquaintances and benevolent strangers. Thank you. (Admittedly, some other threads have just made me want to say over and over "It's. NOT. ABOUT. YOU, GODDAMMIT!!!")
(*Over the years, I have amended that statement. If it meant a benefit for my partner that was otherwise out of reach (say, if I needed to get medical coverage for a partner who was no longer able to work or something), I would consider it. I will not do so for my own benefit, and have said so since August 4th, 1990.)