Saturday, August 19, 2017

White, Male, Heterosexual or Heterosexual Posturing — and Privileged to the Nth Degree: What Charlottesville Marchers Had in Common

As I watch video clips of and read articles about the young white men who made it their business to run to Charlottesville and march in a Nazi + Klan hate march, I'm struck by their sameness: same young white male faces, over and over again. Oh, I know, the features vary, the haircuts may be different. But these are an iteration of a type, over and over again: white, male, heterosexual or heterosexual-posturing.

And privileged to the nth degree, though they want to pretend to be victims. They claim that they have been muzzled, their free speech curbed, that people want to replace them, but they have quite obviously never faced any real oppression in their entire lives. Let any African-American male (or female), any woman at all, any LGBTQ person behave as they have chosen to behave in public, and there would be swift reprisals for all of those folks.

These men have seldom met any checks for their ugly bullying behavior, and that's one of the things that leaps out most strongly as I listen to them cry and complain now that people are circulating their photos and publicizing their attendance at a white supremacist hate rally — crying and complaining when they chose to appear in torchlight or broad daylight marching at a Nazi + Klan hate march, so those photos are easily accessible. 

Such oppression! Such persecution! Such hate! Our lives are ruined!

We didn't mean it! we were there for the lulz! We're moderate Republicans!

I'm struck by the inability of these privileged young white men to understand that adult choices have adult consequences. Why was this awareness not instilled in them when they were young? Who taught them to imagine themselves as little penis-endowed gods in white skin?

If we could get to the bottom of that question, we might begin to understand something that has gone radically awry in our society and begin to correct it.


Amanda Marcotte, "Is male fragility to blame for Charlottesville violence?"

I think the single greatest threat, and I’ll say to humanity, at the moment is male fragility, and men just not being able to process their feelings of insecurity, their feelings of anger. I mean, when men get mad, they lash out. 
You see it in school shootings. You see it in terrorist activity. 
Most of the solutions to problems, I think, are simple. You know, like kindness and empathy: The basic things that your mother teaches you. But I think if men could be more honest and reflective about what [makes] them feel insecure. . . . 
What they were chanting in Charlottesville: "You will not replace us." Who is trying? Who is trying to replace you? We’re just trying to make things more of an equal playing field for everyone. 
I think it's just the way that society raises them. Women are raised to have some concern about the way that they look, and they’re encouraged to be more sensitive. A lot of men aren’t.

As astute observers have repeatedly noted (see, e.g., Amanda Marcotte, "Weeping Nazi started off as a 'men's rights activist,' which is no huge surprise"), what hooks many of these young male extremists is the my-masculinity-is-threatened hook first of all. Once they're drawn in by all the faux news telling them that men are under assault and are in danger of being "replaced," they then almost always swallow the hooks of racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia. Hook, line, and sinker.

So much is grounded in the insecure sense of threatened masculinity, and the "right" of men who feel threatened to lash out against those they perceive as weaker and as the enemy — women, people of color, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, poor folks, etc. 


An interesting case that illustrates many of the points I'm making: the case of the man recently fired by Google after he circulated a memo far and wide claiming that women are biologically inferior to men (yes, that was the gist of his statement): just like the privileged, pampered young white men who marched through the streets of Charlottesville carrying tiki torches last weekend, James Damore has always enjoyed privilege — the privilege of white skin, male gender, and heterosexual orientation. For pampered, angry young white men who have always enjoyed privilege to claim that they have been discriminated against when women and LGBTQ people gain rights is the height of mendacity.

What has them so enraged is that they are no longer the cock of the walk simply because they were born with white skin, a penis, and a straight sexual orientation. They are determined to try to place people of color, women, and LGBTQ folks back into what they see as the proper places of these subordinated groups of human beings. And in Donald Trump, they recognize that they have an ally, so their anger is now going public.

Here are some articles and video clips you may want to read/see, after you've read the preceding commentary: 

Allegra Kirkland, "White Nationalists Are Feeling The Squeeze After Charlottesville Backlash"

David Badash, "Watch: Student Who Attended White Supremacist Rally Says It's 'Disturbing' to See Such Hatred – Against Him"

David Ferguson, "'My life is over': 21-year-old Charlottesville marcher whines over 'outing' by anti-fascist group"

Kali Holloway, "5 White Supremacists Whining About How Unfair Things Are After Charlottesville"

David Ferguson, "'I’m terrified': Neo-Nazi blubbers like a baby in video reporting he’s wanted for arrest in Charlottesville"

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