Skip to main content

View Diary: the (snow)faces change but the (appropriated) song remains the same, and the crowd goes wild. (36 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I thought about those links and some others (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nanette K

    however, Hugo Schwyzer is not the subject of this post.  I figured that if people want to look him up, then mazeltov to them.

    This post is about our active role as readers, consumers of information, messaging and media.  It's about how we participate in a cycle of listening to messages from privileged spokespersons.

    I don't care if some white cis-het male is advocating feminism or racial equality.  I would expect him to be doing so.  I just want to point out that the faces of women, brown people, poor people, queer people are fully capable of speaking on their own issues and that not just with Hugo but with many things - our culture defaults to accepting the message more so when behind a cis-het-white-male face.

    Someone commented here about the right of some white man to study Africa.  I'm not discussing rights to learn but instead our desire as an audience to hear and reward the message from a privileged class face.

    Also that this is not a new thing.  It happens constantly.  Not just in feminism or race, but in economics, culture, language, religion and any other place where privilege and the abuse of privilege play out.

    •  I'm that "someone" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nowhere Man, kyril
      Someone commented here about the right of some white man to study Africa.  I'm not discussing rights to learn but instead our desire as an audience to hear and reward the message from a privileged class face.

      Actually, I wasn't commenting on the "right" of a white man to study African American history.  I was commenting on how unproductive it seems to me that some people (including some of his students) would attack his legitimacy as a historian of civil rights because he isn't black.

      I'm not saying you're wrong that we, as a society, on the whole, like to hear more from white, privileged faces.  That's a thesis I could see myself buying into.  But I need more data than Lady Gaga and Elvis.

      I do understand what you're saying, though.  I've been told before that I'm not "objective" and "detached" if I'm open about my sexuality, implying, of course, that only someone who hasn't had my experiences can truly be taken seriously by the "mainstream."  I get it.  I'm not necessarily arguing with what you're saying.  I think this is an important conversation to have.  At the same time, something inside me really likes it when I see cis-het white males care about gender and sexuality.  There's something refreshing about that.  I know very few cis-het people who give much of a damn about queer studies except to say, "That's cute" (and yes, I've actually gotten that before).

      You never answered kyril's question above, and it's a question that I have as well, so I'll pose it again:

      Just what exactly are cishetwhitemen who want to advance the cause of feminism on some scale larger than their own personal/professional life supposed to do? What would be acceptable, non-appropriative, non-exclusive behaviour?

      Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

      by Chrislove on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 02:10:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sgb, but on the last question I have (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sexgenderbody, Chrislove, kyril

        some thoughts.

        Just what exactly are cishetwhitemen who want to advance the cause of feminism on some scale larger than their own personal/professional life supposed to do? What would be acceptable, non-appropriative, non-exclusive behaviour?

        My own personal beliefs and observations, not just on feminism but with regard to all marginalized groups:

        First. Believing. Believing when someone from a group or subset (as a person above put it) that something in a certain situation (or, in general) is racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist, so on. Not attempting to replace lived experience with "objectivity."

        Speaking with, not for. Far too many people who attempt to become allies of any particular marginalized group, especially, but not limited to, white men (and white women in situations not dealing directly with white women) often drift into speaking for a particular group. Particularly when they become a "voice", a "go-to person".

        Supporting, not replacing. Like the above, when someone becomes a voice, or is in the process of attempting to become one, there is the really big chance of their taking on a role that is on the surface supportive of whoever.. women, LGBT, POC, etc... but which is, in reality, detrimental to them. Because their voices have replaced those of the people in the marginalized groups, thus shunting those groups farther off into obscurity. AND, normalizing the idea that as long as someone is speaking about the issues that pertain that it's all good. It's not. Or, at least, not necessarily.

        Rejection of privilege. This is an important one, in my opinion, because all the other ones hang on it. Too many people, in my opinion, not only speak for and replace people in marginalized groups, they do so while hanging on fiercely to all their privilege. So instead of, say, declaring their straight-cis privilege at every junction and deferring to the words, lived experiences and, most important, root work done by countless LGBT people all over the world, some of whom put their lives on the line to speak, or to come out, they take the accolades as something due. That they have accomplished something by bravely speaking and becoming the voice of someone whose lives they have not lived.

        Mind, allies screw up. That's a given, and one of things one accepts when one attempts to make it into ally status. Allies screw up, do stupid stuff, say hurtful and stupid stuff and, hopefully, are corrected, accept that correction and work on it. That's not what I am talking about in the above, or not really.

        I don't think there is anything inherently wrong or bad about cis-het white men (and women, in non-white women advocacy) working with people in marginalized groups, even helping to amplify their voices (because some people will only listen to white men, white women, or people outside of a particular group because they are seen as... yes, "objective") but I think it needs to be done with a constant and vocal rejection of privilege and of being made the face of anti- this or that.

        Which is one reason a good many Black people (though not all, and not all POC) greatly dislike Tim Wise. :)

        Mostly, I think that one of the main points of advocacy is that it must be done in a support role, with the realization that many of these groups have been working on issues for years, that there is and has been root work done, that people within a community often know the best way of dealing with issues in that community and so on.

        Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat. --Audre Lorde

        by Nanette K on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 04:25:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I pretty much agree with that list whole-heartedly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          As for this:

          Supporting, not replacing. Like the above, when someone becomes a voice, or is in the process of attempting to become one, there is the really big chance of their taking on a role that is on the surface supportive of whoever.. women, LGBT, POC, etc... but which is, in reality, detrimental to them. Because their voices have replaced those of the people in the marginalized groups, thus shunting those groups farther off into obscurity. AND, normalizing the idea that as long as someone is speaking about the issues that pertain that it's all good. It's not. Or, at least, not necessarily.

          I see what you're saying.  But, as I said below in reply to sexgenderbody, I'm not sure Schwyzer does "replace" women's or LGBTs' voices.  He's not a giant in queer history.  Heck, before today, I'd barely heard of him.  When it comes to gender studies, he clearly carries a good deal of weight.  But is he really representing the entire field?  Has he really replaced women's voices?  These are actual questions - I don't know the answers.

          If so, then I could see cause for some hostility.  But, as I asked below, how does one avoid this?  In general, how does one (as sexgenderbody put it) "row an oar" rather than "be captain of the ship"?  Schwyzer has done well for himself in gender studies.  If we're going to let cis-het males do gender and sexuality, but then put limits on how big a voice they can have, that can be problematic.

          I don't know.  This diary has made me think.  I'm not supposed to think on winter break, damnit.  :p

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 05:11:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, well when it comes to Schwyzer, my issues (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chrislove, sexgenderbody, zett

            with him are different from many white feminists, so I can't really answer that. I don't read him, don't refer people to him, don't blog about his words or anything like that. Plus, as far as I know, he's a bit of an outlier when it comes to males who call label themselves male feminists.

            And that's one of the things. He teaches (at least, the last time I saw him discuss who was in his class) mostly young, mostly non-white women. I don't know how he interacts with them from his position of power and as an expert (though he has admitted advising them to discount the affect of racism on their lives and focus only on gender and sexism, because Shirley Chisholm said something one time (and he didn't even understand what she was saying) and that's that).

            But in his online interactions with women of color not subject to his frame of power, he has been dismissive, insulting, completely incapable of listening or understanding being challenged on his views, finger-waving, attempting to intimidate through white male supremacy -- and the vast majority of this has been in the service of attempting to run interference for, or protect, popular (mostly online, but off as well) white feminists. Who were, as generally agreed (eventually), usually in the wrong, lol.

            I think this goes back to sbg's post, in whose voices are privileged. To this day, Schwyzer's voice is highlighted and promoted by white feminists, as one who 'maybe I disagree with him on some things, but he has a lot to say'. This sort of functions as a power-sharing agreement (white feminists may not agree with this analysis) in that each promotes the other, sometimes assuming authority on a particular subject, and both ignore women of color who have been doing the work for decades.

            As for his being a big voice in gender studies or in LGBT stuff, I think part of the problem is that many people are just realizing he is more and more attempting to become just that. Offering himself for speaking engagements and whatever else, I don't know, which, considering his history (which some people also just found out about) seems to them to be his profiting off of being a creep. And more.

            Anyway, has he replaced all women's voices? I don't know. I know that, in some venues, he has replaced the voices of women of color. I think that he has become a sort of person some seek out to find out things about feminism and whatever else that could better be found out from a woman. But again, I haven't read him in years, barely even thought about him... until, again, his voice was amplified by a white feminist who posted about him on one of the major white feminist sites.

            Though I think, this time, it kinda backfired. :)

            Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat. --Audre Lorde

            by Nanette K on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 06:21:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  you can row an oar (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chrislove, Nanette K

        but you can't be captain of the ship nor admiral of the fleet.  

        there are approximately 7 quadzillion advantaged positions on this planet for cis-het-white-men to have and hold.  there is no injustice in them not being at the front of the column on race, gender, wealth or privilege.  

        •  Okay - (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          Schwyzer has obviously become quite successful at what he does.  How does he, and other cis-het males, go about rowing an oar rather than being captain of the ship?  Does he have to make a conscious effort not to let his voice become too loud?  And how does he do that?

          I'm not sure Schwyzer has become captain of the ship that is gender/sexuality.  He's certainly no giant in queer history, even though he apparently teaches gay and lesbian history courses.  He's no John D'Emilio, that's for sure.  I'm not so much an expert when it comes to gender studies - he may carry some weight, but again, I'm not sure he's the admiral of the fleet.  Has he really taken over gender studies to the extent that he's representing an entire field?

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 05:03:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site