Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Pathological White Masculinity Files: 4Chan and Feminists of Color

Editor's Note: After having written on this topic so many times, I am starting a series I am calling The Pathological White Masculinity Files.  Since the Newtown massacre I have kept pushing for a real, national conversation on the dysfunctions and pathologies of white American masculinity.  It's not just big events like mass shootings that show this problem, and so I plan on exploring less bloody but nonetheless horrific examples of white American masculinity at work.

In case you haven't heard, users of the 4chan site have basically admitted to creating fake Twitter profiles posing as feminists of color in order to sow discord among feminists and to embarrass the women's movement, in particular the non-white women's movement.  This included the manufactured hashtag #EndFathersDay, something that some people at Fox News actually took seriously.  Using the #YourSlipIsShowing hashtag, activists have been outing those fake Twitter profiles.

I don't know all of the details, but I do know that this is taking typical troll behavior in an even more dangerous and threatening direction.  Trolls are probably the worst thing that the internet has given us, and I have been lucky to only occasionally have been trolled.  (Those words still hurt, even if they were being lobbed by pieces of human garbage.)  Of course, I'm a white guy, and women and especially women of color commonly face violent, aggressive, threatening trolling intended to silence them that makes what's happened on this blog look like child's play.  The so-called "Operation Lollipop"attempted the same, but in a much more organized and systematic manner.  I've heard it compared to a kind of non-governmental COINTELPRO, and I think that's an apt comparison, since the FBI used agents provacateurs and informers to silence similar movements back in the 1960s and 1970s.

One of the worst things about pathological white American masculinity is that it carries with it white supremacist assumptions.  Regardless of anything else, the fact that white men are to be the rulers of society is not to be challenged or questioned.  This is a big reason, naturally, why the fact of Barack Obama's presidency has caused unprecedented disrespect for the office and intransigence in Congress.  The same goes for the Internet.  The computer world has long been heavily white and very masculine, and the trolls at 4chan aim to keep it that way.  They just don't want black and brown people, and especially black and brown women, to be using "their" space.  Their upbringing and this society's assumptions about white masculinity make them feel not as if this is a terrible thing they are doing, but simply defending their birthright.

The pathologies of white masculinity are at their worst when white men feel cheated of the privileges they think are rightfully theirs.  This leads them to attack others whom they hold responsible, sometimes with words, sometimes with bullets.  Hence the actions of Elliott Rodger, who felt he was "owed" the sexual favors of women.  This pathology comes out with gunfire, but it also happens every day via rhetorical violence on the Internet.  Operation Lollipop is only one of many examples of what will be added to the Pathological White Masculinity Files.

1 comment:

4GWDOTDOTDOT said...

I came to the site from CD/WARN. Looking forward to reading more posts. You don't have a FB page to like so I can get updates, nor do you do twitter.