As an ally, my words are likely to be given more “weight” in a discussion by many people. There are a lot of reasons for this. The main reason is that I have a lot of social privilege as a straight, white, able-bodied, cis man. I’m someone who is at the top of a lot of oppression hierarchies. Another reason is that people have this idea of “objectivity” that is just plain wrong, because no one is objective.

What I mean is that when I, as a man, talk about misogyny many people assume I won’t be “reacting emotionally” like a woman might, because sexism isn’t “my” problem. When I talk about trans issues my status as a cis person means I’m somehow more “objective” because I’m not trans. If I talk about fat shaming, I lose a lot of that because I’m a big old fat person. (Of course as a straight white man I still have lingering privilege for my voice.)

I’m from a part of the United States that has an accent when speaking English that is very, very common in TV, movies, and radio. Many people who speak like me think “I don’t have an accent”, but of course they are wrong. Just because the way I speak is overwhelmingly represented in media and our culture (and the two are almost the same thing) doesn’t mean it’s less of an accent than someone from the American South or someone from New Zealand. Our life history informs the way we speak, which gives us an accent.

This is why a goal of “objectivity” and prioritizing it above everything else is ridiculous. I have a lifetime of experiences. You have a lifetime of experiences. Those experiences color our beliefs, values, and opinions. Just as our life history gives us an accent in the language we use it gives us all a bias I how we think. Any designation of a “neutral” point of view is as hopeless and arbitrary as picking a “neutral” accent. (And it goes without saying that our accents and biases are unique to ourselves, but often fall within larger groupings. I speak like a Northern Californian, but like one who has parents from elsewhere. I think like a straight person, but like one who has close and empathetic relationships with queer friends.)

When you claim to be somehow more authoritative or objective because someone seems to you to be “biased” or “emotional” you’re really showing yourself to be one of the biggest fools out there. We are all biased, and we are all emotional. We are human animals and our emotionalism is wired into us. It’s what allows us to love and to care and to help one another. Our emotions are what make justice and fairness possible. Accept your biases, accept your accent, and don’t let them get in the way of sharing.

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