As a genderqueer Muslim atheist who identifies as black, I am often abused by bigots (usually white cis males) who bombard me with hate speech such as: ‘What the fuck does “transrace” mean?’, ‘How can you be a Muslim and an atheist, that makes no sense!’ and ‘Sort your hair out you stupid hipster twat, you look like a fucking nonce.’ That last one was said to me by my father, a boorish brute of a man, who would often make scathing remarks at me as I was growing up, and even went so far as to buy me a 32GB iPhone one Chr*stm*s when he knew I wanted the 64GB one. That kind of abuse leaves a mark.
White cis males have a lot to apologize for when it comes to the current state of the world. When you think about it, the worst atrocities in history have been inflicted by these privileged despots. Hitler, Trump, Saruman the White (the clue is in the name there), Adam Sandler… all deeply problematic individuals.
The time has come for white men* to repent and repay us for all the wrongs they have done. The following three resolutions I have taken the liberty of composing would be a good place to start.
1. Listen to women
This is very important. White cis males need to sit the eff down and start listening. No matter how relentlessly hyperbolic Kathy Griffin’s tweets about Trump come across, no matter how provably ‘factually inaccurate’ Laurie Penny’s outbursts regarding the gender pay gap might be, no matter how pointless Lena Dunham’s very existence may seem to you… the job of a white male is simply to pay attention, then nod and say;
‘Well done for being brave enough to bring this [subject/issue] to my attention. I apologize for what I am, and I promise to do better in the future. Please take a large annual percentage of my earnings from here on in, in reparation for the terrible wrongs my particularly toxic brand of white patriarchy has exposed you to.’
This is all we ask. Not much is it?
2. Quit mansplaining
White men are incapable of communicating in a way that does not inflict their pernicious maleness upon every woman present. I remember the first time I encountered this phenomenon. I was around six years old and the jets in our jacuzzi had stopped working. My mother called a plumber who turned up within an hour to have a look at it. As soon as he barged into our home, he was mansplaining to my mother about how there was a crack in one of the pipes, and then began boasting he could fix it with some epoxy resin and had the GALL to say he was sure he’d have it ‘sorted by lunchtime’. I was gobsmacked. Even at the tender age of six, I knew he had crossed a line. I marched up to him and loudly proclaimed that my mother was a capable woman, more than equipped to understand the intricacies of underfloor drainage and watertight gaskets and advised him to take his arrogant attitude elsewhere. He merely shrugged at me and chuckled as if my words meant nothing to him. I was mortified and spent the next three weeks crying in my room, the violence of his mocking laughter still ringing in my ears. The truth is, mansplaining assumes that women are unempowered and treats them as weak and inferior. It reduced my mother to a pitiful wreck of a human being that day, incapable of standing up for her own flesh and blood.
3. Remember your privilege
Your privilege should be the first thing you’re aware of when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you chastise yourself for as you fall asleep at night. Apologize for it at every available opportunity. For example, when ordering your skinny macchiato in a Starbucks, you could give your name to the barista as ‘A White Male Fully Aware of the Advantages he has had in Life Compared to Women and Minorities and is Deeply Ashamed of the Violence of his Ancestors’ and then offer to buy every minority in the establishment a blueberry muffin (after first checking any dietary requirements and amending the order accordingly). You won’t earn any respect for this, and nor do you deserve any, but it may go some small way to ease the social tensions that Trump and Brexit have stirred up this past few years.
*(I do not of course include white transmen in any of this because although they are obviously real men in every sense, that’s not even up for debate… they are not the problematic type of white men.)