Thursday, November 12, 2009

Neither Gods Nor Monsters: The Paradoxical Social Nature of White Heterosexual Men

[image is from here]
[Slightly revised on 16 Nov. 2009, ECD]
When white heterosexual men get all defensive due to "feeling threatened" (or insulted, or stereotyped, or just not treated as if they are gods) they often ulitise their access to and control of police and military forces to make sure that those who threaten them die, or are, at least, terrorised into silence and subordination. When people who are oppressed by white heterosexual men get defensive, often using nasty words and blogs and such, we are threatened by white heterosexual men--sometimes to the point of being terrorised. If you're paying attention, the pattern is clear and constant: terrorism, as a social practice, as a daily means of controlling people, flows in one direction only, and that direction is down. From the top. In any social hierarchy, in fact, as Derrick Jensen notes, any violence that flows up is called unacceptable violence and is punishable by death. Any violence that flows downward is considered appropriate, acceptable, and is called "self-defence", or, more callously still, "[white heterosexual] men's entertainment".

The atrocities committed by WHMs are not unknown to us. They happen all the time: rape, invasion of countries of people of color, beating up women and gay men, wrongfully imprisoning men of color, maintaining corrupt institutions and industries which pollute and poison the Earth and all its many inhabitants who are no less valuable, no less worthy of being here than are WHM.

The atrocities committed by WHM are well-known and well-documented. What follows need not or ought not be read by anyone who has experienced genocide or gynocidal atrocities. It is deeply disturbing. And it's not unusual behavior for WHM who want something they have no rights to. Here's an utterly horrific sampling of what WHM have done and still do across the globe, this true story from Mary Brave Bird, aka Mary Crow Dog, a Sicangu Oyate woman from South Dakota. A Chiricahua Apache woman, Lozen, from Apacheria (now a part of Northern Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.), found ways to be a warrior, trying to save her people from genocidal slaughter.

You don't have to go back in time to find such atrocities committed by WHM. They are committing them right now in Afghanistan and Iraq. And in their homes where women live with them. And against their children, verbally, physically, and sexually.

White men killing Indigenous people is not an act of defense. Indigenous people fighting against white men is self-defense. White men killing women of all colors is not an act of defense. Women of all colors finding ways to resist and not comply with white men, including using direct force, are acts of self-defense. But these forms of self-defense do not define the "self" as an individual, but rather as a group who share a common struggle for life--life both threatened and taken by WHM, at will.

However the oppressed try and defend themselves, through whatever means, WHM protect their atrocities with a rather sinister slight of bloody hand called their "criminal justice system". They call things the opposite of what they are. Mary Daly noted this decades ago. What WHM do in the name of civilian peace is to commence and continue military warfare. What they do in the name of liberation is invasion and enslavement. What they do in the name of democracy is create and control media that only tells one or two points of view on every subject imaginable. What they to do maintain their own self-interested form of freedom is to continually oppress everyone else.

What they do is silence people of color, women across all ethnicities and sexualities, and gay men (including white ones). They silence through terrorism, through torture, through threats backed by actual, manifested force. They silence through words backed by that force. Do men feel fearful and nervous when a woman yells out how much she hates men? Rarely, if ever. Do women feel fearful and nervous when a man yells out how much he hates women? Often, if not always. For damn good reason. Men attack women daily; it is a common occurrence, like rain or wind. Women do not attack men, except anecdotally. Remember Lorena Bobbitt and Aileen Wuornos? We have to recall women's attacks on men because they happen so infrequently. And only in Aileen's case did men die. Men's direct lethal and non-lethal violence against women, however, cannot be called out enough. Every two decades or so, we may hear of one case of a woman taking revenge against a man or a few men by killing them. Every day men kill women--because the targeted human beings are women. And those they don't kill they do things to that often make survivors not feel like going on living. To name all of what men do to women, in that name of [fill in the blank with some positive reason men give for doing this violence], this blogpost would not be readable, or believable. Anyone I know would have to stop reading very quickly, out of disgust, revulsion, horror, or being triggered by the reading.

But what if the names of these killed women were named daily, on every morning show, on every evening news broadcast, on every internet site? What if every time a woman was killed by a man, the news of it, including his name and photograph, was sent to every cell or mobile phone globally. What if we collectively had to bury each of those women? We'd have a graveyard too large with a list of names too long to read, of women killed by men.

And not just white men kill women, of course. But class-privileged white men do have power in white supremacist societies that men of color do not have. White men with material resources are networked, not as a whole group, but in small to large groups, whether to brag about their latest conquests of women's bodies and women's wills, to share their live videos of sexually assaulting children or women, to put pressure on legislators to reverse laws that attempt to make women safer when dealing with men who batter their female partners. WHM in hierachically lower places have connections to other WHM in high places. And those white men have social-political clout, influence, and effect. There's no massively organised conspiracy to oppress women; there needn't be because it is so thoroughly infused into society that there's no need for that level of organisation. But WHM still do organise politically against all they oppress: against all gay men, against heterosexual men of color, against white women and women of color, whether lesbian or not. Increasingly and with great paranoia, WHM organise. And they work for themselves, always for their own interests, as if they didn't have enough access and rights, privileges and entitlements. As if they didn't already have enough power with which to abuse other people. These WHM are not strangers to me. I've grown up with them. While they studied the histories and literature of other WHM, I studied them.

I loved them because I didn't know how not to, and for two other reasons as well. One reason is because of having what is more commonly and currently referred to in the white West as "Stockholm Syndrome". I have learned, in a visceral way, that one had better love those who can harm and kill you. Be nice and maybe they'll be kinder. Maybe they won't pick on you. This is a selfish mode of being, allowing others of your class to be injured and oppressed while you believe you are safer and still oppressed. But I've loved WHM also because they are human, despite their insistence on acting utterly inhumane, despite their utter callousness, denial, and disregard for the harm WHM do, collectively, in large groups, in small groups, and individually. Despite their unrelenting assaults on women of all colors. Despite their callous disregard for the suffering of anyone who doesn't have their skin, their genitals, and the same sexual desires. Despite what WHM do to be oppressively manly, white, and to appear straight, I have cared about so many WHM. And I have wasted a lot of energy, trying to get WHM to see the world as the rest of us do. It's been a lesson in the power of position. When you're at the top you don't ever want to know what's below you, or underneath you. Or you willfully forget your own history, and the history of your people. It's easier to think you're a good guy (or good guys) if you don't see the backs, necks, and hearts of all the other people under your shoes. Or feel it. Or know or remember what it once was like to experience it when you were, once, very young. Or see and feel the terror you incite in the night, entering beds you own, thinking you also own the people in them.

I have never accepted the idea that batterers and rapers of women--almost always men known well by the woman beaten and raped, unless living in a country invaded by WHM--and incest perpetrators, usually very well known father figures, are monsters. (So much for the theory that men do harm because they have dehumanised the one they hurt. They hurt the ones they humanise too.) And I've come to believe, with the law and all WHM institutions stacked against this stance,  that those who do such harm ought not have any rights to life at all.

I know soldiers and other servants of the corporate kings are pawns in more powerful white men's hands. And that those white men who are ranked more highly don't really give a shit about those men who are lower down, much as they claim otherwise when the network cameras are running. (How soldiers--women and men, of color and white--are treated once home tells you all you need to know about what the most powerful WHM think of those they exploit, moving them across "their" international chessboard.) There are white men who misuse a lot of power because the WHM around them will not intervene and report their crimes against humanity, their crimes of inhumanity, to the press, which in the West is owned by very powerful WHM who do not want their own atrocities to be called out. Informally or not, there is a code of protection of privileges and an agreement to keep predatory perpetrators free to roam, often from church to church. Father figures all of them.

I've never accepted what white Christian countries preach: that G-d resembles a white man. Their god, Jesus, was a Jewish man of color. He stood with those cast out of society, who were deemed immoral. He saw their humanity and he also saw the grotesque immorality and inhumanity of the primarily non-Jewish kingdoms on Earth and told people not to worship such kingdoms. It's curious how WHM Christians do little else other than worship, protect, and defend such kingdoms, often considering themselves the moral kings of their own homes. (How WHM I have known intimately do this while incesting their own children, molesting the children they get to know or travel great distances to be with, all the while betraying the women they say they love, would reveal a kind of inhumanity, a mode of being in the world, chillier than an arctic night. WHM's corruptions and abuses of power are international and intimate, and even by WHM's public codes of conduct, often illegal and immoral. But even while WHM demean and degrade everyone and what they term everything else on Earth, I won't place them in a category that is not 100% human. They may not behave humanely, but they are human beings. This is one of the most frightening truths of all: They aren't monsters; they are men. If they were monsters, we'd have to fight back in ways people fight monsters. Another horrifying truth is that they find ways to organise and use power that seem omnipotent, yet they are not gods.If they were gods, we'd have to pray to the Lorde Goddess that She'll somehow transform them into humane creatures.

They are men--male, white, heterosexual human beings. And so I don't hate them, not because they collectively behave in ways that justify not being hated. (Why more people don't hate them is a bit of a mystery to me.) I don't hate them because I don't want to give them that much of myself. I don't want to be in so much reaction to them that I can't be present to those who need my emotional support and determination to stand with them, lovingly. To be consumed by hatred doesn't serve me as I maintain connection to the woman who call me a friend or an ally. This is not to say hating one's abusers cannot serve the oppressed. But, if the truth matters at all, it is because of social position and structural social support, that the oppressors far more efficiently to hate on others. (And, ironically, because of that position and power they can also love and do great harm.) In the West and in other regions of the world as well, they've got they institutionalised power and status necessary to be cruel, callous, uncaring, or kind while committing atrocities without being held to account; WHM have the socially bolstered dignity that is actually as flimsy as flakes of ash. But part of my commitment to women is that I'll do what I can to become more humane, not less. And loving humanity requires that I call inhumane men to account--including those I know well. I am a white Jew, after all. I am not "a good German": I don't believe in being silent when atrocities are happening all around you. To do so, in my book, is a grave immorality and ought to be an unforgivable form of betrayal.

Social justice workers, fighters for freedom from WHM supremacy, civil rights activists, human rights organisations, and individuals who are tired of being oppressed, do find ways to resist and momentarily take power away from WHM who so abuse it. But since WHM power is systematic, and now "globalised", they don't have to do much to keep things "status quo". An oppressive male-dominated system in motion stays in motion unless the oppressors stop it from crushing and chewing up more people. Call it a physical law of patriarchy.

When women inform men that things need to be radically different, men freak out. And men get ready to fight, never picking on someone their own political size. They generate images for their "entertainment" magazines that tell women what they think women are: even more inhuman than meat. (I won't link to the Hustler magazine cover. If you've seen it once you'll never forget it.) Given that women are often meat to WHM, I suppose we could pray that they all become "socially vegan" very soon. Not that they treat the land and its green life in any way respectfully.

To those reading this thinking, "There he goes again, putting white heterosexual men all in one box" I say this: One of your greatest privileges you WHM have is to avoid conceiving of yourself as a politically powerful group, unless it suits you to do so. When those you harm call you out, as a group, you pretend you're all just individuals. ("You talking to me?! I'm not like HIM, and how insulting to me that you'd think I am!") But when you look at pornography, you don't ever see individuals. And when you make racist assumptions about people of color, you don't ever see individuals. And when you tell your homophobic jokes, you don't see gay men as individuals at all. You resent the view of you that the oppressed have, because in the West, only WHM are allowed to name a political reality that to me is as obvious as fire is hot. And so you reject others' perspectives and experiences, because to accept them, to really see what we see, would mean you'd have to realise how utterly ugly and morally useless you've allowed yourselves to be. You'd have to own that your behavior is both disgusting and contemptible: two things you project onto all you oppress. And so instead of moving out of denial about what you let each other become, you project all your worst characteristics onto the oppressed, and pretend you're G-d's gift, if not the Giver.

For once in your collective lives, be the more spiritually disciplined and emotionally mature people. Stop condescending to those who critique you. Stop the defensiveness. You own the castles and the canons, remember? Act from the love you say you feel. Treat women with respect. Treat people of color with respect whether or not we are in your presence. Treat lesbian and gay people with respect, physically, socially, and verbally. Please do that when you gather with one another, online and offline. Please stop treating women with misogynistic, racist, and heterosexist disrespect. Stop yourselves from mistreating people. Tell the WHM less and more powerful than you to stop also. Tell your political peers. Together you and they can stop the institutions, systems, industries, and private practices of WHM supremacist evil. Prove it to yourselves that you can care more about all of humanity, and the whole of the Earth, than you care about protecting your egos and economies. Show the world that you can be collectively humane. Leave lands where you don't belong. Leave women alone who don't welcome your company. Stop harming the children you know, and leave the children you don't know alone, even if they welcome your company.

And if you don't do these things, please be honest about why you won't; we don't have the luxury of waiting for you stop lying to us and deceiving yourselves. Do it now or we'll figure it how to. The advantage we have is we know way more about you than you know about yourselves or us. Your self-preoccupation is ultimately a liability because all you know about us is what you project onto us, which means you know very little to nothing at all. (Hence you can think a woman who is outraged by male supremacist oppression must hate you, personally. Because you get to think of yourselves as individual people, after all.) One way or another, you're going to stop this madness one day. We may all have to die for that to happen, but that time will come. And, speaking only for myself, I'd prefer you prove yourselves worthy of being called humane by being less mean in the mean time.


[image of U.S. neo-Nazi is from here, 
where there's an article on such white men marching outside
the Skokie Holocaust Museum Dedication in Illinois.
Note: he's not a feminist.]
[Partial revision of this was done on 17 Nov. 2009, ECD]
To all oppressors:

It is so abundantly clear that one among many silly "distraction tactics", one that unfortunately works among white male conservatives and liberals, is this boisterous, off-the-charts, histerical reaction to ANYONE who is fighting against enforced, mean-spirited, harmful, dangerous oppressive systems and the privileges people who oppress obtain by being in that oppressor group. You don't choose your privileges or entitlements--they are handed to you socially. But you do choose how to act them out, and against whom.

Here's a little reminder of something that is true. Klan members are haters. Neo-Nazi white men are haters. Rapists are haters. Pornographer-pimps are haters. The CEOs of multinationals are haters. The leaders of The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who keep poor nations poor and in debt are haters. Whether they intend to be or not, their actions only do one thing: cause oppressive harm to millions. And their actions kill people, dead. That's hateful.

So if you think THAT FORM OF HATRED is even approximately the same as the hatred a few oppressed people carry around, you are WRONG. And you know it. So stop acting like such fools by jumping up and down with fists clenched and mouths spitting venom every time you find some quote by a woman that is furious at men, that may be hateful towards men, that has had enough of men. Because, boys, your unstopped behaviors brought her to that place. Nothing else did it. Your callousness to women's pain, you're ego-defensive posturing, your protection of your entitlements are what cause hate to manifest in those you harm. So if you don't like women hating you, STOP RAPE and organise against any law that privileges men over women. Interrupt and stop every misogynist act you see happening near you. Stop calling women misogynistic names. Stop being racist jerks. Stop patriarchy from functioning. And maybe, just maybe, you'll see that hate among a few of those you oppress begin to go away. But you've got to do your part FIRST. Got it?

Because whatever negative feelings an oppressed person has for their oppressor, it is borne of being mistreated, of being hurt systematically, of being invisibilised as full human beings by oppressive systems designed to manifest hate in the oppressor, and fear in the oppressed.

So stop focusing on a few hateful comments, or comments you take to be hateful and pay attention to WHY people feel the way they do, as if they were actual human beings, as human as you. As caring as you. As vulnerable as you. As sensitive as you.

Because--newsflash--those of us who fight for justice and human rights and liberation for the oppressed are not the haters of the world. We are the lovers.

The haters, more often called white male liberals, or white male conservatives are the passive and active supporters of hateful systems of subordination and cruelty: male supremacy, white supremacy, heterosexism, globalisation, capitalism; those who pollute the Earth on massive scales, such as those who set unlawful policies and practices for mega-corporations, while also exploiting labor across the globe--those powerful people are the haters. Killing forests for profit is hateful. Allowing thousands of animals to go extinct is hateful. If the bear bites back, you don't get to use that as the reason bears shouldn't be saved, or to call a bear the same level of hater as the white man who killed it. You either actively care or you don't, about the welfare and well-being of the planet, the non-human animals, the boys and men of color, and the girls and women of all colors. If one white woman yells at you in ways that you don't understand, that doesn't mean that you, if white, stop caring about the impact of male supremacy on women, right? Because you CARE about human beings and their struggles to be treated like you. Don't you?

If a few (or a lot of) women hate men, a few or many people of color hate whites, a few or more than a few lesbians and gay men hate heterosexuals, YOU CAN LIVE WITH IT. And guess what? It won't even harm you! If one oppressed person's words hurt your feelings, you can live with it. If a group of oppressed people organise, in rage, against what you stand for as a heterosexual white man, as a white ChristianWesterner, know one thing: YOU are still in charge, economically, socially, and institutionally. And one of your people getting their feelings hurt, or being "put off" by the tone of some feminists' writings, doesn't amount to shit, compared to what you do that you aren't even aware you are doing, with your passivity, with your inaction, with your misplaced "helpful" actions, with your overtly harmful actions.

Those of us who are oppressed by white's racism, men's sexism, heterosexuality presented and enforced as natural, or who are hated due to our ethnicity, who are distrusted and despised because we don't look white or WASPy, those of us who are stigmatised and stabbed because we're queer, those of us who don't believe Jesus was THE SON of G-d, those of us who find Spirit in the Sky AND the Earth, are not the haters of the world. Those of us who live on government-apportioned parcels of poisoned land because the rest of our land and its resources was stolen by white male colonisers and conquerors--who don't put the poison where the wealthy, race-privileged folks live--those of us who die of drinking unclean water, who starve to death en masse, who don't have shelter because our homes have been bombed by military personnel, have to deal with the institutionalised and interpersonal hatred that spews forth from well-meaning and mean-spirited people, as well as those who organise around their well-owned hate of the oppressed.

Meanwhile those of us, and I am among this "us" as well as the other "us", are usually passive in the fact of atrocities. We oppressors are silent when men call women foul names. We are quiet when anti-gay terms are hurled. Who join in the cheering when a woman or girl is raped. We don't care when Black women die. We deny genocides happening in our own parts of the world. Callousness and cowardice among oppressors is hateful to those we oppress. Economically exploiting and abusing people sexually is hateful, regardless of how it feels to us. Keeping systems in place that require poverty is hateful. So just ask yourself what you spend your time doing each day. Do you stop the harm to the oppressed? Do you even bother to notice it? Or are you too pre-occupied with one white woman's hatred, or one woman of color calling you out, to focus on the larger problems that will result in women being raped and battered? That are part of the genocides and gynocides we support in more ways than we care to acknolwedge.

I am a white man who has had my actions called out as problematic (to use that coded term usually meaning unconsciously or willfully misogynyistic and/or racist) on many instances. MANY. And guess what? I not only LIVED, but I learned how to be a more humane and caring person. I didn't grumble and walk away thinking bigoted thoughts and organising against "them" as if they were my oppressors. Why? Because I welcome the humanity of the oppressed to inform the actions of the dehumanised oppressor--including me when it includes me, to halt our oppressive ways of being, our ways of "doing civilisation" that require denigration and destruction, targeting specific groups for specific forms of assault, often lethal.

Get your heads out of your own cloudy logic and look at what's happening to poor people of color around the world. Look at what men do to women that is against women's will. And do something to end THAT suffering. Your suffering is real, but it's not more important than anyone else's. And if you're living a privileged life, please learn what the consequences are of doing so, so that while you do so you can also act in responsible, humane ways.

And then, maybe, a few white women won't even consider hating you. And a few women of color won't have to call you out. If you choose to do nothing to stop the atrocities, you can be sure some of those who are harmed will hate you. The question isn't "Why do they hate us (or me)?" The question is "What are we doing that is politically loving?" The question is, "What can I do to be helpful, not harmful?" And please remember, the oppressed will also likely only survive while you thrive and they will certainly die while you live, NOT the other way around. And, just as a reality check, the oppressed allow you to live by taking care of you, NOT the other way around.

So stop your foolishness. Stop your stupidity. And get on with the business of being humane to all people, yourself included. The time for you to indulge in tactical distractions is up.

Anger Does NOT Equal Hate, from The Angry Black Woman blog

[image is from here]

Things You Need To Understand #8 – Anger Does Not Equal Hate

Ever since I started this blog I’ve had people comment or email or say elsewhere that, by the very nature of its name, this blog is about hate. That because I identify myself as angry (and black), and because I have categories like “Angry At White People” I am promoting hate. Up until now I’ve been willing to blow these folks off, but it’s becoming clear that the conflation of anger with hate (particularly when the anger belongs to people of color) is a persistent meme and not just the crazy rantings of ignorant people. So, I wanted to set the record straight:

Anger Does Not Equal Hate.

People who hate are very often angry, yes. But people who get angry do not always hate.

Let me illustrate by analogy. Everyone is someone’s child. If you were lucky enough to grow up with good parents who loved you, chances are you love them back and always have. But even if you love your parents, sometimes they made you angry. They wouldn’t buy you that puppy, or let you go to that movie, or date that person, or let you eat junk food all day, or whatever. When they denied you, set rules and boundaries, etc. that probably made you angry. Depending on the strength of your desire, it may have made you really angry. Did you hate them then? Do you hate hem still? No. Even if, at the time, in a childish fit of pique you screamed or thought “I hate you!” you didn’t mean it. You were angry.

Say you’re a parent right now. You love your kid(s). They do something crazy like break something expensive, cut school, do drugs, marry someone you dislike. Do you hate them? No, of course not. That’s your child. Are you angry? Hell yes.

Anger and hate are only the same thing to people who have not yet moved beyond the childhood notion of hate, which is: Hate = Anything I Am Pissed About Right Now. No. Hate is much stronger and less fleeting than that.

I am angry, that much is certainly clear. The things I’m angry about or the people I’m angry at? I don’t hate them. I’m just frustrated and annoyed. I deal with my frustration by blogging, by trying to make people understand why I’m angry, by trying to fix things so they don’t make me angry, anymore. But that’s hard to do when people insist on telling me I feel a way I don’t.

So, to be as clear as I possibly can be: I don’t hate white people. I don’t hate men.

What I do hate? Racism. Sexism.

Don’t you?

There are many other posts that I could copy and paste here. But here's the page that has 'em all: