The best part about historical fiction is, I always have someone to relate to. The past is pretty sweet.
Here’s a satirical look at white male privilege, which refers to the gendered and racist discourses that maintain sexist, racist and heterosexist balance of power society. White men’s experiences are dominant in Western history, education, art, religion, the law and through every other major social institution. Men’s experiences shape the the dominant discourses that pervade everyday social interactions. Discourse is the way in which language is used to impose specific ways of talking and thinking about the established social order. People come to associate particular social practices with commonplace assumptions about “the way things are.” Language is used associate these practices with an idealised vision of normality and “the way things should be.”
Mainstream popular culture makes it seem as if white men’s experiences are “natural,” “normal,” and the universal ideal through which societies should judge the lives of Others. For example the way we use words shape what people come to accept about what it is acceptable about being a man and what is acceptable about being a woman: it is not okay for a woman to walk through the streets at night… but if she’s sexually harassed throughout her day, can’t she take a bit of “harmless teasing”? It is okay to use homophobic language on Twitter 45,000 times in less than half a day (and counting). It’s okay to use sexist language and imagery in gaming and to abuse women who speak out against this.
Gender discourses rest upon heterosexist ideals. Heterosexism is the idea that all people are “naturally” heterosexual and other sexualities are subservient or deviant. This position is unsupported by historical and empirical data, which chart the historical forces that give rise to white, heterosexual male privilege.
For classic overview texts, read:
- Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality.
- Adrienne Rich, Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience.
- Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
For empirical studies of how men and women adopt white male privilege, read:
- Ghassan Hage, White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society (Australia)
- Margaret Wetherell and Jonathan Potter, Mapping the Language of Racism: Discourse and the Legitimation of Exploitation (New Zealand)
- Stuart Hall, Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Culture, Media and Identities Series). (UK)
- Ruth Frankenberg, White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. (USA)
Image Source: mackiejunior.