11 Things That are Wrong With Jezebel's "Defense of Gay White Men"

Here are 11 things that are wrong with Thursday's Jezebel post about why everyone in the gay community is mean to white, gay, cisgendered (obviously one gender), American, middle-class men:

1) The title, "In Defense of the Gay White Man." (Sorry, has someone in the progressive community denied your right to exist?)

2) This sentence: "Race, gender, and gender expression conspire to strip a person of their freedom just as much as any outside prejudice or hateful legislation." Is. Just. Wrong. The fact that black people want you to actually listen to their experience is equivalent to Jim Crow? The fact that you don't feel heard at conferences for gay minority women is the same as transgender folks wanting inclusion in the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? No. False. Wrong.

3) As a white man (who is, incidentally, paraphrasing someone else's words---presumably in the least flattering way possible), you don't get to get mad when other people talk about their personal experiences being oppressed by white male privilege. Or you do---you just don't get to turn around and call yourself an ally.

4) The claim that people of color and other minorities are constantly trying to force him to "make frequent and loud apologies for the crimes of his ilk." No. No one has accused you, personally, of "crimes," or even asked you to make an apology. What they have asked is that you listen to their experiences without making it about you. Which brings us to...

5) Guess what? IT ISN'T ALL ABOUT YOU. Believe it or not, people with less privilege than me isn't about me, any more than a "very butch Latino [sic] lesbian" is about him. As a white American relatively middle-class cisgendered straight woman, I have a hell of a lot of privilege. That doesn't negate the lack of privilege I experience being a woman in a sexist society, but it's something I'm obligated to recognize if I want to consider myself an ally of people who don't enjoy my privilege.

6) This: "I don't think it's fair for another person to label me an oppressor without the barest knowledge of what I have done in my life or what kind of person I actually am." And this: "I end up having to do what no one of any identity should have to do: Apologize for what I am."

7) "In any community people should be proud of who they are." This reminds me of so-called "men's rights" advocates who claim they're just trying to reclaim their masculine identities from their evil female oppressors. Hey, they don't hate women---they just think "male pride" (and the ensuing crusade against women's equality) is something to embrace.

8) "If men are deemed too privileged to fit in with the lesbian community, how can there actually be a dialogue?" I think, here, what he means by "deemed too privileged" (love that passive voice. See also, two paragraphs down, his "fear of immediate chastisement." By whom, he doesn't say) is something more like "asked to listen instead of talking." If I don't understand someone's experience, the best way to get to understand it isn't a "dialogue," it's to listen before you speak. The writer seems to want people who've had experiences he never will to thoughtfully listen to how he thinks they should feel.

9) Back to the conference and the imaginary people asking to apologize for being white and male. "Do I fight back, respond with bile that white men have feelings too and that we don't like being denigrated in public?" No. Amazingly, perhaps, other people's systematic oppression (or, conversely, the massive advantages, material and otherwise, you enjoy for being a white male in America) isn't about your "feelings." That's like saying black Americans don't deserve an apology and reparations for slavery because some individual white people were and are really, really nice to their black friends.

10) The author acknowledges he's "privileged," but never says what rewards he thinks that privilege gets him. Given his self-centeredness in other matters ("why won't my black/trans/lesbian friends let me make their struggles about meeeeee?"), I'm guessing his gesture to "privilege" doesn't have much basis in self-reflection.

11) Finally, Mr. Gay White Guy wants to know why, oh why, his trans friends won't just spend the time to tell them all about their experience being trans. Instead, they suggest he do some research himself. He thinks this is unfair and "it makes me uncomfortable." Maybe they're telling him what they actually think he should do, instead of telling him what he wants to hear. Maybe being subjected to invasive questions about their identity makes them uncomfortable.

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