Sex and Relationships are Social Justice Issues

Jul 3, 2019


Dr. Liz, why do you insist on talking about all of this social justice crap and not just sex and relationships?

Hi, everyone. I’m Dr. Liz. And today, I’m going to talk about why I’m willing to piss people off on this channel in order to just talk about things that are important to me.

Social justice is basically the striving of creating a world of equality and opportunity for everybody. And if any of you all think that we already have that world, you’re wrong. There is no other way about it.

We, in the United States and in Canada and in many other countries live in nations that are founded on white supremacy, on cis hetero patriarchy. We live in countries that were designed to meet the needs of cis straight, rich, white man and no one else.

In fact, it’s 2019. We can’t even get the equal rights amendment passed which would put women in the Constitution. Yes, still an option.

The thing is I have a few folks say to me, “Liz, you should be less up in their faces about this stuff. You shouldn’t talk so much about social justice. Why do you keep talking about white supremacy or racism or capitalism?”

And the reason I talk about them is that these problems, these axes of privilege and oppression, they come into our relationships. They come into our bedrooms. They come into our sex lives.

None of us are raised in a culture absent these forces. These forces are present everywhere. And so, to think that we could somehow have relationships and sex that doesn’t pull on these axes is fooling ourselves. Every time that I, a person assigned female at birth, engage with someone who is a cisgender man, there are elements of sexes around patriarchy inherent in the way that we interact.

If I’m lucky, that cisgender man is someone who has done a lot of his work, he has unpacked his stuff and figured out how he can be a better accomplice and show up in that relationship in a way that as much as possible dismantles patriarchy. But he is not going to be perfect at it and I’m not going to be perfect at unpacking it either.

When I have friendships or relationships with people who are black, I’m going to fuck it up. I’m going to say and do things that reinforce white supremacy, not because I want to, not because I think white supremacy is a good thing, but because that’s the soup that I was cooked in.

We live in a country founded on the enslavement and murder and rape and torture of black bodies and of indigenous folks and of people who are not white just kind of general. White supremacy is there all the time. And anti-practice is there all the time and we have to work hard at unpacking them, at stopping them.

What this means for me is that it’s important to me to be a voice about those things. I work really hard to elevate other educators and therapists and folks doing this work who are black, who are disabled, who are brown, who are indigenous, who are trans and non-binary, people who are from these oppressed classes that don’t get as much of a say in our culture, because I know that with my white skin, there are a lot of you all who are going to listen to me and who may not listen as much as those other folks and I want to help all of their voices be heard.

The reality of unpacking privilege is that when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Those of us who have benefited from structural privilege, those of us who have benefited from these systems of oppression are going to have to give shit up in order for things to become equal. They are not going to become equal on their own. We are going to have to eat a lot of shit.

I fuck up all the time. I fuck up with my friends, people who I care about, and every time that I fuck up, I have to try to be better. I have to figure out, is this something I apologize for? Is this something I just learn to do differently last time?

You’re going to fuck it up and you’re going to have to apologize and you’re going to lose some opportunities. There are folks who reach out to me all the time for quotes in different media outlets and I try every time I honor those requests to refer them to a person of color who could answer their questions too. If it’s not, my absolute like wheel house area of expertise, I’ll try to find a person of color to refer it to you instead of me.

When I speak at conferences or as parts of events or seminars, I check the breakdown of the folks who are there. And I ask them about why it’s a sealed white faces if it is?

There are times that I have not done things because I wasn’t OK with the way that they were putting that plan or that webcast together because to me, it is so much more important that we do this work at unpacking white supremacy.

And I want to address really quickly this thing that comes up a lot when we start social justice conversations is that someone like me who is gender queer will say, “We live in a world that’s really unfriendly to folks who are gender queer and someone who is cisgender will come in and say, “Well, how do we fix it?”

When you are the person benefiting from the system of oppression, it is your job to figure out how to dismantle that system. It is not the job of the person being oppressed. It is not black folk’s job to tell us how to stop being so racist. If you want a black person to tell you how to start being so racist, you need to pay them cash, money, for that time and effort.

If you are cisgender, you need to figure out how to start unpacking those systems that privileged cisgender folks above trans and non-binary folks. If you are white, you need to figure out how to start unpacking racial oppression. If you are a man, you need to work on unpacking patriarchy and sexism and misogyny.

If you are abled, you need to figure out how we start getting over this abled privilege.

If you are someone who is hetero, if you are straight, you need to figure out how we stop privileging straightness.

All of us have work to do in this realm, every single one of us. And all of us have to work to do better because it’s not OK that we live in a world that causes so much harm to folks just because of who they are. It’s not OK. It’s not OK at all.

And so yeah, I talk a lot about social justice. I talk a lot about working through this shit and unpacking these systems because it is important and because I need all of you to join me on this journey.

So I’m hoping in the comments that I hear from all of you about what you are doing to unpack your privilege and to start dismantling your systems.

For those of you who love this work, who want to help support this kind of work and who want to help support me in spreading sex education, I’ve got a Patreon. Click on over. Throw me some donations. You will get access to outtakes, special videos just for the patrons.

And if you want some resources, I put some here for different folks who offer programs to help white folks unpack their privilege. We can do this. We can all work on unpacking these systems. And I hope I’ll hear more from you all next time. Bye!

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