I’m a white guy in his 40s. Sadly, I recently learned that “pussy-grabbing” is something that’s NBD to a fairly wide swath of my fellow humans. But I’m not sure why this surprised me, and it got me thinking of how often other white guys say things to me that leave me taken aback.
For example, just yesterday I was at the park, and struck up a conversation with a fellow white guy. Turns out we live near one another, a few towns over [Town Y]. He moved there because he “didn’t like the direction [Town X] was going, with all the new roads and all”. Town X being a commuter suburb which has been expanding, [unstated: with development of affordable housing and a lot more immigrants in than when he grew up there 40 years ago]. He very much was saying without saying, racist bullshit. When this happens I counter with positives. No point in calling out the bullshit, but it can be mighty fun to redirect the conversation to positive things, in this case the new schools in Town X, and the improved rail services, and the medical centers that have expanded there along that heavily improved road.
What kinds of dogwhistles are you privileged to hear? How do you handle them?
I’ve seen a lot of the same thing among relatives who have moved from one suburb to another further out (various directions), always making comments that I know really translate into “more people of color are moving here, so we have to get out”.
I’ve done a variety of things to remind them that life isn’t as black-and-white (hah) as they think. We see them once a year, and I always make sure to leave them something to reflect on.
This Christmas, I think it’s time to drop the bomb that they have partial Jewish heritage.
A large number of women turned out to support one. I recently met an 18 year old from an upper class background who just voted in NH. She thought that Hillary just had too much baggage. I happen to agree, Clinton has her share, but I think the president-elect has more. My friend found a way to vote for a grabber. It’s her privilege to see her world through her eyes. Same as any of us.
I see it a lot on Tumblr… but probably not in the way you’re thinking. The general rule is: if a post begins with the author “walking down the street” or “riding the bus”, includes some outrageously racist act and ends with a slow clap building to applause? It’s a dog whistle.
Also: anyone who posts “Just try and change my mind” is laying bait to mass-ban anyone who disagrees with them.
Okay I guess I’m going to interrupt here with a not a white dude in his forties perspective: the thing that’s a weird kind of privilege for me is being butch. I rarely pass as a man but I’m unmistakably masculine in the way I dress most of the time, as well having a not really “feminine” figure, which prevents me from being the target of a lot of misogyny– catcalling and stuff like that. So sometimes I’m completely blind to what my more feminine friends/family experience. Of course I hear women talk about their experiences of being harassed all the time, and I think, wow, that sounds like it really sucks (as a female human I get harassed too but in other ways and not to the same degree I think), but it’s not on my mind until I’m walking down the street with my cousin and some asshole says “you should smile more often” in a creepy ass voice.
And then other times, because some straight-cis dudes read me as “not feminine enough to harass and exclude”, they feel comfortable talking about awful shit they want to do or have done to women, in front of me, expecting me to be complicit, and if I tell them they’re creeps, which I usually try to, they’ll act like I’ve betrayed the laws of the man-cult and revealed my feminine weakness. (The other option is to sit quietly and want to vomit.)
And I was thinking about that study with the fake twitter accounts, showing that calling people out works better if it’s coming from someone on the privileged side of things and worse if they’re not, and I’m wondering where I fall on that when it comes to these misogynistic behaviors–if I call these guys out to defend my friends, what does that mean to them? If I’m only read as masculine enough when I’m silent and complicit in misogynistic behavior then what does it mean to a misogynist when I refuse to be? Does it matter to them?
Hey, white dudes in your forties—do you notice if you call someone out if they respond by trying to undermine your masculinity or another privileged aspect of identity? Have you noticed a difference in your own response to being called out by someone with your level of privilege vs someone without it?
Straya here, so the dogwhistles are more like klaxons but I noticed one particularly WTF example the other day on the news.
Two people, both being presented as heroes for different incidents, one Aussie, one Sudanese. One has a thick accent and uses slang terms from their culture, the other speaks good English and has a lighter drawl.
Guess which one gets every single word subtitled. The clue may be in their skin colour rather than their language skills .
Quick dogwhistle-oriented note from my recent visit there. I went for a few weeks as a tourist, and we visited Uluru and heard plenty of stories from Aborigines about the horrible shit they’ve been put through. Very fascinating and very touching. A few days after being in the Outback our group had lunch at a VFW in Port Douglas, and while waiting for a drink at the bar, a scruffy mustached dude in a bush hat asked me how I was, etc. “Oh excellent, we’ve just come from a few days at Uluru,” I said, and he smirked. “Ah. Uluru, he says. I think you mean Ayers Rock, mate. Ayers. Rock,” he said louder, his friends laughing and nodding. Ah, got it. Coded racism.