The evolution of the Great White Male


A couple of weeks ago, the New Statesman ran a special edition guest edited by Grayson Perry, with the strapline The Great White Male Issue.

In the centrepiece essay, Perry himself spelled out what he meant by the Great White Male – the white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle aged, who:

“dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.”

In an accompanying panel feature, 17 prominent writers and intellectuals each offered a paragraph or two under the following heading and standfirst:

A manifesto for the new man: how the Great White Male can stay relevant
The days of the Great White Male are numbered. So how should men live now?

Despite a few incisive and interesting observations, I found the feature a deeply depressing and dispiriting read. What leaped out at me was the paucity of imagination and ideas offered up. If a manifesto is a programme of proposals for change, it is very hard to find anything in here which could be considered a policy.

[Aside: There is one whopper of a pothole which disrupts the piece and presents a hazard for me here too, so let me point it out and fence it off with a hazard sign. The New Statesman’s pundits do not agree on whether Great White Male describes real individuals with personal foibles and failings, vulnerabilities and problems, or whether it is a theoretical archetype or even a metaphor. I do not believe Mary Beard really expects any middle aged white men to end up living in cages at the zoo any time soon, for example. So just for clarity, in this post when I talk about the Great White Male (GWM) I am discussing the archetype, the theoretical construct who is assumed to be the most likely leader of any institution, to whom society as a whole looks for leadership and who presumes himself to be deserving of respect and authority. I am not talking about any specific individuals, and I am certainly not asserting that all straight, white, middle-aged men have power, authority or good fortune. I am, however, asserting that the shared social construction of white male power has serious and profound impacts on real lives of real people in the real world.]

In his contribution, Kwami Kwei-Armah asks an interesting question.

“I often wonder, however, if there is a collective realisation of the fear evoked? And if so, is there a white, male equivalent to, say, me crossing the street at night at the sight of an elderly, white female approaching, or pitching my voice five octaves higher to signal, “You are safe with me”? Is there?”

I think there is, and examples of it abound on the very same page. The equivalent is an affected, exaggerated self-abasement which positions the Great White Male as aware of his own privilege, conscious of his failings, not entirely like the ‘typical’ GWM, as if this somehow negates his power or exempts him from criticism. We see it here with Stephen Fry’s description of “white, British, middle-class males, fit only to be kicked over like wormy toadstools” and we see it too in Perry’s own essay, when he exempts himself on the basis of his working class roots and transvestism. Fry and Matthew Parris both pull the same trick, highlighting their own homosexuality or (in Fry’s case) Jewish ancestry as if to say “no, not me, I’m not one of them.” What they fail to note is that virtually every GWM can pull a similar card from his cufflinked sleeve when it suits.

There are at least two distinct agendas for change with respect for the GWM and again, the New Statesman feature fails to clarify which it is they are addressing. The first objective could be to change the world around the GWM, to render his privileges obsolete. The second is for GWM himself to change, to relinquish his privilege and oppressive tendencies, either voluntarily or by some form of compulsion.

For the gender radical, either or both of these objectives can be pursued. However not all transformation is radical. Within the contributions, there are offerings from four men who have stood at the very pinnacle of power in the UK, in politics, religion, news media and the arts. Of all the contributors, these are surely closest to living breathing personifications of the Great White Male. I refer to Alastair Campbell, Rowan Williams, Andrew Marr and Lord Melvyn Bragg.

In their comments, the first three of these prescribe very specific, personal, individualistic beseechments for personal transformation. Get in touch with your emotions and look after your mental health. Step up to your responsibilities. Be kind.

In other words, they are not talking about how to transform, curtail or overthrow the power of the Great White Male, but prescribing how the power can be used more benevolently or with less blowback on the wellbeing of the GWM himself. In other words, they advise fiddling at the fringes in ways that will not in any way disrupt or diminish the power of the GWM, but if anything entrench and enrich that power.

The fourth, Lord Bragg, simply kicks the initial premise into touch, noting (probably accurately) that whether we like it or not, the GWM is going nowhere for now.

The obvious pantomime villain in the New Statesman piece is Tony Parsons, who basically says “being a Great White Male is excellent. We rule the world because we are the best. Now piss off.” (I paraphrase, but not much.) In many ways I find this upfront arrogance less troublesome, less dangerous than the arch, affected compassionate conservatism of (in particular) Williams and Marr.

The current structures of our society dehumanise and brutalise men and boys in numerous ways. Some men emerge strong, confident and tough, others simply dehumanised, brutalised and beaten – most of us wrestle with some combination of both. Across the spectrum of male-focused gender politics, there are traditionalists, who willingly accept both sides of the coin and believe they are as things should be. There is also a large bulk of the men’s rights movement which fights tooth and nail to defend every last vestige of male privilege while simultaneously seeking protection from every negative consequence that flows from it (and of course denying the privilege exists in the first place.) It might seem startling once unpacked and hung out in the light, but the New Statesman’s vox magna presented a veritable array of such suggestions, and virtually all came from Great White Males themselves.

In my view, only a couple of the suggestions really grasped the type of radicalism that is needed in a manifesto for change. Both came from women. I loved the simplicity of Bonnie Greer’s gentle beseechment:

“One of the characteristics of the Great White Male is the assumption of complete attention. This manifests itself in various ways but the most common is the loud voice that rises above all others. And its opposite, too – the soft voice, with its assumption of reason, calm and control: “I am the one in charge. I am the one who knows.” This creates, over time, that peculiar characteristic – a resistance to change, and along with it protection of the status quo.

Given that this condition is acquired, not inherent, it can be eradicated in the following way: make the potential Great White Male understand that he is not the sine qua non of human existence; that he can, in fact, take a back seat. And no one will either notice or mind.”

But of all the comments, it was Laurie Penny who really nailed it.

“The real threat on the horizon for the Great White Male isn’t extinction: it’s evolution. And evolution is no bad thing. It’s what happens when you meet new people and adjust to new environments. The creatures who will have to live in this society in generations to come are entitled to divest themselves of maladaptive qualities such as intolerance, stuffiness and a fondness for sexist jokes and embarrassing, finger-pointy disco dancing, while preserving more positive traits, such as barbecuing skills and the easy confidence that comes with not being the victim of decades of oppression… Feminism and anti-racism aren’t just political movements: they are adaptive strategies.”

Both these comments acknowledge the most important fact about the Great White Male identity. It does not exist in splendid isolation, separate from other genders, ethnicities, sexualities or whatever, but as part of a dynamic interaction. No man is an island, Great White Man least of all. He can only exist because of the corollaries – the subjected female or the oppressed person of colour.

All the bad jokes and lazy characterizations that pepper this feature are a distraction from the profound truth that the evolution of the Great White Male – indeed the liberation of the Great White Male from the dehumanising, stultifying, often deadly constraints of patriarchy – is inextricably bound up in the pursuit of justice for all.

Comments

  1. Anne Fenwick says

    the second is for GWM himself to change, to relinquish his privilege and oppressive tendencies, either voluntarily or by some form of compulsion.

    If he’s an archetype as opposed to an individual, this isn’t something ‘he’ can do. He’s a figment of our collective imagination, constructed as much by people who are not GWMs as people who are. It’s not so much a case of an emperor with no clothes, as a set of clothes with no emperor walking around inside them. Stop responding to the clothes and the whole thing collapses. It’s actually the very thing some of those modest, self-deprecating, individual WMs are calling attention to. They’re saying ‘I’m not in these clothes, stop trying to put me there.’ The only problem there is when they realise what life is really like on the other side of the clothes and it comes as a shock to them. Then there’s the ones who don’t realise it’s the clothes everyone is responding to, and assume it has something to do with them. They’re often the real problem.

  2. H. E. Pennypacker says

    My problem was more with the formation of the question than the answers (although they weren’t great). Whilst Grayson Perry does include “domination the upper-echelons of society” in his description, nobodies answers focus on this and neither does Perry’s piece. The focus is on middle-classness, whiteness, maleness and heterosexuality which, although relevant, aren’t really the main problem. Would a society which was essentially the same except more of the politicians running things for corporate (and their own self-) interests really be that much better if it had more non-whites, women and homosexuals? I always say that we don’t need more females earning millions of pounds running amoral corporations, we need less men doing it.

    Many of the respondents merely described how they think men should change. Why? Because that was the question:
    “So how should men live now?”

    I don’t object to all this talk of “The Great White Male” because I find it offensive, I object because it ignores what for me are the real issues. David Cameron can declare himself a feminist, gay-marriage is legalised and schools incessantly preach respect for other cultures because these ideas aren’t a threat to the current system. That’s not to say that these issues aren’t important or that the examples above show that the problems have been solved by any means. But I think the obsession with basing every analysis on essential qualities of people (ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation) obfuscates rather than illuminates.

    I wasn’t big on Laurrie Penny’s comment – probably partly because I’m averse to explaining behaviour through what is adaptive. Actually being racist, sexist and homophobic doesn’t seem to have gone that badly for those at the levers of power. If their is a change now it’s because giving up sexist jokes and having to interact with a few more black, female, gay/lesbian people is far preferable to them than fundamentally challenging the power and wealth enjoyed by the elite. Again, this is my problem with the focus on the identity. When someone says “Great White Males are going to have to learn to share their power and privileged” they seem to imagine that if this happened it would lead to some great, equal society. Instead it would lead to a society where we had a few more powerful and privileged people who weren’t white, heterosexual men but everyone else would be just as fucked.

    One last thing – Perry and some of the respondents in the manifesto seem to labour under the illusion that white, middle-class men are unusually intolerant. Anyone who has lived in the real world can see that this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not to say that as a group they are perfectly right on but I’ve heard plenty of intolerance coming from working-class people, people of other ethnicities and women. It seems highly likely to me that white, middle-class men are probably, on average, more right-on when it comes to racism, sexism and homophobia than the average of the general population.

    Again, this is not because as white, middle-class man I’m offended by this idea. From a purely self-interested point of view I really don’t care. I just think it hamstrings effective action to really change things.

  3. StillGjenganger says

    Across the spectrum of male-focused gender politics, there are traditionalists, who willingly accept both sides of the coin and believe they are as things should be. There is also a large bulk of the men’s rights movement which fights tooth and nail to defend every last vestige of male privilege while simultaneously seeking protection from every negative consequence that flows from it (and of course denying the privilege exists in the first place.)

    Aptly put. I am on the traditionalist side myself.

    The creatures who will have to live in this society in generations to come are entitled to divest themselves of maladaptive qualities such as intolerance, stuffiness and a fondness for sexist jokes and embarrassing, finger-pointy disco dancing, while preserving more positive traits, such as barbecuing skills and the easy confidence that comes with not being the victim of decades of oppression… Feminism and anti-racism aren’t just political movements: they are adaptive strategies.”

    In other words, we change so that we get rid of all the bad things, keep all the good things, nobody loses anything, and everybody is much, much, happier. Why am I a little sceptical that it really will be that easy, and that we can all have our cake and eat it too?

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Anne Fenwick

    If he’s an archetype as opposed to an individual, this isn’t something ‘he’ can do. He’s a figment of our collective imagination, constructed as much by people who are not GWMs as people who are.

    I don’t quite agree with this. I think he is more than a figment of our imagination, he is a composite of real people and their projection of themselves (including their behaviour and words) along with other people’s interpretations and the projection of others onto them,. Those things are in a kind of symbiotic relationship, so those who more closely match the GWM archetype can act to change the archetype with their own behaviour etc, and those who observe it can change it by how they attend to it.

    I think the GWM archetype has changed significantly over the past 100 years, say, but it remains a GWM archetype.

    Stop responding to the clothes and the whole thing collapses.

    That’s a nice thought, but I’m not quite sure it is the whole story. The problem is that society does give potential GWMs certain psychological and physical advantages that are quite real. I’m thinking about things like the public school system and the old school tie network, It’s not the case that if you ignore them they go away, because power remains concentrated in those hands.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    H.E.P.

    But I think the obsession with basing every analysis on essential qualities of people (ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation) obfuscates rather than illuminates.

    We don’t need to base every analysis on essential identifiers. We can give our attention to the ways in which we are advantaged or disadvantaged by our gender or ethnicity one day, and still enthusiastically endorse Joseph Stiglitz’s critique of globalized capitalism or Naomi Klein’s interplay of economics and environmentalism the next.

    However there is a real danger in dismissing all analysis of identity-based structural oppression as a sideshow or irrelevant, because in the real world, people really are oppressed as a result of their gender, race or whatever.

    When someone says “Great White Males are going to have to learn to share their power and privileged” they seem to imagine that if this happened it would lead to some great, equal society. Instead it would lead to a society where we had a few more powerful and privileged people who weren’t white, heterosexual men but everyone else would be just as fucked.

    I think this is entirely and dangerously wrong.

    First of all it is a strawman. I would challenge you to point me towards a single real person who says that if Great White Males shared their power and privilege that alone would lead to some “great equal society.” If you can find such a person, I will tell you now they are an idiot.

    However what I would say, and I suspect a lot of other people too, is that the concentration of power in the hands of a very narrow tranche of society, characterised here as GWM, is a major obstacle to taking steps towards a more fair and equal society. Patriarchy, racial supremacy and other similar social systems each play their parts in sustaining broader social, political and economic inequality but they are not the be all and end all.

  6. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 5

    concentration of power in the hands of a very narrow tranche of society, characterised here as GWM is a major obstacle to taking steps towards a more fair and equal society.

    Well, characterising your elite as GWM does rather suggest that getting the racial and gender balance right in the elite would be a major step towards equality. Introducing boardroom quotas for elite women in Europe, or creating a black upper class along the white one in South Africa would spell the end of GWM as a group – but how far towards equality would it actually bring us?

  7. sonofrojblake says

    Fry and Matthew Parris both pull the same trick, highlighting their own homosexuality or (in Fry’s case) Jewish ancestry as if to say “no, not me, I’m not one of them.”

    Yeah, because you couldn’t possibly be powerful or influential if you were Jewish, could you? Or gay, for that matter – nobody who was gay ever got to a position of influence or power. Oh, hang on, I’ve just got a bit of sick in my mouth…

    the concentration of power in the hands of a very narrow tranche of society, characterised here as GWM, is a major obstacle to taking steps towards a more fair and equal society

    The bit in bold is not necessary. It’s an observation of fact in and of itself – power is concentrated, and yes right now it’s GWMs with whom it rests, but pointing that latter fact out is practically a non-sequitur if the point of the discussion is equality at the societal level. I don’t want to be oppressed by a racially- and sexually-representative sample of society, I just want to not be oppressed. And I say that as a relatively comfortable middle class straight white male who is, nevertheless, not in a position of any influence or power. A more diverse set of oppressors makes life WORSE, not just for me, but for everyone, because at least for now women and ethnic minorities can poke people like me with a stick labelled “privilege”. Make half of all MPs and company directors women, and 10% or so of them other than white, and in addition to the majority of us being no better off, the social justice warriors would have nothing left to tell me off about, because I’d have no noticeable privilege by virtue of my colour and gender. We must be very careful to be specific about what kind of equality we want, and equal representation in the boardroom isn’t actually it, I think. What we’d prefer is that “the boardroom” wasn’t effectively a different planet.

  8. says

    Thanks for that.

    When you said you were going to respond to the New Statesman’s piece my reaction was “why!?”, but you’ve written an interesting response.

    “and I am certainly not asserting that all straight, white, middle-aged men have power, authority or good fortune”

    good luck with that…goes to find some popcorn.

  9. Bugmaster says

    Is there any evidence to suggest that gay black female members of the power elite would be kinder, gentler, and more concerned with the well-being of the less fortunate (*) than straight white men ? If so, what is the evidence, and can we see it ? If not, then what’s the point ? When I’m getting screwed out of my pension and life savings, I don’t really care about the skin color of the CEOs or bankers who are doing the screwing.

    (*) Which, compared to them, is almost everyone.

  10. Lucy says

    “Is there any evidence to suggest that gay black female members of the power elite would be kinder, gentler, and more concerned with the well-being of the less fortunate (*) than straight white men ? If so, what is the evidence, and can we see it ? If not, then what’s the point ? ”

    Aside from the fact that they’ve never pushed themselves into the position of being a powerful elite?

    The point is that they exist. The world doesn’t belong to white men.

  11. says

    “because I’d have no noticeable privilege by virtue of my colour and gender.”

    Well except that the entire world and our future forays into space are entirely and exclusively designed around your perspective, biology and desires.

  12. says

    “because I’d have no noticeable privilege by virtue of my colour and gender.”

    You’d notice it soon enough if 80-100% of government, science, business, philosophy, theology, art, law, architecture, etc was run by black women. For thousands upon thousands of years so that there was no living or folk memory of what came before. Bearing in mind that neither government, science, business, philosophy, theology, art, law, architecture, etc would exist in its current form, but rather things would be organised entirely, fundamentally differently in ways that our beyond our imagination. And bearing in mind that you would have internalised your physically, mentally, morally, spiritually-defective status.

    Then you’d get it.

  13. Bugmaster says

    @Lucy:

    The point is that they exist. The world doesn’t belong to white men.

    Ok, let’s say that tomorrow, we magically replace half of the white men who are currently in power with black women. Do you have any evidence to suggest that doing so will measurably improve the lives of regular black women — i.e., the 99.9% of them who aren’t in power ? If so, what is the evidence ? If not, then what’s the point of the exercise ? Simply diversity for diversity’s sake ?

  14. Anne Fenwick says

    Is there any evidence to suggest that gay black female members of the power elite would be kinder, gentler, and more concerned with the well-being of the less fortunate (*) than straight white men ? If so, what is the evidence, and can we see it ? If not, then what’s the point ?

    That’s kind of a strange argument actually. I mean, I manage to disapprove of cheating and unfairness in areas as disparate as football and plagiarism in science papers, even though those things affect me not one jot. Are you only in favour of justice when your self-interest is involved?

    PS: by all means put all your efforts into fighting economic inequality, but remember that the gender/race imbalances exist at every level. You mentioned pensions and life savings – two commodities currently somewhat correlated with being white and male.

  15. mildlymagnificent says

    Ok, let’s say that tomorrow, we magically replace half of the white men who are currently in power with black women. Do you have any evidence to suggest that doing so will measurably improve the lives of regular black women — i.e., the 99.9% of them who aren’t in power ?

    If this hypothetical bloc of power-wielding black women behaved in exactly the same way that the known bloc of power-wielding white men has behaved for generations, there would be a noticeable difference. Scholarships, subsidies or other favoured entry mechanisms to certain schools and universities backed up by word of mouth, “old school tie” reference and preference into industry, law, economics and politically influential jobs would ensure that the model of powerful black women being best suited to the most important jobs is constantly reinforced within the group and to society at large.

    But there would be one distinct difference from now. There would be two visibly different groups doing this stuff. In and of itself that would change things in ways we can’t predict because our experience has only ever been of a single dominant group.

  16. avern says

    That comment by Stephen Fry is absolutely disgusting and not a single contributor on that panel provided a single insight or spark of intellect.

    The Great White Male is more relevant now than ever since rather than being a category of person, he is now becoming a symbol for rebellious individualism. He represents the anti-leftist, anti-feminist, and anti-globalist, which is why leftist, feminist, and globalist white males have no problem separating themselves from him and attacking him. What leftist idiots don’t realize is that a lot more presently designated minorities are going to start identifying with the Great White Male in response to the stalinist, patronizing, and hypocritical tactics favored by the SJW banner-wavers on the left. Gamergaters, apolitical atheists, geeks, libertarians, and MRAs will all become Great White Males no matter their gender or race.

    Being asian, I’ve seen this type of surreal politicization occur firsthand. The most pernicious anti-asian bigotry comes from people who describe themselves as progressives. I could never figure out why people who would be shocked by even the mildest joke directed at the expense of blacks or arabs, would have no problem casting asians as perverted psychopaths with tiny dicks. I realize now its because as the “model minority” we set off progressives’ hatred for the worst type of Great White Male, the nerd. For asians, racial sensitivity is something progressives have to remind themselves of, but they forget frequently. Soon asians will be just a subcategory of the Great White Male.

    So the Great White Male is dead. Long live the Great White Male!

  17. sonofrojblake says

    That comment by Stephen Fry is absolutely disgusting

    Entirely in character for the man. Many a true word is spoken in jest. He once observed that Sainsbury’s is a very “useful” supermarket… because, and I quote, “It keeps the scum out of Waitrose.” A joke, of course. Where’s your sense of humour?

  18. Ally Fogg says

    @Bugmaster

    I completely agree with the other replies to you (even those from Lucy, and that doesn’t happen often) but I’d add…

    I would agree that if we were to swap the Great White Male for a Great Black Lesbian who had the exact same opinions, values and deeds it wouldn’t really get us anywhere, but that is not what I (or anyone else) is suggesting, nor would it be possible to achieve even if we did.

    In practice the GWM stands as a proxy for all kinds of existing power structures. Removing the unfair advantages accorded to GWMs could only be done by shifting our assumptions and beliefs about gender, race, sexuality etc which would have profound implications for the whole planet at every level, in societies large and small, from the smallest primary school to the largest theocratic dictatorship.

    It’s not so much about changing the individuals at the top as about changing the systems that put those people at the top, and they affect everyone.

  19. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    It’s not so much about changing the individuals at the top as about changing the systems that put those people at the top, and they affect everyone.

    This is why I get frustrated with articles that argue for, say, 50% of House of Commons MPs to be female. Yes, it would be good to have a Parliament that looked a bit more like the population as a whole. However, quite apart from the need to change the voting system to achieve this (which is a separate issue from a fairer, proportional-based, voting system), the assumption always ends up being ‘more women = more progressive politics’. The obvious retort to this – ‘But what if they’re Tories?’ – never gets analysed properly. It’s like arguing that if Eton was co-educational the problem of women in the Cabinet would be solved – while ignoring the fact that public-school-and-Oxbridge types are already over-represented in British life as it is, let alone the existence of public schools in the first place.

  20. Adiabat says

    You do realise that calling these ‘existing power structures’ (an unthinking beast) the “Great White Male” puts you in the role of Ahab; the madman driven by his unthinking hatred, don’t you?

    Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering Male; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

  21. Ally Fogg says

    Nah, see myself more in the Roy Schneider role. We’re just a couple of compressed gas canisters away from revolution.

    (although we may still need a bigger boat.)

  22. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Ally

    “We don’t need to base every analysis on essential identifiers. We can give our attention to the ways in which we are advantaged or disadvantaged by our gender or ethnicity one day, and still enthusiastically endorse Joseph Stiglitz’s critique of globalized capitalism or Naomi Klein’s interplay of economics and environmentalism the next.

    However there is a real danger in dismissing all analysis of identity-based structural oppression as a sideshow or irrelevant, because in the real world, people really are oppressed as a result of their gender, race or whatever.”

    Who dismissed all analysis of identity-based structural oppression as irrelevant? It’s quite clear that I wasn’t saying nobody should ever analyse things from an identity perspective and I think you know that. The sentence before the one you quoted was this “That’s not to say that these issues aren’t important or that the examples above show that the problems have been solved by any means.”

    What there has been is a large shift within the way the left-wing operates since the end of the 1960s so that it is now largely dominated by identity based concerns rather than inequalities of wealth and power in and of themselves. This became less pronounced with the financial crash and Occupy but it’s too early to say whether it’s a reversal of the trend or an aberration when these issues came to the fore.

    “First of all it is a strawman. I would challenge you to point me towards a single real person who says that if Great White Males shared their power and privilege that alone would lead to some “great equal society.” If you can find such a person, I will tell you now they are an idiot.”

    Well that is essentially the vision that people like Sheryl Sandberg and her ilk and they’re massively popular. Once you remove all the parts of feminism that pose a fundamental threat to the system you’re left with a nice, sanitised version that can be packaged up and sold to you by facebook.

    “However what I would say, and I suspect a lot of other people too, is that the concentration of power in the hands of a very narrow tranche of society, characterised here as GWM, is a major obstacle to taking steps towards a more fair and equal society. Patriarchy, racial supremacy and other similar social systems each play their parts in sustaining broader social, political and economic inequality but they are not the be all and end all.”

    Well I would completely agree that having a wider section of society running things would be better. But it seems to me that by far the most important thing would be changing the class composition. Over a third of MPs went to a fee paying school. A third!

    It’s also not clear why having middle-class white men in power is necessarily in and of itself an obstacle (although I would obviously prefer if things were mixed). As I pointed out earlier Perry pushes the idea that a very large reason for us having sexism, racism and homophobia is that these are the views of middle-class, straight, white men and that from there they spread to the rest of society. That’s just simply not true. This is what I mean when I say this analysis obfuscates. I went to a very mixed school and I heard virulent racism and homophobia from kids who weren’t white every single day – I can count on one hand the times I heard anything like it from the middle-class, white, straight males. When I worked as a labourer I heard a constant stream of disgusting opinions on women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, homosexuals etc. from my working class colleagues. I don’t think these are by any means exceptional experiences, I think they’re pretty representative.

  23. says

    sonofrojblake @17

    That was originally the late great Alan Coren’s line, but he used “riff-raff” rather than scum.

    Ally @21

    very funny 😀

  24. Adiabat says

    Ally (21): I’ve got to watch that film again; it’s been too long 🙂 .

    However, I don’t see how blowing up sharks will solve your whale problem. Perhaps you should focus less on the superficial similarities between the two and learn to tell them apart before you start that revolution.

  25. JT says

    If GWM has been in power collectively for, lets say, the last 1000yrs. What colour was the power holder before them?

  26. JT says

    @ Ally

    You might want to start working on Nepotism first. Because if you look around the world you can easily see GWM isnt running the show in every country. But that sure doesnt seem to prevent the power elite from acting exactly like the GWM you want to replace. People of power act the way they act, not because of skin colour, but because of power and what it can do for them. Im thinking racists are the people who think its ok to target behaviour based on skin colour rather than who they are intellectually and emotionally. Hopefully you dont fit that bill.

  27. Jacob Schmidt says

    Is there any evidence to suggest that gay black female members of the power elite would be kinder, gentler, and more concerned with the well-being of the less fortunate (*) than straight white men ? If so, what is the evidence, and can we see it ? If not, then what’s the point ?

    If nothing else, visibility encourages empathy. Plus, the currently disadvantaged class being part of the ruling class (to be simplistic) would be some very obvious examples running counter to cultural narratives about said disadvantaged groups. Sufficient? No. Helpful? Almost certainly.

    If GWM has been in power collectively for, lets say, the last 1000yrs. What colour was the power holder before them?

    An unhelpful answer: various groups. A slightly more helpful answer: it varied with geography. It is like that even now. Within India, for instance:

    The dalits or harijans are people who were part of the castes who were associated with the traditionally unclean work. Leather work (hindus still wear leather despite not consuming cows), slaughter house work (the crime is in the killing not in the consumption), removal of rubbish and in one of the most abusive aspects of human existence, in the removal of human waste from latrines. The practice has died out in most of the cities but in rural areas it still persists. Which means its wide spread. Remember nearly 70 percent of India lives rural. Much like the 1950s and america, there is segregation in India. The idea is that uncleanliness is contagious and that contact with the dalit means that you are tarnished by association. Still many places have a practice where they refuse to let the dalit touch the same wells or even drink from the same cup. They will pour out water for you and you sip from the stream rather than a cup. Different temples, schools and funeral areas. They stay in their own ghettoes.

  28. Ally Fogg says

    People of power act the way they act, not because of skin colour, but because of power and what it can do for them. Im thinking racists are the people who think its ok to target behaviour based on skin colour rather than who they are intellectually and emotionally. Hopefully you dont fit that bill.

    Oh FFS I am so sick of this argument that says if you identify and challenge white privilege or white supremacist culture you are ‘judging people by the colour of their skin’ and ‘isn’t that a bit racist.’

    I’m seeing it more and more online, and it really is the most pigshit-stupid argument this side of a creationism convention.

    It is impossible to identify and discuss structural and systemic racism without acknowledging that the skin colour which is privileged by such a system is whiteness. This is so self-evident and obvious that I can only assume anyone making this point is either:

    A/ Pigshit stupid,
    or
    B/ Disingenuously attempting to derail and divert political discussion and debate to prevent people identifying and challenging white supremacist culture for political motives.

    Which one is it?

  29. JT says

    And if someone challenges your ideas you just do this…….So which one is it, Ally? Im sure your view will be the right one.

  30. apetersen says

    Wouldn’t a major advantage of a less homogenous set of elites be the decreased ability to act as a monolithic coalition or at least the introduction of the possibility for multiple smaller coalitions? A lot of the distrust of GWM as a group arises from the suspicion that they will close ranks in reaction to perceived threats (usually the elevation of anyone not a part of the group). None of the suspicion would be addressed by replacing white, middle-class men en masse with some other similarly narrowly defined demographic will not appreciably address inequality in the system.

    Besides, breaking up the elite monolith seems objectively useful to those outside the upper echelons if it results in representative members within the elite to negotiate on their behalf or at least try to prevent systematic moves against their interests. Historically, it seems a fairly settled question that these representative members of the elite cannot lie outside your religion/political philosophy/culture and be expected to support your causes fairly. The debate as I understand it questions whether it’s possible to have true representative members of the elite when the position that needs representing is fundamentally anti-elite and whether the existence of representative members just reinforces a system of inequality by making the position of the elite more secure.

  31. bruce bartup says

    Take 1: (Before reading the article – to keep my prejudices fresh.)
    From a GWM stance isn’t the problem less about identity and guilt, more about joblessness and shame? In this particular change of hands from outgoing to incoming administrations the GWM has no proper active role. He exists only to be an object to be knocked over.

    They must not be knocked over by each other. The valid agents of their own liberation must be women (for narrative reasons, just as for de Gaulle ‘France has liberated herself’ 1944)). GWM’s cannot ‘nice’ or ‘kind’ or even self-destruct into revolutionary conciousness. Like God in Stephen Hawking’s account of the origins of the universe ‘There is nothing for a GWM to do.’ They cannot be part of the team. While Here Comes Everybody (else), the GWM is reduced to a spectator, not a new statesman. They won’t even be allowed a point-of-view voice in the history of these times. The history which, for once, they won’t be writing.

    A man without something useful to do is a forlorn object.

    I suggest there is something for GWM’s to do, and an account which would be theirs to write. The mission would be to end, prevent, deter, describe, understand, forgive, cure, sort out and generally nobble misogyny. There will be quantities of that. As patriarchy collapses before the onslaught of women (and capitalism?) a lot of anger is going to be released up and down the existing hierarchy of patriarchal encumbents and placemen. The working class males of the US seem to be particlarly prone to seeking the path to ground of that storm cloud of anger direct through any woman and through patriarchy challenging women feminists in particular. (The American Dream, autonomy etc. I guess they can’t blame capitalism for their jobless, divorced, broke status as we might?)

    There, amongst the men with no hope and no clue the GWM’s could have their finest hour. But I doubt they will get anywhere near it.

  32. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    It is impossible to identify and discuss structural and systemic racism without acknowledging that the skin colour which is privileged by such a system is whiteness. This is so self-evident and obvious that I can only assume anyone making this point is either:

    A/ Pigshit stupid,
    or
    B/ Disingenuously attempting to derail and divert political discussion and debate to prevent people identifying and challenging white supremacist culture for political motives.

    Which one is it?

    Why not both?

  33. Marduk says

    I get the feeling we’re returning to where we were in the 1950s. Maybe the economic regression is causing a similar social current? The ‘GWM’ and talk of ‘grey suits’, its The Establishment innit, what political comics used to complain about in the 50s and 60s. The idea went away in the 80s with Maggie and the “Big Bang” apparently blowing open the doors of Gentleman’s Club and letting the barrow boys in… but now its back (and had never really left).

    This is mainly a class politics issue, just like it always was, it has relatively little to do with gender or race specifically.

    You could swap a Melvin Bragg, as Chair of the Arts Council out for the Deputy Chair of the National Theatre (i.e., Ms Greer) and I don’t feel it changes much if anything really for anyone that isn’t Melvin Bragg or Bonnie Greer. Its still people from the London arts dinner party scene giving each other jobs as usual. Does anyone really feel that a brave new dawn would begin if Ed Balls swapped jobs with Yvette Cooper?

  34. bruce bartup says

    Take 2: (After reading the article and reviewing my prejudices – prejudices confirmed (prejudices can be right, sometimes))

    I realise that Ally and the NS commentors have only been speaking about and to the nice GWMs who admit to being GWMs. Admit, that is, as long as it doesn’t interrupt their running of the country or get actually accusative or embarrassingly radical. I also notice that even Bonnie Greer and Laurie Green are ‘calling us’ on our shit in a way that plays the game. They put their oh-so-gotcha points very mildly and wisely. Full marks. (You see? It gets every where. As if it were my place or in my purview to award marks. )

    So as a GWM – fuck that!

    I believe that
    On our watch the USA’s war generation of political and social elite gave way to the current crop of ‘inheritors’
    While we took point, swathes of working men were done up like kippers by Reagan and Thatcher, lost their families, their jobs and their pride,and took it out on women
    While we smugly smiled on, the world has come to a dangerous juncture, namely that patriarchy is no longer needed by capitalism, and the limited protection that patriarchy gave to women and society is going with it, to be replaced by misogyny. Which should be great for capital. But bloody miserable and dangerous for all humans.
    While we assumed that all good fellows are good – some have been anything but good, and that includes a large fraction of ‘nice guys’.

    Evidence: I can’t back this up. I’m not a researcher, just a gutter fighting SJW, with some insights from contact with ‘the enemy’ VoiceForMen, theredpill on Reddit etc. – or a god complex.

    Argument: here’s the way I try to explain it to american Men’s Right’s activists (apologies for the language, you need to pay your dues in thes establishments, that means speaking without any sign of ‘sniffy’ britdom.
    1. 1950 Patriarchy – rule by dads – rules the boardroom, the council chambers, courts, academia – the lot. There are tight social controls on the sexual expression of women and men. Capital and Bible, state and military form a tight bond. In these conditions Company Men must be chivalrous and loyal, but get a preferece in promotions etc. – Nice is sexy because Mr. Nice is earning. Women must take a subordinate role but get some protection, faithful husbands and good conditions for baby making. But no freedom, everyone must submit to the power of dollar, job, state and army. And if you are poor woman you must cling to the wage earner. No matter if he is a brutalised WWII vet with undiagnosed PTSD.
    2. 1980’s Feminism + globalisation kills patiarchy. (Hooray.) All rules are cancelled, chivalry becomes a joke, Women compete for the attention of the new dominant alpha male – the bad-ass ceo. Mr Big.
    3 The bad ass ceo – 0.1% of the population – is no longer tied dwn by Patriarchal moral convention, and so is free to be a philandering, financially irrresponsible, selfish cunt. He’s a bad lover and ‘Nice Guy’ – ie liar. An’inheritor’.
    4 Some ‘good guys” start behaving like bad-asses to emulate Mr Big using Pick Up Artist tactics: Showing the Dark Triad of charcteristics of Mr Big: Arrogant, predatory, exploitative.
    5 in rapid succession
    5a Women celebrate their liberty wih indulgence in Sex and the City, Cosmo, cosmetic surgery, supermodels, SuperMoms, Single Motherhood, Sex and the Single Woman etc etc. Social status in beauty extremely important. Settling for 2nd best becomes nearly unthinkable in women ages 18-30
    5b Nerdy geeks via ICT explosion get some money – but no action. Sorry guys – but you know why… A life spent on computer games does not socialise. The ICT nerds start to pick up on PUA directly or indirectly. These ICTPUAs have some nasty experiences dealing with women they have abused.
    5c Women get royally fucked over by bosses, liars, Mr Big, PUAs. MRMs etc and each other in compeition
    5d because they can’t work out why this happened feminists misattribute cause – (because the cause can’t be feminism liberty and individualism, Surely not.) So they all blame men. All men. Cue extreme shrewishness.
    6. 2007 Financially irrresposible fuckers fuck the country and put good guys out of work.
    7 Some jobless good guys can’t work out why the american dream didn’t work, (couldn’t be capitalism, individualism, ICT and liberty and the american way caused it, surely not?)
    8 Jobless good guys and Pick Up Artists find a false common bond and invent the Men’s Right’s Movement. You see they can’t bear the shame of failure or the guilt of abusers. They can’t blame society because that would deny the american dream of autonomy and success. So they dump the lot on women, all women, But especially the shrewish ‘Feminazis’ – they are the easiest target.
    9. MRM gets further and further into revenge gaming, revenge porn, revenge politics, PUA, accusations of ‘Femi-nazism’ and tellingly the complete crap of Stef Molyneux and UPB libertarianism

    And that’s as far as I got.

  35. mildlymagnificent says

    I went to a very mixed school and I heard virulent racism and homophobia from kids who weren’t white every single day – I can count on one hand the times I heard anything like it from the middle-class, white, straight males.

    I went to very “mixed” schools – by the standards of the 50s and early 60s. A friend of mine went to a fairly exclusive private school. She was a pretty dogmatic advocate for getting rid of private schools entirely. Her view was that she and all her classmates had been separated from working class and WW2 refugee families that went to public schools at that time and that was why her former classmates tended to look down on and speak disparagingly of people who were not of their class. This insulated atmosphere couldn’t happen if they all went to the same schools. My view was that, having gone to a public school, I and all my friends of a certain background had one particular opportunity she and her schoolfriends had missed out on.

    We could look down our noses on people we actually knew. I’m not sure that that’s very much better than the other option. Class differences and privileges can just as readily be emphasised as dissipated when people of different backgrounds are thrown together with no plan other than just mixing them up and hoping for the best. Which was H. E. Pennypacker’s point in the first place (from my point of view). I suppose us polite, well-behaved. middle-class kids in public schools might be inclined to be quieter in expressing our prejudiced views, but those views continue unchallenged unless schools, like workplaces, do some real work in exposing and discouraging prejudiced language and behaviour.

    One delightful anecdote about these sorts of discussions within, rather than between or about, a group of disadvantaged kids in school. My husband overheard a group of boys at one school on the very-disadvantaged-to-disastrous-social-casualty scale of high schools. (The ones where most relief teachers go just once and never again.) These boys were discussing refugees arriving in boats. One was very het up, going on about “these people” coming to “take” our houses and our jobs and generally ruin life as we know it. Another scornfully remarked, “Nobody wants your rotten house anyway, you dickhead.” This reality check seemed to calm the agitated atmosphere very effectively.

  36. bruce bartup says

    Dear all,

    I’ve put some stomping leadfoot comments down, but I’ve also read what’s been said.

    Ally’s question, and the statesman’s, essentially is ‘What do we do with the great white male?’ Which is dead on the money.

    To which all the answers -are answers.

    The best response is – reject the question. The last place you’ll get a sensible answer is the new statesmen, guardian, or an Ally blog. It’s not our call. We are GWM dominated. We have less legitimacy in making a choice than the British leaving India had in partly deciding/overseeing that the continent would be partitioned. Protected by GWM privelge one way or another (we’re all educated) this does not affect us primarily. We have no ‘skin in the game’. Apart from liberal conscience and liberal values. The disgusting remark was Mr. Marr’s, We can’t say, ‘don’t touch art’ – even when we know that’s right. Especially when we know that’s right. It deprives those without privelege from finding out by trial and error what is right.

    An orderly handover can be arranged, we can take care of business as we leave. If requested we can assist. But until we’ve worked off our privelege, to seek or accept any influence in the matter -is hideous. And would reduce the value that society may gain from a fast re-orientation. For who could trust those who cling to privelege?

  37. Bugmaster says

    @Ally #18:
    I’m not exactly sure what your point is. On the one hand, it sounds like you’re saying,

    “Ok, the power structures are here to stay, but at least we can try to make them more diverse. So, we will still get screwed out of our pensions and life savings, but at least everyone will get screwed the same amount. Currently, white men are in charge and so they screw their fellow white men less than the others, and that’s a problem”.

    On the other hand, you do mention “dismantling existing power structures”, which sounds like, “let’s reduce the amount of screwing that goes on in general”. That would be a good idea, but I’m not sure how replacing the GWM with a Great Black Lesbian is going to accomplish that.

    But maybe making the screwing more egalitarian is the best that we could possibly do, and everything else is just an unrealistic pipe dream and therefore a distraction… If that’s what you’re saying, then sadly, I’d be inclined to agree.

  38. AnarchCassius says

    “Oh FFS I am so sick of this argument that says if you identify and challenge white privilege or white supremacist culture you are ‘judging people by the colour of their skin’ and ‘isn’t that a bit racist.’”

    While it’s true that you can identity and challenge white privilege without being racist and sizable number of activists are indeed using the concept to erase individual experiences.

    Privilege is real but it’s highly contextual and variable. It’s one thing to say that statistically, on average, white people hold certain advantages. It’s quite another to suggest that all white people benefit equally from them or that white people cannot experience racism.

    Now, @JT I think it’s pretty clear from multiple points in this thread that’s not the sort of analysis Ally’s advocating.

    I was poor growing up and spent much of my elementary school years in a neighborhood where my whiteness was in fact very much a liability for the simple reason I stood out as a target. Whatever white privilege I may benefit from my race certainly acted against me in that area. This is very relevant to me but it’s not really relevant to an analysis of the general population.

    So if someone were to say because of my “white privilege” I cannot know what it is to experience racial discrimination and need to check my privilege, they would be, as Ally puts it, pigshit stupid.

    On the other hand if they were to argue that since whites are statistically more wealthy that programs to help low income families are a good method to alleviate the situation that’s pretty non-controversial. When you stop treating privilege as an absolute value and look at the factors it can be a very useful means to address inequalities.

  39. David S says

    one of the characteristics of the Great White Male is the assumption of complete attention. This manifests itself in various ways but the most common is the loud voice that rises above all others. And its opposite, too – the soft voice, with its assumption of reason, calm and control: “I am the one in charge. I am the one who knows.”

    I suspect that Bonnie Greer is fighting against her own circular logic here. What she is describing isn’t so much characteristics of white heterosexual males, as characteristics of people in authority. That’s particularly true of the soft voice, with an assumption of calm, control, and reason. Learning to do that voice, and take those attitudes, is something that people who reach a position of authority, will tend to do. If you think that they shouldn’t do it, then you’d have to say how you would like them to behave. Would you prefer to have shouty, panicky, people in positions of authority?

    You might of course want to see more women in positions of authority, but I suspect they would end up talking softly, with a calm air of reason and control. You could even, perfectly reasonably, want to see more non-heterosexual, non-white people in positions of authority, but demographics are going to place a limit on that in our neck of the woods, because there are a lot of white, heterosexual, people around (mostly not in positions of authority) and, whatever happens, those who do end up in authority will end up behaving in an authoritative manner.

  40. StillGjhenganger says

    @AnarchCassius
    Great!

    @Davis S:
    Great!

    @Bruce Bartup:
    We will never meet, politically, except maybe over a rifle sight (Metaphorical, please, I am a non-violent European).

    But let me list the contrary position:

    All groups have a legitimate voice in how society should be organised, depending both on their number and their particular needs. You do not lose your political or civil rights just because your ancestors (or even yourself) had power. The dictatorship of the proletariat is still a dictatorship, with all the disadvantages that entails. A very small and alien group could be made completely irrelevant (like the whites in Rhodesia, or the British in India)), but even the whites in South Africa are too numerous to bypass. As for whites, they are a dominant majority in large parts of the world, and males hold up half the sky, just like women. And quite frankly, it is not wise to give the revolutionary vanguard the power to exclude entire groups from participation in society. If you can do it to the plutocrats, how sure are you that it will not be the Jews or the Muslims or the Gays next?

    You will never agree to that, of course, but there are reasons that you might care about.
    – Only the most ideologically driven will ever work for their own systematic disenfranchisement. Everybody else will fight for a position that still gives them a stake, or at least some security. Nobody really wants to be a henchman for an alien dictatorship. If all the most nice, progressive men are fighting to exclude men from politics, the slightly less nice, progressive men will be disheartened and opt out, and the not at all nice and progressive men (like me) will be left standing

    – Historically, even proletarian revolutions have often been led by non-proletarian, educated leaders. This does have its disadvantages, from a revolutionary point of view, but such people tend to have necessary skills and capabilities that can be hard to find among the downtrodden workers. Leaving it all to people who have to learn on the job has its dangers too.

  41. says

    Everybody else will fight for a position that still gives them a stake, or at least some security. Nobody really wants to be a henchman for an alien dictatorship.

    to quote Ally F (again) “you say that like its a bad thing”

  42. StillGjenganger says

    @Danny Butts 41

    Everybody else will fight for a position that still gives them a stake, or at least some security. Nobody really wants to be a henchman for an alien dictatorship.

    to quote Ally F (again) “you say that like its a bad thing”

    Well, form my point of view it is a Good Thing, but then I am not progressive.

    From the point of view of Bruce Bartup it must be a Bad Thing, because it means that plutocrats will not work for the dictatorship of the proletariat, turkeys will not vote for Christmas, and white men will not work towards removing white men from all future influence in society.

  43. bruce bartup says

    @StillGjenganger
    I think we can agree that: we don’t agree, that when a flat disagreement occurs in a community that there is an opportunity for discussion of the issue, seekng consensus (thus demonstrating the strength, tolerance and truth drive of the community of thought to which we belong).

    I suggest that a search for consensus is a search for an outcome in which we are both wrong, and that such an outcome is desirable, and that the alternate outcomes, (‘you are wrong’ and ‘I am wrong’) are also desirable. Desirable because if someone is known to be wrong that person has learned something.

    I further suggest that to pursue such a discussion would ideally involve both of us abandoning our respective beliefs on this matter, refining a question that could be resolved, and starting at a balanced state of belief, to argue one way and another to explore what may and may not be true.

    I further suggest that if this agreement is acceptable, the relevant questions remaining are : do you want to discuss this, with me, here? Or is there some other use of your time that is more valuable?

    For me the only virtue of a GWM lies in voluntarily choosing to give up power, in exchange for influence, and doing so altruistically. That, I think, ensures the GWM learns the most from the experience, in moral terms, That is he or she maximises the chance they will be proven wrong, morally.

    Power is seldom proved wrong. And GWMs who don’t know they are sometimes wrong don’t know much. And if GWMS don’t know much they aren’t much use. Are they?

  44. StillGjenganger says

    @Bruce Bartup 43
    Not sure I can follow you here – this high-level moral reasoning is a bit beyond my paygrade.

    Do I want to discuss these things, and maybe have everybody learn something? Yes, that is why I am hanging out here. It will not help that we are so far apart, though.

    As far as I understand you, you are saying that men should give up all power, for altruistic reasons, in the hope of achieving moral growth, and we would all be the better for it. Jesus would approve, I am sure (‘blessed are the meek’, ‘if someone hits you on the cheek, turn the other cheek’, …) But though I am supposedly a Christian (not a very good one, maybe) I find it hard to see absolute altruism as a practical building stone for society. There is too little of it about, and it is much easier to fool yourself into thinking you are altruistic than to actually be it. Self-deception is a remarkably bad foundation for a just society. And absolute powerlessness is not generally recommended for groups other than white males, even though the moral benefits ought to be the same, also for black females. My taste if for a realistic acknowledgement of your own interests and desires, and working for a reasonably fair society with all groups making their claims, and trying to find some balanced compromise between them. You get less revolutionary change that way, but as Russia and China showed, revolutions are risky and unpredictable in their results.

  45. bruce bartup says

    StillGjenganger,
    My taste if for a realistic acknowledgement of your own interests and desires, and working for a reasonably fair society with all groups making their claims, and trying to find some balanced compromise between them.

    Once motives are open to question all entrenched positions can result in doubt of sincerity,
    I do not say I have altruism only that if I will accept no other explanation for my choices other than freely chosen altruism, To prove actions taken from a murky motive or conformity with force or inflluence personally are ill founded or antisocial is hard, to prove a singular ‘selfless’ act to be selfish is easier. It’s a mode of enquiry I’m trying, not a life long monks oath. Not an expectation for anyone to be, but a position to adopt in argument. No self deception is required, in fact altruism is against it.
    Enlightened by such discussions I find all bids for power or retention of power to be a distraction from learning and an obstacle to progress.
    Compromise is what follows failure to find consensus. It is better to attempt consensus first as the nature f the work produces more community spirit.
    I agree about revolutions in general but also many times they are overdue and only greater harm can come by opposing them. Joining the revolution in an advisory capacity might avoid some of the worst errors. It really depends if you see the coming adjustment in the power balance within democracy to be overdetermined and out of time.

  46. WhineyMalone (NotSoGreatWhiteMale) says

    Hi Ally, I think what disturbs me a bit about this is the potential for the kind of ‘mission creep’ I was describing the other day (i.e. a similar process to the way writers on the English liberal-left will often say they’re only targeting alpha-males at the very top, but then doing a quick sleight of hand, and broadening it out as and when it suits).

    I mean, it seems that you start this article being fairly specific in terms of who you have in your sights. That’s to say, not ordinary ‘real’ people off the street, but rather “the archetype, the theoretical construct who is assumed to be the most likely leader of any institution, to whom society as a whole looks for leadership and who presumes himself to be deserving of respect and authority”

    But then the response which ‘nails it,’ apparently, is that of Laurie Penny, and (forgive me!) but she does seem to be alluding to the everyday activities of quite ordinary blokes: barbecuing; disco dancing and making jokes. In other words, undertakings which are hardly the sole-preserve of the Alan Sugars of this world.
    So, yeah, I’m not entirely sure if I can sign up to this prospectus – still looks a bit risky to me! 🙂

  47. universalanimosity says

    @13

    Yes, let’s punish children who don’t even exist yet because of supposed (though not quantified) actions of their remote ancestors. How oddly biblical of you. I also fail to see how punishing future male children will function as “payback” for future female children. These future female children, not having been wronged themselves, would have no need for such “payback.” How exactly would exacting revenge on innocent agents in order to payback wrongdoing to people who never had any wrongdoing committed against them actually work? Besides, revenge is only one theory of justice, and no theory of just revenge would countenance taking revenge against an agent innocent of the wrongdoing which motivated the desire for vengeance in the first place. Not a single coherent philosophy of justice could possibly make sense of this. It’s utterly nonsensical and clearly the product of a diseased mind.

    This is apparently what passes for the humanities these days. It’s so sad that academia is infected with this kind of rot. At least it tends to stay out of science. Political ideology acting as a substitute for empirical evidence scares me. I’d hate for another Lysenkoist scandal to happen. The only difference is that this would be driven by cultural, as opposed to economic, Marxism.

  48. universalanimosity says

    @22

    You may have heard more nastiness from the non-SWM people than from the SMW’s themselves, but that doesn’t count. Such prejudices are coming from the oppressed, and it only counts when the bourgeoisie STM do it. To acknowledge instances outside of that would destroy our overly simplistic pet theory be using empiricism and science, which is a white, male, heteropatriarchal, Western colonial, classist, mysoginistic, homophobic, phallocentric institution, so it’s obviously invalid. Check your non-otherkin privilege you singlet shitlord!

    You know, cultural Marxism doesn’t do a very good job of emulating Marx. He was more than willing to acknowledge classes such as the lumpenproletariat and the petit bourgeoisie. He accepted at least some nuance, rather than insisting on a perfectly binary reductive view of social interactions.

  49. W.M. says

    Mind you Ally having said all that, I don’t to suggest in any way that you’re being deliberately disingenuous here, since you’re not that kind of journalist. (I just think these inconsistencies might hint at some confusion in your own mind as to exactly what you’re on about; though I’d be quite happy to be corrected if you think this is unfair!)
    But one thing that does get me down about Perry’s approach is that he’s meant to be an artist, F.F.S., and one thing that artists are meant to do is to offer radically new perspectives and ideas to help society to view things in ways which are fresh and innovative.
    But really, I see very little originality in his so called ‘essay’. From what little I remember of this when Montaigne constructed his vision of an ‘essai’ it was meant to be a process in which the grappling with a subject would change and shape the writer’s approach as he engaged with the ideas in question. Yet it’s quite clear that Perry
    started with an ‘off-the-peg’ set of cliches that you can find pretty much every day in the English liberal media, and the volume and quantity of these unthinking assumptions can, after decades of reading the same tawdry bildge, get a tiny bit depressing!
    If Perry wanted to conjure up something radical and new, then he could hardly do better than putting forward some of the arguments you yourself were making the other day on these pages, about the fact that British males – even if they happen to white – are not some homogenous group with the same experiences and interests, but actually are incredibly diverse. And what’s more, the one sole thing that many of them (o.k., us) have in common is that they deeply loathe and resent the ‘patriarchal’ males who do run our society, and that we see them getting all the power and opportunities often at other men’s expense, often all the while casually doing them down in their crappy little releases and sound-bites (which are then never challenged by the press).

  50. SadGWM says

    “Given that this condition is acquired, not inherent, it can be eradicated in the following way: make the potential Great White Male understand that he is not the sine qua non of human existence; that he can, in fact, take a back seat. And no one will either notice or mind.””

    I think this is *exactly* the fear of most GWM. That, if they ever take a back seat, no one will either notice or mind. And that includes women, particularly women a man is romantically and sexually interested in.

    Of course, Laury Penny is right that evolution will happen, in one way or another, as long as women and men are predominantly heterosexual, they will tend to find each other in various ways. But that doesn’t mean confusion about scripts will not lead to a lot of individual suffering.

    If there’s one thing, I think, that keeps GWM from changing in ways he’s supposed to change, it’s his certainly subconscious awareness, that for all the things women *say* about how they want him to change, how they want men to show vulnerability and have them embrace their full humanity, male vulnerability is not something most women can deal with or even find attractive. As long as GWMs are at least subconsciously aware that their vulnerability is not something women tend to only appreciate in measured doses whose application still requires the GWMs status, there’s really not much incentive to drop the act.

    I’m pretty good with women, and I’d say they consider me an attractive man, not all with respect to my body, but by and large with respect to the whole package they get to see. Would that be different if I dropped the GWM act? Yes. It may be liberating, in some way. But it would definitely be a lot lonelier in my life. And yes, even if that means there’s always some covered part of myself.

    If the choice is between dropping the act and being lonely – which it is or which at least is what I think it usually is – I know my choice and keep performing.

  51. says

    It features several shopping programs that include a variety of lifestyles as well as special interest
    categories. For your information (which we very much doubt), a healthy sexy
    life is vital to a relationship’s longevity. It’s true:
    there are a number of people out there who would love nothing more than to take your money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *