Friday Reads: White Male Privilege Apologia on DisplayPosted: August 29, 2014
I’m not exactly sure why people don’t get the absolutely appalling display of racism and sexism wrapped up in one big dose of White, Male, Christian privilege that is crippling this country at the moment. The examples are just slapping the country in the face right now.
Both BB and JJ have been posting about it this week. Frankly, ever since there was a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seriously headed towards the White House it’s been noticeable. Now it’s dialed up to 11. There’s not many months left in the Obama presidency, but you’d think he was appointed to a lifelong term by the way right wing is snarling and growling. But the racism and sexism are just over the top and white male privilege is driving the media coverage of Ferguson, the latest revelations in Gillibrand’s book, the topics of rape, abortion, and birth control, and even the discussion of what color suit the President chooses for a presser. WTF?
Let’s start out with the latest in rape apologia. Then I’ll show exactly how they’re basically doing the same damned thing in the Ferguson coverage. All levels of sexual assaults are prominent on campus. It’s been 40 years since my little freshman backside trained as a rape counselor and self defense coach. Basically, if you don’t here a clear “yes, let’s have sex”, it’s likely rape men! But, according to this University President, drunk women are to blame.
The former president of George Washington University suggested that college women should drink less to help avoid sexual assault.
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg told the Diane Rehm Show that while victims should not be blamed, women need to not drink so much alcohol so they are in a better position to “punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave.”
Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.
His remarks unleashed a wave of criticism on social media.
You know the drill. You have to watch where and when you walk. You shouldn’t walk alone. You have to watch what you wear. Well, rapes still happen in places like Saudi Arabia and women are dressed in supposedly “unappealing” ways, aren’t allowed to drive or be out without a male relative, and no one’s allowed to drink. Being held up in a house and being the little sweetest virgin on earth didn’t stop the rape of the so-called Virgin Mary. Right? It’s the same language that controls discussion of birth control, abortion, and women working. It’s the language that says women are property and it’s front and center from the Republican Party.
Chuck Todd asked Rince Priebus about the woman problem showing up continually, constantly, and in the latest Republican Polls. Are there too many “crazy white men” in the Republican Party” these days?
According to the report, obtained by Politico on Wednesday, women said the GOP was “stuck in the past” and “intolerant.” The poll found that 49 percent of women view the Republican party unfavorably and 39 percent view the Democratic party unfavorably.
When asked why the party is doing worse with female voters than in 2010, Priebus argued that the GOP can close this 10-point gap by ramping up outreach and focusing on the economy.
“You know, I’m not sure,” Priebus responded. “But I think the point of that poll wasn’t reported by Politico. The point was if you looked at it, women were rejecting the Democratic party by 40 percent; they were rejecting the Republican party by 50 percent. I don’t think either party can do a victory lap here.”
He continued to say that Republicans just need to “fight” for the votes by countering Democratic attacks and pushing conservative economic policy ideas.
Todd pressed him on this.
“But the problem you seem to have is when it comes to women voters, do the — do the arguments about contraception end up blind — basically putting the party on mute with those same women voters who may like your economic proposals but say, you know what, there’s just too many crazy white guys who have crazy theories about my reproductive system?” Todd asked, adding that Republicans have the same issue with Latino voters and immigration issues.
“That’s two different issues,” Priebus retorted.
“But same problem,” Todd insisted.
Priebus then repeated that the report found that “the economy is the number one issue.”
“In fact women actually don’t really — don’t really — aren’t really moved on these issues as much as I think the pundits and everyone thinks they are moved.
In fact if Republicans talk about things like the economy, the debt and make the case for jobs and schools and education and push back…” he said.
Todd then cut in to say, “Democrats are winning by 30 and 40 points on economic issues.”
Andrea Mitchell came to the defense of Senator Kristin Gillibrand discussing the number of warnings out for all women on the Hill when she worked there in the ’80s and ’90s. There was a list of guys not to get into the elevator. I heard about it 20 years ago from a Republican Media consultant who basically told me who to keep a very safe distance from in the Republican Guard if and when I ever got there. No wonder these guys turned a deaf ear to Anita Hill and stopped the other women from speaking out. They were likely afraid they’d be outted too. Some are calling for Gillibrand to out her harassers now.
MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is less than surprised by the revelations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about being subjected to sexual harassment by her congressional colleagues, sharing her own experiences reporting on “the oldest white male club in the world.”
“We all had our stories of whom you’d not get in an elevator with and whom you’d protect your young female interns from,” Mitchell told her guests, Bloomberg editor Jeanne Cummings and WaPo political reporter Chris Cillizza.
“Some of those former senators were actually expelled,” Mitchell added, a possible reference to Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR), who resigned in 1995 before he could be expelled for serial sexual misconduct.
The panel was responding to the revelations by Gillibrand in a forthcoming interview with People magazine promoting her new book, in which she details episodes of harassment from male colleagues in Congress.
Among other things, Gillibrand was at different times squeezed on the waist, called “chubby,” and told to improve her looks in order to win election. The same day her stories came to light, a reporter for Politico tweeted he didn’t believe her, before backing down and apologizing.
Cummings called the senators’ conduct “outrageous,” but said they were unfortunately nothing new, citing her time covering the Anita Hill hearings in the early 90s, in which Hill revealed incidents of sexual harassment from then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
“We’ve been there. We know this lesson was supposedly learned 25 years ago. And the very idea that one of them touched her, just totally creeps me out,” Cummings said. “I mean, we’re [regressing] here. We’re not getting better. We’re going backwards.”
“So women and men and people who are in this country and covered the Senate should not be surprised. They should be angry. This is ridiculous,” she added.
Again, the Senator was post partum and dealing with the usual after baby body recovery and they were still bothering her. It isn’t about what we wear, what we drink, who we’ve had consensual sex with at one point or another, or anything. It’s about them. They think they have they have rights to our bodies. So, what other group has to watch what they wear, watch where their walking, watch their body language? They won’t be sexually harrassed, raped or fired. They won’t be denied birth control, abortions, or other kinds of things that go to a moral and capable adult. They’ll likely be jailed, fined, or killed.
For a moment there, things were looking pretty good. A boy shot multiple times with his hands up. College bound. Poor. Innocent. And in response: helicopters and tanks. Maybe this time, we thought, they would believe us.
But that’s all been ruined.
We now have all sorts of reasons to make us doubt Brown’s humanity. He may have stolen some cigarillos. He may have been facing the officer when he was shot. He got shot in the top of the head, which might mean that he was surrendering, or might mean he was being defiant. He made amateur rap songs. Perhaps worst of all, he’s been caught grimacing at a camera making a contorted peace sign, and it turns out that he was pretty tall.
And Fox News has been trying to cast doubt on whether he was actually going to go to college in the first place.
All signs that his life was worth less than we might have hoped.
It’s like what happened with Trayvon Martin, really. Over the course of a few days, he went from an innocent boy holding a bag of Skittles to a vicious, ruthless thug. We found out that he smoked pot. We found out that he said bad words. We found out that he was wearing a hoodie. We saw a picture of him making an angry face. Zimmerman’s lawyers released his text message logs, and we found out that he didn’t speak the Queen’s English
And with each new revelation about both of these boys — some true, some false — we let out another collective sigh. We had been let down.
Of course, we knew that our reaction was ridiculous. We know that pushing someone at a convenience store, or being a less than stellar student shouldn’t be a death sentence. And hell, if you think that throwing up acontorted peace sign, or even an actual verifiable ‘gang sign’ means that you are in a violent gang, well, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you, and a few thousand thug white women I’d like you to call 911 about, because there’s an epidemic going on.
So, yes, we’re seeing the same thing. We’re hearing Privilege Apologia that supports a Privilege Culture. Why, Mitch McConnell just even explained it to the rest of them. Not to worry their privileged little balding heads. Nothing was going to change under his watch. Not those horrible minimum wage bills. Not anything that’s going to keep the overlords from wallowing in privilege and subsidized by everyone else with blood, sweat, and bodily sanctity.
Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.”
What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to asecret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:
“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
They’ll be going after anything that means appropriation can’t happen smoothly. If we weren’t so lazy, we’d have well paying jobs. If we weren’t drunk, we wouldn’t be raped. If we just wouldn’t wear hoodies, we wouldn’t be shot.
Welcome to White Christian Male Apologia and the culture of Privilege it sustains. Not matter what we do, how hard we work, how educated we are, they are not letting us into their club.
Here’s some more headlines that got my goat this week.
“I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store, particularly, a lot of the women, want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a 6 pack or two 6 packs, buy dinner and go home rather than what I described as 3 stops in Pennsylvania.”
Governor Corbett knows binders full of women want to be able to buy a 6 pack and then go right home to prep dinner because he knows women. And all they care about is dinner prep.
Deal addressed a variety of topics, including immigration, during a question and answer session sponsored by the UGA College Republicans Tuesday night.
“There’s a fundamental problem that can only be resolved at the Congressional level and that is to deal with the issue of children, and I presume you probably fit the category, children who were brought here,” said Deal who was looking toward Lizbeth Miranda, a Hispanic student who was standing up with others asking questions.
“I’m not an illegal immigrant. I’m not,” said Miranda. “I don’t know why you would have thought that I was undocumented. Was it because I look Hispanic?”
The governor replied: “I apologize if I insulted you. I did not intend to.”
Denial of white privilege is too central to the worldview that drives his monologues on race, social issues, America’s decline and beyond. Anyone who has read his memoir “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” or his biography (“The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O’Reilly“) or tuned into his cable-news-reigning program knows that O’Reilly is far too enamored of his own story to abandon what he believes are its lessons for all Americans: The beneficiary of a strict Catholic education, O’Reilly worked and worked and worked. Starting in his early teens, O’Reilly made cash mowing lawns and graduated to house-painting. He made a mad dash through local and big-time broadcast news before landing at Fox News. And in recent years, the guy has cranked out a series of bestselling books — “Killing Jesus” and other such titles, with the help of co-author Martin Dugard — while juggling the rigors of “The Factor.” His talent as a broadcaster is undeniable, as this segment on the end of summer showcases.
Admitting that his bootstrapping rise to King of Cable News happened to take place in a society of white privilege, however, is apparently too much to ask.
Those of us that have been advantaged by one type of privilege or another should recognize the impact it’s had on our lives. Denying that reality only denies the humanity of others. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?