Saturday, 13 June 2009

More on those stupid white men.

Dear white, straight guys: it’s not about you.

No, really, listen up. I have been stunned this week by the cybersquall that has erupted over Rowenna Davis’ Guardian article, entitled – although not by her – ‘Stupid White Heterosexual Male’. The article was well written, reasonable, and managed to make points about equality without getting personal, which is unsurprising, as Rowenna Davis is at the tender age of 24 one of the finest and most ethical journalists I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. But the piece got almost as many negative comments as Charlie Brooker’s denouncement of the BNP in the same paper got supportive ones – all because Davis had the temerity to suggest that perhaps white, heterosexual males might not actually need their own anti-discrimination officer at Oxford University of all places (45% private school students, almost entirely white and with a tenacious male bias in finals marks), especially not when Andrew Lowe’s policies included ‘to replace St Anne's college crèche with a finishing school, ban women from the library and save money by getting female students to serve food in halls instead of kitchen staff.’

So, does the suggestion that white, heterosexual males might still be enjoying unfair advantages in today’s society gives you the strange sensation that a tight knot of anger is squeezing your normally normal-sized brain into a smaller, gassier space? Does the idea that white males might be a minority panic you, and the notion that they might still be an advantaged minority panic you even more? Do you worry that you’ll be the victim of ‘reverse discrimination’ at work, at school or in any other arena of power?

Then I have a message for you: your privilege is showing.

Take it from a lilywhite daughter of the Sussex middle classes: it is a great horror to discover that you yourself are part of the overclass and yet to feel that you are not enjoying any special privileges because of it. The nature of privilege, of course, is that it is taken for granted: whoever you are, whatever race, class, gender, you, like me, do not notice your own privilege 99% of the time you spend enjoying it. But actually yes, it does hurt. It hurts, in this culture, to feel powerless, and with the current cornucopia of crises most of us are feeling pretty powerless right now; it hurts even more to be powerless and at the same time be told that you are lucky, yes, LUCKY, to have the privilege of being white, male, straight, able-bodied and/or middle class. What’s felt but too often unsaid is: how can you call white males be privileged when we don’t feel very privileged?

To which the only decent answer is: did you expect to?

There is a difference between being privileged and being powerful. That, in fact, is why we have two different words for the concepts. Not everyone who is privileged is powerful, and certainly not everyone who is powerful is in every way privileged - look at the most powerful family in the world, who can’t even take their dog for a walk in the garden without an op-ed in the New York Times. Just because privilege is often a precursor to power does not mean that ALL privilege engenders power. This is where the politics of white male resentment begin: with white men complaining that they feel underprivileged, like a marginalised group, when what they actually mean is that they feel powerless.

Well, guess what. So do I. So does your Asian-British neighbor. Most of us feel pretty damn powerless. Things are bad. There’s a recession, kids are killing each other in the streets, nobody’s certain of having enough money to put food on the table tomorrow. It may surprise you to know that the rest of us aren’t sitting here imagining that white heterosexual males are living in some kind of utopia. We know you aren’t. We’ve met you. It may also surprise you to know that we don’t want to strip this mythical dominion from you and leave you naked: we just want to be where you are, with the same opportunities, the same freedom from fear, the same right to be judged as a person and not a demographic, however limited those freedoms, opportunities and rights currently are. Make sense?

You may feel powerless, but equality agitators aren’t the reason for your lack of power. We aren’t the problem here. We took nothing from you – well, actually, we took one thing, and one thing only, and we're still in the process of taking it: the right of people who are white, or male, or rich, or straight, in any combination, to gain preferment over and to expect to enjoy a better and safer life than people who are not. And yes, the fact that we stepped up and demanded that right back slightly decreases the average white man's chance at a top job, decreases the average white man’s automatic right to status and power and respect, if suddenly he is competing against not only his own race, class and gender but all the others as well in a capitalist world where status and respect are finite. In short, we’ve taken nothing you actually needed.

Now, you may think that you NEEDED those things, those free passes to the top, that unspoken advantage over women and minorities, to get the good things in life. But trust me, you didn’t. I have met a great deal of white men and loved some of them very deeply: white men have the same potential as everyone else to prove themselves without the advantage of unfair selection which currently – still! – is weighted in their favour in almost every sector of work and citizenship. Trust me. You don’t NEED your privilege. Not half as much as we all need a fairer world.

Reducing unfair advantage is not the same as prejudice. Just because something inconveniences you doesn't mean it's about you. Look at the tube strike. For those not in London, most people who are were extremely put out this week by the fact that the underground trains weren’t running, because a significant number of train drivers were striking for better working conditions and to defend the jobs of their fellow workers. But, and this is crucial, the tube strikers this week did not strike because they hate commuters, because they personally and collectively really hate all those jammy non-car-owning bastards who travel on the tube and think it's high time they got their comeuppance. They went on strike to protect the jobs and working conditions of themselves and their fellow workers -and why shouldn't they? (cuntsarestillrunningtheworld has a fantastic in-depth analysis which you should all read). Yes, it's an inconvenience to the rest of us, but it’s temporary, and anything but personal – in fact, in the long run, more drivers on our tubes actually means a faster, safer journey to work for all of us.

And that’s the problem, really. We are so desperate, so very, very desperate to be noticed, to contextualise ourselves at the centre of any story. Actually, what's most frustrating about the tube strike is that it was totally out of our control, manifestly messed things up just a little bit for everyone, and was – to add insult to injury! – almost certainly also the right thing to do.

It hurts. I know, I know it hurts, it hurts to realise that you have privilege and you never even realised it; it hurts to know that you are privileged and to still feel powerless; it hurts even more to realise that there’s no easy minority to turn and blame for all your problems. How do you think it feels, as a lady and a lifelong feminist, to realise that actually the individual blokes in the street and in my kitchen are NOT the source of all my problems, that if they went away I’d still be earning too little to pay my rent? I get it. Really, I get it. But getting it doesn’t mean I can excuse it in myself or in others. Because it’s not enough not to be stupid. Unless we actively and at every turn avoid turning on each other, avoid condemning the struggles of minority groups for equal rights to work and citizenship and quality of life, unless we stop whining that it’s not fair and then actively join that struggle as allies – unless we do that, we become part of the problem.

No, really. You might not think that you personally, sitting behind your computer, reading this rant and getting pissy, are part of the problem -but you are. The people who attacked Rowenna Davis’ on-the-money article with such bile and vitriol are part of the problem, even though many of those are the very same hands-up-harries who were the first to condemn the BNP.

Because there is a heartbeat’s space between the blind stupid rage of otherwise sensible people who felt hard done by reading that article and the creeping influence of right-wing policymakers in parliament. There is a heartbeat’s space between the growing tide of otherwise non-idiotic white male resentment in this country and the breathtakingly idiotic racist, homophobic and misogynistic logic with which we have just sent two far-right representatives to the European Parliament. And if you are not prepared to step up, own your privilege and be part of the solution, then, my darlings, you are going to become part of the problem.

56 comments:

  1. Interesting analysis - but I'm not sure it's as simple as you make it. Many of us are privileged in some respects (in my case, white, male, middle-class upbringing), and far from privileged in other respects (disabled, living as an out gay man for the past 30 years, in fuel poverty and various other kinds ...).

    I think, if people are truly honest with themselves, many can identify at least one area where they are relatively privileged. We need to work on realising ourselves, and helping others realise, an ability to generalise from both our personal experiences of privilege, and our personal experiences of disadvantage. That might be the way to stop blaming "the other", to avoid resentment of those who in (only some) respects we see as "advantaged".

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  2. I grew up on a council estate in Stoke & went to one of the shittest schools in Europe. To call me priviliged is a sick joke.

    It's about time you realised that it may well be true that every white male you know is priviliged, but that's because you only move in rarified circles amongst your own people.

    I actually regard myself as having more in common with the black working class & immigrants than with the likes of Nick Griffin, so I don't share the BNP's outlook in life. Any reasonable left would acknowledge as much & acknowledge that not all white men are the same.

    I suppose I "would" say this because I'm not an individual, but an automaton who inevitably says what my race & gender predispose me to.

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  3. But asquith, that's exactly what I'm trying to say. The fact that you are disadvantaged in some ways does not mean that you don't enjoy privilege in other ways. In your case, white, male privilege is something that you DO have.

    No, not all white men are the same. I don't believe that I've said that anywhere in this piece. All I'm asking readers to do is to think about their privilege. Your lack of class and educational privilege does not cancel out your white privilege or your male privilege.

    For you, however, your disadvantages seem to have given you cause to address the privileges that you have. If you can carry on looking at your privilege like that rather than just denying that it exists, you might be a bit less angry.

    And no, not all men I know are in every way privileged - but all the men I know enjoy male privilege, and all the whitepeople I know (including me) enjoy white privilege. Do you see the difference?

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  4. So, does the suggestion that white, heterosexual males might still be enjoying unfair advantages in today’s society gives you the strange sensation that a tight knot of anger is squeezing your normally normal-sized brain into a smaller, gassier space? [...] Then I have a message for you: your privilege is showing.

    I'm not sure that you meant to say that.

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  5. I definitely meant to say that. I'm referring to people who get angry if the fact is even mentioned, rather than people who get angry about the fact itself. QED.

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  6. asquith: you miss the point utterly.

    Regardless of you growing up on "a council estate in Stoke & went to one of the shittest schools in Europe", you still have male privilege - you might be privileged over say, black people, women, gay/lesbian people, disabled people.

    The fact is, whether white men want to accept it or not, you are generally more privileged (in the respect that you will be less disadvantaged and discriminated against in society) than any other group.

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  7. For a handy guide, check out the male privilege checklist at Alas, a Blog:
    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

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  8. "...the right of people who are white, or male, or rich, or straight, in any combination, to gain preferment over and to expect to enjoy a better and safer life than people who are not..."

    As Nick (kinda) said, there are lots of other privileges that one could be blessed with. For example, there's evidence to suggest that ugly people earn less than good looking people. Obese people have earned considerably less than people of other weights.

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  9. Nick Weeks:
    Interesting analysis - but I'm not sure it's as simple as you make it. Many of us are privileged in some respects (in my case, white, male, middle-class upbringing), and far from privileged in other respects (disabled, living as an out gay man for the past 30 years, in fuel poverty and various other kinds ...).

    Indeed, and that's why privilege always considers intersectionalism (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/intersectionalism) when different privileges (or lack of) come into play.

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  10. I wouldn't say I was angry, just bemused.

    All I can say is if I really am priviliged, my privilige hasn't actually, erm, got me anywhere. Surely that makes it irrelevant.

    I suspect we will not see eye to eye on this matter, I just couldn't resist getting nettled. You'll doubtless have your own explanation of why this happened!

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  11. I decree today that life
    Is simply taking and not giving
    England is mine - it owes me a living
    But ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye
    oh, ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye

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  12. “There is a heartbeat’s space between the growing tide of otherwise non-idiotic white male resentment in this country and the breathtakingly idiotic racist, homophobic and misogynistic logic with which we have just sent two far-right representatives to the European Parliament. And if you are not prepared to step up, own your privilege and be part of the solution, then, my darlings, you are going to become part of the problem.”

    Phew. Really?

    I came from a modest council house family who stressed education and books. I studied hard, missing the Sixties completely, doing Latin instead. Thus I made it to Oxford University and then joined the FCO where I worked for nearly thirty years. In this time I did not drink (much) or smoke, and I saved hard to buy a first flat. Over the years I bought two bigger flats then finally the goodly house where we now are.

    In my career I was paid only what I was owed. I never cheated on expenses. I did not go to high allowances postings. I was highly transparent with the media. I did my best to make my small part of the civil service work honourably for public benefit.

    On the other hand, I was risk averse. I did not try to invest my savings in business activities which might have made me much richer and made others richer too. Maybe I should have done?

    I suppose I fall squarely into what you call ‘privileged’ (white, middle-class, male, well off, Oxbridge, Mini Cooper S). But what exactly might I have done differently to avoid this fate? Go to a less prestigious Uni? Work less hard? Save less?

    Having lived for most of my career in communist or former communist countries, I am not sure that Leftist societies of the sort you seem to favour have a better grip on ‘privilege’ than we do. At least our ‘privileges’ are out in the open and open to democratic change.

    Do you think that a society without ‘privilege’ is possible in principle? If so, what would it look like? And don’t cite some Scandinavian country as a model. Those places too benefit hugely from the technical and other advances made by less ‘equal’ societies (eg the USA), effectively getting a free indirect ride while boasting of their own egalitarian successes?

    By the way, the BNP are arguably as far left as they are far right. National Socialism and all that.

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  13. asquith:

    "All I can say is if I really am priviliged, my privilige hasn't actually, erm, got me anywhere. Surely that makes it irrelevant."

    Unfortunately, that's exactly the same argument that every privileged person uses, however much you personally might think that it has got them anywhere. One of the defining characteristics of privilege is that it is very often invisible to the possessor of that privilege, except with careful examination. Just because you personally feel that privilege has "not got you anywhere", that doesn't mean that that's true.

    I am not an expert on your life, but chances are there's privilege you don't know you have.

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  14. YAY for this post.

    As a middle-class Asian woman, I am privileged in some ways and REALLY NOT in others.

    To those who get queasy about their privilege, because it makes them think of those below them: what if those below are people in India, as in my case? People so poor that they screw over their own family members to live?

    We all got privilege. The best thing to do is accept it and try and work with those who don't have it, rather than get childish and defensive, or overly guilty.

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  15. Oh right, I see what you meant now, sorry for misreading. QED though? I wouldn't say that I was angry about anything at present... I'm having a very placid week :-)

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  16. "I am not an expert on your life, but chances are there's privilege you don't know you have."

    Well, of course - as is the case for everyone in this comment thread!

    For example, we all, as far as I know, come from Britain. Thus, it's highly likely that we'll never face warfare, drought or starvation.

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  17. Another excellent post, Penny. Thank you. :-)

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  18. You get access to thousands of "Guardian" readers to express your hatred of someone else's hobby, and you feel you are the powerless one?

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  19. PS - to timothy. You think the bnp are left-wing? Really? Really?

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  20. Penny - I really enjoyed this post, but there is one aspect that I think obscures the way in which people are able to critically engage with their own privilege. Whilst most people I know would be shocked if they were chosen for a job above someone else because of their race, gender, lack of disability etc, their anger comes from the perception that someone who ('objectively', whatever that means) is less qualified for the job. This is where they feel discriminated against, and this is where most of the anger lies. This is seen not as a reaction against privilege, but as anger because their 'privilege' has obscured their potential for equal treatment. There are of course good responses to this position, albeit responses which are hard to convey to individuals who feel cheated, but I'm not sure that your analyses takes account for this? Or should I stop having beer at lunchtime and learn to read more carefully?
    Cheers
    Chris

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  21. I think the original story about an Oxford student's tedious anti-PC 'joshing' - as I believe it would be called in Oxbridge dialect - was a fairly weak hook for Rowenna Davis to hang her broader arguments on.

    That's not a criticism of her, if The Guardian offered me cash to expound my views based on a weak premise I'd happily take it. We've all got to eat.

    On the wider points about privelege, the problem with notion of everyone joining the struggle as allies is that not everyone's interests are the same and it isn't really clear what 'the struggle' actually is.

    The demand that Oxbridge (or for the matter the Police or the NHS or private businesses) offers advancement on the basis of merit rather privelege is not a popular movement in itself.

    The question (or a question) is how you get from some individual groups demanding their rights to an overally idea of an equal society that anyone can buy into.

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  22. Good article, thanks. I especially struggle to explain this bit to people sometimes:

    We don’t want to strip this mythical dominion from you and leave you naked... we took one thing... the right of people who are white, or male, or rich, or straight, in any combination, to gain preferment over and to expect to enjoy a better and safer life than people who are not.

    Will link them to this post in future. Ta!

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  23. Anonymous00114 June 2009 19:17

    Overall a great post, except for one minor (almost off-topic) thing about the tube drivers - as far as I see it they do a job that can and could have been for the last 20 years been done more reliably, efficiently, and safely by a machine at a fraction of the cost. I am all for providing employment, but I am not sure that paying someone for doing a job of a small cheap circuit is very productive. TFL will always need people to oversee and maintain the machines, is re-training the drivers to do more productive things within TFL not more worthwhile?

    With the main point of your post, however, I could not agree more.

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  24. Crossdale - I can't think of any good responses to the position you describe - can you enlighten me?

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  25. Every fucking time...

    The more you object to this sort of humour, THE FUNNIER IT WILL BE.

    You know what makes it amusing? Self-righteousness responses to it. The totally disproportionate rage. This is exactly the same thing as the PETA campaigns, except those nutjobs think that they are headed for a liberated animal kingdom rather than a cheap laugh.

    In both instances though, you Penny Red are playing useful idiot.

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  26. Additionally, there's the standard pomo provisos to declaring something a "privilege" (I, for one, would be perfectly happy to sit around at home doing cleaning all day & cooking, albeit badly, for my wife/husband who would be a full-time professional.) I have no time for the people that claim that women only get "benign sexism" rather than privilege (doors opened, etc). A distinction is one which you attribute your own view upon: a boon or a bane varies from person to person. Some people even relish being locked in chains & getting say over any decisions in their life, as hard as this may be for most to fathom. You can't just declare things "privilege" off-hand.

    But I don't even want to get started on that one....

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  27. Oh yes, & bisexuality is definitely a privilege. I don't feel enslaved or oppressed in the slightest.

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  28. Do you mean actual physical doors, James, or metaphorical ones, as in access to career opportunities in the corridors of power? Think it through...

    On the subject of comedy, one person's hilarity is another person's insult. Maybe it would be funny, if it weren't so outright nasty. Am I right to presume you don't have a mother or a sister or a daughter?

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  29. I know for sure I'm stupid, white, straight, privileged and proud of it (so what).

    Q And what shall we do?

    A Co-operatives and communes and third world projects

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  30. Do you mean actual physical doors, James, or metaphorical ones, as in access to career opportunities in the corridors of power? Think it through...

    Yes, I meant physical doors. I once read a post where a feminist bemoaned somebody offering to help her carry a large instrument, labeling it "benign sexism". Not "privilege", strangely enough. This sort of double standard is what keeps feminism a cloistered, gender-restricted movement.

    On the subject of comedy, one person's hilarity is another person's insult. Maybe it would be funny, if it weren't so outright nasty. Am I right to presume you don't have a mother or a sister or a daughter?

    Uh...Well, if he was being serious, I would care. As it is, it's a joke. He's riffing off the "bigoted misogynist Oxfordian" stereotype & doing it reasonably well. He isn't earnestly proposing to ban women from libraries, or anything, & treating him as if he was just gives it "controversy" appeal.

    You really can't banish humour with disapproval.

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  31. James - I'll say this once, because I don't want to get dragged into a debate on it.

    The first time someone makes a funny, whimsical joke like this, haha, pretty funny. Nice one. They're taking the piss out of those stuck-up Oxbridge types. Jolly good.

    The 100th time someone makes a joke about women belonging in menial work, to a woman who finds themselves constantly picked for "administrative" rather than professional work - it stops being funny.

    I think that this particular candidate is more than the 100th person to make this kind of joke, don't you?

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  32. James: the problem with this is that for everyone who "gets" the "joke", there's someone who thinks it's for real, and agrees with it.

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  33. I think that the reason for some white mens' annoyance at being called 'privileged' is that this does not necessarily take into consideration the multidimensionality of privilege. On an all-of-human-history scale, we're probably all privileged to be alive in a world that has dentistry and central heating. On a contemporary scale, is being a white male a bigger privilege than being middle class? Is being white in Knowsley a bigger privilege than being Asian in Cheshire?

    Privilege is relative. Yes, there is a sense in which an ethnic majority male is privileged over an ethnic minority female all other factors being identical, and that fact justifies a range of laws, government policies and social responses. But there are plenty of cases when all other factors are not equal, and if we carry on disadvantaging white males in those circumstances, then we're being unfair.

    Obviously, it's still true to say that the white male is privileged. I'm just not sure that it means anything useful.

    We aren’t the problem here. We took nothing from you – well, actually, we took one thing, and one thing only, and we're still in the process of taking it: the right of people who are white, or male, or rich, or straight, in any combination, to gain preferment over and to expect to enjoy a better and safer life than people who are not.

    I wonder, though, based on a closer reading of this, if your problem here isn't communication. You slipped the word 'rich' into your list of privileges, but you don't mention it anywhere else in the post, and the original post you linked to doesn't mention it at all.

    Let us assume that there is an ideal level of privilege - zero. Let us further assume that there are some people who have positive privilege, and those who have 'negative privilege' or a privilege deficit of some kind. Being born extremely poor is a negative, being white is a positive, being male is a positive, and so forth. Let us therefore imagine a white male who was born extremely poor, such that his privilege level is zero - a perfect balance. Take away his white male privilege and suddenly he's suffering from negative privilege. For him, at least, it's a socially regressive move and you can't blame him for being upset at that. In terms of the allocation of privilege, we could say that this is not Pareto optimal.

    I know that you understand this, but you've utterly failed to explain it and instead have given every impression that you'd be perfectly happy for the above scenario to occur. Rowenna Davis doesn't even appear to have acknowledged that it exists at all. People aren't stupid and they will spot these things for themselves, which unfortunately means that for you to win the argument you will have to propose some means of equalising all privilege, without at all being selective about the ones you target first. This is why many people are wary of feminism since it often appears to be concerned primarily with one form of privilege only.

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  34. This is why many people are wary of feminism since it often appears to be concerned primarily with one form of privilege only.

    Yep. I'd agree there. There are other forms of activism which are also very worthwhile. What's that got to do with feminism, by the way?

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  35. Actually, Rob, I don't think you do have to propose a means of equalising all privilege in order to make the argument that race or gender should not confer privilege in either direction.

    You cannot equalise the privilege conferred by being born intelligent (or not), or by having good parenting (or not), for example, so why are you demanding it of feminists?

    In addition, the psycho-social impact of being poor (or not) is to a large extent necessarily entailed by it, whereas discrimination and prejudice against people from one group or another are done by choice. Which is what is being objected to here. Unless you think there is something about being white, or male that inherently gives a person more merit?

    Let's be sensible, eh?

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  36. Oh, and James, the example you give of a stronger person's kind choice to help a less strong person is not an example of "privilege", because it is not automatically conferred by one's gender, and because there is a good practical reason for it anyway. It must be balanced, you see, against the "privilege" that men have (on average) relative to females in terms of physical strength.

    Quibbling about a convention surrounding what counts as good manners (and is therefore optional) doesn't really speak to the issue here, does it?

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  37. anyone can find an excuse for failure

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  38. Exactly, it wasn't my fault .. some anonymous bastard did it.

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  39. Something for asquith, copied and pasted from a comment by rahaeli on LJ:

    The lack of [class privilege] is often the #1 reason for white, straight, cisgendered men to deny the existance of any of the privileges they possess: the most vehement denier of privilege is the white, straight, cismale who was born lower-class or underclass, who has raised himself to lower-middle or middle class through his own efforts, and who will loudly yell at every opportunity that his white-straight-cismale privilege didn't get him anything and he worked like a dog for everything he's ever gotten, so clearly the whole theory is bunk.

    To which one points out: okay, now imagine that the person born into your exact same situation is a black transwoman lesbian, and imagine how much harder her struggle to get to the exact same place would have been...

    Intersectionality is a bitch.

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  40. She could have just married into it.

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  41. Actually, I'm still economically & geographically in the same situation I was born into. Yes, I've broadened my horizons mentally (in a way), but I haven't actually come anywhere near earning the average wage, let alone a high income.

    You seem to have me confused with a right-whinger, which I certainly am not.

    PS- I can't log in or owt because this computer is all over the place.

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  42. Michael Moore20 June 2009 15:37

    I'd feel sorry for you if you weren't so busy feeling so sorry for yourself.

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  43. Oh, and James, the example you give of a stronger person's kind choice to help a less strong person is not an example of "privilege", because it is not automatically conferred by one's gender, and because there is a good practical reason for it anyway. It must be balanced, you see, against the "privilege" that men have (on average) relative to females in terms of physical strength.

    Quibbling about a convention surrounding what counts as good manners (and is therefore optional) doesn't really speak to the issue here, does it?


    I think that your spine-contorting efforts to demonstrate that an advantage is not a privilege actually does say quite a lot. Women are privileged.

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  44. To elaborate: my problem with the term is that it attempts to create some objective standard which you can't disagree with.

    It also spirals very rapidly into absurdity: South East Asian origin Britons have a 50% chance of suffering from premature death from cardiovascular sources. Are we to proclaim our Non-South East Asian Privilege has saved us from heart related death? Jews are heavily over-represented at Oxbridge, so should our author (who is a former Oxfordian as well as a Jew) give thanks to her Jew Privilege?

    & no, you can't just point out bigotry & banish such a notion. According to my union (the useless NUS) I, as a bisexual, am in need of "Liberation". My own view is that if I had had the option of selecting my orientation then this is probably the one which I would have gone for. I haven't encountered much homophobia, & it is of superior convenience. I would claim that there is in fact a Bisexual Privilege.

    Alternatively, though, we could just ditch this ID politics nonsense & adopt an approach which emphasises the absence of innate differences, instead of pouring endless over those that presently exist. If you don't think that the biggest threat to feminism is the "Men are From Mars..." style soft biological essentialism (which has been severely permeating the popular consciousness for over a decade now) then you haven't been keeping your eyes open for the past ten years.

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  45. White men are stupid and inherently racist- nazi pigs!

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  46. ^ I think you just killed the thread.

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  47. I suppose there is a specific type of white straight man who gets everything on a plate when they have not even worked hard at school or work. I do not get that treatment. If you are shy, quiet have aspergers syndrome, are disabled, working class, have mental illness issues etc: then you have similar issues to minority groups.
    Harman does seem to want to help white working class men as a minority group, too, so she is obviously not against working class white men.

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  48. Timothy - well said mate.
    To the one who questioned whether the BNP are left wing? Of course they are, being opposed to the free market and in favour of state control.

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  49. There is no end to the rage and bitterness and bigotry expressed in the world of political correctness.

    The idea that white man are evil provides a convenient hate figure for those on the who MUST have someone to despise. However, bigotry is still bigotry - no matter who is doing it. This rant is merely an example of the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the radical left.

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  50. I wrote a similar post (in that it addresses white-heteronormativity) a week ago and my host suggested your post (which i note is from a few months back) ... it's insightful and comprehensive. I read Rowenna Davis' article too because of yours ... thank you.

    If you'd like the link: http://yesyesnomaybe.blat.co.za/2009/09/08/gender-inequality/ ...

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  51. John @ 12 August 2009 23:40

    I totally agree with your sentiments.

    I am a White woman who feels horrified at the way the White heterosexual males (alive or dead) have been usurped and disparaged by these privileged and self righteous Liberal-Marxist Femi-Nazis.
    Their aim, unwittingly or not, is to destroy our cultural heritage.
    At the onset of the Feminist movement, I thought the demands for equal pay for equal work were entirely justifiable. But things have not stopped there have they?
    Take Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's stupid and exceedingly arrogant outburst as just one small example:-
    During the 4th of June, 2006, edition of Dateline London, Gavin Essler posed this question:
    "What's wrong with white guys, by the way?"
    To which Alibhai-Brown replied:

    "I don't like them. I want them to be the lost species in 100 years".

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  52. Okay fine!!! How about all of us men just commit suicide and leave you everything!! Would that make you happy? I guess you think the whole world would be better off without us. We can go knowing we're stupid and ignorant and evil and ugly. Guess you'll all feel great when all of us men are dead.

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  53. Well Penny, I guess you and every other woman on this planet would be happy if we men just committed suicide. We men are all stupid and evil, and we should just hate ourselves and kill ourselves, is what I guess you're saying. God knows every last woman on earth would be happy if all of us men were dead.

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  54. Wow! An article by a feminist woman who is tired of white heterosexual men generalizing against minority groups yet manages to generalized against the whole group of white heterosexual men herself. Now THAT's the pot calling the kettle black! Fucking self-righteous feminist bigot!

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