“As a straight white male I rarely have the opportunity to be offended…”
Comedian, television and radio host, Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann, joined an international chorus in denouncing Donald Trump in the wake of his latest scandal. His dismissal of Trump’s suggestion that vulgar comments caught on a hot mic over a decade ago were simply typical male ‘locker-room’ banter was prefaced with the introductory sentiments above. To Lehmo, the very notion that men are presumed to use such crass and sexually aggressive terms was offensive.
It is quite understandable that one might take Trump’s characterisation of male behaviour, and subsequently one’s self, as a personal affront but to believe this is a rare or isolated incident is to be blind to reality. One need not look beyond the very same issue to detect a glaring example targeting the allegedly privileged class with a shortage of opportunity to claim offence. Trump’s depiction is currently the default assumption for gender related issues, yet our social conditioning has been so thorough that only a brave few dare discuss the issue.
When feminists talk of ‘cultural change’ they are advancing the exact same proposition as Trump. The ‘change’ of which they speak appears necessary precisely because they agree wholeheartedly with Trump, and believe and propagate the same negative, narrow stereotypes about men and masculinity – and women and femininity for that matter, but that is a whole different discussion.
If there is a distinction to be drawn between Trump and the feminist narrative it is that the feminist account is even more accusatory of male behaviour. Mainstream thought on our supposed ‘culture of misogyny’ extrapolates out from any alleged banter that may occur behind closed doors to distant outcomes up to and including a torturous death. It directly apportions blame to men as a homogeneous group for the actions of a minority based on nothing more substantive than a shared physical characteristic, in this case; genitalia. And it even goes further to suggest that men don’t merely endorse and partake in Trump’s language, but that they knowingly condone despicable actions – such as spousal abuse or rape – from their male friends and colleagues, such is the severity of the male culture’s hatred for women.
I, for one, need not even pause to determine the most ignominious insult.
By all means take umbrage at those who use disparaging generalisations built upon circumstances beyond your control – that constitutes an unambiguous case of prejudice, after all – but if you choose to do so, the least you can do is apply the same rule to all of your accusers.
So why is it that Lehmo, and so many well-meaning progressives of his ilk, are unable to see or acknowledge the same offence when it comes from another source?
The most obvious explanation is political bias. It is a rare human indeed to apply the same level of scrutiny to both their allies and their enemies. When Bill Clinton is accused of rape, his detractors assume it to be true despite all their previous protestations regarding the ‘presumption of innocence’. Then, as if on cue to demonstrate that duplicity has bipartisan support, similar allegations are levelled at Trump to the same reaction. The goal is to defeat one’s political opponent and if that necessitates playing both sides of the board then so be it. Consistency is a luxury the partisan cannot afford. Identifying one’s own hypocrisy risks excommunication from the in-group, and the allegiance to friend far outweighs allegiance to truth.
Another possibility is that we exhibit gross ignorance regarding the issues presented. When the mainstream supports the pernicious feminist narrative, it is merely uncritically parroting what it has been told. The goals seem noble, and the alleged problem is obviously bad, so the matter is settled before it is discussed and thus nobody actually recognises the abhorrent and accusatory assumptions held within.
Or it could well be the too often laughingly dismissed notion of ‘male oppression’. Perhaps men like Lehmo are genuinely upset by the gendered aspersions men face on a daily basis in our culture but, as men, they are too fearful to speak up due to the potential social consequences. That is, until given social permission by virtue of an acceptable messenger. But the charge itself is egregious, not the source, and if we are to condemn Trump then we must also disavow the prejudiced social activists who share his views.
And, of course, it could be all three to varying degrees.
Other explanations are even less forgiving and necessarily question the virtues and ethics, and possibly the actions, of those who now claim to be offended when the opportunity for positive PR arises.