Wednesday, 26 November 2008

When White Male Bloggers Erupt

I had the same reaction as these guys, to the announcement by the Carleton University Students’ Association that it has voted to drop cystic fibrosis as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, arguing that the illness is not “inclusive” enough.

Dawg makes a valiant, and lone, stand in defense of CUSA, in his post, and in the comments at the blogs linked above.

The good doctor has a few points, but still skirts the issue that the motion still had racist overtones: In a meeting Monday night, CUSA members voted 17-2 to approve a motion to look at donating the frosh week fundraising money to other charities because "cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" and "all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their diverse communities."

How is that not offensive? Now, it must be granted (and I think this is what Dawg was trying to get at), the the student union did not intend to imply that white males are not worthy of any charitable support. They just want to help as many people as possible and represent the entire student community. But these words, poorly spoken or not, are offensive. Many people have pointed out that the student union could have avoided all this by just announcing which charity they wished to support. But those ill chosen words are what caused this eruption of disgust.

In reality, Dawg is correct, this announcement was a non event. So why this eruption of disgust from the white male community? Dawg blames right wingery, and I think he misses the mark here, by a long shot. Red Tory (and myself) are not right wingers, and we had the same reaction.

Growing up, I had it beaten into me that White Western Males were the source of all the worlds ills. White males are often portrayed as the source of violence, hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism, child abandonment, child abuse, poor fashion sense, bad car design, failing infrastructure, failing to put out the garbage, not putting up the Christmas lights, etc. etc. etc. When its pointed out that it isn't just Anglo-saxons that are imperfect, its then excused by, well all males are violent sadistic creatures. However, in Canada if not in the rest of "the west", the discussion still revolves around the failings of white males to be accommodating to others.

Whatever the truth of all this, this constant message does get internalized. White males, just by being born, are in a sense, victimized by this constant message barrage. The more I ponder this, I wonder how much of this plays into the vitriol splitting the left and the right? From my observance of much of the discussions online, many white males on the left blame society's ills on the white males in the right (and vice versa). At this point in time (because this is when the thought occurred to me) I wonder if we might be trying to shed the burden of guilt by placing it on others. Its not all white males that are at fault, it's the religious right! Us atheist liberals are pure and clean!

Just as nigger, whore, spic, etc. are specific words that denigrate and upset, white males are denigrated by a concept. Its not specific, and not as offensive in a quantitative sense, but the effect is just as real.

Now, don't get all pouty and say I'm trying to play a "poor little white boy thinks he's suffering game". I'm not. But like it or not, many white males do feel victimized, and every once in a while, we react. Even though it seems that those most victimized find a home on the right, it is prevalent within those of us that consider ourselves moderate or left. It doesn't matter how much we are truly affected (in comparison with the suffering of other groups worldwide at the hand of white society and others), you really don't want white males reacting out of anger and a sense of victomhood anymore than you want that from any group.

Whether we like it or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether it is a real issue or not, the emotional impact is there. Ignoring it as inconsequential just adds to the insult. The reaction exists for a reason, saying its trivial and we "should know better" will just contribute to the bitterness, and will only deepen the divisions.

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