I was reading today about this study they did where they stuck an equal number of men and women in a room and they talked, and the women contributed to the conversation in stepped percentages: Sometimes 50%, sometimes 30%, and so on. And the men -- and a lot of the women -- consistently said afterwards that the women were dominating the conversation and the conversation was unequally predisposed toward the women. The percentage at which they stopped feeling this way was so fucking low, I think it was like 17% was when everybody found it equitable.
So are men awful? Maybe. But honestly, I love this study because it doesn't really say that at all: It's like saying that men are awful because gravity hurts their breasts less when they run. Either way, gravity's pulling down on everybody. We're all in the Matrix and trying to save ourselves, and privilege is about the various tools each of us are given to do that. And when you use a tool, it helps everybody else who has that particular tool: Promoting Cary, hiring Amanda Peet, firing Dana. Any tool's a weapon if you hold it right, but without malice behind it, you can overlook all of this because you're not really trying to hurt anybody. Which is not the same as not hurting anybody, but has the advantage of never questioning your viewpoint in a way that feels harmful or scary, because you're convinced that makes you a bad guy. But empires don't run on malice, they run on privilege.
Peter: "Let's pretend you're right, and I'm not just doing this pro forma and/or to get validation for my unbiased racial blindness. What do I do?"
Geneva: "Rethink. Review all promotions. Return hiring to a pure meritocracy..."
Peter: "That's what I'm doing! You're not really saying that, you're asking for tokenism."
Geneva: "Affirmative action isn't about tokenism, it's about icing the cake. Your prejudices are baked into the cake, so you account for that. Not by hiring just anybody, but asking yourself honestly and consistently if the power structure you create and support really matches up with the reality around you. Imagine yourself hiring the black candidate and think about what that would be like, how that would go. Oh, and you totally turned down speaking to the Minority Rights Coalition last week."
Peter: "That offended them?"
Geneva: "It was a slap in the face to them. Not Being A Racist is not the first and last step, because that's about you. That is purely about feeling good knowing you are not a racist. It doesn't actually help anybody or change the world. It's like opening a door and then calling it a day without ever walking through."