The bathroom: we all go there, but do we do it for the right reasons? In many states, Americans reinforce patriarchy by using gender-segregated public restrooms. Other, better states have gender-neutral public restrooms, but people still use them in ways that enforce their gender privilege. By “people,” I mean men. Fortunately, Everyday Feminism has published this handy, 2300-word guide titled 6 Helpful Ways to Check Your Male Privilege in Gender-Neutral Bathrooms. There are actually seven items on the list, but four of them boil down to “don’t cover the seat in urine.” Another item is “wash your hands,” which raises questions about the line between politics and hygiene. But what if washing your hands were a feminist act? What if resisting the patriarchy were as easy as not laughing at strangers when they pass gas? If that were true, I could do feminism every day, just by continuing my normal behavior.
Were it not for Valentine’s Day, April Fools’ Day would be our most resented holiday. That shit divides people. Part of the problem lies in disagreement over what constitutes a prank. Merely lying to us is A) not exactly a holiday feat and B) minimally entertaining for us, the fooled. Now, the prank depicted above: that’s a foolin’. It’s startling, efficient, and—this is important—amusing once we realize we’ve been had. It’s not just a counterfactual statement you followed with “April fool!” Mark Twain recommended the truth on the grounds that the person who tells it has less to remember. Really it’s that invention is unnecessary. Today is Friday, and what has actually happened would strain credulity even at another date. Won’t you peruse the foolish truth with me?
There are two ways to read this satisfyingly provocative essay in Jacobin. Connor Kilpatrick argues that the intellectual left’s relentless focus on privilege—white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, college-educated, et cetera—substitutes an abstract problem for the concrete problem of political and economic dominance by the wealthiest 1% of American households. Privilege is a sideshow. At best, it encourages us to ignore the problems of the middle class in favor of the problems of the most destitute. He writes:
[Privilege] is an attempt to shame the middle class—those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs—to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.
Kilpatrick cites as an example this article from Vox, which quotes a TED talk by Alex Giridharadas re: who gets to feel indignant for being in the 99%. Infuriating quote after the jump.
It’s not easy to make out, but the Post-It on the wall in that picture says “reserved for future parties.” That should be the official slogan of New Year’s Eve, assuming “it’s not easy to make out” has already been taken. I’m just joshing; the real theme is hope. Hope, of course, is the belief that the future will be good by virtue of not including everything that has already happened. Could we repudiate human experience any more cheerfully? Probably, if we had some goddamn Gatorade, but I will content myself with assuming I’ll have some later. Today is Friday, and I am a husk of my future self. Won’t you blow away into the weekend with me?