In Which I Alienate My Bepenised-European-American Readers

I’m working on a theory about white men.  This is my theory–that above all else, it is important for you to believe that you, and people like you, are good guys.

I just need a spiffy name for my theory, so that when future gender scholars quote me, they can just refer to Aunt B.’s Grand Theory of… something. 

Oh, and I need to show you evidence for my theory.  Okay, I’ll work on that.  The complex part of my theory is that the things that are threatening to the white man sense of good guy-ness can be pretty bizarre.  Say, for instance, that white guys by and large were not named Marion, but that it became all the rage for black folks to name their sons after John Wayne.  According to my theory, we should see a lot of white-guy anxiety about this because white guys want to believe that they are good guys.  But if they are good guys, all folks would want to be like them.  If folks are behaving in some way that insinuates, however tangentially, that they don’t care about being like white guys, white guys take this as a threat to their good-guy-ness and react with a mixture of hurt and anger.

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20 thoughts on “In Which I Alienate My Bepenised-European-American Readers

  1. It’s called paternalism — or benevolent patriarchalism. (Historians of slavery have been there and done that, I think, if I’m understanding you correctly.)

  2. "it is important for you to believe that you, and people like you, are good guys."That can be said for all of humanity. You think Hitler sat around thinking, "Wow, I’m an evil fucker."? No, he thought he was doing the right thing.Your theory needs work.

  3. A. I said I was working on it.B. Let us just remember that, when and if this blows all out of proportion, you were the one who brought up Hitler, not me.

  4. My theory is that liberal women mostly believe that since power corrupts, then victimhood is a virtue.Except for Senator Clinton, who goes both ways on this issue.

  5. I think it’s crazy to insist that the opposite of power is victimhood. That’s a really fucked up notion of power. And of course power is corrupting. But, christ, so is continually being a victim.

  6. I teed that one up just for you, Ex.So B, the opposite of powerful isn’t weak?A victim is an aggrieved or disadvantaged party in a crime or disaster. The state of being disadvantaged comes from a weakness or undesirable characteristic. Weakness is lacking in force or ability. In short, a lack of power.That must be the siren song of the liberal feminist, with the chorus: "I am not what I am because of decisions I made, but because of social circumstances over which I have no influence. Woe is our Sisterhood of Victimhood."

  7. Listen, Mr. Smartypants–An antonym of powerful is weakness. But weakness is not a synonym for victimhood. As you well know.Just as you know that the chorus of our siren song goes "I am what I am because of decisions I made and social circustances over which I have little or no influence."

  8. Shit B, I’d settle for you believing white men are good. You say it, but you don’t believe it.

  9. W., I’d challenge you to support every claim you’re making, but I’m afraid you’d see it as hostile and I don’t feel hostile, just confused.I don’t believe that anyone is inherently good and I’m believe that we could all do better. I talk about the ways that white men could do better and what I think prevents you from doing so because y’all are interesting to me.I think striving to be better than we are is an important goal. I thought it was a somewhat universal American goal. But I’m starting to suspect I’m wrong about that.But what that has to do with your criticism, I’m not sure.If you thought that I believed that white men are good–whatever the fuck that even means–would that make it harder or easier for you to read me?

  10. I have a theory that you were recently in an argument with a white guy and have made a generalization that upon another moment’s reflection doesn’t hold up.

  11. Aunt B,Would it interest you to know that John Wayne’s birth name was Marion Morrison?

  12. I misunderstood where you were going with the original post. My first post was based on an entirely different perceived meaning. Sorry.To address the original post…. Your last paragraph seems to contradict itself. If ‘black folk’ were naming their kids after him wouldn’t that imply they wanted their kids to be like John Wayne, a well known white guy? Am I just misapplying the Aunt B Theory of Bepenised Europen-Americans?Is this supposed to be some particular criticism? What’s wrong with the need to believe that I’m a good guy? And what’s wrong with being hurt when someone disagrees with my favorable impression of myself? That’s the whole motivation for striving to be better than we are.There’s always room for improvement, even for all us good white guys. We have to keep up a good example for all you non bepenised types.

  13. Hmm. No, you’re right about John Wayne. I’m not sure how that fits into my theory.But in general, no, it’s not supposed to be a criticism. It’s just a theory. It usually works out just fine, because there’s nothing wrong with believing that you’re a good guy, if you are.But I was watching Dan Abrams last night and they were talking about the Duke rape case and how mangled the communication between the police and Duke was and how the Duke police told the administration not to worry about the allegations when they first surfaced because members of the Durham police squad had indicated that the accuser wasn’t credible.Now, one of Dan’s guests was trying to insinuate that the Durham police didn’t think she was credible because she was a black woman and the accused are white, but that doesn’t explain why the Duke administration would think that the allegations weren’t going to be that big a deal, especially because, it turns out, they weren’t even aware of the racial componant to the incident for a week and a half.So, I don’t think it’s some outward malevolence, but it’s the point where my theoretical phenomenon ends up backfiring on white men. The need to believe that "people like us" couldn’t do bad things, makes it hard for the administration to act in the university’s own interests.Does that make sense? In general, it’s not a bad thing to believe that you and people like you are good. But clinging to that belief and defending those people, even when it becomes obvious that the people you perceive as being like you act in ways you wouldn’t, is the hinky part.

  14. Exador beat me to it. Everyone thinks they and people like them are good. If they didn’t, they’d have to change.Like the guy said in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" – no one thinks they’re a bad person.

  15. Okay, I can see the problem if it leads you into denial. But I think the accuser’s credibility problem stemmed from her profession, not her gender or ethnic group.

  16. I think some people know they’re "bad", but they don’t recognize being "bad" as bad. They don’t care if it’s bad or not. They just believe that the ends justifies the means.As a society, I think most people want to be considered "good", but good is probably more subjective that bad. Hitler probably wasn’t evil. He DEFINITELY did good for the German people a good part of his reign. He screwed up the end, but if he would have stopped earlier or at least slowed somewhat, the world might well be a different place.Good could be good for you, good for your family/community, or good for the world. I think getting tougher on Chinese imports would be good for America, but it would probably be bad for parts of the world. Eventually you have to put some bounds on good as you can be so good that you weaken your ability to DO good. Remember, to DO good, you must be in a position of power (of some form). You can’t be weak AND good to others effectively.With regards to it being white men, feh, maybe white men express it more freely, but I don’t think it’s restricted to them or exclusively white.

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