I didn’t realize it was Thanksgiving today until some of my Chinese students sent me text and chat messages with some lovely sentiments within. I decided not to remind them that I’m not American, and that while Canadians do celebrate Thanksgiving, we do it in October. I actually taught my students this and explained why Americans celebrate in November and Canadians in October, but Canadians don’t tend to impose their culture on the world, so my lesson didn’t stick. Western culture IS American culture.
Anyhow, I’m not ranting about Americans today – this post isn’t about pornography or capitalism, you see.
I’m talking about thankfulness and how men and women may differ in their perspectives.
As a woman, I’m grateful for every day that I manage not to get raped, sexually assaulted, harassed or reminded that I’m inferior. Luckily, I don’t experience the first two that often anymore – I am getting older and am not deemed as fuckable as I once was, although I’m not immune. But in China, the latter two happen every time I leave my apartment.
As a white woman, I’m ogled as soon as I step outside my apartment door. My neighbours objectify me and other me. They may cringe against the wall in the stairwell with horrified looks on their faces as I pass by them. Walking through my immediate neighbourhood is a daily struggle to remind myself that I’m human and not a walking twat and set of tits. Two-and-a-half years in a place should earn me a spot among humans, but I’m not Chinese and I am a woman, so I must be reminded by every single person I pass that I hold the privilege of being on public display as a sexual object to be enjoyed or reviled (or both) by all. Men don’t get this treatment I (and occasionally they) have observed. And they become invisible if they are walking with me, as I take the heat.
Since opting out of being othered is not possible, I have to resort to feeling thankful if I make it through my errand back to the safety of my apartment without being pointed at, laughed at, yelled at, called racial slurs, or hit on purpose – all of which do happen, and not infrequently. Because I’m a woman and because I’m not Chinese. I’m thankful for my white privilege and the special status that gives me.