Monday, January 07, 2013

White Masculinity insecurity, privilege, paranoia, and gun culture and Hipsters

NewTown Massacre Victim Ana Grace Marquez Green 6

Middle/upper middle class white males are 30% of the population yet commit 80% of mass public shootings.  Because of them, the term "going postal" has now expanded to grammar schools.  

Yet, political and academic silence nullifies their direct responsibility, tripping a default switch, that equally distributes blame amongst the rest of the 70% non white male population. This blocks urgent conversations about the growing problem of white male terrorism, arising out of their historic insecurity over their masculinity in the context of white supremacy.  

This insecurity can be traced back to slavery, and especially, the post civil war era.  White men lived in rabid fear, angst, and hatred over the thought of Black men coming into contact with "their" white women, despite the fact that white males commonly raped and molested Black women during and beyond slavery. They also promulgated myths of Black male sexuality being highly aggressive accompanied by an instinctual desire to rape white women.  In fact, white men exhibited a puerile fetishistic interest in Black male sexuality.  After 1877 when white males reversed the equality and gains made during Reconstruction- the most progressive era in America-, Black male lynchings became a common form of not just political violence, but violence with sexual sadistic undertones.  Many of these lynchings concerned the "honor" of white women. 

Emmett Till
The torture death of 14 year old Emmett L. Till was a text book white male response to perceived threats against their masculinity.  Similarly, during the Jim Crow Era, before or after a Black male  lynching, it was common for white men to "ceremonially" castrate  the victim in front of audiences of thousands, including women and children. This was so common that William Faulkner wrote a castration scene of a man rumored to have Black blood, in his novel, "Light In August".  Besides for the castration, pieces of the victims body were cut off and kept as souvenirs.  

I've been following Dr. Ann Little's blog,
for a good minute.   I dig the combination of history and sexual politics. But now I'm starting to think that first wave 
 feminism wed to white liberalism is still the dominant feminist strain in America.

After The Newtown Massacre, I checked back, to get her take. 
Sadly, her thoughts were benedictive of the dominant and insular white liberal elite.   She did raise the issue of white male privilege, but quickly abandoned it for the context of masculinity in a general family structure.

Equally disappointing were the quotes she used ( from white writers) that didn't addressed white male entitlement. She quoted Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon magazine)

“There you have it. It wasn’t a mentally ill lunatic with easy access to military grade weaponry that caused one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. It was “abortion pills,” iPhones, evolution and homosexuals.”


Joel Achenbach (the Washington Post) “Slowly, amid rumor and misinformation, a picture of the killer is emerging, and it is dismayingly familiar. Adam Lanza was yet another young, withdrawn, middle-class male who for some unimaginable reason graduated from his adolescence as a mass murderer.”

Two weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Dr. Little as a guest on the the irrepressible “We Are Respectable Negroes” Blogger Chauncey DeVega’s podcast, speaking at length about the Newtown Massacre, against the back drop of White male masculinity insecurity, privilege, paranoia, and American gun culture.  

Last summer I and DeVega repeatedly clashed about his fawning over President Obama, so I'm in no way a sycophant.  But now that Obama is safety installed back in The White House to insure that the multi-national banking class is protected, DeVega has expanded his range, demonstrating skills of a Black Salman Rushdie in terms of cultural critique(s) with the intellectual agility similar to those kids in the Boogie Down Bronx and Harlem hooping hard on the back top while putting up money through chain link nets that make that sweet jingly swisshhhh Ka Chink sound.


It was an enlightening and brilliant conversation.

 Yet something troubled me, some rub under the rug.  It seemed that Dr. Little's  "new" second  and third wave feminist enlightenment fit her like an uncomfortable wool sweater, seeming "out of range" with her blog.

 So I listened to the podcast twice. I noticed that DeVega lead the conversation with fluency in all angels including knowing Dr. Little's work.  It wasn't about a strong Black male voice silencing that of a "weaker" female.  And it was deeper than just academic.  DeVega came across as a wide awake citizen with a deep and personal stake in the matter.  Dr. Little attempted to rise to his level of concern and passion, yet came across as an academic caught up in harvesting her share from the sea of academia.  

On my third listing, I was really disappointed that in fact, Dr. Little was actually ill prepared to grapple with the important question of race. What covered this hole up on my first listening was DeVega's fluency as an academic. He used far richer academic terms ( comfortably) and his passion as a public intellectual combined together, producing an ability to smoothly and seamlessly prompt Dr. Little numerous times to engage the topic of race.  

To be fair, Dr. Little is very smart, so she was able to deftly pick up DeVega's prompting. However, she constantly reverted back into the first wave white feminist brand.  Ironically, I'm not sure if DeVega even realized this.  

For instance she repeatedly said her book "Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England." was about "guns and guys".   Again "guys" as oppose to  white male slavers and white male killers of First Nation People.  Meanwhile DeVega kept using the term guns and white males in colonial America.  She then spread the blame of violence on First Nation People, almost implicating them as the original initiators.  She said that the white male colonialist learned to build their forts from the First Nation People.  I did not read her book.  but I've studied First Nation People and while not all of them were nomadic, the ones in the areas where the original colonist settled were. I also saw no records of forts being used by First Nation People at all. But fences were used to keep live stock contained.  Her logic seemed of the same speciousness used by white males to mitigate chattel slavery by saying that Africans were participates as well. The truth of course is far more complicated as a fact. 

Dr. Little also casually grouped First Nation and the white colonist males together in oppressing  women. This is flawed. I can't argue that gender relationships were perfectly balanced between First Nation People, but I do know they were far more fluid than those of the colonist-which in turn were more fluid than the Europeans.  For instance, amongst certain tribes, only women could divorce. In some tribes the process was as simple as leaving the males possessions at the outside door or entrance of their dwelling. Interestingly, Dr. Little made her points lumping 
First Nation males in with the white males with a harsh and disdainful laugh or irony. Her assertions were not challenged by the affable DeVega.     

I also noticed that although DeVega's speech and mannerisms are even less threatening than Barack Obama, Dr. Little seemed uncomfortable discussing race, exhibiting that tale-tell sign of white liberal women, by ending many of her sentences with the word "right"? as a question. It was as if she were walking in a dark New York alley simultaneously carrying on a conversation with a mugger  who trailed close behind, the only thing preventing him from pouncing, like a Black cat on a mouse was the magic word "right?" at the end of each sentence, keeping him dutifully engaged in the conversation as opposed to his prey. 

Forgive my cynicism, but it's deeply disappointing that a progressive Black man not only invited a white women feminist professor to the table to discuss white male privilege in the larger context of America, which is the Great White Shark in the pool, yet she ( like most white liberals) went to  great lengths to avoid the topic and when she did embrace the topic, she lacked genuine candor. 

Sadly, this isn't the first time I've witnessed this and I think it's the norm for most white liberal feminist. Meanwhile,  DeVega followed the first rule when discussing gender,  there is no protection, every thing goes immediately on the table. 

 Dr. Little said that white men have not changed radically since their arrival on these shores. I agree, but  I say white women have not radically changed that much either.

So why have white women,white liberal women, and numerous white feminists, not changed? 

The average white male, from “Joe Six Pack”, to the talk radio right winger, operates from a strong conscious and stronger unconscious desire to protect and advance their privilege and masculinity against all threats, real and imagined.  These desires were inherited from the first white pilgrim who sold blankets  tainted with small box to a First Nation person and the first white male government official who with superior force broke a treaty with them.

From this violence, an unnatural space of protection and economic empowerment was created for all white people wether they approved of the genocidal policies our not. The same  desires were passed on to the salve holders who created the same space under slavery. 

After the civil war, The Reconstruction Era was a time when radical changes almost destroyed these unnatural spaces of protection.  This is why Reconstruction was quickly terminated by extreme violence of white males who formed organizations like the Klu Klux Klan. 

In these days of the dwindling American Empire, I think there's an unconscious desire that is growing stronger in white liberals, including white feminists to protect this space as an "ace in the hole" for their survival as a liberal elite class. It's a cowardly role. 

Dr. Little said that a lot of her liberal white male colleagues are also armed. These liberals combined with the armed average white  male represents the largest domestic militia in America.

White Hipsterism contextualized  against the backdrop of white supremacy and the constant treat to white masculinity.  

The interview between Dr. Little and DeVega gave me clarity and connected pieces to a puzzle that I've been trying to figure out about Hipster Culture for the last year.  I've always felt "something wicked this way comes" about Hipster Culture, but couldn't place it.  Dr. Little and DeVega spoke about the rise of a new urban white male culture fixated on the myth of midcentury Americana town and rural culture. It dawned on me that this is a lot of what Hipsterism is about. 

Wicker Park

I remember returning from the D.C./New York Hip Hop scene to Chicago Grunge in Wicker Park. I wasn't paying attention to it in New York and in D.C., but as Black man in Chicago, I appreciated Grunge Culture's direct, "Fuck You" to Yuppie and Consumerist Culture of the 1980s and 1990's.  In Wicker Park, Grunge was every where, fitting seamlessly in with the urban blight, disgruntled and disillusioned white girls and boys, looking for meaning in themselves  inside this fucked up Consumer Culture.  It wasn't my thing, because I was still Hip Hop, but the drive was basically the same except at that time we weren't jaded or depressed. We saw the crack and the violence at a young age and believed Hip Hop could permanently transform America for the better.  Back then, Gangster Hip Hop was on the margins and still it was useful as opposed today's Gangster Rap.  But mostly Hip Hop was about empowerment, hope, and bonding, with other hip hop heads aka "heads". Hip Hop was also communal, so there was some overlap between us and Grunge, especially with some of the white heads in our tribe. Most certainly, there was mutual respect. And in Grunge, like the Punk Movement, there was a healthy mix of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

In the Hipster Generation there is not the courage and self reflection of the Hip Hop or Grunge Generations. Let alone the civil rights and Anti-Vietnam War Generations, and the country is too economically damaged to harbor another round of Yuppie Culture. The Hipster Generation is the first generation of white men who have been bequeathed far less power than their fathers. Their fear is palpable and although the true culprits are the elite white men who have economically plundered America, the Black male is still universally blamed. America now has a Black President and although he has emboldened the white wealthy elite more than any other class, the fact that he caters toward the average white male and female far more than Black America, means nothing to average white males who expect so much more as white males. 

The white women of this generation are the first generation since the 1950s to largely shun politics while embracing retro idolization of the myth of the 1950's housewife. The white Hipster male and female work subconsciously in tandem to recreate this kindler gentler time for white people.  Although Affirmative Action barely impacts while male privilege, it has opened the door to further incursions. Young white women who've benefited far more from Affirmative Action than Black people, have actually , steeped up to challenge it, based upon race.  The last two Supreme Court challenges to Affirmative Action were and now, are being waged by young white women claiming that they as white citizens were denied admission into universities due to affirmative action. This was a smart strategy in service of white male supremacy. Not only are white women viewed as more sympathetic, they also deflect white men from appearing as racists.         

White male masculinity has also been deeply wounded as well. Black athletic define masculinity and are able to collect the "human barbie doll trophy's" that use to be office limits. Tiger Woods and Kobie Byant are examples of this. O.J. Simpson not only was a collector, but also brutally murdered one and escaped the proverbial noose. Further, although interracial dating in America is still not overly common and marriage less so, but its still visible especially in urban centers. Black people have also invaded he TV and Hollywood. And we still dominate in music. 

 Hipster uniform has three basic formulas based on white male archetypes who've been historically hostile to Black people.

The poor and blue color white midwestern or southerner who wears mesh trucker hats, chains attached to wallets, etc.

1950's "Mad Men" Era clothing when Black people were "invisible" except where they were catching hell. Mad Men parties are now in vogue which reminds me of modern day Confederate reenactment enthusiasts   
A popular Mad Men party that generally are absent of Black People.

Then there is the white pioneer spirt of tree chopping land clearing flannel.  Harking back to the good old days when the white man was at the top of the food chain. First Nation People were removed to the reservations by the United State's Army and Blacks were shackled as slaves in far away plantations down south.

The badge of Hipster dedication is the growing of the classic teamster or handle bar mustache, side burns, and the accompanying beard that represents the old world European masculinity of a Prussian War General, or the myth of the gentile, honor bound, brave Southern Confederate Colonel, to the pug ugly brawling ability of the original America Teamster.  

Growing this type of facial hair is a time commitment and takes work. In other words its an initiation process. Also those sorts of beards and mustaches are distinctly white male, which is part of the subconscious appeal. I'm not even sure if Black men can grow a teamster mustaches. 

What's equally deep about the white male mustache craze is its embrace by young white women to bolster the wounded masculinity of their white male counter parts.  On Facebook and yelp, pictures of white women displaying their solidarity and support are ubiquitous. 

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