Friday, October 24, 2014

"White men are not the enemy"

Greta Van Susteren writes:

As election day approaches, many (not all are doing this) Democrats (and others) might want to stop denigrating ALL white males as though they are the reason for any and all woes of the nation. Any time you denigrate an entire group, regardless of what the group is, you are showing bigotry. . . .

It seems to me that white men – as a group – are getting slapped around unfairly. Many accuse white men — as a group — of having some sort of sinister motive against others. I think it has gotten to the point where some white men feel like that have to tip toe around some topics and issues in fear of being accused of being something awful. White men are not the enemy – to women or anyone else. Some may want to step back and ‘give them a break.’
I think she's obviously right. The kind of "reverse" sexism and racism she's describing is helpful to no one. (I'd actually be happy to omit that "reverse.") I wonder if someday in the future, this kind of thing will seem as shockingly backward as we now recognize our own history of misogyny and racism to be.

And why has this been happening? Here's my theory. (Just a theory!) A lot of people have an impulse to be prejudiced. But at the same time, they're like almost everyone in that they want to avoid being socially unacceptable. So they want to vent sexism and racism somehow — but only in ways that are considered socially acceptable. And how can one do that? It's obvious: by expressing sexism/racism against men and whites only. If they'd been born long ago, they might have vented against women or blacks instead. That's why when I hear people expressing shamelessly anti-man or anti-white views, it doesn't strike me as a dramatic improvement over the expression of anti-woman or anti-black views.

And no, that doesn't mean I "don't understand the nature of historic oppression and privilege." Everyone knows that men and whites have historically gotten a lot of unfair advantages, and it's a serious problem. I just think that if your solution to that problem is to endorse the concept of sexism and racism (as long as they're directed against the right people), you lose a bit of credibility to claim that you're fundamentally opposed to sexism and racism.


Left Bank of the Charles said...

Everyone knows ... trying to get back in socially acceptable territory.

Isn't more accurate to say that historically women and not nonwhites were unfairly disadvantaged. It just doesn't necessarily follow from that that white men as a group were advantaged.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I said "men and whites have historically gotten a lot of unfair advantages." I stand by that. By definition, if one person is at a disadvantage, someone else is at an advantage, since the concept of "advantage" is relative. For instance, it's undeniable that women and blacks were disadvantaged by not being allowed to vote in America. The advantage of voting — participating in choosing which people and enforce make the laws everyone needs to live under — went to white men. That didn't necessarily make them wealthy or make their lives easy, but it was an advantage, and it was unfair — they didn't earn it, it was just the happenstance of their birth.

Bruce Hayden said...

My theory is that this is all political. The Dem party and its operatives are trying to turn out the vote in the upcoming election, and two of the big constituencies that they need to turn out are unmarried women and Blacks. So, they cast these groups as victims and themselves as their saviors. The complacent media dutifully pushes their party line.

Scott said...

I think your problem is that "roles" have been conflated with "advantages," turning a phenomenon into a grievance.

Since time immemorial, a person's role in society has been determined by their gender; and it's been very hard for individuals of either gender to break out of those societal strictures.

Nature vs nurture rears its ugly head again. Are Jewish or Muslim women who find themselves growing up in highly observant families universally oppressed by their roles as compared with the males in their clan? Maybe the women themselves would have a viewpoint different from outsiders who have an agenda to push. Are the views of women who find peace and happiness embracing these norms merely suffering from Stockholm syndrome?

I'm gay and in a gay relationship. We have adopted a benign misogyny in our work lives where each of us have chosen not to work in jobs that have female supervisors. I find them to be viciously territorial and arbitrary as managers; and I need a little peace in my work life. Right now I'm working for a male supervisor. I turned down a job paying 20% more because my manager would have been a woman. My partner Jon is in sales, and he really suffered on a team with two women who used every gender-related advantage they had to grab sales and engage in nasty team infighting. He quit. Soon he will be starting work soon at a new company on an all-male sales team; and I think he will flourish.

(To be fair, I have had a couple of female bosses in my career who were okay. But they had learned how to deal with their male peers in management in a way that didn't require the men to accommodate them much. )

I don't think it's just white men who get slapped around unfairly -- Jon is Black, and yet he was subject to the full brunt of female domination. Men of all races need to be really careful about who they pick as partners and where they work. If a man who has kids finds himself working for a female boss, he may not be willing to risk changing jobs, in order to protect his family.

Scott said...

(Bleah. I should try editing what I post before I post it. Sorry.)

John Althouse Cohen said...

Scott, notice what it says in the comments section:

If you notice a typo in your comment after posting it, you can correct it by copying the comment, re-posting it with the error corrected, and then deleting your original comment.