Friday, March 18, 2011

The Privilege of Not Being a Trauma Survivor, of not having Severe PTSD, and of Not Experiencing Environmental and Patriarchal Trauma, Horror, and Terror, right now

image of terrifying nuclear disaster site in Japan is from here
I think we're past the worst time. Time is on your side because the heat levels are dropping.

When some of the cladding oxidized, it was an exothermic reaction. That has passed at this point.

So I think if the workers can get some of these electrical cables in, some of the cooling pumps running, which they're working very hard to do, I think we're going to be on the downside of this. Now, there's still going to be burps and there's still going to be lots of news about this for a long, long time, but I don't see -- the worst time I think has passed us
.  -- MR. LAKE BARRETT, NUCLEAR ENGINEER [source: *here*] [text put in bold by me, Julian]

Burps and news is what we have to fear, is what he is saying. There's no actual danger that is getting worse, is what he's saying. He's so delusional that he will be embraced as an expert, as a sane person, as a humane white man, on matters of gross environmental and human terrorism.

If a nuclear power plant were in the form of an anti-U.S. activist strapped with bombs, putting himself in the middle of a mall filled with U.S. Americans, putting many people in danger, Lake Barrett wouldn't get much airtime stating that the worst of what has occurred and what can occur is "burps" and "news".

Let me take this into the world of far too many girls and women that most white men do not experience.

If you are not being  beaten, today, and raped, today, and incested, today, and trafficked, today, and enslaved by one man or many men or a nation-state of men or by patriarchal men's customs and practices, today, and if you are not being imprisoned inside the current trauma and post-traumatic effects of such abuses and human rights violations, now, I would make a case that level of human existence is a privileged one. If whole economic, social, religious, and political systems are not working to actively, not passively, destroy you, today, I'd argue that is a form of privilege.

And I'd ask that all our political theorising and work keep in mind those of us who are trapped by men, controlled by men, terrorised by men, put in horrifying unspeakable situations by men, now, and yesterday but in ways that make yesterday into now. And by institutions and systems of harm and horror that even those of us who are in them seek various methods of survival to deny.

As someone with significant post-traumatic stress, who also has dissociation, I would like to remind people that society, as a whole functions in a state of post-traumatic stress and dissociation. Many societies thrive on dissociation, denial, and delusion to practice their specific forms of national or cultural dysfunction.

For example, I heard some "expert" white man named Lake Barrett, speaking yesterday on CNN about how the nuclear disaster in Japan (along with on-going earthquakes there, unreported by media including by CNN--ground shaking in an on-going way in quakes that register from 3.0 to 6.0) is not going to be more harmful than it already has been. Apparently, according to Barrett and many other "experts" who are also white men, people are simply overreacting the world over. There's "hysteria", we are told by many white men in the media, with financial interests in nuclear energy programs specifically and patriarchal capitalism generally.

He is very privileged to not be living in a terrorised state--emotional, physical, and national--right now. He gets to speak out about how safe people are in a place where he is safe and the people (and especially the women and girls) of Japan, and Haiti, and Afghanistan, and Iraq, and the U.S., and the UK, and most other countries on Earth, are not safe, are not experiencing life as unterrifying, as unhorrifying, as so significantly circumscribed by what men do that is inhumane and atrocious that being in denial or in a state of profound dissociation are the only options for getting through a week or a day or an hour or a minute.


thegirlwhowasthursday said...

i've been sensing this EXACT thing (the privilege of not being a trauma survivor) for years but i've never been really sure of how it connects to privilege in general, apart from that it is integral to the systems of domination and power that form the conditions for abuse. but i've only just realised that PRIVILEGE is what has been making me so mad. the PRIVILEGE of being able to talk honestly about your childhood/life without engendering discomfort and shock and possibly slight repulsion in everyone else. the PRIVILEGE of being able to expect that your relationships in the future and with others will not be physically or psychologically violent. the PRIVILEGE of being able to assume that others are essentially good. the PRIVILEGE of being able to choose, without judgment, not to associate with people who have seriously physically harmed you. the PRIVILEGE of having idiosyncrasies and personality differences associated with your childhood/life experiences normalised rather than pathologised, the PRIVILEGE of not having to assume that any given person will probably not relate to your "outlier" experience. etc and so forth. and the PRIVILEGE of not having to know the worst and most directly and obviously destructive results of a power system of violence, of aggression, of dominance, especially in the "family" and other authority-based organisations.

thanks for this.

Julian Real said...

Thank YOU, thegirlwhowasthursday!

I am so glad that your comment is now part of this post and hope anyone who comes to this page reads it carefully.

When conservatives profess the importance of "family values" they often conveniently neglect to mention that violence against women by men, and violence against children by adults is paradigmatically what "family" is in the West.