Help! I’m Being Repressed! (White Male Activist Intersectionality Fail) November 13, 2010Posted by FCM in authors picks, gender roles, international, liberal dickwads, politics, race, WTF?.
Tags: activism, male privilege, monty python, racism, tim wise
in thinking about the recent discussions on privilege, for some reason i had this clip playing in my mind. monty python of course gives excellent commentary on class privilege, and the more scenes i revisit as an adult, the more that sinks in. as a child, i appreciated monty python because they are just extremely silly. but now i realize why wannabe academics and white men like them so much. analyzing class privilege!!11!!1 its subversive, but not really!!!1!!1 which is exactly how wannabe academics and white men like their social commentary. nice and safe.
this kind of class-analysis is nice and safe for wannabe academics and white men because there is never any meaningful commentary of male privilege. what a surprise! in other words: ZOMG!!111!!1 INTERSECTIONALITY FAIL!!!11!!!1 for example, in the above clip, the male “constitutional peasant” calls attention to “the violence inherent in the system” when he is literally manhandled by the king because he wont shut up about class-based inequities. and as usual, monty python hits the nail on the head with regard to systems of class oppression: theres always the threat of violence behind those wielding political power over the lower class. the power to get other men to shut up, when they are saying something you dont like. the power to force them to do things they dont want to do. help! i’m being repressed!
and they are. men are repressing other men with the threat of violence. or perhaps more importantly, or at least more commonly, what men read as violence, but things that arent actually violent: like being coerced from afar, due to repressive social structures, into doing something you dont really want to do, or living in a way you dont want to live. men read anything that gets in the way of their own autonomy as being violent, even when it isnt. meanwhile, the “female” peasant is rooting around in the muck just like everyone else, AND is surely being used sexually by some loudmouthed male peasant who says it is *he* who is being repressed, and that *all* members of his class are being repressed, by the king. but no one is ever repressed by him, personally, or by other men of their social class or community, collectively, because as members of the lower class, they lack the power to oppress anyone. INTERSECTIONALITY FAIL!!!11!!1
but, you know, the monty pythoners are to be forgiven, and will be remembered fondly by history regardless of their intersectionality fails, because making fun of men for sexually exploiting women isnt funny. and therefore not in their job description. and the monty python players (and their audience) were undoubtedly engaging in this one themselves, in real life. so they probably were unaware of it, or simply didnt care.
meanwhile, actual violence, up to and including murder, perpetrated on women by men of their own social class is…ignored? i dont know. i mean, this next scene made the final cut of the movie, and is a memorable one, but what is being criticised here really? men murdering women of their own class based on misogynist religious superstition (literally, insanity masquerading as logic) and sex-based discrimination in the legal system? HA! not likely. taken in the context of monty pythons usual social class-commentary and criticism of the ruling elite, this seems to be a criticism of religion and superstition sullying the legal process, which is usually rational, although perhaps unfairly applied, against men, by other men. isnt it? in other words, the classic race- and class-based criticism of male institutions: that its a failure of application, only, and not of reason. as if the current legal system isnt still, presently, a witch-hunt, if you are a woman. whew! thank (us rational men) this doesnt happen anymore:
so anyway, speaking of white men who indulge in a certain kind of social critique, but are in fact completely blind (or indifferent) to their own male privilege, and the unique ways that women are abused by men with whom they share every social characteristic except sex…i present a clip from well-known white male anti-racist activist tim wise. this is about an hour long, but its worth watching, if only to see for yourself how white male anti-racist activists (or one of them anyway, who has managed to become incredibly successful and highly regarded using this exact methodology and who admits to having used this exact script multiple times, and has other activists begging for more, because its just that good) are framing the issues. and notably, what they seem completely blind to. in other words: ZOMG!!!11!11 INTERSECTIONALITY FAIL!!!!111!1
if you dont have time for the whole thing, the first few minutes (his “introduction” and description of his own generational white privilege) are instructive…but not in the way *he* would probably like:
in fairness, what this clip is good for is a racism-101 (for those complete morons who have never thought of any of this before, aka. the lowest common denominator) and the white-privileged bootstrapping crowd, who
genuinely actually believe that if they have gotten anywhere in life, it was due to their own gumption and hard work, and nothing else.
but, unfortunately for tim wise, the other thing its good for is unintentionally illustrating with embarrassing clarity how someone who is allegedly so sensitive to issues of entitlement and privilege, is actually completely blind to his own male privilege, and how these analyses of “white privilege” are really an analysis of white male privilege, and not inclusive or representative at all of womens experience, of being dominated by men of their own class and race. and not taking into account AT ALL the part that male privilege has played, in getting this white man into the position of power and authority he currently holds.
specifically, the fact that his mother took out a loan, and his grandmother cosigned and put up her home as collateral, to send their precious, entitled boy-child to a good school. see? tim wise’s mother and grandmother put their own financial wellbeing and (therefore) their own physical security in peril (and in the case of the grandmother, literally the security of her home, a living situation that somewhat protected her from male violence) for his benefit. so that he could thrive. how incredibly fortunate FOR THEM that this crapshoot actually paid off. because it very easily couldve been the worst mistake they ever made, and left them both destitute and homeless, and even more vulnerable to male violence and dangerous male sexuality than they already were. because they were women.
and luckily for tim wise AND his female relatives i suppose, the bar is set extremely low for some people. and that some people can become well-paid and highly-regarded, pretty much just by showing up. this is one way that white women benefit from white privilege: they give birth to precious entitled boy-children, who because of WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE, have a decent chance at supporting themselves eventually, and paying their female relatives back for all the sacrifices they made, for them, because they were male. but as many mothers and grandmothers (and wives and girlfriends too) are disappointed to realize, many men are just such complete, irredeemable losers, that they fail to thrive even when the decks are completely stacked in their favor. helping them out at your own peril is not a guarantee of any particular outcome. but we do it anyway, because we are women.
but tim wise apparently believes that his
little talk mansplanation and description of generational white privilege and how it operates, is inclusive of all white people, doesnt he? meaning that, as usual, women are not included in his definition of people. because hes a man. INTERSECTIONALITY FAIL!!!!11!!1 if he were a feminist, he wouldve been eviscerated for his shortcomings by now. luckily for him, he clearly isnt one.
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