Rant: Should We Tell Some White Dudes To Stop Talking To Us About Style?


The rants, aka: opinions or pet peeves, not so gently expressed in the following are the sole opinions of Sarah G. Schmidt. They are not meant to target, insult, or harm. They are to spark conversation and really I may just need to vent. You’ve been told and forewarned, all right? Here goes...

Do you ever read a tweet or a line in an article and go, “Whoa, that’s something.” The words you just read make you pause, literally and figuratively. I am so thankful that thoughts can push me way, way back and entice me to rethink what I thought I knew.

I’ve been consumed with the idea of relearning. Relearning what I was taught for Canadian history (white dudes wrote all my school books), art history (again, white dudes telling me what is “good” work), and current human values (basically more white dudes attempting to undo all the work in the human rights charter that precedes and protects me).

If you haven’t noticed, it’s a lot of now dead (or nearly there) white dudes telling us how to think, feel, value, judge, and act. It’s 2018 people. Just me or are you over that? Please don’t @ me with your version of:

“Not all white dudes,” (Of course not.)

“Yeah, but here’s why white dudes dominate those spaces, see women and people of colour…” (BLAH BLAH BLAH... I’m no longer listening.)

“Yeah, but <insert marginalized group here> are asking for it…” (Palm to face immediately and slowly smeared downwards from forehead to mouth in three to seven long seconds.)

I’m not interested in listening to that garbage anymore. Simply put: if it’s not about you, don’t make it about you. Have a little self-awareness and perspective, please and Jimmy Choo. The only acceptable response to inequity is, “Whoa that’s messed up. What can I do to help?”

Get up to speed. Relearn.

The thing that I am bumping up against over and over is the idea that an outsider of a community thinking that they can “fix” or cater to that community in a way better than an insider could. That somehow he – the outsider - knows best. Is it okay to speak outside of your own experience and suggest that you know better? Gross. Full disclosure, I’ve been that person. I’ve ran my privileged mouth off where it had no business being in the first place. I should have listened first and asked questions later. That said, I’ve identified my error, I’m relearning, and I’m working on it, albeit a bit messy.

I think about the schoolyard expression, “It takes one to know one.” In this case, I certainly agree. Why do we listen to people who aren’t a part of our experience more seriously than we listen to our own communities?

Fair warning, ladies and femme-as-F men, I’m dusting off, setting down, and stepping up to my soapbox. But first a excerpt from Hannah Gadsby's required viewing Netflix comedy special: 

"To men, particularly straight white men, she says: “‘Pull your socks up.’ How’s that for humiliation? Fashion advice from a lesbian, and that’s [my] last joke.” 

The next time a man comments unprovoked on your choice of earrings, makeup, clothing – whatever – ask him a few questions. Question him on why he thinks your choices have anything to do with him? Ask him why he thinks or feels that his opinion carries the same or more weight than the opinion you have of yourself? Unless he’s from the Queer Eye Fab Five, ask him why he is judging your sartorial expression when you’re minding your own business living your life? There is enough space in the world for all of us. If a man attempts to shame you for taking up too much, he’s just an insufferable, sad man-boy.

The next time you’re walking down the street, doing you and some – let’s be real – dude comments something gross and you don’t like it, keep your head high. If you are able, stop, look at him straight on and burn him with your soon-to-be-patented laser eye death stare. If you’re really brave, tell him to stop. Tell him that his behavior is not okay for you. If he balks, remind him that you doing your thing have absolutely nothing to do with him.

The next time a man tells you that your choice of entertainment – be it reality TV, shopping, or mood boarding for your goals – is silly, tell him to kindly leave your space while you enjoy. That could mean the room, your DM’s, or your life. Give him a choice: ask him if he’d like to stay quietly or if he’d prefer to leave you to your thing. If he keeps talking, firmly tell him that his voice is too loud for your predilections and not welcome in your dope AF life. Again, it’s not about him, it’s about you.

I read a statistic on Girl Boss’s Instagram that 9 out of 10 girls hate their body as young kids. I repeat, young girls learn how to compare body for body and hate themselves as young children. I suspect that doubt trickles into other areas of a young woman’s life. That baggage travels with you through life. While this is all true – WTF – we, too can relearn that. We can relearn to love ourselves the most.

My summer wish – my M.O. really – is for you to do you. Relearn what’s required to move forward more kindly and openly and tell everyone else to be quiet.