Monday, December 23, 2013

Robertson as a Symbol of Waning Patriarchy

Let me preface this post by saying sorry for keeping this story somewhat in the news/blog cycle - this will be the last time I blog about this Duck Dynasty shit (at least this year, LOL).

But, I have a contention.

First item of note is that always on the lookout for a new Christian martyr, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has created a petition to "Tell A&E to Apologize and Reinstate Phil Robertson."  No surprise there.  But, it gets better.

Robertson's suspension, NOM goes on to claim, is just further evidence that the HRC, GLAAD, and equality supporters are "brutal bullies."  Even more recently, NOM has written a long-winded fundraising appeal comparing the incident to the threat of nuclear war.

Moving on from my point that NOM seems to grow more vile and extreme every week, the second item of note is that I've been pondering this Robertson incident and the resulting rage that so many white heterosexuals are expressing about this man experiencing consequences for his speech.

They seem to think that while his views may have been expressed in a "coarse" manner, he's really doing nothing more than expressing his Christian beliefs.  In addition to this belief being one of the worst PR campaign's for Christianity ever, I do believe that if we poke a bigot even just a little bit, it really doesn't take much for the really indefensible views to surface.  A dude who rants about vaginas and anuses likely has a shitload of other, ahem "problematic" views and stereotypes about queers dancing around in his head.

Third, a man writing for a site called Tea Party Nation said something that really stuck with me. He led his rant about the incident with:
"Aside from the silliness of A&E putting Phil Robertson in time out like he's a mis-behaving 5 year old..."
Contrast that characterization with the very literal way that the family calls Robertson their "patriarch." 

My contention here is that what seems to be lurking behind the rage and backlash to Robertson's suspension is anxiety about the impending dethroning of the heterosexual, white, male Christian - the very symbol of patriarchy in the United States - from his position as purported objective authority and superior human in the world.

Many folks upset about "what happened" to Robertson seem to view him as an upstanding Christian American man's man. And, although this man has had more of a public platform than 99% of Americans will ever get, such a man losing that platform due to his bigoted expressions really stirs shit up as though it's evidence of the plight of the downtrodden, oppressed True Christian in the United States today.

People seem anxious about this incident in the way that children are anxious when they see daddy get in trouble. Daddy is supposed to be the one who barks at other people to stand in the corner, not the one who's disciplined himself.

He's supposed to be the one who gets to say what's rude, what's moral, and what's bigotry.  And, although he only knows what it's like to live as a privileged white heterosexual man, daddy still thinks he's the ultimate authority on everyone else's lived experiences in the world. He has lots to teach everyone else, you see, about what's smart. What's stupid. What's logical. What's sexually appealing.

Historically in the US, being seen as an authority and the definer of truth was almost the sole prerogative of the privileged white Christian heterosexual man.  This -what I like to call - fauxbjectivity is what convinces many men that they're closer to god than women, that they have special insight into what is and isn't objectively sinful, and that black people were mostly happy during Jim Crow just because they personally heard no black people complain about it.  It's what convinces them that everyone else gets upset about stupid little things, but whoa whoa now when their prickly pride and concerns are on the line, watch out the fuck out!

But, the ground is shifting.

Their privilege is being lost. Their voices are no longer imbued with as much unearned authority as they once were. The louder Robertson and his supporters scream about being bullied by the homo mob, the more they lose a generation of Christians.

With his bratty, arrogant, poorly-thought-out rants, and his seeming ignorance that the rest of the world doesn't see him as the authority he thinks he is, the white, anti-gay, Christian man is finding that lots of people disagree with his moral compass and have good reason to do so.

With their anger and over-the-top persecution complex, this type of man and his allies are being revealed for the entitled people they are.  For, what we are witnessing here is not the "brutal bullying" of the white heterosexual, anti-gay Christian man, but rather his demotion from superior to equal.

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