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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Tables Will Turn


 

The expression “turn the tables” refers to reversing a situation and gaining the upper hand. As an example, when you discover that the person who blew past you on the highway and flipped you off has been pulled over by law enforcement up ahead, the tables have turned for that person.

 

This phrase was popular in my early life and when I heard the song “Tables Will Turn” on Foxy Brown’s 2001 album Broken Silence, I was thrilled to discover that dancehall singer Baby Cham (now, simply “Cham”) was featured on the track. For me, it was a catchy reminder about tables turning. The chorus states:

 

Ah whatta day when the tables will turn

Whatta day when the tables will turn

Ah whatta day when the tables will turn

Whatta day when the tables will turn

 

A little over a decade after the song dropped, I attended the University of Texas (UT) as Austin’s School of Social Work (now, “Steve Hicks School of Social Work”) regarding a Master of Science in Social Work degree. During my first semester, I was told that the feminists with whom I attended class wanted to turn the tables on men.

 

In one class discussion for the “Foundations of Social Justice: Values, Diversity, Power & Oppression,” equality versus equity was deliberated. This was part of an ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) theme throughout my graduate studies.

 

During the dialogue, I expressed that not all males were equal, just as not all females were equal. In fact, not all humans are equal by nature. Some of us are born with disabilities and some with the potential of achieving success regarding areas in which others may not excel.

 

For instance, I was never gifted in the area of athleticism to where I could perform at the level of a professional basketball player. I’m not tall or skilled enough to do so. I also don’t retain the mental or intellectual capacity to achieve success in the practice of thermodynamics.

 

To suggest otherwise is to operate in a delusional manner. For the most part, my female colleagues agreed with me though for different reasons. I argued that people weren’t made equal through our biology, yet my interlocutors argued we were essentially the same though there was a social reason that explained why we weren’t made equal.

 

Therefore, they sought to dismantle the patriarchy, disrupt capitalism, decolonize mathematics, deconstruct the gender binary, and destroy various systems of power. Through accomplishment of their subversive devastation of societal norms and institutions, people would apparently achieve equality.

 

I argued that demanding from governmental or societal members special treatment in regards to my inability to excel at all ventures would be foolish. After all, I wasn’t equal to everyone, nor was everyone equal to me—no matter what level of adjusting in the name of equity was promised.

 

I invited my peers to consider that equality of opportunity didn’t guarantee symmetrical outcomes. Likewise, the so-called equitable standard advocated by many of my classmates didn’t relate to equality of outcome. Rather, by its very nature, it required the turning of tables regarding power—thus positioning one group in authority over another.

 

As the discussion continued, I began to suspect that many of my peers weren’t seeking justice. Instead, they were advocating vengeance. Keep in mind that it wasn’t revenge they were seeking, because many of them hadn’t personally been victimized—although they retained victimhood narratives.

 

Our initially civil discussion eventually devolved into screeching and yelling, with one female student fleeing the room in tears, because we weren’t engaged in healthy discourse. When tables turn, it’s not always an act of non-aggression.

 

No less than three female students stood at their desks and screamed at me, as though that tactic would persuade me regarding their argument. Perhaps they weren’t trying to convince me one way or another.

 

It was then I became aware that my educational colleagues likely wanted to turn the proverbial sociopolitical tables over and reverse sex and gender roles within society. What better opportunity to do so than with one of three males in the classroom who actually spoke out against feminism?

 

The ultimate outcome of third-wave and later fourth-wave feminist movements (arguably, intersectionality), as I would learn years after departing UT, was more in line with female supremacy or “girl power.” To oppress the oppressor was the unexpressed goal. Therein lies the problem.

 

If my peers truly resented oppressive behavior, why was the aim of their movement to employ use of similarly oppressive tactics in order to achieve desired outcomes? Wasn’t it the oppressive actions that were ultimately problematic in the first place? I argue in the negative.

 

Rather, it was the identity thought to be in control that was more worthy of destruction, and that was the underlying focus of collective action. At one point in the classroom chaos, I stated to one of my screaming colleagues that she wasn’t seeking justice though she seemed to advocate the turning of tables regarding oppression.

 

Her response was something along the lines of, “Good! Now you know what it feels like!” I later filed a discrimination complaint with UT concerning injustice. After the Director of Investigations and Outreach for the Office of Institutional Equity concluded an inquiry, UT was found to have apparently absolved itself of guilt.

 

 

If men were said to represent a patriarchal system of intersecting oppression and the thinly veiled equality of outcome was an expressed goal, did this truly equate to eventual female dominance over men in the form of a matriarchy? I didn’t fully consider these ideas when attending UT.

 

The turning tables of DEIA don’t represent equality in any meaningful sense—whether regarding opportunity or outcome. Skeptically, I doubt equality was ever the goal of feminism or intersectionality.

 

Thinking of Cham’s chorus on Foxy Brown’s track, regarding my UT experience, “Ah whatta day when the tables will turn” relates to joy at a reversed situation in which predominately non-white men suffer oppression of those with an upper hand. I reject oppression, regardless of who uses this tyrannical tool.

 

Interestingly, since the Israel-Hamas war began, I’ve observed tables overturned by DEIA now being picked up, repositioned, and flipped over in an opposite sociopolitical direction. For instance, one article entitled “DEI is dead. Long live DEI” details what I’ve alluded to herein. A separate source reports:

 

Have we reached peak DEI? The unraveling of “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives had already begun—five states banning DEI programs; Google, Facebook and others cutting DEI staff; Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard—well before Harvard President Claudine Gay was demoted.

 

Although I appreciate the fantasy of failed DEIA sentiment and programs, I won’t gleefully participate in schadenfreude just yet. This is because I was required to read Sun Tzu’s Art of War when in the military, in which the military philosopher stated (translation):

 

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

 

I know of those who oppose me based on immutable characteristics. I also know myself. Therefore, I don’t fear opposition from those who may wish to turn over tables and destroy me under their feet.

 

I unconditionally accept that some people who irrationally believe they are oppressed want little less than to become oppressors themselves. About this matter, I’m not self-disturbed, unlike my reaction when attending UT. If you would like to know more about how not to upset yourself when people turn over tables, I may be able to help.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

References:

 

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Bosch, I. and Bofu-Tawamba, N. (2019, December 3). Philanthropy is a feminist issue. Alliance. Retrieved from https://www.alliancemagazine.org/feature/philanthropy-is-a-feminist-issue/

Davis, M. (2020, April 9). 5 ways to deconstruct the gender binary in gender equity. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/2020/04/09/5-ways-to-deconstruct-the-gender-binary-in-gender-equity/

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