Friday, August 11, 2017

The Audacity of Dopes: The White Mens' Burdening

Mediocre white dudes are going to be the downfall of the world. I spent my entire life learning about the ones who got us here, the “extraordinary” white dudes, if you will; the ones who spent the good part of that last 50-600 years molding the world in their image, conquesting and erasing societies, rewriting borders, rewriting history to make sure they were always on top. I really thought that the architects of the social constructs that perpetuate misogyny and the concept of race and the othering of any sexual orientation outside of “heterosexual” would be the ones to destroy us all. It was these “extraordinary” white dudes who spent the a half millennium sculpting the world into a place that caters to them and where we all pretty much cowtow to them and think of them as the default when someone says “a guy”. Extraordinary whites dudes have done so much in subjugating everyone who is not a white dude that it would take another half millennium to unlearn and expunge the residual ramifications of the the legal and social structures that they put in place to stay in power.
Extraordinary white dudes are not the ones with their fingers on the Button, though. Their dumb sons and nephews are. Mediocre white dudes are running the show. Extraordinary white dudes are no longer doing as much evil these days. A lot of them are trying to undo the damage of previous evil extraordinary white dudes, but they are being silenced by mediocre white dudes. We admonish people for daring to want an education. The bar is so low for white dudes’ success that sometimes doing NOTHING is seen as cause for reward. In the past few weeks, bland-ass white dudes have been lauded for figuring out that brown people are human and for body shaming their loved ones. I had one try to explain to me the concepts of racism and equality by quoting a voraciously racist philosopher. One even had the audacity to distribute a “manifesto” about the how the tech world’s lack of women and people of color is because of their inherent inferiority, and programs to bring more in are “harmful”.
Rochester professional dog whistler Bob Lonsberry went to the Rochester, NY Puerto Rican Festival as though he were going to a war zone in Syria to report on the Thunderdome-esque “chaos” of the festival. He even prefaced his trip to the festival by linking/not linking a crime that happened a week before the event to it. Then he wrote a long essay about how he “learned” that the Puerto Rican Day Festival is all about families celebrating their heritage and having a good time. The air was full with love and pride, as are all cultural/arts festivals. These people aren’t animals. They’re people. No shit, Bob. Instead of people admonishing him for his manner of talking about people as though he went on safari, even so far as to title his “heartwarming” essay “I Went to the Riot Last Night”. The praise and accolades that rained on him were astounding. Even Puerto Rican people were so proud of Bob for learning that Puerto Rican people are PEOPLE! It is as if he hadn’t demonized the festival in previous years or talked about how many arrests there were 15 minutes later (St. Patrick’s Day usually has the same amount of arrests), or talked about how the police were the ones who kept the damn festival in line, or “wondered” whether the event planners should pay for police overtime (spolier alert: EVERY FESTIVAL IN ROCHESTER PAYS FOR POLICE OVERTIME). He was praised for pretty much doing nothing. Also, HE SPELLED HIS OWN NAME INCORRECTLY IN HIS OWN ESSAY.
Robbie Tripp made headlines because of a long instagram he made about his wife. He stated that he loves his wife and her ”curvy body”. He talked about how he was teased for liking thicker, chubbier girls in high school. He talked about how he picked up some books on feminism and learned how it’s okay to love side rolls and thighs. Then he went on to paraphrase “Baby Got Back” and say that “Her shape and size won’t be on the cover of Cosmopolitan, but it’s the one featured in my life and in my heart”. Does he really think we don’t remember, “So Cosmo says you’re fat/ Well I ain’t down with that/ ‘Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin’/ And I’m thinkin’ ‘bout stickin’”??? I’m surprised he didn’t say something about workout tapes by Fonda. So basically, Tripp is tripping. He took the time out of his schedule to objectify his wife in order to pat himself on the back for doing a “charity” to this woman who he insinuates would be alone without his altruism, all while doing a light gentrification of a 25 year old club banger. For this, he got a few articles written about him Even Buzzfeed did a whole article with more pictures of his wife, Sarah (He didn’t mention the name of his wife who he loves so much, with her “curvy body”).
“I love my wife”. That is where he should have ended that post. “I. Love. My. Wife.” Nothing else was needed. The kicker? Sarah isn’t even all that big! She’s gorgeous, yes, but all these rolls he’s talking about must be in his head. And she has her own-ass fashion blog and brand! She will be alright without him and his pseudo altruism. Robbie Tripp wants an award for doing the VERY LEAST of what a husband is supposed to do: love his damn spouse unconditionally, yet he fucked that up by talking about her “conditions”. GTFOH.
The latest in white male mediocrity is James Demore, the now former Google software engineer who took it upon himself to write a 10 page manifesto decrying diversity measures in tech. Whether he had any good ideas or new measures is irrelevant, because the premise of his entire argument hinged on explicitly stating that women are biologically inferior to men. The tenor of the essay hints to him referencing points of evolutionary psychology to draw his conclusions. Most scientists think of evolutionary psychology as about as invalid as eugenics or phrenology. Most MRAs love it, because it validates their misogynistic, sad-boy rants. I refuse to link Demore’s screed, but I’m happy to quote a scientist who read an analyzed the document:
Finally read the Google manifesto in full. As an engineer, I believe that it is on us as engineers to check those within our communities, but to also educate ourselves and others, and advocate for change in the profession. This man's worldview is deeply problematic. It's rooted in what he views as an unquestioned assumption that anything "feminine" or "nonwhite" is inherently inferior. But the thing that bothers me most is that we as a profession have such low standards for engineers that he was allowed to make it through the ranks of Google and probably would have ended up in leadership if he had not written this.
Not only would he be a bad leader, he is a bad engineer. Engineers need the ability to think critically, research the history and context of a problem before submitting a solution, not blindly submit to authority, apply skepticism, and recognize their role and influence in organizations and society.
This man demonstrably does not have these skills. But unfortunately, engineering culture does not put much pressure on him or men like him to develop them.
We as engineers can do better than this.
TL:DR: Demore made the sexist version of The Bell Curve, likely because of his anxiety over more women and minorities gaining foothold in the industry. Just as Charles Murray did to people of color in 1994 with The Bell Curve, Demore used skewed “science” to endorse discrimination of women without saying it outright. I know he sounded kind of smart, but the paper was is the science project equivalent of making a shitty baking soda/vinegar papier mache volcano and calling it “hard geological research”.
Nevertheless, the more real scientists and engineers, both men and women, wrote why Demore’s disaster was so wrong on so many levels, more mediocre white dudes ran to his defense with faux platitudes like, “I’m not defending him, but…”, and “If I could just play devil’s advocate…”. I will give it to mediocre white dudes; they will cape hard for each other. Talk about solidarity! I have not seen a status or essay regarding the fallacies of his claims that weren’t inundated with a peacock’s plumage of “um actuallies” and “he brings up some good points” in the comments, especially if they were women who wrote or just shared other’s writings. White mediocrity seems more insidious than white supremacy.
This not to say that people of color can’t be guilty of fuckery as well. Misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and many other institutions have thrived under the White supremacy umbrella, and I’ve written plenty about them, too. However, white mediocrity is incredibly pervasive, though, and besides, this is an essay focused on the dangers mediocre white dudes. This is not just about this essay, or some moron who thinks he’s “woke” because he hung out with the brown people he subsequently dog-whistled the day after. This isn’t about some moron who needs to objectify his wife in order to make himself look good. We’ve been giving out participation trophies to mediocre white dudes since we made it socially acceptable to wave the flag of the losers of a Civil War in public. There's currently a mediocre white dude initiating international crises via Twitter and in news conferences. I'm almost at the point where I think white supremacy isn't the structure activists need to work to topple. White mediocrity has supplanted white supremacy, and every time a wack-ass white dude pats himself on the back for doing not a goddamn thing or is violently angry that a woman or person of color is successful, I am more certain that mediocre white dudes will destroy the world.

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