I am a young(ish) white guy. What has become strange to me is that being proud of any of those three labels has increasingly gotten me and others like me hit with other labels. And unfortunately, it’s not the “sexiest man alive” type labels.
As a white borderline-millennial male, my opinions on rights of women and minorities can be easily dismissed, and in particular those opinions that are not positive are hit with labels such as “misogynist” or “sexist”. Saying anything bad against another group, or even declaring your own pride in your own status if that happens to be a majority, instantly gets you labeled an “-ist”. Reality: You won’t find someone more willing to fight for equality for women, minorities, etc, but am finding those groups’ own attempts to “create equality” are turning off the other side and making it harder to defend.
An example from my own life. I recently ran for public office. My two opponents in the primary for what was an open seat were both women. One happened to have been not only endorsed by, but served on the board of, the local Democratic Women’s Caucus. The DWC has, in just over a decade, become one of the most powerful forces in local government. Looking at our most recent election results over the past two years, nearly every successful candidate was either a part of the DWC, or married to someone who is, or is otherwise sympathetic or connected to their group. They provided my opponent with not only organization, but more money than either of the other two opponents received from all other sources COMBINED. They have now reached the point where men who are not connected to them are not running for offices or being discouraged to do so by party leadership, myself included, because unless you are otherwise well connected or are a woman you have no chance. You will be out-raised, out-organized, and be fighting uphill. Gee, that sounds familiar. Wasn’t that the reason the DWC came into existence, only in reverse?
The DWC and other women’s caucuses are now at best counterproductive, if not causing actual harm, to the progressive cause. If it was about promoting women, they would not inherently never endorse men when that man could be the world’s biggest feminist. They have turned the conversation from misogyny to misandry. Groups such as those which claim to be progressive are in fact actually promoting divisiveness. Any group that divides a segment of the population works against unity. You cannot claim to be promoting equality while at the same time promoting a division of half the population. Our own Supreme Court has affirmed that separate can never be equal.
I want to live in a society where we do not need groups like that. I don’t want to talk about “women’s caucuses” that exist solely to promote women. I want to be part of a society where we elect the best candidate, whether that person is male or female, black or white, straight or gay, or whatever “identification” they may be. That is how I look to hire people, and that is how I look to elect leaders. Such things like admissions at universities, should be completely blind. I’d even go so far as to say they should not include names, and should be based entirely on the merits of application to prevent male/female bias, or even racial bias, based on names. I would rather focus on inclusiveness rather than excluding groups not like you.
I would prefer to devote my efforts to changing society. For example, if normal gyms make women uncomfortable (and I can see how…they make ME as an overweight guy just trying to run on the treadmill uncomfortable), then let’s push to change that than having women retreat to “women only gyms”. You know who has to be the catalyst for such a change? The men. It takes men calling out other guys who are acting like dickheads at the gym to change the culture. I am not scared of doing so, but it takes more than me. Women protesting, or worse, giving up and running away to create their own club just creates another level of division. I give props to Planet Fitness for attempting to create a culture where everyone feels safe to work out, not by making it a “safe space”, but culturally by saying the divisive, non-inclusive behaviors will not be tolerated. It may take large scale social upheaval like the civil rights movement, or major events such as granting women the right to vote, to change society. But first we have to acknowledge we are all on the same side.
As mom (and the AA) say: the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. Check. The second step is defining the problem. We’re there. The third step is identifying barriers to success. Here’s one: It benefits no one to create untruths to make the other side look bad. For example, let’s talk about the “wage gap”. It does not exist. At least not how many women’s groups report it. I am a stats guy, and acknowledge that stats can be twisted to meet any number of narratives. A 2009 labor study showed there to be a gap of about 6%, not the 23% spouted during last year’s presidential campaign that was an average of all full-time working male salaries vs female. Yes, I’d still call 6% significant. Then you look closer at the categories used. “Social science”, for example, uses everything from economics (a high paying, male dominated category) to sociology (a lower paying, female dominated category). In fact, males make up over 60% of the graduates in 9 of the top 10 majors with the average highest paying post-college jobs, while women make up over 60% of the grads in 9 of the top 10 lowest paying post-college jobs. If you then talk about “average wages”, you are starting off on the wrong foot to begin with.
Using straight numbers is deceptive at best. Spouting untruths, especially those that have been largely debunked, does not win people over to your side, and often turns them against you. Don’t make it harder to win people over to your side, and especially don’t make it harder for those on the other side who already stand with you to continue to do so.
So let’s all come together in one big happy family. While most of my arguments were focused on men vs. women, the same can apply to race, gender, or any other division in our society. A world where we give the same opportunities to the poor black girl as the rich white boy benefits us all in that we maximize the output of everyone. That poor black girl may one day be a doctor, and would never have had that opportunity without help. The wise one, Mr. Michael Jackson, said if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change. These are words to live by in our society of divisiveness. Make that change.