Gather around, my children of the corn, it’s time for a personal statement of purpose. I’m not talking a magical one, though my PEH summed up my magical one quite nicely as radical practicality. We’re talking about me.
Some magicians/occultists/your cat who does magic/whatever would prefer to see magic more as science, factual by results and comforting through the written word. But here’s the thing, nothing is unbiased. Not science, certainly. After all science once believed the sun circled the earth, men were smarter than women due to brain weight and that people of color were empirically less intelligent than white people.
Not you, not me, not anyone is unbiased. When you step into your magical circle, into the forest, into the kitchen, you don’t magically shed your biases. Neither does anyone else. Susan doesn’t stop being mad at you for boning her husband, Alan doesn’t stop thinking that you’re a cheapskate because you always bring dessert and never a main dish for feast, etc., etc, etc.
Where I am going with this is that a big part of who I am as a person is a feminist (in case the Dianic Wicca part didn’t tip you off). I got my college degree in Women’s Studies. I’ve worked for and been paid by the National Organization for Women. I’m part of the Amethyst Circle of Sisters (my Dianic group). And when I do magic and when I write about magic, this doesn’t turn off.
I am the first to say I come from a place of privilege – I’m a white middle class American citizen and I do constantly examine my place of privilege. But that also means I’m constantly contemplating others’ privileges and the places I come from that aren’t privileged when I am treated as lesser for my less privileged aspects. And I can’t shut that off. Jow and I have had many discussions about privledge, to the point that he can recognize when Not Cool Shit is Going Down. And it can be a drag. We were minding our own business watching Warehouse 13 when he said, “Oh man, it’s totally happen on my show! Noooooooooooooo! There are these three women of color who have magical capabilities and are bad ass in their own right but here it is, random white dude coming in to supervise and he’s not even magical! Why is he in charge? Oh man! I can’t shut this off! I can’t stop seeing it! Grrrrrrrr!”
And for some of us who have spent a lot of time examining our own privledge and all the ways big and small various people get treated as lesser, that’s exactly what it is. I can’t shut it off. Not just because we’re talking about magic and here in our safe little corner of the blogosphere people have disagreements and hissy fits but we all respect each other as equals, not because it makes you uncomfortable, not because you don’t want to talk about it here, not because some of my experiences of being treated like crap by my so called magical brothers and sisters make you feel awkward. Never. I can’t shut it off until everything’s right when it comes to race/gender/sexuality/class/ableism and um that’s not going to happen any time in my life time in all likelihood, sadly.
And you don’t have to like it or agree and you don’t have to read me if it bothers you, you can’t all like me or love me as charming as I am. But it’s not going away in any of my writing. And some of my bias *is* when it comes to the larger occult community and higher magic, because of how I’ve been treated there. Maybe the “battle” about how people treat each other magically and who is respected more than who due to their lineage and teachings is over for you and that’s cool. But it’s not over for me, I still fight it every day. I still get treated like I do Barbie magic every day of my damn life (among other things) and I won’t pretend the battle is over to make you feel comfortable. Because you know what? It’s not over for me and that’s my experience which is as valid as yours. This blog is about my magical experience and my views on privilege is part of it.
Don’t get me wrong. I got upgraded to Business Class for the first time and dear goddess, it’s awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwesome! There’s, like, as much booze as you can pour down your throat in a three hour flight, more leg room, as much tv as you want to watch, bejeweled to play, food, real actual good food that’s not chock full of fat and served on plates. Who the hell would willingly want to give it up? There are some feminists who would argue that one must in order to be a good global citizen. I don’t think it’s possible though, honestly. What I *do* think is possible is to be honest with yourself about your privilege, to examine it and to realize that just because you may see Ted as Ted, not Ted the gay black dude, that doesn’t mean that Ted feels the same way. Ted may see you as Arnold the white dude who is my friend but gets out of traffic violations much easier and has a larger dating pool and has not been disowned by his family for being who he is.
It’s the instinct of many to want to downplay others’ negative experiences from being treated as lesser, whether on the street or in the work place or in the magical community because man, you’re not like that. But it’s much harder to consider that just because *you* aren’t like that doesn’t mean that Ted doesn’t get treated like shit in big and small ways in a lot of other places. And to my mind, the best way to deal with your privilege isn’t to fall on your knees and apologize for others’ douchebag reactions even if you have a lot of privilege personally. The right thing to do isn’t to tell Ted that he’s being too sensitive either and people aren’t like that anymore. The best thing, the most right thing you can do from your place of privledge is simple. You say, Wow, Ted. That really sucks. I’m sorry you had to go through that. And hug him if that’s your thing.