White Privilege Filtered Through Male Privilege

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Skylanda at Echidne of the Snakes writes:

Apparently I’m the last liberal on the block to get forwarded a copy of Tim Wise’s latest missive on racism in America. I hadn’t heard of Tim Wise before, but maybe you have. He is, self-proclaimedly, “among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the US.” Judging by a strangely come-hither picture attached to the bio on his site (as well as a lot of titles that indicate that his racial background up front), he is a white dude. Aside from the usual questions that brings up (like, say, why is a white dude sucking down so much media time – what with his bragging bio noting that he’s been “a featured guest on hundreds of radio and television programs worldwide” – when an actual person of color could be getting some air time), there is some credit to be given where credit is due: he makes a lot of good points.

Chief among those good points are things like the comparison of what reaction you typically get when a young white man (versus a young Hispanic man or young black man) pontificates publicly on their enthusiasm for guns, gun ownership, and gun rights. Racism: hard to argue there.

So might might not seem necessary, even though he seems to think it is, to spend more than half the essay bagging on Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin’s daughter. Sarah Palin’s extended family. And, oh yes, Sarah Palin’s vagina. Uh huh, you didn’t read that wrong:

“White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose ‘next door neighbor’ qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you’re a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you’re irresponsibly exploiting them.”

I’m sorry, but who the hell is this guy and what the hell is his business judging the personal obstetrical practices of a woman he’s never met? And fer chrissakes, but where did this tidbit about Sarah Palin’s amniotic fluid come from, how was it confirmed, and why on god’s green earth was this made fodder for any kind of public debate?

It’s a long and angry post, and you may not agree with everything she says, but I think it is worth a read. Her macro point is that there is racism going on in this election and pointing it out is great, but it can be done without reference to Sarah Palin’s gender, family and personal life.   She also points out that his essay focuses disproportionately on Palin, rather than McCain, which is odd given he is the one running for President. She notes: “… whatever the perspective (pro-racism, anti-racism, whatever, you name it), women will always be little more than grist for the mill when a white dude wants to make a point. A good point, a bad point, a self-righteous point, an important point, an inane point, whatever kind of point he wants to make: a stranger’s vagina is his bizness to make it with.” One of the commenters to the Wise column trenchantly notes:

Male privilege is being able to sit on a blog and pontificate about a woman’s childbirth experience, with absolutely no knowledge of obstetrics, gynecology, or — don’t forget — said woman’s specific circumstances.

Male privilege is stating as fact internet rumors regarding a woman’s reproductive health, all under the guise of fighting — racism?

–Ann Bartow

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