I don’t really intend to write about former A Voice for Men number two Dean Esmay as often as I do. But every time I so much as glance at his Twitter timeline, I find something so noxious and ridiculous it makes my head hurt. In other words, here we go again.
Yesterday Raquel Willis, who describes herself in her Twitter bio as a “black trans queer feminist media maven,” Tweeted pictures of Alice Walker and bell hooks alongside a comment criticizing those who think “black feminism/#womanism is just a way to keep the black man down.”
Mr. Esmay, a big ol’ white dude, saw her Tweet, and decided that he needed to put her straight on a few things. It wasn’t pretty.
Yep, apparently Mr. Esmay has decided that he’s the voice of black America, or at least of America’s black men, and that for some reason it’s appropriate for him to call a black woman a “girl.”
Does Mr. Esmay have any reason to assume that Ms. Willis is especially privileged? He does not. He appears to know precisely nothing about her except her gender and her race.
The conversation continued, with Esmay quickly reduced to sputtering rage, spewing forth an assortment of his favorite epithets.
He followed up with this, er, observation.
Intersectionality, you’re doing it wrong.
But that’s not surprising. A lot of MRAs — and antifeminists generally — seize on the concept of intersectionality as a way, perversely, to avoid having to account for their privileges, deciding that any disadvantages or hardships they’ve ever faced automatically trump those of the genuinely less-privileged folks they so often find themselves arguing with.
Yes, Dean, you have a working class background. You have apparently faced hardships in your life. You are clearly not the most privileged white dude to ever be a white dude. But, as Willis notes, this doesn’t mean you don’t have privileges as a cis white person and. yes, as a man.
And it certainly doesn’t make you an expert on the lives of black people, even if you do co-host a regular YouTube “radio” show with a black man. Having a black friend does not give you the right to whitesplain black women about racial issues. His blackness has not rubbed off on you.
Naturally, MRAs like Esmay tend to think that their off-brand version of intersectionality-as-trump-card only applies to them. While Esmay often brings up the abuse he says he suffered as a child, and sometimes acts as though anyone who disagrees with him is thereby attacking all men who’ve suffered abuse, he regularly dismisses the abuse others have faced as irrelevant to their arguments.
Hell, he did this earlier today, in one of his many Tweets to the imaginary feminists living in his head:
After his encounter with Willis yesterday, Esmay decided that he hadn’t said enough on the subject of privilege, and why white dudes like him should feel free to hurl abuse at black people they disagree with.
In a TwitLonger post titled Tips for addressing racist black people, especially of the #SocJus crowd, he wrote
I see so many white people and others getting flipped out because some black skinned person called them a racist or even called them privileged. Defensive whites (and their friends) seem to think arguing over this or that concept of “privilege,” or this or that thing with the ancestors and all that stuff you weren’t even here for is the way to go. It almost never is.
There’s a much easier way that almost always gets the abusive bully off of you. Just ask them who appointed them to speak for Black People.
Because nobody did. I mean, you know, they just didn’t. Or if they did, ask to see the election results.
That’s it. “You, sir or madam, are an idiot, and do not represent black people.”
Well, this last bit is true, up to a point. Willis no more speaks for all black people than Esmay speaks for all white people. But to jump from this fact to the conclusion that any random opinion Esmay has about the black community carries the same weight as hers is absurd.
Of course, Esmay isn’t interested in having a respectful debate; he’s looking for an excuse that will allow him to go around calling black women “racist bigots” because they point out his privilege as a white man.
Indeed, Esmay goes directly from the “you … do not represent black people” bit to this:
And by the way, feel free to call them an idiot. In fact, here are some other things you can call a black racist: asshole, fuckface, shithead, bigot, bitch, cunt, lowlife, piece of shit. You can call anyone you want of any race those things and it’s not racist. (Unless you only call them that I guess.)
Dean apparently thinks he’s invented the concept of white people calling black people names.
You know what most of these race-baiting racist people are really? Spoiled middle class brats who most of Black America can’t fucking stand anyway. If you notice they happen to be middle class, go out of your way to point that one out, because almost all these puffed up “You got white privilege!” fuckstains are privileged middle class brats who’ve never even had a real job. Fuck them. They aren’t worth your time.
Esmay’s final sentence is especially revealing:
And frankly, you might pick up a black friend or two along the way who was wondering when you were going to figure this shit out.
Ah, the proverbial “black friend.”
Because in a lot of ways that’s what this seems to be all about. Esmay has a black friend, and apparently thinks this makes him an expert on all things black.
Is there a term for this? “Black Friend Syndrome,” or something a bit more creative? There must be. But I don’t know what it is, because I’m a big ol’ white dude.