Does a privileged person have a louder voice? Yes, they are listened to more and their opinions are considered more valuable. And yes, privileged allies should most certainly use their enhanced voices for us. But that means using their voices to enhance ours, to increase our volume – don’t speak for us, direct people to us, show people what they are ignoring. Don’t stand on our shoulders, give us a hand up. I can’t touch this subject without covering a particularly vile outbranch of it. A privileged person will decide, in the name of understanding a marginalisation, to play act as one of us for a designated time. Be it from way back in 1961 when a white man dressed himself up as a black man to discover racism, or the now numerous reports of people deciding to live homeless and now, of course, this extremely clueless straight, cis man who fake came out as gay to his parents and hung around gay bars for a year.
First of all – wow I am AWED at the ability of privileged people to make prejudice all about them. Really, when presented by victimisation and prejudice against a marginalised group, they set out to centre themselves completely – to talk about their (irrelevant) experience and their (irrelevant) feelings and how hard it was for them (irrelevant) and how much they’ve learned (do we care?) and how they’ve grown as a person (still not caring). Could there be a more self-centred way of discussing someone else’s marginalisation? And faking it doesn’t mean you understand someone’s experience – you can never get the full impact of living as marginalised. You can’t just “come out” to your parents and understand what being gay means, what the closet means – that power of shame and erasure and rejection and being brought up in a heterosexist society that teaches you to hide and hate yourself from the moment your realise what you are. Simply mouthing the words doesn’t mean you understand them. All this mummery can do is give you the FALSE IMPRESSION that you understand.