Skip to content

Giving up privilege is hard to do…

December 3, 2016

So Twitter is mocking the right-wing intolerants who used to accuse lefties, young people, people with disabilities, PoC and LGBT people of being special snowflakes, for turning into special snowflakes. I’ve also seen tweets questioning whether companies should dictate to newspapers their editorial policies (Stop Funding Hate). And lots of thoughts (along the full spectrum from WTF? through ill-conceived to well thought-out) on the subject of freedom of speech. I’ve spoken to a friend who relayed a conversation which suggested the reason Southern Christians voted Trump was because they felt unlistened to and outvoiced by Muslims and atheists.

All of which got me thinking. It seems to me that the lessons learned by researchers regarding how much men think women talk in a mixed-sex meeting, compared to how much women actually talk (i.e., women don’t have to speak very much at all for men to feel the women are dominating the conversation. In related news, in a group where women make up 17% of the total, there is a male perception that the group is ‘dominated’ by women) can be applied more widely.

Non-hispanic white people still make up about 64% of the US population (based on 2010 figures and without getting into the obvious “they’re all immigrants anyway – what about the indigenous people they wiped off the face of the land?”). If you go back to the 50s – apparently the favourite era of straight, white, cis-gender dudes – that figure was 87.5%. (The numbers are higher (although the fall is smaller) if you count all white people – 89.5% falling to 72.4% – but given the current circumstances it feels appropriate to single out the “whiter-than-white” folk.)

I can see why a 20% decline in your majority stings, and the fact that racism isn’t an acceptable way of life for a lot of people has meant that the other 36% of the population are getting to talk a bit more than they used to. And I understand why you feel like you’re being ignored, or talked over, but you’re really not.

You’ve probably heard sexism explained as men fearing that given more power, women would treat men, the way men have historically treated women (and a similar argument for homophobia). I think that argument transfers here too. The privileged fear that those they currently oppress, if given enough power, will turn those weapons of oppression back on them. That, I suspect amplifies the small measure of extra ‘speech’ that P0C, LGBT people, women, and non-Christians have fought for and won over the past 60-odd years into a roar for the straight, white cis folk.

How do we reach these people and reassure them that equality would be okay? I don’t know, but this is where we tie in the Stop Funding Hate campaign. Sure, papers must have freedom of speech, but as the saying goes “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”. And the daily flood of hatred from the Mail, Express and Sun does do actual harm. I don’t want to censor them because I disagree with them but because the fists they are swinging are hitting other people’s noses.

On balance, I’m with Stop Funding Hate. They’re trying to stem the tide of racist lies that these papers flood the newsstands with each day. As for mocking the new breed of special snowflakes? I’m torn, because it is a little bit funny, but mostly it’s just going to entrench these privileged ‘victims’ further. Some of them are never going to change their views, but a few might and surely they are worth reaching out to and engaging with?

TLDR: Please continue to mock Piers Morgan as often as you like.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: