I have a lot of cool “woke white guy” friends. Today, we are watching a lot of uncool, un-woke white guys get away with terrorism because they are sad that their Daddy has lost an election. Before you give yourself asspats for being smarter, better, cooler, and woke-r than the white guys storming the Capitol, I want to remind you of a few things.
You benefit from this kind of violence. Yes, you do. When people who look like you get to make blatant threats of violence, not be taken at all seriously, and then actually go carry out those threats, they’re perpetuating a system that excuses trauma and chaos caused by white men.
Maybe you don’t want to stormtroop the Capitol or blow up AT&T. Maybe you want to get visibly angry with women who reject you, drive drunk around town without catching a charge, eschew the need for consent and prioritize your self-esteem over your partner’s interest in sex with you. Maybe you just want to abuse your wives, mothers, and other caregivers, even though they have more or less revolved their lives around your care. Hell, maybe you just want to be able to treat sex workers like trash or show off your penis on Tinder. Regardless of how you hurt the people in your life, you benefit from it just being more okay when you hurt people. You benefit from a society that punishes more severely when marginalized people react to oppression, than when white men sow discord.
Kyle Rittenhouse has his health when he pled not guilty. Jacob Blake didn’t.
On a related note: you also benefit from why they’re perpetuating this violence. This isn’t the same as Black Lives Matter. The premise is not “please stop killing us”. These are mediocre white men who are fighting to overturn election results in order to keep another mediocre white man in power: a white man so mediocre that he has gone bankrupt four times and still managed to have a best-selling book called “The Art of the Deal”.
So maybe you don’t want to be POTUS, but you still benefit, as a white man, from being able to do the same or less work as people of other races and genders, for more money. Your mediocrity is rewarded, simply by virtue of you doing anything with your life, while the rest of us have to work substantially harder for much less recognition and money. You benefit from an economy that rewards men’s mediocrity. Don’t believe me? If you are an unemployed person who has spent the last X amount of months playing video games and occasionally looking for work, you statistically have an easier time re-entering the workforce than stay-at-home parents whose children have grown.
You benefit from an economy that has created more of a stigma surrounding “women’s work” than literally doing nothing.
You benefit from a society that systematically trains its inhabitants to bend over backwards trying to figure out why you do what you do, and discredits the people most harmed by your actions: women, racial minorities, gender minorities. You live in a culture that trains its marginalized people to internalize messages of oppression. This dynamic insulates you from being held accountable for anything you do. You can effectively get away with doing a lot of different terrible things and, if you do things that aren’t terrible, you are rewarded and recognized for it.
The bar for white men is so fucking low that I have no idea how any of you fail to meet it. But, here we are: watching a bunch of mediocre white men throw a nationwide temper tantrum because their great leader, the most mediocre white men of them all, is being ousted from his position as the most powerful mediocre white man on the planet.
What I propose is that we stop rewarding white men who meet these very basic expectations–don’t blow things up, don’t stormtroop the Capitol because Daddy didn’t get re-elected, don’t be a Trump supporter–and make it a privilege again to call yourself an ally.
You should no longer be allowed to call yourself a “feminist” if you benefit from the unearned and unpaid labor of your wives, mothers, girlfriends, and other female caregivers.
You should no longer be allowed to call yourself “anti-racist” if you get away with doing the kinds of illegal things that Black and brown people answer for regularly with their lives.
You should no longer get to say that you’re for equality, when you happily benefit from inequality and do nothing, materially, to prevent it. You are no longer going to get claps just for not being a Trump supporter.
I want you to look at your own life and see how you can extend your privileges to those who are less fortunate than you, by virtue of our names, genders, and colors. Society holds you in such high esteem that everything that’s happened today is just okay-er than this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were. You need to remember that the rest of us, non-white and non-male, are not taken seriously by society–especially when we are harmed by power dynamics that you directly benefit from. Another white man is more likely to take you seriously if you tell him about my inequality. I’m going to swallow my pride for five seconds and ask you, please, to do that.
Look at your own life. How are you benefiting from the oppression of marginalized people? Mitigate it. Do you find yourself getting angry with marginalized people for some perceived injustice unto you? Look at the situation on paper and ask yourself how unjust the situation really is, then consult a therapist. I think a lot of the world’s problems could be solved if more white men just went to see therapists. No more “my anger is justified” when you don’t get exactly what you want out of life.
If you are ever wondering where your white male privilege is, it’s in being able to be pulled over without getting shot, see the doctor without getting sent home to die, and be in relationships without being sexually assaulted and told that it’s okay.
I don’t have that. Lots of people who look like or relate to me or share an identity with me don’t have that.
For me, today wasn’t what it was for you: a bunch of guys who look like you being terrible but, fortunately, you are a Good Woke White Guy and you do not support that kind of terrible violence. For me, today was about a bunch of really violent white men getting away with the kinds of things that slightly less violent white men benefit from. Today was every white man trying to put me in my place, and continue benefiting from my exploitation.
Until you are ready to confront that privilege, reject it, and help marginalized people hold power in your everyday life, I don’t trust you, no matter how many Stacey Abrams tweets you retweeted.