It’s getting harder and harder to be a white man in this world. I feel threatened and challenged everywhere I go. No matter where I turn, no matter what I do, I’m confronted with messages of failure, and accusations that I’m responsible for everything that’s wrong with society. Everything seems to be my fault nowadays, and I seem to get the blame for all the world’s problems, but I don’t see how that’s fair.
I just don’t know how I’ll cope with these feelings of worthlessness. I feel ill-treated and ill-used. I’m a victim of oppression, and my rights have been trampled. But what can I do? Every time I try to speak my mind they shut me down.
This must be just what it was like for all those slaves in the old American south.
It wasn’t always like this. I remember when I was a kid how Dad’s word was law, and God help me if I stepped out of line. We knew back then the difference between right and wrong, but we also knew how to have a laugh, and we never took ourselves too seriously. If you stepped out of line the worse you’d get was a thrashing from your Dad, but you’d probably deserved it, and you didn’t hold it against him.
Things were simpler in those days, and people knew their place in the world and were content with what they had. There was a real sense of community in my neighbourhood back then, but that all changed about thirty years ago. It started when a bunch of new people moved into our suburb, people who looked different to us and didn’t speak English. Pretty soon they started to take the whole place over, filling the schools, buying up all the local shops, and forcing many of us who had lived for years in that neighbourhood to shift elsewhere. My family moved to the inner Auckland suburbs as soon as things started to change, but I know a few folk who stayed on longer, and it was hard for them. Their kids were forced to learn about different cultures in their school, and they almost needed to hire an interpreter just to buy a packet of smokes at the local dairy. I’m not a racist, and I have nothing against other cultures, but I didn’t ask for any of this. My old school friends who were forced daily to confront this modern day multicultural mess didn’t ask for what they were given. They were just told to like it or get out. They were made to feel dirty and unworthy just because they wanted everyone to speak the same language as them, and just because they became hostile and threatening whenever they were confronted with diversity.
Now I think I know what those African slaves went through.
I’m a hardworking guy, and through effort and determination, an enormous inheritance, and a network of contacts made while I was being educated at an expensive private school, I have built up a nice little pool of assets, including rental properties, shares, and other investments. I worked my fingers to the bone to get where I am today, and I took some enormous risks. Things haven’t always been easy for me, either. I’ve had financial troubles, and a few years ago I almost lost one of my holiday homes to the bank. But I always bounced back. I’m not afraid of hard work, when I’m not cruising around the world in my pleasure yacht.
So when I hear people going on about how white men control everything, I feel hurt. I earned every cent of what I own through perfectly legitimate means. My accountant assures me that in structuring my affairs so I pay very little tax I have broken no laws. My various businesses employ hundreds of people, and some of them even earn more than the minimum wage. I keep a number of European car dealers, private schools and stockbrokers in business. I’m a contributing member of society, so it pains me to hear how people like me are the cause of all the world’s ills.
I feel like a second class citizen, and it’s enough to make this gin and tonic I’m drinking beside my huge swimming pool taste sour. What about my rights?
This must be what those poor African people felt like as they travelled to the New World in those slave ships, chained up together in the hold in filthy and deplorable conditions.
And what about freedom of expression? Where’s my freedom? Nowadays you pay a woman a compliment about how nice her rack is, and she tells you you’re a misogynistic prick. Then her boyfriend threatens to punch you in the face. Or you tell one of your workers that she’s fat and needs to go on a diet if she wants to keep her job, and before you know it you’re up before the Employment Court.
It’s getting to the point where I can’t say anything I like whenever I want to. I’m really no better than a plantation slave.
Do you know what really gets me? It’s this crazy idea that every voice has value, and that every opinion is important. And yet when it comes to the test, my opinions aren’t as important as they used to be. Why should I surrender any of my freedoms, just because some people don’t like it when I engage in a bit of friendly banter with the lads? I’m a heterosexual man, and I enjoy the sight of a pretty woman. Why should she object if I tell her that she has nice tits, and that I’d do her in a heartbeat? As a red-blooded man with an appreciation for the finer things in life, I’m paying her the ultimate compliment.
Why should I be afraid to say whatever I think? I’m really no better than a slave working in the field, toiling under a relentless sun while being whipped and abused by a brutal plantation owner.
Isn’t it possible that we white men are right about most things? Maybe other people are simply wrong. Look at all the wonderful things we created while we were in charge of everything: in the fields of science, the arts, and technology. Can it be any coincidence that all of the most interesting and important bits of history involve white men? White men started two world wars. Two world wars! How many big wars were started by feminists?
So don’t tell me I’ve had my turn, and that it’s time to shift over and give someone else a go at being in charge for a while. Why should I? What have you people done to earn that right? You’re trying to take away my power, my privileges, and my right to tell you how to live.
How are you people any different to 18th century American slave owners?
I don’t even know what you problem is. What exactly is your problem? I’m not stopping you from saying or doing what you want, am I? Just don’t mouth those noxious opinions on any of the radio stations I own, and don’t bother writing letters to the editors of any of my newspapers. And if you women want to have a career, then that’s fine. Just don’t interfere with my right to fire you from your job when you decide to have babies, because my right to make money is paramount.
Actually, I do know what your problem is. Your problem is that you’re an oppressor. By telling me that I should respect people who aren’t like me, and that other people should have the same opportunities that were given to me through an accident of birth, you are stifling my right to express myself. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You cannot treat me like this. Don’t you know who I am?
I’m not one of those plantation slaves singing Let My People Go. But now I know just how they felt.