I have been thinking about race with regard to the armed black man post and wondering why some folks have trouble "getting" the racism angle of the story.
Whites and Native Americans: I think maybe it comes down to a sense of entitlement. If we white folks were fair with the native americans on this continent since our arrival here, we might not own most of the land and wealth of the continent, the surviving tribal members would probably be much a greater portion of the population of the continent and the concept of an Indian Reservation might have no meaning today.
We did not respect or honor the native american ethic of land and nature as a common. I think the Europeans who arrived here a couple of centuries ago could only think of land in terms of property and wealth. In a European history, the commons were owned by the monarch. That's the situation of trying to explain water to a fish, land has got to be owned by someone, right? When white folks said to native americans, hey, we want to buy this land from you or we now own this land under English common law and your historical hunting grounds or fishing culture should have recorded your title, or paid taxes on the land if you wanted to maintain a status quo for hunting or fishing rights. The concepts about land use and ownership (we do not own the world, the world owns us) are so foreign that a meeting of the minds (an element of contract law) really may have been impossible. The simple (read profitable) solution was to force the first nations onto small plots of land that would not support their culture and kill the individuals who objected to the solution.
To this day, white americans do not want to reflect or attempt to understand the inequity of the land grab, the injustice of the US pattern of violating treaty after treaty with the tribes, the slaughter of women and children of the first nations of the continent, the genocide waged against the native americans with the primary motivation of acquiring the land and natural resources that might otherwise appear to vest with the tribes.
We enjoy the entitlement that comes along with being white and having prevailed over the indigenous people of this continent. But it is really is a shameful legacy.
Whites and Black Americans: The same thing occurs with the lack of recognition by white people about the inherent racism that a black person faces in this country. It's easy to say, hey, look at Condi Rice, look at Colin Powell, this country will clearly let black people thrive and succeed. And the anecdotes are available to show it is possible, but the statistical reality is that race in America is still a very powerful force and white people generally, and white men in particular, truly are the beneficiaries of a pretty unfair system of economics, justice, and politics. This is hard to "get" if you are very invested in the entitlement that goes along with being white and the material edge, the consumer fallout of being white in America, is important to you.
It's easy to say, hey, if your grandfather was lynched 30 years before you were born, what does that have to do with you?
I don't know, if this is the picture you have of a grandfather that you never met, would that affect you?
Men and Women: I sometimes struggle to understand the politics of sexual politics. I get the issue that posting girly pictures objectifies women and that as a man, to do that, and to claim, hey, I will come to your protection if someone tries to rape or hurt you is really lame. I think the sexual violence begins with the objectification of women and to deny the reasonable oppression and fear that I imagine women experience about sexual violence is pretty arrogant.
I have a little more trouble "getting" the implications of the patriarchy at times. But I understand that like the fish who has trouble comprehending the concept of water, I believe I exist and benefit from a psycho-social milieu that is infused with patriarchy and I am a beneficiary of this unfair social arrangement. And in much the same sense that I think that some white men have trouble imagining the way a black man in America might feel, I think that it becomes a conscious choice to not "get" the patriarchy because it threatens privilege and entitlement that I enjoy. Once the issue is truly understood, it requires a change of life style, a surrender of entitlement that I am pretty fond of. I wonder if it is better if I work on that instead of trying to explain race to white men. But I also wonder if this is an either or situation or a both and situation? Can I work on my being with regard to gender justice even as I expend a little time and effort on race justice? Maybe.
I think there are many more men than women posting here. And around our community I think there are many more women than men preparing meals, doing laundry, reading to the children. And I know that some here will jump up and say, hey I do my own laundry and I carry the laundry openly to the laundromat, or I cook all my meals from scratch and I grow my own scratch, but I think the fact remains that there protests, even if true, are anecdotal only, and to the extent that anecdotes are presented as our collective experience, and our collective community experience is significantly different from the anecdotes, then the anecdotes are really untrue and their presentation masks a deeper issue about an unwillingness to surrender privilege and entitlement. These self-reports have to be taken with a grain of salt because the more important question with regard to these tasks is are men doing cooking, laundry, etc in the company or absence of a female partner or mother?
Ok, so a quick movie review:
The kids recommended "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" with Adam Sandler and we watched it. We think Sandler is funny generally and this is an amusing movie. And it may be seen as a movie about friendship, about the politics of same sex unions, gay marriage, all that stuff. To the extent that the movie (it's not a film) has a supportive story about love, all sorts of love, between men, and the challenge that a gay son may pose to a straight father, it still has lots of the standard homophobia of the culture stitched in as subtext. And it really reeks in terms of it's treatment of the female characters in the movie. The flimsy female attorney and doctor characters could have had some substance and that might have made this a good movie. I asked my partner how she felt about these jiggly, giggly, 2 dimensional characters and she said not too distressing and other parts were funny. I don't think she expects much from American movie comedies.
And maybe if the director/writers had written those parts with any gender sensibility, the jiggling, giggling girls in underwear would likely have been dispensed with in favor of more authentic footage about heterosexual interaction. The female parts in Knocked Up got a lot more consideration than the female parts in this movie. I am not sure that is setting the bar very high.
I look at a movie like Chuck and Larry and wonder why the writer/director didn't aspire to a final product with the quality of a movie like Shallow Hal that got to the heart of things by posing the question, what would we see if we could see the inner being instead of the outer being. If you have the choice, pick Shallow Hal instead of Chuck and Larry. And having made that choice, watch the movie with the director comments to hear how much the director/writers appreciated the actors who chose to help them make a good movie by playing the ugly duckling roles with their whole beings.
Merry Christmas to all,
Heading off to a little family time. My lovely daughter is cooking for a small gathering of the loved ones, mostly guys. Nuff said?