Matters of exclusion

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to identify two kinds of exclusion. One is a genuine issue, where people are not able to participate because their needs are not met – usually by something inherent in the location that assumes everyone can leap off buses, bound up flights of stairs, squeeze into small toilets and so forth. Or because there’s prejudice against them in some way – gender, race, sexuality etc. Exclusion based on not considering what some potential participants might need, is a bit shit, through to a lot shit, depending on how big and professional an outfit you are supposed to be. Exclusion based on prejudice is abhorrent.

Type two exclusion, is when a space is offered as particularly for one set of people – that tends to be about gender and lgbt spaces, ethnicity, and disability, sometimes it can be about religion. The logic behind this kind of space is that it allows people to talk about their specific experiences. Bringing together fellow travellers to talk about issues is an opening move to getting things done, often. I think these are good spaces to have. The trouble is, that this kind of group pretty much always excludes young, straight, cis-gendered, moderately affluent, able bodied white boys, and this really, really winds some of them up.

These are the chaps who, if you talk about domestic abuse will say ‘men are victims too’ – not because they have been, but to derail the conversation. These are the men’s rights activists, who think hashtags like #nohymennodiamond are a good thing. Because female virginity is a male rights issue, obviously. If a group is about an ethnic minority, it’s racist for excluding them, women’s groups are sexist for excluding them, and so on and so forth. They’re very present on twitter and very easy to spot, and they are angry, and they feel left out, marginalised and unfairly treated.

Most sane people treat them as a bit of a joke. As they are the kind of joke that sends death and rape threats to women who dare to speak about sexism in the gaming industry, to take an obvious example, I think it is worth considering their issues. Why are they so angry? Why are they so bothered about not having a place in groups that manifestly have nothing to offer them anyway? It’s easy to make them choose to go away. Say you want to talk about the agonising details of childbirth or the mechanics of menstruation, and you won’t see them for dust. Say ‘no men’ and they take offence. You might instead get some friendly chaps at your talking about blood group who would like to be better informed, and you might decide you can make the time to inform them, and if you can’t, they may feel a bit sad, but are unlikely to tell you to go and kill yourself.

I’ve done a bit of an informal study, because twitter makes that easy. Who are these angry young men? Well, based on their tweets, they aren’t terribly articulate, nor do they have much to say when they aren’t hating on someone. Most have a handful of followers, so they aren’t popular and don’t have many friends or fans. Most show no signs of having much going for them – they don’t talk about personal achievement, they don’t have anything to show. If their profile pictures are indicative, none are especially well dressed, fit or good looking by conventional standards. These are guys you would pass in the street without a second glance.

I suspect they’ve grown up well enough off to feel entitled, but not so well off as to be safe forever, but they don’t have much going for them, so making their own way in the world will be hard. They have neither the money nor the looks, nor the personalities to attract women, and are painfully ignorant on the subject of relationships. With no emotional literacy worth mentioning, they have little hope of sustaining relationships, as their lack of online friends often indicates. Take away their young white male straight cis-gendered privileges, and all they have left is being barely able to string a sentence together, a spotty face, a bad wardrobe, and a dead end job. Of course they’re angry. Rather than deal with their own shortcomings, they project that anger outwards.

I think the problem is that, having nothing going for them and no prospects, they do feel marginalised. All the spaces for marginalised people have no room for them, because they look like young white straight male privilege. Desperate for attention, desperate to make a mark, they strike out because they do not think they are capable of doing anything better, and they resent anyone who in face of having nothing going for them, by their standards (being female, ethnic, gay etc) are trying to do something.

It must be a whole world of pain. So if you run into one acting out (usually on Twitter, but no doubt they lurk in other places, too), pity them. They belong to that most marginalised of groups – the privileged white guy who expects it all handed to him on a plate but isn’t seeing any action. They can’t admit to feeling marginalised because that would mean admitting to being failures by their own standards. So they envy those whose reasons for feeling marginalised aren’t shameful, and who are supporting each other. It hurts them every time someone else gets up. It hurts them every time no one is impressed by them being white boys. They belong in a different century. Pat them gently on the head and tell them that they can have a sandwich, the trick is to take their sorry ass out the kitchen and make it all by themselves.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Matters of exclusion

  • Robin

    Having taught a lot of people in that position, I think they are stuck in a bind – society has lied to them, telling them that they should easily be able to achieve success (real men do etc.) without adding that a family wealthy enough to give them good education, social contacts, and personal polish are the real keys to easy success. If you aren’t educated (regardless of gender, sexuality etc.) then knowing how to get educated is not actually easy. Especially in an economic climate where education is for the wealthy or those willing to drown in debt. Posh boys seldom have emotional literacy, but they have sufficient etiquette and contacts to hide it. If a person doesn’t have emotional literacy, they quite possibly don’t even realise they need it or actually understand what so middle-class a term really means. So they flounder, feeling extremely awkward and having do no idea how to overcome it. Which tends to make them feel very angry towards those people who have it, or who make the acutely conscious that they are inadequate in ways they they don’t understand (the women who won’t date them etc.)
    Society would be greatly improved if we had means for people to learn emotional literacy that didn’t exclude the poor or couch themselves in jargon that require a high standard of education (this latter issue is, I think, a stumbling block for a lot of anti-discrimination campaigns which drip in the language and attitudes of the excessively middle class).
    Leaving these lads to sort themselves out very frequently means that they will go round in ever decreasing circles until they just give up and join Britain First or some other such group that gives them the illusion of being valued and empowered.

    • Nimue Brown

      A big yes to that. I like Martin Shaw the storyteller’s work of taking angry young men out into the wilds, telling them myths and not quite killing them with exposure… he seems to get results.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Gee the I would have great reasons to feel angry. I have lived at below the poverty line to poverty most of my life. I have not gotten laid in 22 years, health reasons prevent it. I haven’t been ale to drink alcohol again for 22 two years. I haven’t used illegal drugs for the same amount of time I need a walker, can not walk far, mostly house bound, I no longer can drive, and I am getting older that dirt. Life is so unfair. Of course I sort of learned that in grade school, and high school, so why should that ever change.

    I did the anger trip as a young man but all that did was keep me personally miserable for as long as I kept doing it. It did did not change anything. So I started thinking the other way around, if I had to be poor, then I wanted to have more fun than the rich people. Though limited now, I think I was pretty successful at it. I traveled for years, I was a agate miner living in a VW bus, I have been a shop owner twice, and still a at age 70. I have almost never been in debt. I have done some pretty wild things just did the without spending a lot of money.

    I have kept up letter, and later on line friendships, for thirty years kept a relationship going for 37.5 years until death too care of the person for 17.5 years at home. I started and ran an on line magazine, learning from scratch, and interviewed people all over the world. I have, healed most of the internal emotional problems that I had. My shop is literally in the middle of no where, and people hunt me down. I don’t do a lot of business, but I do have a lot of fun with it and people usually leave surprised and having had fun, whether business was done or not.

    I remember carefully what each age felt like, and apply that information when dealing with people younger than me. I talk to the kids, the teenagers, the twenty somethings, all the way up to people older than me. I try to be an encourager, rather than a discourager that we have too many of in our world. I even done jokes about my health and disabilities so others with similar issue can learn it does not have to destroy their lives if they keep their attention on what they can do, and do more of what they want to do. I also feed over a hundred wild birds, and rodents, which keeps the local predators well fed as well.

    So I am not young any more, have y health issues, but damn it I still live. I will never be rich, famous, and successful in society’s eyes, not the life of the party, nor do have hundreds of friends.

    But in can make people laugh, I can make them feel better about themselves. I can show the they have a right to be what they are, instead of something that they are supposed to be according to other people.

    It has often been a rough and rugged life but I have lived it, not merely survived it, and I continue to do so. Everything I have can disappear, I a fully aware of it, but I will enjoy the hell out of it while it is still here.

    So now the only question is, when will those poor sods grow up? They are the only solution to the problems that they face, and they need to use their opportunities as best that they can and pick their ow ass up if they fall down.

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