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[Xmca-l] Re: NYT Op-Ed: Class Prejudice Resurgent



Hi Miguel,

This is a great discussion! Thanks to you and everyone else, and even you lurkers out there wherever you are! :)

I responded most to your discussion of how the State is seen as a container when you say:

"The Liberal model of the state, with rational actors and the Individual as its central construct carries with it a kind of metaphor where social structures and structural relations tend to disappear (they are a type of landscape or spatial container of sorts, in the background, with individuals as the active agents foregrounded in this image)."

I certainly experience this in the mythology of "one person, one vote."

I'd like to share in the spirit of this discussion that when I was in art school (yes *another* art school story, egads!), there was nothing but talk of post-modernism and multiculturalism. There was the speech of LGBTs, the speech of feminisms, the speech of people of color, etc. When I tried to consider what was the speech of whiteness? of maleness? I experienced something of a nothingness. I couldn't come up with anything so easily. That isn't that it's not there, but to show that I had this experience about it, in terms of art and a vis-a-vis comparison to multiculturalism (Miguel, I find this is very meaningful about invisibility that you mentioned, somehow).

That was about the time of the first Gulf War, and all I could come up with in my mind after that pause, was speech on war and dominance. I don't think that that is "true," or that it has to be true. I mean, the best alternative I could come up with at the time was the voice of Beat writers, only because they responded to the culture coming out of the war, and that seems poignant (to me). The writers like Kerouac and Burroughs are examples I could come up with and these voices are not exactly a good fit. Their voices are not problematic in some ways, and are in others, but just to say that was the best I could do at that moment in my limited mental space.

So without AT ALL meaning to speak for white men, I can only share that these thoughts troubled me, that if it is the case that the only way to speak comfortably as a white man is to speak in reference to war and to dominance, that that must be a horrible existence. I found this, if it is so, to be a kind of male imprisonment that I'm not sure has been looked at clearly and honestly. There were male essentialists (aka Iron John), but I find that trite and superficial, but I say that because I find essentialism problematic in general. I can acknowledge it, however, as the beginning of meaningful search, but it can't be the end of the search. 

Before I get thwacked for not knowing what I'm talking about, I'm not trying to be an authority here. I am only trying to transparently explain a search I conducted employing my empathy about a problem I saw a long time ago, if one might see that I was empathetic, I hope. 

It was from this empathetic standpoint, I considered how war and dominance are played out and communicated in the everyday experience. How, if a white man (or perhaps any man) "talks wrong" or "walks wrong," how that could be in some contexts life-threatening. I asked myself, do I have an equivalent? I mean as a woman, there are plenty of things for me to fear, however one of them is not that another woman will beat me up because I'm not wearing fingerpolish or because I'm wearing the wrong things in my hair or because I'm not tall enough or because of the quality of my voice. Even though crying in public is a difficult and uncomfortable thing to do, my "femininity" is not challenged if I were to do that. (Fast forward to today: I mean, how DOES Boehner get away with crying in public, when other white men don't?)

So last I wondered, what is the purpose of this? I don't know the answer, except that it is to keep the status quo I suppose. That is as far as I could go with these thoughts. 

So I'm only sharing with you some questions I've had. I'm certainly not the authority. Just offering some honest considerations I've had and how I came across them and I offer them in a spirit of sharing. 

Kind regards,

Annalisa