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You don’t get a month

So, I’m back from my holiday hiatus, and I want to recount a discussion I had near the end of it. A pair of people I know very well had an argument with me over the existence of “X-minority-group history month/week” and pride days. This is something that has come up with them before and will again, so I’m hoping to consolidate my arguments for the future (I also don’t think that I really had my complete say in the argument, given how awkward I am in person).

I don’t remember how the discussion got onto this topic, but the crux of the issue was “why is there no white history month or straight pride marches?” Yeah, you’ve heard it before. I personally find it one of the more ignorant and absurd things that otherwise intelligent, well-meaning people spout on a regular basis. The argument itself fluctuates between “those minorities have things that we don’t” and “why do these things need to exist in the first place?”

So, I’m going to attempt to explain to you, in as best as I can, why this argument is crap.

The reason these things exist in the first place is to fight oppression. Marginalized groups are told by society that there is something wrong with them on a pretty much constant basis. The details vary from group to group, region to region, and even person to person, but for any given minority there is a group saying “you suck” that is given a fair amount of attention by society at large. Note of course that for many groups this is a severe oversimplification: for example, from what I’ve read by people who actually experience racism most of it comes from people who consider themselves to not be racist. And any variation of “you suck” can be very subtle (“I don’t think your lifestyle is one that’s appropriate for children to know about/be told about/have to think about but *of course* I don’t have a problem with it” is one I hear a lot in the media that’s pertinent to me). And when many of these days/weeks/months were implemented, things were worse than they are now.

So the point of these events are to counteract the “you suck” factor, preferably in a way that is obvious and available on some level to as many people from the relevant group as possible. Some of it is just plain old visibility. Some of it is educational in other ways, for example the history months (because really, beyond that one worksheet you filled out on King on MLK day, how often did black people in American history come up in your high school classes?). Because when you’re a member of a marginalized group, it’s nice to have a reminder that there are people out there just like you who are happy and successful, and quite frankly I don’t see the mainstream media doing much in that vein outside of talking about these specific events.

If you are not part of a marginalized group, this doesn’t really happen to you. People can’t argue that you are hurting society and still get taken seriously. The validity of your life is not a subject for debate. You are not consistently alienated from “normal” society because you *are* normal society. You don’t really need a pride march or a month in your honor because no one is telling you that you suck.

This is where, of course, it gets pointed out that “oh yes I get told I suck for being white/straight/male/whatever all the time!!!!!” This is the part where they bring up some fringe group that thinks that all straight people are evil and that one colored person who was rude to them in the store or whatever other proof they try to cite that they themselves are somehow the object of oppression here (as clearly evidenced by the fact that they don’t have a month). The example in the conversation I had was one person brought up that there had been posters in her high school claiming that all white people were racist and that all straight people were homophobic. Having never seen these posters (we didn’t go to high school in the same state or decade), I guess I can’t really know. But I’ve heard that concept before, that fighting oppression from a particular group or having a problem with a particular behavior is somehow saying that everyone from that group is horrible.

And then of course there’s the age old rebuttal to the “we don’t have a month” whine: Why don’t you make one, no one is stopping you. At this point in the conversation people insisted that yes there was. One person claimed that her attempts to instate an Anglo-Saxon pride thing in her high school was shut down because it was perceived as snarky and rude (being snarky and rude will get you that response). The other claimed that any attempts to do that would get stopped by the Political Correctness Nazis (his term). You know, the government agency that sends you to Being-Nice-to-People-schwitz when you say something offensive. This kind of devolved into what I like to call “those minorities are keeping us down”.

At some point during the conversation, someone mentioned that they didn’t even really care about getting their own pride event, they just didn’t see why other people got to have them when they didn’t. (This makes sense how?)

Then, of course, the whole argument stopped when it was brought up than any such event would be taken over by assholes (honestly, how long do you think it would take for “white history month” to become an official KKK holiday?).

So those are the reasons, in summary:
1-You don’t need one
2-You don’t really want one you just want to whine about other people having things you don’t have.
3-The people who are making everyone else’s pride events necessary would make everything horrible if you did it.

But mostly the first one.

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