There’s this section in Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette that is probably not that comfortable for most “straight white men” (and as a straight white man, I can attest to this). It’s not that she villfies straight-white men, it’s that she labels us — as has been customary in progressive circles, or on sites like this for a while now. Black people, gay people, lesbians, Latinx folks, Asians, etc., women, etc. have been labeled all their lives, but all of a sudden, we straight-white men — the very people who created this classification system — are being labeled ourselves, and when we hear the label “straight white male” it is almost never in a positive light.
And we’re fucking babies about it: If someone labels us exactly what we are, we scream “reverse racism!” We scream about our rights being taken away. We retreat, or we holler back, “All Lives Matter,” because how dare the “other” remove us from their narrative. Star Wars is being led by a woman and a black man! What the fuck? Men are being relegated to supporting roles in Ocean’s movies. Social justice warriors are challenging us by naming us. The nerve!
We take umbrage with being classified, and rather than acknowledge the power of straight-white-male privilege, we act like victims. We act like being labeled neuters our power, whereas when someone writes, “I’m a Black woman and I’m queer,” she is owning the power of that. They have taken their labels and turned them into superpowers, whereas being labeled is kryptonite to straight-white men. NOOOOOO! How dare you call me exactly what I am!
And that’s what we see all over Trumpland: People in power screaming that they are the victims. How many times a day does Trump call himself a victim? A victim of Mueller. Of the media. Of the Democrats. Of a rigged system? Of an international conspiracy? The President of the United States — ostensibly the most powerful man in the world — is also the world’s biggest victim.
That poor bastard.
You see people like Tucker Carlson referring to the “elite ruling class” or Sean Hannity spinning that persecution complex night after night on Fox News. They don’t just hate women and people of color, they are afraid of them, because they see them as a threat to their power, a threat to the straight-white status quo, and no matter how much power they wield, they remain terrified. All you have to do to make them tremble is to call them by their name. Call them what they are, and you take away their power. Trumpers being chased out of restaurants is the perfect example: They’re crying foul because their power and status are being challenged. They’re calling for civility, and why? Because civility does not challenge their status quo, because when we are civil, they don’t have to be reminded that they are the power to whom we are challenging.
All of which is to say: Keep calling them out. Keep calling us out. Keep labeling us. It makes us really uncomfortable because we’re beginning to recognize that those we have labeled for centuries are coalescing around each other; that we are losing our default status; that we’re becoming just another demographic, that the playing field is ever-so-slowly evening out and when it finally does, straight-white men will finally have to compete on the same terms as everyone else. There is nothing that we’re more afraid of.