The same people
Who say “Stop whining, women have it worse elsewhere”
Are the same people
Who say “HOW DARE YOU
I have struggled.”
Not like millions have.
We are privileged
We can improve
These are not mutually exclusive things.
I wrote this when I realised that this happened frequently. Whataboutery (or whataboutism) is a common ‘argument’ put forward when we try to discuss problems in our lives that stem from bigotry and discrimination.
“I find this gendered clothing in the supermarkets ridiculous. Why are the girls’ shorts so short and everything is pink? I have to buy from the boys’ section! Why can’t they just do “-kids’-” clothes?”
Enter whatabouter stage left
“Oh my god, really? That’s so trivial. A non-issue. What about muslim women who are forced to wear burkhas in Saudi, they’re not even allowed to drive!! That’s a REAL problem. Why don’t you care about that?”
It’s actually a fallacy (of the tu quoque variety), rather than a fair argument. Its purpose is to get people to shut up, stop talking about the thing making that person uncomfortable and angry.
It achieves nothing and it rails against progress. Apparently it’s also a favourite of Trump’s.
Saying things like this does not increase the sympathy or care of the person you’re doing it to. It shows only that yours is limited. People can care about many things at once, and indeed should. You can bet that people using this argument do very little in terms of activism themselves, especially on the topic they’re using to derail. Men telling me I shouldn’t care about women’s rights in developed countries are never the ones doing anything for women’s rights anywhere.
Trying to fix small problems is part of fixing bigger ones – our scope will always be limited in terms of action – by location, funding, ability, time, understanding and more. Discussion is vital. Stop shutting it down with this basic nonsense.
Just don’t do this. Don’t ever say to women or anyone else discussing their oppression or even mild irritations in life, ‘Don’t forget those people over there who are way worse off, you should be grateful‘.