It’s been a while since I blogged – since February 22, in fact. Skipped my birthday in March. Even on Spring Break, I just didn’t do it. I’ve been tired – I have school, I have a lot of obligations, I have a lot of stuff I’m trying to figure out, so blogging just slumped to the bottom of the priority pile. I just didn’t give a fuck.
One of the most ridiculous navel-gazing things I could possibly do at this point is quote one of my own tweets at you, but that’s just what I’m going to do. It’s going towards my larger point. On the evening of April 22, I had to give my final oral presentation in Spanish for the semester – and, most likely, forever. In a little under two weeks I should be done with Spanish instruction for good and for all. My class is online so the presentation was as well, scheduled for 8 p.m. on the 22nd. I logged on right before 8:00 to see a message from my professor that her previous group was running over, lo siento mucho, our conference would start at 8:15. I yawned and fidgeted and eventually did my presentation and logged the hell off, taking to Twitter – where I had whiled away some time, waiting – to say the following: “Okay Spanish presentation done. Had I to do another, I would do an interpretive dance called ‘all the fucks I do not give.’”
Gonna be up front about it: I was pretty pleased with that one. So were the half-dozen or so followers who aren’t, like, bots promising more followers. I was done Giving A Fuck about Spanish. My “A” seemed pretty solid, even if I bobbled a bit in the last week or three of the semester I would surely pass and be Done With Spanish. Done with Giving A Fuck about Spanish class.
On Facebook, later that week, I had a desultory conversation with friends – caring, concerned friends, mostly friends from church, where we are socially active, caring, concerned – about how few fucks we had left to give. Maybe it had been a tired few weeks. Maybe it was something in the water. A mere week ago, all these caring concerned people were straight-up not giving any more fucks.
Oh I have had no idea what to say about Baltimore. Oh I have felt it is not my place to speak at all of Baltimore. Oh I have simply wanted to pass on what other, truer, brighter voices are saying about Baltimore and to simply keep quiet.
It occurred to me, then, that keeping quiet might be interpreted as not giving a fuck.
Nothing could be more far from the truth.
For ten years I lived in the suburbs of Baltimore. Both my father and my mother grew up in Baltimore. People I love still live in Baltimore. Though I now live within good-spitting-distance of D.C., and grew up closer to D.C. myself, and love D.C. – boy howdy do I ever give a fuck about what’s happening in Baltimore.
If my silence for even one moment implies I don’t, then that is enough to write. To break out of the low-priority don’t-give-a-fuck-about-my-blog-right-now pattern I’ve been in for a few months.
I am a straight white cisgendered mostly-college-educated American woman. I have been born into the extreme privilege of being able to pick and choose, with great autonomy, precisely which fucks I choose to give.
Never in my lifetime has it ever been prohibited by law who I can love or choose to marry. I can choose, therefore, not to give a fuck about whether others around me can do the same. That is my straight privilege.
Never in my lifetime have I not been given a job, not been given an answer, not been given a fair chance because of the color of my skin. I can choose, therefore, not to give a fuck about whether others around me can do the same. That is (a tiny corner of) my white privilege.
Never in my lifetime have I been faced with the knowledge that I must marry a man in order to thrive, or survive. I can choose, therefore, not to give a fuck about whether others in other nations can do the same. That is (but small portion of) my American privilege, and my mostly-college-educated privilege as well. (The fact that I can do as well for myself as I have done without a college degree references my white privilege also, see above.)
Never in my lifetime, most especially since puberty, have I ever been faced with uncertainty that I would walk out my door and be mistaken for a gender with which I do not identify, regardless of what I choose to wear (dresses, skirts) or not wear (make-up, heels). I can choose, therefore, not to give a fuck about whether others around me can do the same. That is my cisgendered privilege.
It’s true, I’m a woman. I have faced, throughout my lifetime, judgements, undeserved consequences, threats, lower pay, outright dismissal of my personal, physical, moral, intellectual, and emotional worth on the basis of my womanhood alone. I do not have male privilege. I have to give a fuck about these things, because they have had – and can continue to have – a very real impact on my life.
It is exhausting, giving all these fucks. Somedays, it feels totally overwhelming, doesn’t it? And yet every time I think of setting one aside, if I think for even two seconds about setting Baltimore and its uprising aside, I am spending the currency of privilege. I am demonstrating – no, flaunting – a wealth I did nothing to earn. I was born with pockets full of the stuff, all these fucks I can so blithely choose not to spend. And what would I do with this unspent, unearned wealth? Hoard it like a miser? Swim around in it, like Scrooge McDuck? Spend it on myself?
There are times it is allowable, healthy, a huge boon to hold onto a few fucks. If I give away every last fuck I have to all these deserving others, and save none for myself, then I impoverish myself. I starve my spirit. There is nothing left for my own soul save whatever fucks others have to give for me…and there are a lot of people out there with less privilege than I have, who simply do not have the fucks to give. Part of the responsibility I have towards my wealth of privilege is thoughtful management. I must save a few fucks for myself. I cannot give any more out if they are all gone, after all.
Friends, this has been a fuck of a lot to get through, I know. I appreciate your patience and the couple of fucks you’ve had to spare. All I can possibly ask, at this point, is for you to spend your fucks wisely – and give serious thought when you hit the point of “not giving a fuck.” Maybe you’ve simply given too many and need to breathe deep and make sure you’re saving a few for yourself. Or maybe, just maybe, you have held onto your fucks for a little too long. Maybe it’s time to give them, again.