Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A discussion with grandma

So I've decided to vent a little more on the "bad" side of my family, previously discussed here.

On my last visit with my dad and grandparents, I sat in the living room with my grandmother discussing my blog, telling her some of the more colorful criticisms I've gotten recently.  I told her that I've been told a number of times that I'm just an angry bitter person.

"Well," my grandma began, "are you angry?"

I smiled at her.  I knew this was going toward a lecture from her, and I'm old enough now to know I'd better head her off; piss her off before she can piss me off.  It's a game my brother and I have grown rather fond of over the years, particularly him since he has to live there. 

"I didn't say they were wrong.  I just think that it's funny that 200+ posts can be reduced to 'you're just an angry feminist.'  But yeah, I am angry.  I'm angry because as a woman I have less rights than a man.  Women are still fighting for equal rights and equal pay.  I'm angry because we're supposedly so post-racial, when you can look everywhere and see that racism hasn't gone anywhere at all.  I'm angry because rich, white, Christian men are not just telling me what I can and can't do with my body, but have put laws in place so that I do not have my own choice.  I'm angry because those same men are keeping marginalized groups of people from equal rights, and have undeserved privilege that they cling to.  I am angry because I have a hell of a lot to be angry about."

She proceeded to ignorantly tell me how she thinks "black people have more rights than we do," and she doesn't "believe in gay marriage," but she's supposedly open-minded because she says "It's not something I would choose, but it's okay if other people choose to be gay," and asked me "why write about things you can't change?"

I headed off each of her "arguments" with a lecture of my own.  I laughed at her accusation that black people supposedly have more rights than her, a white woman, and expressed this to her, citing the over representation of POC in prisons, the lack of opportunities, the study after study that illustrates job discrimination, etc.

I told her that she can "not believe" in gay marriage all she wants, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, that it's not a right that everyone is entitled to.  Sexuality is not chosen--people can't control who they are attracted to.  I told her how if someone's partner is ill in the hospital, unless they're married they have no legal right to be with that partner.  And there are other rights associated with marriage that homosexual people are not legally entitled to because the law doesn't recognize their union.  I asked her how is this fair?

I told her that transgender people are not "sick" as she eloquently put it, and I lectured her on her cisgendered privilege, and on identity, and it's not for her or anyone else to tell someone how they can identify. 

And I write because staying silent is too easy.  I try my best to be an ally to other groups which I am not part of, and I try my best to write about feminism and women's rights because those things directly affect me.  I'm only one voice, but I'm adding it to the collectivity of other voices, because the more of us calling out discrimination, the more likely change will happen.  How can we expect change if we say nothing?

When I was done, she had nothing to say.  I've never seen that woman be quiet ever.  I had won.

Less than five minutes later, my grandpa came in, and she was yelling at him.  Telling him he was stupid, and she hated him, and to eat his dinner and shut up.  And I remember thinking again about marriage: she and my grandpa have been married more than 50 years.  They've slept in separate beds longer than I've been alive.  Before my grandpa's accident, he would yell back.  My memories of my grandparents are punctuated with the incessant fights and apparent disgust for one another.  I've only heard them say they love one another once in my life.  On their 50th wedding anniversary my grandmother admitted the only reason she didn't divorce him was because she didn't feel like filling out the paperwork. 

Reflecting on this, I wonder how this woman has the audacity to cling to her privilege, and to sit there and tell me she doesn't believe in gay marriage, when her marriage is...ugly.  She would rather deny others a right that she's taken for granted.  She would deny marriage to two people that actually love each other because her views have become distorted. 

And this ignorant hypocrisy is exactly what we've all been speaking against.


Linette said...

Congrats on sticking up to your grandma. I certainly wouldn't have the guts to say those things to any of my grandparents.

FilthyGrandeur said...


there was a time where i would back down from her, or bite my tongue, and i always regretted not saying what i really wanted to say. i hated letting her walk all over me. but i never regret saying what i feel needs to be said.

KissMyBlackAds said...

"why write about things you can't change?" FG, you make a difference everyday! I've learned a lot from you. Mostly about making a better me. As you make a better you/world. You are a soldier... even with that fuzz therapy thing that won't admit to enjoying.

FilthyGrandeur said...


it's people like you that keep me writing!

you can deny it all you want, but everyone loves a fluffy kitty!

(and i learn a lot from you too, so yay!)

Sabertooth Screaming Lemur said...

Go you; it's hard to stand up to family. I know.

Also, I tend to get all upset and all my citations fly right out of my head.

We can make change a little at a time so that when the revolution comes it will be less of a shock. :)

Thank you for making the world a little better.

FilthyGrandeur said...


thanks--it took me many years to actually get to a point where i wouldn't get so flustered that all my talking points were only thought of later. it just takes practice. and thanks for the encouragement everyone!

Pickly said...

I wouldn't be so sure that you've "won" so much as "had more to say", though.

(I know personally that if I was in an argument with someone arguing talking points, I'd probably run out of stuff to say first, but would likely have heard the talking points before and still disagree with the person. Perhaps your grandma's different, though.)

FilthyGrandeur said...

i know i probably didn't change her mind about any of those topics, but i still won because i didn't let her talk over me, i said exactly what i had to say, and by the end of it, she was quiet. this woman is NEVER quiet. so, small as it may seem, i'm calling it a victory.