Thursday, April 26, 2018

Quote of the Day

In a recent essay, Rebecca Solnit offers a reminder that, "[w]ho gets to be the subject of the story is an immensely political question," with popular narratives in the US usually granting that honor to white men. 

And, it's not just the privilege of being central subjects that they receive, it's an accompanying pity and compassion for their experiences, which are propped above everyone else's. For instance, Solnit continues:
"In the aftermath of the 2016 election, we were told that we needed to be nicer to the white working class, which reaffirmed the message that whiteness and the working class were the same thing and made the vast non-white working class invisible or inconsequential. We were told that Trump voters were the salt of the earth and the authentic sufferers, even though poorer people tended to vote for the other candidate. We were told that we had to be understanding of their choice to vote for a man who threatened to harm almost everyone who was not a white Christian man, because their feelings preempt everyone else’s survival. 'Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks,' Bernie Sanders reprimanded us, though studies showed that many were indeed often racists, sexists, and homophobes."
We see a lot of rage, anxiety, and blowback, across the political spectrum, when we demand a shift in perspective. It's evident that we came very close to something hugely unsettling for a lot of people invested in keeping white men centered, in 2016.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An Inevitable American President

This one comes from Joseph Ellis' biography of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx. In this quote, Jefferson is writing a letter to his daughter Mary:
"You must apply yourself, Jefferson lectured, 'to play on the harpischord, to draw, to dance, to read and talk French and such things as will make you more worthy of the love of you friends..... Remember too as a constant charge not to go out without your bonnet because it will make you very ugly and then we should not love you so much.'"
Melissa McEwan has noted that Donald Trump is an inevitable Republican president, not an anomalous one.  And, as we read passages like the above that contain verbiage that is Trumpian in nature, Trump is in many ways an inevitable American president, as well.

As Ellis acknowledged, Jefferson himself embodied a central contradiction in that "he crafted the most inspiring egalitarian promise in modern history while living his entire life among two hundred slaves." The first five founding father presidents either owned slaves themselves and/or, while they were in office, condoned the practice by failing to end it, in addition to being heads of state of a nation that excluded women from political participation.

Barack Obama has probably been the most decent president of my lifetime. But, of course, the public largely demands that people of color and white women be exponentially more decent than the basest white man in order to hold public office.

Friday, April 20, 2018

When Fascism Comes To the USA

Madeline Albright is pulling no punches in her new book, Fascism: A Warning:
"Why, per Freedom House, is democracy now 'under assault and in retreat'? Why are many people in positions of power seeking to undermine public confidence in elections, the courts, the media, and - on the fundamental question of earth's future - science? Why have such dangerous splits been allowed to develop between rich and poor, urban and rural, those with a higher education and those without? Why has the United States - at least temporarily - abdicated its leadership in world affairs? And why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?

One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab."
Do you ever notice that marginalized people - women, people of color, LGBTs - tend to talk about Donald Trump much, much differently than do cishet white guys?

I do.

While some prominent white male pundits and politicians will, say, speculate about how this or that white guy woulda won the 2016 election or gaslighting us about the threat Trump and his fans pose, many women/marginalized people seem to see things differently.

In what is perhaps the most direct such call from a sitting member of Congress, for instance, US Representative Maxine Waters regularly heralds Trump's impeachment, on Twitter. Women are, and should be, leading the anti-Trump resistance as, for far too long, our perspectives, humanity, and potential have been stifled in favor of building white-male-discourse-only bubbles of mediocrity, terror, and segregation.

The way Albright seems to see it is that Donald Trump's electoral college win signals both decline and danger.

Maybe there's a simple truth as to why so many cishet white men "don't see" the threat Trump poses. An easy explanation is that when women/people of color/LGBTs are marginalized, they benefit. That structure, in fact, has been the historical status quo from which they've reaped massive rewards in this country.

I think that it is no accident that fascism is coming to the USA just at the very moment we arrived, almost, at a very meaningful precipice for women.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mediocre White Man Is Mediocre At WaPo

The fact that Richard Cohen's absurd piece defending white men from being reversely discriminated against was written by himself, a grown-ass man, and published in The Washington Post and not, instead, written by an adolescent for his high school paper tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how real and widespread discrimination against white men is in the real world.


Here are some telling quotes from the piece itself. He acknowledges that discrimination against women/people of color is (was?) a very real and widespread thing:
  • "Let me concede right at the top that it was always better to be white in America than black. Let me further stipulate that in the workplace, it has usually been better to be a man than a woman."
  • "My first real job was with the New York office of a national insurance company. Sexual harassment was a problem, for sure."
  • "Our office was exclusively white and not by accident. When I asked my boss why we had no black employees, he told me directly that it was his policy not to hire any."
  • "When I went into journalism, it was mostly a guy’s thing. It was rare for a woman to be a foreign correspondent, rarer still for one to cover a war. My career surely benefited from that. There are women around today who I am glad I didn’t have to compete against when I was starting out."
Here, Cohen acknowledges that his own career benefited precisely because he didn't have to compete against women/people of color, who were widely and very blatantly excluded from his profession.

Yet, watch and observe this display of Peak White Man:
"Once I was passed over for a newsroom position I very much wanted. 'We needed a woman,' an editor told me. I said nothing, although I seethed. In short order, I was made a columnist, so I didn’t even get a chance to cry. But the instant rush of utter unfairness lingers. The woman chosen was qualified, but her qualification had nothing to do with her sex. I was told she was just a needed statistic.

The way women have been treated in the workplace is wrong — everything from pay disparity to sexual harassment to outright discrimination. But the past does not obliterate the solemn obligation to treat people as individuals, not primarily as members of a sex or race. Fairness demands it. Democracy requires it."
One time, Cohen wanted a job, a qualified woman got it instead, and then he got a different job he wanted anyway, and still.... he seethed with anger at the injustice to himself. 

Cohen talks a big game at the end, uttering platitudes about fairness and the "solemn obligation" to treat everyone as individuals, and yet what, if anything, has he ever done about discrimination against women/people of color in his career except benefit from it?


And yet, just think. If Cohen had had to compete against women/people of color since the very start of his career, we all might have been spared this cold-diarrhea analysis in favor of something much, much more embiggening to the public discourse.


Related: 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wonderslash Friday

Who has seen Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, about William Moulton Marston (who created Wonder Woman), Elizabeth Marston, and Olive Byrne?

While the three lived together in real life, and were portrayed in the movie as being in a polyamorous relationship that included Elizabeth and Olive being romantic partners, the true nature of their relationship has been contested. Nevertheless, because few portrayals of poly relationships exist in TV and film, I was able to enjoy the movie, even with the caveat in the back of my mind that what I was seeing might be fictional.

Also, for whatever reason, the Bill Marston character wasn't annoying to me. Maybe because he was played by a guy who's openly gay in real life. Go figure.

 Enjoy today's fan vid, featuring the trio.