Dude, Your Fly Is Unzipped!

In the wake of the latest ruckus in the scientific community over the spectacularly insensitive video by Joe Hanson, Andrew David Thaler offers some much-needed advice to other oblivious but perhaps well-meaning dudes out there who might be thinking of opening mouth and inserting camera or otherwise following in Hanson’s footsteps.

First, recognize that you’re in a position of privilege. The thing about privilege is that it’s “largely invisible to those who have it—including you,” Thaler writes. Just because you think you know a thing or two about privilege and oppression, and sympathize with the oppressed, doesn’t make you an ally, he writes. Being an ally isn’t a state of mind, it’s about what you do when you open your mouth (or, in this case, hit record on your camera) and say something really insensitive and stupid because you’re privileged and don’t know it, and then someone calls you on it.

When that day comes—and it will—and someone calls you on it—and they will—how you respond will be the true test of whether you are an ally, Thaler writes. He goes on to explain in a way that even the most estrogen-challenged of dudes can understand. Imagine that you’ve been “caught with your fly down,” he says:

“Nobody wants to wander around with their fly open, and you shouldn’t want to blunder through life with your privilege unchecked. But people aren’t perfect, and you will make mistakes. So how do you respond to being caught with your fly down or called out on your privilege?”

You fix the problem, say thanks for pointing it out, and walk on, he says. Simple as that. Don’t be defensive. Remember, they’re doing you a solid, Thaler says, because “no one wants the embarrassment of walking around all day with their fly open” anymore than they want “the embarrassment of wandering through life alienating their friends and colleagues through unexamined privilege,” or so one would hope anyway.

And, for heaven’s sake, don’t leave your fly unzipped, he writes. That’s “not being an ally”; that’s just plain “gross,” Thaler concludes. (Southern Fried Science)

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