In December of 2019, I wrote this blog post addressing it to the (or maybe a) privileged man. I remember that I was furious, tired and also incredibly inspired by an exhibition in our local museum about the history of feminism, a movement close to my heart.
I do not think I have written anything as clear and robust since then because I am in Brexit trauma recovery, and in 2015 (when the Brexit campaign launched on social media), my blogging voice faded away. I was since preoccupied with surviving. Risking suddenly becoming undocumented and already experiencing and being told at times that “I really should go back to where I came from”, I needed to step back and re-build and re-think my reality. I was distracted, tactically, while something powerful was happening to all of us here in the UK.
So, in the winter of 2019, on the road to my recovery, I realised that I was witnessing and experiencing a powerful system privileging some and forgetting others. New lines were being drawn. New displacements were coming into being. However, all of this felt well practised, so I turned towards groups of people who already had this experience in this country and learned to listen to their stories. None of this was new; in fact, we have done this many times before. Many of our countries, many of us.
I gradually learned to work with my privileges, shed some and listened even more. At some point in my recovery, I started experiencing my own discrimination as a distraction again. When targeted, I simply walked away, knowing very well just how much I had to walk towards. I finally noticed that I could walk on the pavement without having to make space for those who came from less preferential social positions. Something shifted in me as I went back to my old, compassionate self: I started stepping down before others did.
I listened more. Embracing liberation psychologies, I sought the privileged man – I wanted to talk to him. I worked with men, many of them privileged, in fact, and I still could not find the source of all those divides. Finally, recently, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I was asking the wrong questions and addressing them in the wrong direction. Maybe the privileged man doesn’t exist?
For over six months now, I have felt ready to Blog again (I blogged with a small “b” always), but there was a sense of resistance in me, too. Something pulling me back into my trauma-(in)formed shell whispering: “Stay quiet. Keep safe”. Despite my inherent traveller and adventurer nature, I was holding back on my voice, hearing something new inside. Maybe the privileged man doesn’t really exist? Maybe it is a powerful story we all choose to believe in. Or maybe he does exist in small fragments in each of us, and we need to learn to talk to him…in the mirror. Here, not “out there”. Maybe the abuser is the pain we carry, unresolved.
And so I turned to my Elders and sought new ones, too. They offered wonderful advice and freed up my blogging voice, for which I am eternally grateful. I start to realise that maybe we have talked way too long about the illusive privileged man…and maybe it’s completely irrelevant. Maybe we can move on to a new way of interacting, listening, and seeing. Maybe it’s time to get up and do the work of reimagining this world if we wish to survive in the more-than-human-world.
I do not want to deny the inequalities – they exist, and they do harm, abuse and kill people. And I do not say this because they harmed me – as mentioned earlier, I realise I escaped ever so easily. But, I also start to feel that maybe one specific or very few privileged men do not really exist as such, even if some visibly carry that story ever so comfortably.
What if, if we cannot blame them, we are all left displaced here in this time of figuring ourselves out?