Monday, November 7, 2016

White Males

This is not a post about the American election.

I have a wise friend who warns me not to enter any public discussions about politics ~ in this he has my interests at heart.  It is simply too easy to offend people who might be instrumental in assuring my greater success, who may happen to have strongly held opinions different from those I could express in a moment of inspiration on the blog.  Better, it is suggested, to keep quiet on the subject; to focus on what is really important: role-playing and my writing.

Today, I had a discussion with a white male co-worker who quite candidly told me that "racism doesn't matter" and that it "isn't important," given that we're having our freedom of speech and equality stripped from us by feminists who have so many more rights and privileges that it's obvious the system is broken.  Though expressed as a rant, there's no question in my mind that the fellow's purpose was to educate me with the best of intentions.  Unquestionably, my being a male and white was relevant to his rant.

On several occasions, the fellow explained that he was very liberal in his outlook ~ however, he had begun to feel that his party, the one he had supported and even worked for to get them into power here in Alberta, had changed "out from under him."  That party is the NDP, an unquestionably socialist party . . . yet one that has fallen prey to political correctness, telling us what to think and how to think, threatening the free exchange of ideas in favor of an ideology that has been perpetrated upon us: namely, the slow and steady decimation of male rights.  This, see, is why racism doesn't matter - he was much, much more worried about the damage being done by feminists.

Most strangely of all, he was educated, sincere . . . and, I think, highly concerned about his country.  The angry rhetoric came far more from fear than from hate ~ easy to dismiss, if we will not look past the fellow's words.  It was clear to me, as we shot conversation at each other for an hour, that there was nothing egregious in his motives.

I listened, I pointed out facts as we went on but I suspended expressing any judgement for what he said.  A judgement would have been wasteful.  He was undeniably intractable.  He's been caught in his thought processes for a time and it was clear he feels under siege.  I've run into that before . . . but on this particular occasion, I found myself coming to a small realization about white males who find it so unfair that the courts overly favor women in divorce or in situations of marital violence; who resent the laws that have been passed in favor of "fair and equal treatment"; who resent the little rules about speech or the panels that decide on university campuses what's a subject for legitimate discourse.  Several of these things deserve examination, just as everything does, as that is the whole point of living in a political world . . . but what astounds me is the particular ire expressed towards the pains and troubles of university professors being expressed by males who do not attend university, or who have not been forced to pay alimony and child support because they have not been married or become parents, or do not work in occupations where they are subjected to how an inter-office memo's language is expressed.

I don't mean to say that they don't have a right to an opinion on these things . . . but it does seem strange that this particular passion is being expressed by people who have, by and large, managed to avoid the parts of society where they would be forced to submit.  Then again, perhaps they haven't "avoided" ~ perhaps they have been pushed out.

I think it is fair to say that for some white males, they have grown up being told that they are unfairly "privileged" and "specially compensated" for being this race and this gender, only to see for themselves that nothing about their lives feels anything like how it is described.  They see themselves without any power, without any status, without compensation ~ and at the same time, they see everyone else getting the attention: they see rich black sports stars and musicians crying about "Black Lives Matter" and they see rich, pampered women screaming on the internet about their misery and it causes these white males to feel they're getting the short end of the stick.

It is a question of perspective.  There are liberals who feel, "It's enough that I treat others equally; that's as far as any of us have to go.  What has happened in the past, what continues to happen, that hasn't come from me; I'm haven't asked for anything from them, therefore they're not entitled to ask anything from me."

This is "equality" for them.  This is enough for them.

I personally don't feel it is enough.  I don't feel anything can be enough, ever.  People get too wrapped up in measurements, in deciding who gets how much and who's entitled to what, who needs and how much we're supposed to give.  I can't find too much fault with women who feel threatened on university campuses, as I've lived on campus and there is legitimate reason for them to feel threatened.  I cannot find fault with peoples who are angry about what their fathers and mothers were forced to do because of race.  I am more ready to find fault with those who want to draw a line, who want to say I'm willing to do this much and no more, I'm willing to concede this suffering but not that suffering, I'm willing to define, according to my standards, what degree of comfort you're entitled to and I expect you to deal with it.

Screw all that.  If it is in my means, I will try to help.  If I see others helping, with greater resources than mine, I will join in or get out of the way.  I won't fight for a cause that says "freedom of speech" argues that racism doesn't matter or that women aren't entitled to legislated protection.  I believe in my government, even the government I didn't vote for.  I feel strongly that if the majority argues for a thing, votes for a thing, continues to support a thing for decades, that is fundamentally helping people, that is not stripping me of my rights.

My rights are not dependent upon what other people are given or how other people are viewed.  My rights depend upon how freely I'm allowed to express what I want to express and do what I want to do.

I'm 52 and living in Canada.  The government in this country has never gotten in my way.  They have caused me trouble from time to time . . . but as it happened, all that trouble came from my making a mistake, my taking the wrong action, my failing to act as I should.  I was penalized because I deserved to be penalized.

Rarely, I find, are others prepared to admit the same.  I wish they would, however.

"I'm half naked, surrounded by the other sex . . . and I
feel protected, not intimidated. I want the same for them."


JB said...

As usual, good food for thought.
: )

Matthias said...

I enjoy how articulate your position is, how little it comes across as judgmental, and how much empathy you show for the views of those you disagree with. Thanks for this post.

James Clark said...

You've provided a thoughtful and reasoned perspective at a time, at least here in the States, where I've found it hard to find either in any political statement. The colleague you described sounds like part of the constituency here who are willing and even eager in some cases to elect Trump as our next president. Frankly I don't understand all of the disillusionment and resentment folks like that feel. It's easy to blame a certain media outlet, talk radio and the Internet's alt. media for stoking that resentment, but it wouldn't resound with people if they didn't feel it already. When did liberty become a zero-sum game for people?

Scarbrow said...

With this post, I remembered an image:

The text of the banner, in Spanish, says: "I'm half-naked, surrounded by the other sex... and I feel protected, not intimidated. I want the same for them"

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thank you, Scarbrow. I've added the image to the post.

Scarbrow said...

Thank you, Alexis. I find sometimes that graphical reminders (not exclusively images, a graphical description usually does) help me more in the act of empathy than stock phrases like "check your privilege" and such, which I find vaguely aggressive.

This said, in Spain there is a law that mandates harsher sentences for a man who beats a woman than the opposite, and this causes more than ruffled feathers. That is inequality in action. And I know all (or at least, much) about affirmative action, and correcting for established cultural bias. But try explaining all of that in few short and simple sentences to a (usually enraged) male, when the topic comes up. I've had more luck trying to explain the income tax progressivity.