People are naturally bad. I know this because I’m an LA driver.
Or maybe bad is just a little harsh, let’s just say that people are naturally selfish and driving on crowded LA freeways brings out a dormant survival instinct where everybody is out for themselves or whatever alliances they’ve made with other cars on the road that look just like them.
Or maybe I’m not really talking about traffic.
You see, every time I put my blinker on to change lanes (as the good handbook tells me) the response I get is not the slowing down of someone who respects my fundamental driving rights but rather a flagrant desire to get ahead and beat me on the race to morning Starbucks; even if it means that both cars become damaged and one of us winds up dead.
To be fair, Starbucks now serves Red Velvet Frappuccinos.
Through the Darwinistic desire to prove whose car is faster or which coffee is hotter, people have become walking sports teams on and off the road. And, as a white, liberal feminist, I guess I’m just frustrated.
I’m frustrated because calling myself a WHITE LIBERAL FEMINIST reduces me to a stereotype who cares more about her right to wear cornrows on social media than disempowering structural racism and sexism.
I’m frustrated because that’s what I think of when I think of a WHITE LIBERAL FEMINIST, and I’m exhausted that there aren’t more people on my computer screen to prove me wrong. Or right. Because name-calling on the internet is stupid and compartmentalization is what got us here in the first place.
You see, as I watch the news and talk to people, and read blogs and twitter, I find myself bombarded by two extremes that are missing the point. It’s not enough to be right and it’s not enough to prove others that they’re wrong. It’s about creating allies so that gaps in income,education,race, gender, and television preferences can merge together to form a middle where everyone’s needs are safely met, all voices are justly heard, and the boxes can stay in the basement where they’ve always belonged.
Again, it’s not enough to be right.
I say this as someone who has been exposed to many people of different backgrounds and perspectives on life. I’ve been militant in my desire to prove my liberal ideals but have been reduced to anger and tears when I can’t get others to intersect. To explain, to really patiently explain my perspective to someone that I perceive as “ignorant” is hard to achieve when my first reaction is always knee-jerk. In my desire for someone to just get where I’m coming from, I’ve ignored the “yes and” part that is so wisely the first rule of improv.
My blinker may have been right, but I hesitated too long and blocked the road.
At the end of the day, I’ve learned from my mistakes in communication and am wary of all defensive and aggressive driving. I’ve learned to shift into neutral and dream of when others will slow down and catch up. I dream of an America where sports teams only exist on the field. I dream of a world where both *Bell Hooks and Beyonce are unquestionably considered feminists and homeless veterans are two words that are rarely put together. I dream of a strong middle class that is not reminiscent of the exclusionary 1950’s and I have a dream of an American dream that is not based on material gain or enacting violence on others.
But mostly, just like everyone else, I dream of a more pleasant commute.
*This refers to an intellectual gathering at The New School where acclaimed media scholar Bell Hooks called Beyonce a terrorist for hyper-sexualizing her body in her music. I love Bell Hooks but don’t see how the whole women vs. women thing has furthered feminism in the past/present.