Whelp, we have another whitey dancing in blackface to win the hearts and minds of white folks, who otherwise would never be able to process an alternate point of view, amirite? Shaun King, a major provocateur in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, has been outed by Milo Yiannopoulos at Breitbart as a 100% white guy, faking his racial background to gain authority, and the right to define the experience of Black people in America. Gee, a white guy hungry for the authority to tell Black Americans what they think and feel? Nothing racist about that at all!
In actual fact, I don’t think there is anything racist at all about a white person using their voice to help articulate the position of other people who are not white. It can be a huge advantage to have a white person advocating for issues that affect primarily people of color – I practice a version of this principle by being a woman advocating for men’s rights, and the advantage accrues from the exact same mechanism that affords white people advocating for Black people moral authority: white people command a kind of respect that Black people don’t, and women command a respect that men simply don’t. In general, we understand that white people are automatically conferred with greater authority, and our word for this is ‘racism’. In general, we absolutely refuse to acknowledge that women are the privileged gender, and that women’s voices command authority over men’s because we are living through the last dying moments of feminism, which insists the exact opposite is true. Women are oppressed by ‘sexism’, despite the fact that their voices are privileged over men’s, especially when it comes to men’s issues.
There are men who have been working in the MHRM for well over 40 years, down in the trenches every single day, doggedly insisting that they are human beings worthy of consideration and care, but they don’t get invited to the Today Show or get profiled in Vice or get invited to debate other women about men’s issues on the BBC.
Because I’m a woman. The cultural narrative in this regard is changing, albeit slowly. Yiannopoulos, who frequently writes on issues affecting men, is open about how his sexual orientation lends him a privilege to speak on men’s issues and be heard, just as my gender does. The all-powerful cis-gendered straight white man is so powerful a gay reporter and a woman blogger are considered more legitimate authorities on cis-gendered, straight, white, male experience than the aforementioned. He’s just a crying man-baby everyone should ignore. Patriarchy: you’re doing it wrong.
The silencing of men and the related censorious concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ can be laid 100% at the feet of feminism, particularly radical, academic feminism. It all derives from a philosophical argument known as standpoint epistemology. Let’s start with a few really simple definitions. Feminist theory always distills complex philosophical concepts into soundbites because they’re easier to explain and to deploy, which are two of their main goals: disseminate and manipulate.
In very simple terms, ontology is what you know, and epistemology is how you know what you know. You know the sky is blue, you know it’s blue by looking at it. That kind of thing. Here’s where feminism inserts the manipulative aspect:
What I know: it’s nice to be rich
How I know: depends on where I stand (standpoint epistemology). If I’m rich, I know it’s nice to be rich because, well, I’m rich and my life is nice, ergo, it’s nice to be rich. If I’m poor, I know that because I see rich people and they seem to be enjoying life in a way that I am not, ergo, it’s nice to be rich.
Now feminists go one step further: rich people can never know the experiences of poor people because that doesn’t fit Marxist feminist ideology, but poor people can know the experiences of rich people because that is the condition that will make Marxist, feminist ideology work, and nothing matters beyond making the ideology fit reality, no matter how much reality contradicts ideology.
I really enjoyed the first few seasons of Downton Abbey, mostly for the upstairs/downstairs interactions and how explicitly the show acknowledged that the lower and upper classes were utterly dependent on one another. Upper class comes with enormous luxury to be sure, but that is matched with psychotic levels of behavioral command and control. Lower class involves an enormous amount of physical labor, but far more personal freedom in terms of how people may act and behave outside the formal areas of the home. If I could go back in time, and had to choose, I would choose to be a high ranking member of the serving classes: Head Housekeeper, or Cook. Even the Head Laundress probably had a more enjoyable life, ultimately, than a Lady of the House under constant surveillance and subject to crazy levels of etiquette and ‘proper’ behavior.
Shows like Downton Abbey make it exceptionally clear that the upper and lower classes, who live so intimately with one another, can indeed understand the experiences of the other. Some are jealous, some are angry, some are defiant, some are relieved, all are completely aware of how the other half lives. Standpoint epistemology claims that because the lower classes are lower, they must of necessity exhibit a deference that leads them to a greater understanding of the upper class. This completely ignores the fact that the upper classes must also exhibit extreme deference to the lower classes, and understand that if the maid sees the ladies spitting on each other, that will make its way around the village and be fodder for a year’s worth of gossip.
Another way of understanding this is to say carjackers must study the movements of owners of BMWs and Escalades very carefully to understand how and when they will most vulnerable to carjacking, giving them insights into how the rich act. But the owners of BMWs and Escalades are equally likely to study the habits of carjackers, to avoid getting carjacked, giving them equal insights into how thugs live! Neither has an ontological advantage over the other: they know what they know. Neither has an epistemological advantage, either: they know what they know by observing the other.
The most common way to claim the efficacy of standpoint epistemology is through what is known as cultural appropriation. Here’s a story that will amuse many of you: after appearing in a video wearing two braids on either side of my head, someone sent me a message decrying my ‘cultural appropriation’. Lol wut? What culture am I appropriating, pray tell? Swiss Dairy Maids? Two German grandparents, one Swedish grandparent, one Irish grandparent – I think I can slap on a leather bodice and grab a broadsword to go with my braids and be culturally fine, thanks.
The accusation of cultural appropriation was an effort to shut down whatever conversation I was attempting to generate on the basis that, because I do not share the culture, I have no meaningful comment to make on that culture. This is such a defiantly anti-intellectual bullshit, it boggles the imagination to think this is a legacy of academic feminism. Why should I be surprised though? An aggressively anti-intellectual ideology designed to censor, all while claiming moral high ground? Yep, sounds like feminism.
Unfortunately, feminists themselves get trapped in their own rigidity and refusal to engage with thought in any rigorous manner: if no one but a Black person can possibly comment meaningfully on Black issues, then ….
Introducing Shaun King.
Coming hard on the heels of Professor Blackface herself.
Hey remember Black Like Me? That book changed a million minds and it would be heartily dismissed as ‘cultural appropriation’ today. Journalist John Howard Griffin did more to advance Black rights than millions of Black activists put together. We can absolutely have a conversation about how absurd it is that it took a white man to shed a light on some nasty cultural realities, the same way we can have a conversation about how absurd it is that it takes a woman to shed light on some nasty cultural realities facing men, but the fact remains white people can and should speak out about racial issues that affect Black people negatively and disproportionately, and women can and should speak out about gender issues that affect men negatively and disproportionately.
Feminism and standpoint epistemology in particular, have turned Shaun King into a laughing stock. I don’t necessarily agree with his points of view, but he has every right to express those points of view and face the court of public opinion. Instead, he’s become a fraud, a liar and a charlatan, and he can thank his feminism for that, because feminism explicitly requires him to be a lying sack of shit to speak.
Honestly, I have little sympathy. If you don’t have the balls (or ovaries) to face down a pack of screaming, willfully stupid harpies, you don’t have the balls (or the ovaries) to enact real cultural change, and you are pissing in the wind.
We have enough people pissing in the wind, quite frankly.
Stand up and speak, by all means. But do it authentically. Do it honestly. Do it with integrity and intellectual courage.
Or sit down and shut up.
Who is your master, Shaun? If you allow feminism to dictate the color of your skin, you do indeed have a claim to a shared experience with Black people. They, too, have a history of bowing to white masters. But they never did so willingly. They never did so happily. They fought back. They fought to the death. They fought with the skin stripped off their backs. They fought.
You wanna be part of Black culture? Get on your feet, Shaun, turn to your oppressors and tell them to go to hell.
We in the anti-feminist and men’s rights movement will show you how it’s done.
Lots of love,