Hello and thank you for joining me today, and shall we start talking about underdogs, if you don't know what are they and why we root so much for the them, go back two steps and take your time. Content about it is abundant, so many that it makes hard to find other content related to underdogs.
Let's say, a year ago I have stumbled across a post that said how people liked to see themselves as the underdogs, and today I am unable to find answers for "why people see themselves as underdogs", I got only results about why we like them so much. So because I was unable to get my answer, I felt like giving one myself.(Redactors note, this post was already prepared, but seems like I found more content on this)
I will write mostly as a first person narrative, but feel free to change the details to adapt it to your reality.
A long time ago, in a distant country I was a teenager trying to grasp new ideas, well feminism was a hard one. Not because I didn't like justice, more because the feminism I was being presented to didn't seen like just, it was probably infected with the inherent idea that women are inherently weaker, and therefore we should always support them. It felt like it was logically flawed, so I had to wait until T. taught me about other kinds of feminism.
But I'd like to focus on this mainstream kind of women rights movement, because I can say it has been instrumentalised in order to create oppression, more on that with Françoise Verges, if you speak French, and you are quick you can download her e-book at LaFabrique for free during the quarantine.
The idea that the condition of all women would be improved by having more women as CEOs puzzled my mind, and made me stay away from feminisms in general, until I have met T Learning that where was feminist theory that acknowledged that men don't live equally, nor all women live as equals was what sparked my new interest about it. So here comes kyriarchy, and it's amazing, but knowledge has a risk, the risk of learning stuff to a too little extent and being demi-habile.
Understanding my oppression
What I mean is that, most of us can fit in an oppressed group in one of the scales, however instead of following the reasoning until the end, we may stop at the pleasure of seeing ourselves as underdogs, who are striving in society.
In which case, I could see myself on my own underdog narrative, in which I am the hero facing adversity, but I would turn a blind eye to all my privileges, and how I am working towards the oppression of other people.
I could also go as far as thinking that me having more power and leverage in decisions in society would be beneficial to all minorities, after all ain't I the hero of this story? I am just planning to share what I deserve to earn after all my effort. But at the same time, I have to conform to a hierarchical society and play the role of oppressor to climb up in this hierarchy.
Understanding my privilege
This means that we will not be able to free ourselves if my means of freedom is to oppress others, the freedom of our siblings is a condition of equality.
Activists usually are underdogs, but being underdogs in one of the scales doesn't make all the other privileges we have. And it won't stop us from reproducing oppression and the dominant discourse. This text is a big downer for people who build their identities around being the underdogs fighting "The Man", but this comes from someone who built his identity around being a minority, and believe me when I say we can't build all our strength from the fact we have been oppressed, there is more than that to make strong bounds that will help us defeat "The Man"
We can't emancipate ourselves, if in the process we become oppressors, moreover, we are to rebuild our ideas and we should not reproduce oppression in our struggle.
Refusing to be an oppressor
If we are to not reproduce an oppressive social structure, we must be aware of it, and then be aware of our own mistakes, and be willing to change. This means sometimes having to refuse to be what we once aspired to be, and it's ok.
Kala Subbuswamy and Raj Patel argued in "Cultures of Domination: Race and Gender in Radical movements" how racial and gender issues were present during the PGA, they also presenting some actions that can be taken to improve conditions. Another interesting point in this article is how they talk about the need of dialogue surrounding these issues, and how as activists, this position is fragile, and we need to be reassured that we are valid. So owning our mistakes can be hard.
What strikes me the most is that their article had been written so long ago, and the same issues were already present, and they are still present today, hence my interest in their paper.
Failing to refuse to be an oppressor
The whole point about me writing this article is because we have been failing in it, I have been failing and to be honest, it's because we are in constant failure. Let me explain.
And this is the segue to introduce the other source of inspiration for this article. "O Perigo amarelo nos dias atuais" is a documentary directed by Hugo Katsuo, in which we are presented to a part of the asian brazilian youth, mostly nikkei people. The interviewees presents us questions around being othered, self acceptance and I don't remember the rest, because when I think about it I just remember how I found out about the youtube link to this documentary, it was shared by someone I see as racist. All my interactions with this person led me to believe they are racist and seeing them tweeting this just made me stop. At first I was angry at them, then I was angry at myself.
Let me explain, said person is T's sibling, T is an ex partner who complained to me about all my feminism talk and being a shit feminist. Well they were right. It was poignant , T's sibling is making me feel the same kind of feeling I made T feel. I was angry at myself for being unable to see how bad it was for T.
I couldn't blame them, they sure made me feel bad, but I could see in that tweet a desire for improvement, at the same time I felt insulted that they were sharing it. People change, and it may take time, and at the same pace they change, new people discover about other oppression roles they have, I can't expect people to have a perfect record, neither I believe people can have so called perfect record.
It's a constant work, hence the feeling of constant failure, we can think about Sisyphus who have an eternal list of tasks. We'll maybe I will not see the end to this oppression, but the mere struggle is worth doing it.
Blaise Pascal, and the idea of demi-habile, or getting to wrong conclusions when we don't follow reasoning to the end.