Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How Would Your Life be Different?

I have been sitting on this entry for quite a while thinking on what the best way to present my thoughts would be. I have to thank Netflix and Dustin Hoffman for giving me the springboard I needed to tackle this issue. Though life can be MUCH worse, I think that people underestimate the difference life is if you are born as a minority in any way. While I think MAJOR obstacles and deliberate pushes in the right direction have been taken, it is difficult and it is difficult to understand if you are in the majority. 

I’m in the minority of being a woman (and that isn’t even by numbers, probably, but in terms of historical power, etc.), but I’m in a racial majority in the United States as a white woman. I think that puts me and others like me in a unique position. I’ve found that I enhance the parts that I experience as a minority a little more than those I don’t experience. I think that’s simply the reason, is that I DON’T experience them. In the words of Dustin Hoffman in the video below, I do NOT know or understand how my life would be different if I was a racial or sexual orientation minority. I don’t know if I would be in the same place. I’d like to think so, but after experiencing some of the most ridiculous things for simply being a woman, I would assume that other types of minorities experience them too.  And Hoffman’s realization is what I would probably come to given being actually put in that position. 

Netflix helped me come to this topic as I was SO excited to see the older Disney animated movies starting to make an appearance. Though my favorite is Little Mermaid, my second favorite, Mulan has been added to instant streaming. I settled in for a nice lazy afternoon watching, but I ended up becoming more emotional than I expected and it was kind of surprising. At the end of the movie, when Mulan is trying to warn the city and its occupants of an impending attack, she says to her former friends and militia group (not sure of the correct term), You said you’d trust Ping (her male, warrior alter ego) with your life, why is Mulan any different?” That bothered the HECK out of me! That one line explains how I feel in a lot of different situations at work, out and about, over the phone, etc. Why is it that I get asked to get things off copiers or my other female counterparts asked if they are administrative assistants and the male employees don’t experience that? Why is it that I have to drag my boyfriend, male boss or a male friend to an automotive shop so that I won’t get taken advantage of? Why do I have to change the way I act and dress because I’d be inviting violent behavior from men (this is based upon SEVERAL news stories of rape and sexual assault that erupted in victim blaming)? Yeah, WHY?

I think if we all asked what Dustin Hoffman asked in this video, we’d be WAY more understanding of others’ plights. I think we’d be able to see issues that may not be as obvious and make issues that EVERYONE experiences more obvious.  I think sometimes it’s easy to blame something out of your control, i.e. being a woman, on failures or shortcomings that are within your control. Having other individuals who can see a different perspective and who are trying to see yours is SUPREMELY helpful. I’ve found myself in that position often, and sometimes, the best advice comes from people who aren’t living it, but who very much have thought about and attempted to understand the situations that I find myself in. I challenge y’all and myself to do that as often as you can! How would your life be different if you were born a different race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, socioeconomic status, etc.?