Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Whiter Shade of Male: on naming white and male supremacy when we see or commit it
I recoimage of book cover is from here

Given that I recommend reading the above book after reading in it, that probably means I ought to read it from cover to cover.  I hope to do that one day.

First up:
To the white women (and all people) who think I'm a troll on Facebook: please unfriend me on Facebook immediately. I'd unfriend you if I knew who you were, and have done so with two white women who have told me they think I'm a troll. I'm working on being sure my behavior is not particularly trollish. But what is trollish to some isn't trollish to others. For example, me calling out white women's racism and white supremacist practices on Facebook is considered to be a sure sign I'm a troll to some white women, but not to others. I determine this by the face that it has only been since posting on Facebook about white women's white supremacy that the accusation of being a troll has surfaced.

Me calling out white and male supremacy will be seen and experienced as offensive, harmful, misandrist, misogynist, and otherwise problematic by many white people. I accept that's their experience. And I conclude the resistance to being called out as racist, anti-Semitic, is effectively, if not also intentionally, racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist. Including when I'm called out as being white supremacist. I hope my friends and colleagues will call it out when it happens.

Second up:
This is what I've learned from white radical feminists and radical feminists of color: the distinctions between being sexist, misogynist, and male supremacist are ones that are terribly important for males to tease out, often determining ourselves to be possibly the former, but never the latter two.

This is what I've learned from white Lesbian activists: the distinctions between being pro-trans, heterosexist, and anti-Lesbian are ones that are terribly important to those of us who are not Lesbian. But from the experience and perspective of Lesbian women who endure discrimination, hostility, and violence from men, trans activists, and het women, the distinctions aren't that important.

Here's what I've learned from women of color: the distinctions between being racist, sexist, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-Brown, anti-Asian, a white "asiaphile", a white consumer of Indian artifacts, a genocidalist, a misogynist, and a white or male supremacist are terribly important for us whites to split as if hairs, but they are not necessarily so different, experientially, if one is not white.

I know women of color who do detail the differences between being racist and being a white supremacist. And I know women of color who do not. Most women of color I know do not. And I'm someone who also does not. Perhaps because I'm a Jew.

Here's what I experience as a gay male and a Jew: the distinctions non-gay men and het women make about not being homophobic, being anti-gay, being heterosexist, and being a het supremacist aren't all that meaningful to me. And the same with being someone who is kind of prejudiced about the Jews, or anti-Semitic, or white supremacist.

Structural, institutional, interpersonal privilege and entitlement means that we protect our positions of power, in part by declaring that anyone who isn't us who notices we have them must be a bigot and a very rude and hurtful individual. And it means we, not the oppressed, get to determine how racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-Lesbian, anti-gay, male supremacist, heterosexist, and white supremacist we are.

This is my experience:

White class-privileged trans activists are anti-Lesbian, but being anti-Lesbian isn't a concern; being transphobic is. If they are radical, they'll own their anti-Lesbian values and practices. If they're liberal they won't.

White women and white men are racist and white supremacist. But white folks are only concerned with not being termed as either, not with whether or not, or how they are both. If they're radical they'll own their structural white supremacist ways. If they're liberal they won't. If they're conservative they're likely proud of being white supremacist and racist too.

Men of color and white men are sexist and male supremacist. But men defend against being named as either by anyone who isn't a man. If men want to identify as a misogynist, well, then they can and do and often feel entirely proud about it. But if a woman names a man a misogynist, well, he's not so happy about that. If they're radical they'll own that they are always potentially and structurally misogynistic, sexist, and male supremacist. If they're liberal they won't. If they're conservative they're likely proud of being all of those things.

Het folks along the gender hierarchy are heterosexist, anti-Lesbian, anti-gay, lesbophobic, and homophobic. If they're radical they'll own and be responsible with their privileges and power. If they're liberal they will appear to be, but won't be in ways that are meaningful to Lesbian, gay, and other queer people.

Rich folks are classist. They may want to pretend they are not, or they may want to show off how classist they are. If they are radical, they'll be responsible and accountable for what they do with their wealth and class privileges and entitlements. If they're conservative and liberal they'll say how much rich people should contribute to causes which help the poor poor, but not, for example, by closing loop-holes that unjustly benefit the very rich, by ending inheritance laws, or by radically redistributing wealth in a classist, capitalist society.

The whites are defensive about being called a white supremacist, but are not encouraged or pleased if men are defensive about being called a male supremacist. Hets are defensive about being lesbophobic and homophobic, and if they're men they don't want to be seen or called male supremacist or misogynist or sexist either.

I hope you see the patterns. If you're privileged in some way, I hope you break them. I work at it and it's not easy. But it is worthwhile. And it is necessary if I am to be an ally to those I oppress.

Third up:
Other related curiosities:

Some white feminists insist on me calling myself a man even though I identify, perhaps liberally, as intergender. I find their challenge entirely understandable: I have gay male power and privileges and entitlements. But white women I know, Lesbian and not, won't generally or usually identify themselves as white and will disappear their race and deny their racism in the ways they do identify themselves (such as, for example, "radical feminist") and behave (for example, being part of a white supremacist feminist organisation but not ever naming it as such or challenging its white supremacy). They won't say they are white supremacists even when they are. And they maintain the right to name themselves and not be named by people who are not white even while it is people who aren't white who are in a far clearer position--a subordinated one--to know white supremacy when it's right in front of you. Go figure that white folks along the gender hierarchy maintain this entitlement, privilege, power, and control.

I hope you see the patterns. Most of us, out of a need to believe we are uncomplicatedly "good",  don't want to be told we're an oppressor, unless we're so powerful we take pride in it. The rest of us want to have our delusions about ourselves supported, and our egos stroked. And if we are called a white supremacy, anti-Lesbian, or a male supremacist, we are insulted and believe this pain of insult is worse than any pain on Earth.

Fourth up, and last but not least:
My prayers today are with the tens of thousands of women struggling for survival in East Africa. The corporate press's concerns are with what a madman in Norway did to about a hundred white people. My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones in Norway, and across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. We may learn the names and backgrounds of some of the people who died recently in Norway. We will be led to believe that the East African women who are homeless, on foot with families, searching for safety, food, and water, are not individuals with particular interests or even names. What the media also will not discuss is the role of white European het men in the political, economic, and social unrest and devastation in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and in many places in Europe as well, particularly, in the East, the British, the Germans, and the Italians. (See, for example, *here*, on the colonial history of Kenya.)

I think the values, attitudes, and behaviors are disgustingly white supremacist and genocidal and gynocidal, particularly as they promote the media telling more intimately human stories about harm done to white people than to Black people.

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