In conversations about oppression, there are a few annoying as hell people whom you will inevitably come across. The woman who is utterly in love with red herrings and who always argues against something no one anywhere has ever said. The victim-blamer. The guy who has never studied or thought about any issue being discussed before but all of a sudden thinks he is an expert just because he has an opinion.
But perhaps no one is as annoying as the person who thinks allowing marginalized people to do the things that people who don’t belong to their communities are chastised for doing is a “double standard”.
I’ve seen this guy pop up most often in conversations about the N word and violence against women. “If Black people can say the N word, why can’t I? Reverse racism!” “Everyone is sexist because no one made as much of a deal about Solange and Jay-Z as they did about Ray Rice”.
He looks at a situation, sees one person doing something that he knows would get him in trouble if he did, and immediately starts a logic-less hissy fit.
What double standard guy doesn’t understand is that in order for there to be a double standard, everyone has to start at the same place. We don’t offer the same standardized tests to 8th graders as we do to 2nd graders (although we do offer the same to those stuck within a poor education system and those in great ones – which is wrong, and another story).
We aren’t allowed to do with another person’s spouse the things they do with their spouse.
We can’t hit another person’s child (they probably shouldn’t hit their children either, but I digress).
And if you rape and kill someone’s family, steal their belongings, then force them to work for you for free, the degrading names you called them during their forced servitude are going to sound much different coming out of your mouth than if they were to finally become secure enough to say them aloud.
And if you have been violently lording over someone who is smaller than you for their entire existence, if they ever strike you (especially if they don’t particularly hurt you) that is going to be much different than if you continue your unabated pattern of beating them.
Which isn’t even a double standard. It’s a standard for people with a history of enslavement, murder, stealing, lynching, abuse and rape, and another for a people who have been enslaved, murdered, stolen from, lynched, abused and raped. The same standard applies, it’s the context that is different.
And context is lost on double standard guy but context means everything. If something has a different cause and a different effect, it is not the same thing. As I mentioned in a previous post, Black people didn’t use the N word while they were murdering a whole group of people. Women didn’t beat men into subjugation for centuries.
And that’s not to say a woman hitting a man is at all okay, nor am I arguing that using derogatory language within your community is necessarily a good thing, it just means that it’s a different conversation. That’s an apple, this is an orange.
And that’s why we have “double standards”, or, as a logical person calls them, standards.