The last time I wrote about feminism, I ever so slightly critiqued Eve Ensler, for perhaps going wide of the mark, but I’m going to take a much heavier bat to Sikivu Hutchinson’s recent article, “Nice White Boys Next Door and Mass Murder”, which I saw cause Meen Dee (aka Mindy) put it on her facebook wall, which is the only way any of this is relevant to HomoClimbtastic. If you feel raw about how irrelevant my posts are, know that I’ve already written five thousand words worth of posts about climbing, but just haven’t edited them for publication yet. I have to edit climbing posts so I don’t fuck them up. I can fuck up political posts all day long. Everyone else does. Why shouldn’t I?
Anyway, Hutchinson, conceivably, is simply being meta, that is, turning the “black people are violent” stereotype on its head by using white people’s tendency to go mass murdering to support the argument that “white people are violent.” Ah ha! That’s what it feels like! We’ll all stop saying that now!
In her defense, most of the article is excellent–she rightly observes that white people’s shockingly violent acts are viewed as “symptomatic of a potentially imperiled national heritage.” Actually, that phrasing is amazing. You go, Sikivu Hutchinson. You get a pass on the patronizing meta section in this article and in your next three blog posts, if you choose to use them.
Still, the concluding line saying that the shootings “will not prompt analysis of the violent masculinity at the heart of whiteness” goes sooooooooo wide of the mark that I’m going to spend an evening hacking it to pieces. Why she said this confounds me–near the top of the article, she describes these killers as coming from “lower to upper middle class nuclear families” which “forever shattered white suburbia’s veneer of normalcy.”
The phrase “middle class” should have set off alarm bells, especially given its sharp contrast to the (cynical, I know, but just trust me for a minute here) sense of community you sometimes acquire as a result of being oppressed, which she discusses in regard to people of color. As gay and queer people… we know this. For all the shit that’s happened to us, and as much as I wish it never happened, there are great things that have sprung from our collective march to defend ourselves. You can be savagely beaten, kicked out of your home, any number of horrible things, and there’s still some cadre at the end of the Snagglepuss rainbow who will help you off your broke ass. And even if not, it’s present, in the media, that there’s a place for you.
There is no place for the white middle class. In my own personal life, and in my perception of politics and the way they vote, they are the group I fear most. They are oppressed, but with no recognition of their oppression. They are the greatest pawns in the greatest swindle on Earth.
I didn’t really get it, and I didn’t really understand my own privilege, until I read that Dylan Klebold had to work a job while he was in school. That’s how out of touch I am with what it’s like not to come from money. When I had a shitty day at school, I could come home, play video games, shoot up video game characters, and that was it. No job required. And college to look forward to. Or whatever. I could do anything. The future was bright. No mutilation of neighborhood animals.
And to further hammer this point home, I did end up getting a job while I was in school. Turns out sometimes your family, your church, and most of your friends sometimes don’t want you around anymore when they find out you like cock, and I had to go! But, ultimately, there was a place for me. There’s no place for them.
We sometimes hear, and have a knee-jerk reaction to, people wondering aloud why, if black people have clubs for black people, and gay clubs for gay people, how is that different from hypothetical clubs for white or straight people. And we snap right back, “well it’s because you don’t come from a long history of oppression.” And some other stuff. You’ve said it before.
But when it comes to white heterosexual people who aren’t, well, upper class, and I mean upper class as in upper class, not new money, there’s kind of sort of the problem that… they are oppressed. And have been, for a long time. Think of the era when factories issued “credits” instead of actual dollars, the working conditions of city factories in the early 20th century, and so on, through American history, to and fro. A 9-5 work week, two weeks of vacation a year. That’s their idea of success! Looking at that life seems like hell, and the even bigger hell, is that almost everyone else will make you feel guilty for complaining about it. I can always spot someone who’s middle class (not upper, not lower) when they feel like that’s the life they deserve, and they would be lazy bums if they (or anyone else) doesn’t want to work that 9-5 (or more). That delusion is the only reason they haven’t yet fleeced the upper class out of their tax dollars for a European two-month vacation and socialized healthcare, and why they’ll happily sell the lower class up the river for not wanting to work 9-5 fifty weeks a year (those lazy bums!), which lower class people don’t want to do, because they’re not crazy, nor have they been manipulated into thinking that’s “the good life”. If they do it, it’s because they have kids to feed, or rent to pay, and they will literally phrase it this way in conversation. Middle class people will phrase it differently: “They have a salaried position, they shouldn’t complain!” Poor people and rich people feel the same way about money. They want a lot of it. And a pool. And the less work required to get it, the better. (By the way, if you find yourself saying that you’re upper class and you had to work your ass off, and upon further reflection, realize this is true, then you’ve just put yourself outside of the very definition of what it means to be upper class. This may be hard to accept at first.)
These are American values, this is an American problem, and this is an American symptom. In a world that gives you no control, and has mindfucked you into believing you don’t deserve control, the only thing to reach for is a copy of Fight Club. Or if you’re a few more cards short of a full deck, a gun. If they knew how much vacation time we took off a year, they would probably be going all French Revolution on us, which makes me wonder why we didn’t give them all cats or something instead, but I guess guns actually make people feel like they have power over the government.
As evidence, because I don’t believe in making arguments without cold, hard, statistical evidence, review the following:
(If you don’t feel like skipping to 0:40, Dolly Parton says as follows: “Look, I got a gun out there in my purse, and up to now I’ve been forgiving and forgetting because of the way I was brought up but I’ll tell you one thing, if you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine, and change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!” I posit that her consortium with other women is the only reason she didn’t follow through with it.)
In any event, we’ve learned not to say “let them eat cake!” but rather let a few people on Fox News tell the masses we had to work 24/7 to get where we are today (we didn’t), and the rest of us keep our goddamn mouths shut. Maybe I should too. I like my money.
Unfortunately, the answer to gun violence in general is not nearly as pat–mass murders make up only a tiny fraction of gun violence. Focusing on them probably isn’t worth our time. But if you’re wondering what drives these particular people over the edge, I would just imagine a place where you’re just as (or much more) oppressed than you are now, but surrounded by people telling you that you should be thankful for everything you have. Because if that isn’t the reason, we’re going to have to come up with some reason applicable only to middle class white people, because video games, violent song lyrics, and shitty parents are pretty universal.
Admittedly, this is not my fight, and I don’t care that much. But as oppressed minorities… I’m not going to scapegoat middle class white people. Not without wearing kevlar, anyway. Those mother fuckers are crazy.