I’m not gonna go into the missing stair thing too deeply here, because it’s not my invention and Pervocracy expresses it so beautifully. So if you’re unfamiliar with the term, go over and check that out and then come back so we can talk about it.
Back? Sweet. So it feels to me like this attitude permeates American culture at a baseline level – the idea that NOT TALKING about a bad thing means the bad thing doesn’t exist, that if you haven’t personally suffered from racism, or sexism, or religious discrimination, or rape, that those problems are “solved.” It’s easy to see why – we’re lucky enough in this country to be able to believe that many of the world’s problems aren’t real. People in third-world countries have to worry about their water being polluted, or the cops shooting them for no reason, but here in America, we’ve moved on past that kind of barbaric behavior. Or so some of us were, for a time, privileged to think. We had the key to the elevator, so for a while, we didn’t think the missing stair was an issue.
This attitude naturally fosters victim-blaming. Someone falls through the stair, the stair you almost forgot was missing, and you go, “Well, I just take the elevator, why didn’t you do that? It’s silly to not take the elevator; that stair’s missing.” Your guest responds that they don’t have a key to the elevator. Instead of, say, giving them a key to the fucking elevator, or fixing the fucking stair, you say, “I’ve lived here for ten years and never fallen through that stair, so you must be the one with the problem. I’m pretty sure the way you fall through stairs is a medical issue; have you talked to your doctor about that?”
Everything that is not “normal” is pathologized. Being “non-white-male” is considered a disease. I’m not kidding – part of the struggle for transfolk in getting access to healthcare is that until the current version of the DSM, (the diagnostic manual most insurance companies use to verify and bill mental healthcare claims) being transgender was considered a disorder in itself, called “Gender Identity Disorder.” Only now do we consider the DYSPHORIA – the pain from being treated incongruously with one’s actual gender – the treatable issue. Decades have passed while LGBT people died, screaming, “I don’t suffer from a disease, I suffer from the way you treat me like I have a disease!” Before that, black and Jewish people were saying the same thing in this country. There is no “natural law,” no genetic evidence, no scientific backing of any kind that can legitimize treating someone like shit for how they were born, even though white men have spent the last two millennia desperately searching for any evidence that they were MEANT to be in charge and the rest of us are inherently inferior. Here’s a hot take: maybe we’re not the ones who are sick.
I’ve grown up as someone I’ve never met.
Always found faces easy to acquire –
found the blueprint, threw it in the fire
when I realized they were building a pet.
They’ll fool you with their requisition forms.
They’ll teach you that what’s wrong with you is you.
“Why can’t you act like other people do?”
Why do you think that “healthy” means your norms?
I don’t know how to get you to believe
that it’s the way this world’s set up that’s wrong.
This has been going bad for so damn long
in ways you can pretend not to perceive.
“Don’t upset white men – they’ll bring us along!”
You’re lucky you can still be that naïve.