American culture reached Peak Beta last week as three privileged white-male pundits wrote essays declaring that privileged white males suck.
Lifelong morbidly obese bitchy lesbian Roger Ebert apparently dismantled the presumably elaborate series of pulleys and harnesses that enable him to orally service his adiposely domineering, melanin-drenched wife in order to run that half-a-mouth of his about how “Women Are Better Than Men.” Amazingly, Ebert became privy to this startling epiphany while watching a movie about how women are better than men. Ebert, who was apparently born without male hormones, decried “testosterone.” He intimated that men, at least the brawny ones, are as obsolete as farm animals and that women will be better suited to take command of “our emerging world economy”:
Women are nicer than men. And the sooner more of them take positions of power, the better our chances as a species.
Ebert’s verbal genuflection before the Giant Invisible Goddess Vulva is nothing new. Nor was it as cringeworthy as other recent spectacles of public male self-neutering such as the unconsciously hysterical, vagina-dessiccating “Dear Woman” video compiled by a group of ex-men offering “a collective apology on behalf of their gender.” It wasn’t as abjectly self-deballing as the recent trend of progressive boy hamsters holding “I Am a Feminist Because…” placards in what appear to be last-ditch attempts to get laid. It is merely the latest example in a decades-long tradition of men taking pride in taking shame in being men.
The second male scribe to fire a flaming Roman candle into his own crotch last week was the profoundly unhandsome sci-fi writer John Scalzi, who apparently attracts legions of profoundly unhandsome fans who could pass for the bastard sons of Roger Ebert, all of them swinging their flaccid lightsabers of righteous self-abnegation in agreement. Scalzi, who claims he’s in the process of writing a video game, used his undoubtedly well-manicured fingers to peck out an essay called “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” Since he apparently spends much of his life lost amid fantasies, he likened American social hierarchies to a video game where being born a white male makes the game easier than it is for anyone else.
Rounding out last week’s triumvirate of white-male auto-castrati was HuffPo contributor Bob Cesca, who not only acknowledged a media double standard when it comes to reporting interracial violence—he defended it! He insisted that the double standard “has to remain”—his italics—to help dismantle “the white-dominated American power structure” until that day in the distant future when we finally reach “full equality.” Despite the mountains of narrative-subverting evidence that has leaked out in the Trayvon Martin case in recent weeks, Cesca still says that he and other sensitive white males “can understand why African American activists like Al Sharpton and others are outraged.” Apparently he can also understand how Sharpton still retains a pinkie-fingernail’s worth of credibility after Tawana Brawley, the Duke Lacrosse scandal, the Crown Heights riots, the Jena 6, and now the Trayvon case, because I don’t understand it at all.
Many modern white males appear to have been culturally conditioned to fit themselves with electric dog collars that deliver sharp, painful jolts when they so much as think of offending anyone who isn’t a white male. And somehow they seem to see this as noble and brave rather than fearful and compliant. But these self-flagellating public displays are reminiscent of the magical thinking in what I once diagnosed as “Passover Syndrome”—it’s as if by declaring that they share in an unpaid collective debt, maybe they can emerge unscathed without having to sacrifice anything tangible beyond their basic dignity.
Oh, I’m laughing. Laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing. You say that collective pride is a sign of ignorance, but collective shame is a sign of enlightenment. You affirm yourself through self-negation. You think it’s brave to be a pussy. You’ve raised your consciousness so high, you’ve left planet Earth entirely. You’re hilarious!
Just as I can’t see all this invisible racism, and just as I think that anyone who believes in institutional racism ought to be institutionalized, I’m absolutely blind to all this privilege I allegedly enjoy due to my skin and gender. I don’t see the privilege in being required to passively accept my nonexistent role in historical atrocities. I don’t see the upside of being constantly lampooned and demonized in media and education. And I definitely don’t see the privilege in being a white-male writer in a modern media milieu where it’s a career-killer if the first words out of your mouth aren’t, “I’m a white male, and I’m sorry.”
While working on this essay, I received an email from a white male who works in media asking if I’d seen Scalzi’s article and urging me to write about it. He’d personally experienced an extremely hostile reaction from his cohorts after criticizing Scalzi’s piece:
I tried to bring a little reason into the discussion (“Hey, I grew up in a shitheap and work three jobs so why am I more privileged [than] Michelle Obama?”) but out came the pitch forks….I’ve actually had to block a lot of people in my social media circles over this, and I’ve not been able to even sleep that much since reading all of the hateful bleating from his little sheep.
Shortly after I told him I was going to include the Scalzi article in my piece, he sent me this:
Oh, and I guess it’s too late now, but my wife is freaked out you’ll mention me in the piece. Guess she’s got a point. The progressive witch hunters are thick in my line of work and even the tiniest claim of the scarlet “R” word will ruin my life for good. I told her you didn’t seem like that kind of guy, but I also promised I’d ask. So is that okay?
I wrote him back a single line:
How much energy does it sap from you every day biting your lip and not speaking the truth?
He responded with palpable terror:
Oh. Crap. A lot….I’ve tried to speak about this—that privilege is a relative thing—and all it got me was a whole lot of misery.…I was eaten alive on Facebook, and all I want is not to have my life ruined—I am scared now, frankly. I’m just starting to dig my way out of the financial and creative morass I’ve dug for myself….My wife is already furious with me about this. We are/were on the verge of some new stuff that could dig us out of a bad situation.…You, as you’ve gathered, now have [me] by the balls. I never thought that this would happen. Are you going to break me?…I was stupid, I guess, and I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m going to do if you choose to throw me to the wolves. I just didn’t think that you would. Are you?…I’m fucked.
And I wrote back:
You’re the one who has to live with yourself and what appears to be a dominating wife….I don’t plan on identifying you, because that’s not my style unless someone’s directly attacked me first….But you helped me write this article. These emails illustrate a lot of points I’ve tried to make.
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