Editorial 12/1: How straight white men can save us from straight white men

By the Editorial Board

“It’s a tough time to be a straight white man.”

This is something heard said by a few young men at Canisius College and throughout Buffalo lately. It may also be something that you just scoffed at – and you would have a good reason to do so. You may have said to yourself, “It’s about time.”

However, upon further thought, this statement is not all that incorrect. White men have been in the news lately, and not in a good way. They have been causing chaos and committing evil acts throughout history, many of which are finally making it into the public eye today. They have been mass shooting and sexually assaulting people. In short, they have been setting a very bad example.

For the young straight white men of Canisius, Buffalo, and throughout the United States, this example is most hard hitting. Who does a young white male look up to when his favorite Comedian Louis C.K. is accused of sexual assault? Who does a young white male try to emulate when all around him the people who are most like him are committing horrible inhumane acts. Most importantly, what are the inner emotional effects on a young white man when his inherent whiteness and maleness are immediately associated with hate culture and rape culture?

Shame — the effects are shame. A young straight white man may very easily feel himself attacked in modern times simply by nature of what and who he is. A young straight white man may, with any decency, be saddened by who he is through the transitive property of what those like him have done. For this reason, yes, it is rather difficult to be a young straight white male in American society.

With that established, it is also an excellent time to be a young straight white male, though not for the reasons you may immediately think based on the entirety of human history.

Young white males are in the unique position to exact the maximum amount of change in our American society precisely because they are the face of evil at present. Young men are given the opportunity to break this pattern, and in doing so to eliminate the image that is presented to the world and looming over their shoulders.

If older straight white men are setting the horrible example of sexual violence and general misconduct, then it is up to younger straight white men not to follow this example. It is up to the younger men to instead set a new example of all the positive things that men could do with their social positions and privilege, overthrowing the example set by older men and the deplorable influencers among younger men.

Think: Instead of committing sexual violence, straight white men advocate for gender equality, sexual safety and sex organ care, inclusivity and acceptance. Think of the impact this would have, albeit an impact that may take years. Instead of being in the news for sexual assault allegations, straight white men are instead outing and condemning rapists – not defending them. A straight white man may, in all likelihood, serve as vice-president under the first female president – with pride.

White men are so crucial to the fight for gender equality and the end of rape culture because they are the main perpetrators. As such, a change in the culture of white men, in particular younger white men is essential to breaking this cycle and creating a new pattern of behavior for the demographic.

This change will not come easily, and the paradox here is that the change is entirely on the shoulders of those perpetrating the offenses, and thereby benefitting from them. Young straight white men need to realize that what those who have come before them have done is wrong, and must begin to denounce this previous example, instead acting according to a new, truer gender virtue – equality and cooperation.

Women have had their own invaluable hand in prompting this discussion. Through outing the behavior of the older generation of white men they have started the modern conversation around sexaul transgressions and gender equality. These women have not only done this, but also publicly and forcefully demanded a change in the behavior of men as befits a world of gender equality. The women have started a dialogue that men must now enter and act upon, changing their behavior to create this new world.

In this dialogue young white men are now the focal point, because in reality, it is only other young white men that young white men will listen to. To put it another way, “the world” can tell white men that rape culture is wrong over and over, but these men are not going to listen until they see people who are like them setting a better example and denouncing the previous behavior.

This is why young straight white men must enforce a change upon their own demographic. They are empowered in a new way, a way that will induce real and positive change as opposed the the demographic’s historically negative and oppressive influence. Young white men are empowered here to change their own behavior, and in doing so to denounce their previous problematic role models, breaking the cycle of cruelties, aggressions, and assaults, and instead becoming allies to the cause of gender equality.

Moving forward, young straight white men, please make no mistake that this will be difficult. With all of this in mind, our beginning statement – that it is a tough time to be a young straight white man – is made even more difficult. You are now called upon to not only bear the brand that those before you have given to your demographic, but also to actively push against and change this brand.

You are going to have to be very critical of your own behavior as well as that of your closest friends, because it is your voice that will change the thoughts and ideologies of those other young white men around you. This is going to walk out of the abstract and into the real world. You are going to have to tell your friend that no, it is not cool for him to pass around nude photos of his ex-girlfriend; no, it is not cool for him to make pussy jokes or continue to pursue the girl who has explicitly turned him down twice before. These things are going to require strength. It will also be hard for you to even realize all the times you are in the wrong, but you must continue to be thoughtful of your actions, especially about how they affect young women, and influence the young men around you.

And yet, it will be very beneficial in the long run. In doing so, you, young straight white man, will be able to create a new image of yourself and your demographic. This will be an image of tolerance and equality, one you can look up to in full faith without shame or doubt. You, young straight white man, will shape the future of gender relations through your behavior, and that is why it is so imperative that you set an example of respect.

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