Imagine if you will, two lefty men, deeply concerned for the oppressed, talking about, idunno, a man claiming JSA in the Welsh Valleys and the new Duke of Westminster, and why they are both in the situations they are in. What might come up in this conversation? Capitalism and its history, economics, sociology, off the top of my head. They’ll be talking about large-scale, documented, historical, social, industrial, political and economic trends, reaching back at least to 1066.
I’m willing to bet my inheritance (lol) that what they’re not going to say is this:
Well, you see, that Welsh bloke simply has an innate inferiority. He’s suited to signing on and watching his flat-screen TV in his pants all day.
(Actually no, hard-working taxpayers paid for that TV, get it off him and get him to Asda to work for free, maybe there’s some hope that way for him to improve his innately crap self). Whereas our friend, 25-year-old Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor, aristocrat, billionaire, businessman and landowner, according to Wikipedia, is just innately better at life, and therefore, rightly, very successful and insanely rich. Well done him! Thank God and the Queen that the likes of him are here to show us the way.
Perhaps our hypothetical chaps are now discussing a hypothetical black man, subsistence farming in a village in say, Kenya, and an equally hypothetical white man from England who works in IT and earns a large salary. They might talk about the work done by scholars and historians of race, who’ve shown that race is a construct used to enable and embed oppression. They’ll speak of the British Empire, its history of oppression – the death toll, the forced labour and resource extraction, and how a country such as Kenya is an artificial, imperial construction. They’ll decry the airbrushing of history.
They might speak of other black men in a different African country, labouring to mine the metals that end up in the white man’s Mac, and they might speak of the workers who assembled it and the multinational corporations that profit from it.
Chap A might tell Chap B that he has a rather one-dimensional view of black African men – they’re not all subsistence farmers you know, not all the same, and Africa is not a country. In fact he had a drink with Eddie from IT the other day, he’s a black man from Kenya, and Chap A learnt a lot from listening to him talk about his experiences. It was a real eye-opener.
What are they not going to say? I’ll bet a private jet flight to Nairobi (return) that we are not going to hear that a black African man is innately suited to a life of hard labour and poverty wages, and that he really really likes it anyway.
We’re not going to hear that the white man toiling at his Mac is just smarter, and therefore made smart, suitable choices in life, choices suitable for white people.
We are most definitely not going to hear that the Empire had an awful lot going for it, we jolly well knew how to get things done, and it’s a darn shame those days are gone.
Having tackled class and race, our two friends move on to gender, or as I like to call it, sex-role stereotypes. (It really has the most marvellous clarifying effect – so refreshing). Our friends are up-to-date, they know that sex-role stereotypes are innate.
Sex-role stereotypes are an essential essence. A sex-role stereotype in a forest with no-one to hear it would still give a masculine grunt or a little feminine giggle.
These guys know; they’re cis-sex-role stereotype and perfectly happy to admit it. Boys and girls, men and women, cannot help but act according to their sex-role stereotype, and that’s why they are where they are and have or lack the power they have or lack. Simple. There is no need for that massive body of historical, social, political, industrial and economic research, thanks anyway feminist scholars. No need to speculate further; the sex-role stereotype identity is deep within, it inhabits an impervious zone, serene as the slings and arrows of life experience ping off its protective shield.
Our wise men have accepted the good news: sex-role stereotypes simply are and ever shall be, in each and every one of us. Relax and enjoy yourselves, ladies, there is no systemic oppression here. Indeed, when it comes to sex-role stereotypes, our two lefty friends might well conclude that ‘there is no such thing as society’.
Why this epic blindspot on the left?
Answers on a postcard to:
Flat 1 Misogyny Towers
Borough of Noneedforrealchange