Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Privilege Works (In This Case, For Straight People)

I was struck this morning while reading this fluff article about how Bristol Palin's 3 year old might have used a gay slur on their reality show. Now, I think it's pretty pointless to debate what a 3 year old kid may or may not have had bleeped out on a low-rent reality show, as well as it being pretty pointless to debate whether the whole Palin clan is using gay slurs behind doors (for a family that's made a public career out of slamming gay rights and gay equality, it wouldn't be that surprising).

What really struck me was this quote from Bristol (who, please let us all remember, was a single teenage mom), discussing some Obama quote where he explained gay marriage to his kids:
Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview. Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking. In this case, it would’ve been nice if the President would’ve been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of ‘Glee.’
This is a classic case of someone's personal life only mattering because they have the audacity to tell others how to live their own lives. You can do just fine being a single parent (though not according to the Palin's), just as you can do just fine being a parent in a same-sex couple, or really in any numbered combination with people(s) of any gender(s).

But the glaring hypocrisy of saying "gay people can't get married because children need a mother and a father" while yourself being a single mother is only possible because of how we privilege heterosexuality in this nation. Heterosexuality is seen as "normal" and all other sexualities are deviations that need to be closely monitored less they infect us all and invite God's wrath upon us (I guess. I mean, they never really explain why they don't like gay people).

So because it's assumed heterosexuality is automatically better and more trustworthy than other sexualities, people like Bristol can make all sorts of rules and hurdles for people of other sexualities to follow, even if they themselves do not follow those same rules. That's why it's not ok for, say, a lesbian couple to have a child because oh my God! There's no father there! But it's perfectly fine for Bristol to have a child with no father there because...well, you see, that's where the privilege comes in. For this privilege not only makes it ok for her to be a raging hypocrite, but to also not have to explain, let alone even acknowledge, this glaring hypocrisy.

And if you don't believe it, try to picture it the other way: imagine someone funding a lesbian couple to go around the nation giving speeches about the need to do away with single motherhood, because children need two mothers in their lives to be successful. You see, that has never and will never happen.

Completely irrelevant but fun point: single-mother Bristol Palin is also paid to go around to our nation's high schools extolling abstinence-only sex education. Because it worked so well for her!

1 comment:

Brenduh Derp Derp said...

Totally. Bristol Palin somehow as a role model? Incredible. I remember watching her get into some weird fight with a gay guy on a tv show, and it got really ugly. The sad thing for me is that straight people get to be "normal" all the time, but in that good way, like they don't have to explain themselves over and over again, even to their parents. I don't think a straight person could really understand what it's like to be so alienated from your family in such a fundamental way... It used to really piss me off that straight people could be out there having all the sex they want and not be branded as "perverts," meanwhile I would be living pure as a nun and somehow still get weird comments, looks, and attitudes from people I knew, as well as from strangers. So, am I always the "pervert" even if I don't do anything? Most of the lesbians I know are the most vanilla people on Earth... gahhh.