Show blog for Too Fat for Our Pants on Radio One, 91 FM, Dunedin, New Zealand. Airs Mondays 10 am - 12 pm.

If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Woes of a Persecuted Guy

This is an email I received from a man yesterday, in response to my show about rape culture and the politics of consent.  It is not intentionally hateful or vitriolic, but it does display a fairly pervasive mode of thought that concerns me.  He gave his name, but out of a decency he certainly did not display to me, I'm going to leave him anonymous - in any case, his name is unimportant as I'm fairly certain he is just one of many, many people who felt this way, listening to my show and any other one that deals with feminist subject matter.  Let's call him Persecuted Guy.  His email and my response after the jump.

I love a good political or social rant, I love listening to your show
Anna but every time the "Slut walk" argument comes along I’ve got to
change channels. Honestly your sounding not a lot different than the
nut bar web sites your trying to bag. the ranting and venom of these
male lobotomy’s is more than countered by slut walking hissing and
spitting. Enough already, being white middle class male is the target
of choice for every barrow pushing “wana be” minority and yes it MUST
be all my fault. Give it a rest please!
Sic for all of the above, obviously.
My response, which can hereby be assumed as the response to all such comments:

Dear Persecuted Guy:
Thank you for listening.  I am glad to know that you enjoy a good political or social 'rant', as long as it doesn't challenge the ideas you already hold. Though I don't love that word to describe what I'm trying to do, which is to feel like I'm contributing productively to necessary social change, perhaps I do rant. I admit the format isn't perfect, but I do base everything I say on facts, and I do a great deal of research for each show - contrary to prevailing social winds, objective facts do exist - and I try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum.  Yesterday I possibly let my language get a little looser than I would have if I were writing an academic essay on the subject, but it is not my language with which you have an issue.  It is my subject matter.

As I mentioned in my 'lecture' yesterday, deconstructing a power structure is going to be met by resistance and anger by those who benefit from that power structure - in this case, those people are men. And yes, primarily white, middle class men.  That does not mean that the cultural, legal, and historical position of women as lesser beings is YOUR fault, Persecuted Guy, not YOU personally, (as I also mentioned about a dozen times in the show yesterday), but that the power structure in which our society exists was created for and by white males.  Did it never occur to you why white men are the target for "wanna be minorities" (and I have no idea what you mean by "wanna be minorities"), that there might be something about the position of white men in society that would make them the target? Like, perhaps the fact that our social power systems are unbalanced, and white men are at the top of that system? Once again, if it makes you feel uncomfortable to have that pointed out to you, perhaps you should re-examine how equal you really want things to be.

Furthermore, to have SlutWalk, a very reasonable response to a culture where women are blamed for being raped, described as 'hissing and spitting' actually aligns you rather closely with those nut bar websites I was quoting from yesterday.  In fact, Persecuted Guy, you are beginning to sound to me not like a man who genuinely desires gender and race equality, not like a man who is engaged in social and political issues, but like the worst kind of sycophant; the one who is already in a position of power to begin with.

So I'm going to take back what I said yesterday, just for you.  If you believe that there is no value in women fighting for equal rights, or for men and women fighting together against victim-blaming, and if you see all attempts to renegotiate the power structure more equally as "barrow pushing wanna be minorities", simply trying to tear men down for cynical, self-serving reasons, then this is YOUR fault.  YOU, Persecuted Guy, for upholding beliefs that oppress, for refusing to examine why you hold those beliefs or at whose expense they are enforced, and for assuming that any challenge to those beliefs must be lunatic and opportunistic. 

Thanks for listening.

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