Feminism is an integral part of progressivism.Which leads me to my topic of the day - why are so many middle and upper-middle class men, typified by the A-List Blogger Boyz, who claim to be progressives such virulent anti-feminists? My answer is rational self-interest, also known as weeding out the competition.
If you're not a feminist, you're not a progressive.
No matter how much you hate Bush.
No matter how much you hate the Iraq war.
No matter how much you hate our current torture policy.
No matter how much you want to restore habeas corpus.
No matter how much you're totally going to vote for the Democrat in November.
If you're not a feminist, you're not a progressive.
You're a fauxgressive.
End of story.
Another way of putting it is why, if white racism is so persistent in this nation, why does this slender sliver of America appear immune to its siren call? Why does Hillary Clinton scare the crap out of the guy who kidnapped Josh Marshall, but he feels no anxiety (that he'll admit to) around The Precious? We can go into analysis of oedipal fantasies and the pervasive influence of patriarchy, yadda yadda, but my point is that this cohort of dudz is exactly the one that claims to be "post-" all those nasty -isms.
The answer is surprisingly simple. They face a lot of competition from white women for their social and economic successes, but not very much from black men. They get a lot more payoff from bashing, dominating, and fucking over women than they do from doing that to men of any color. They can get solidarity from the guyz against the hos. This cannot fully explain the anti-feminist behavior of self-identified liberal men, but it's one hell of a contributing factor.
In my various jobs, the men who have been unbearable assholes to me are the ones who directly compete with me for advancement and accolades. They are almost invariably the white guys. Oh, and usually the straight ones. Asian, hispanic, black and gay guys (and those categories are definitely not exclusive) are usually pretty decent to work with. We get passed over for promotion together...
Sociologically speaking, if you are in competition for scarce resources against another group or class of people and you find ways (social, legal, economic) to place those others at a structural disadvantage vis-a-vis yourself, such that they have barriers that increase the cost of advancement and wealth accumulation while you are not penalized, it is awfully easy to pretend that you have nothing to do with the disadvantage of that other class of people. It's also easy to internalize the attitudes and beliefs that reinforce the imposed disadvantages such that you can rationalize way the disparity in your respective positions - women want to be mommies rather than the modern workplace does not accomodate the needs of parents, or blacks have lower intelligence rather than systematic disparities in the education system paper over white mediocrity and suppress black intellectual achievements.
Why are white liberals so freaking guilty about the second class treatment of minorities in the US? Because every last one of us knows that if it weren't for that structural disadvantage, we wouldn't be ahead. We'd be much more vulnerable to the economic tides than we are. We wouldn't be able to count on presumption of innocence at a traffic stop. We wouldn't get the job we weren't qualified for and didn't deserve but where the other applicant was darker skinned or had an accent. It is guilt founded upon a secret hope that the advantages all go away - after we've made it.
The reaction can be guilt rather than anger because there is really no chance that this class of people will ever get ahead as a class such that there would be competition. It may not be PC to say this, but there is a very rational basis for working class white racism that has nothing to do with believing minorities are lesser beings and everything to do with keeping that structural advantage in place. That's why the cynical claims of the Obama campaign about Archie Bunkers - when the target is actually the guilty upper middle class - doesn't ring true. Obama himself is no threat. He codes "white". The threat he offers is not raising up minorities but turning his back on all the working class and failing to enact policies and programs that will help those who are struggling. The real way to undermine racism is by increasing economic stability and prosperity, not by trying to shame people living on the edge as some kind of moral reprobates.
Change the makeup of that class and suddenly the privileged white boyz start getting nasty. The structural disadvantage that kept women from competing directly for previously male-only positions, structures both legal and cultural, have disappeared with enormous speed in the last forty years, especially the last twenty, and while entry of women into the workplace in professional and skilled labor ranks (they have always worked their asses off in retail, agriculture and service industries) has increased household income, it has also curbed a rise in male wages while offering increased competition for positions. Women's economic success has directly harmed individual male economic success and the concomitant social privilege.
There's little enough competition in professional ranks from minorities that minority men can be viewed with equanimity, especially prized as an opportunity in which to publically demonstrate how you aren't one of those mouth-breather Bunkers or Bubbas who would be bigots to your hip black friend. Yeah, that is what the unidentified and probably fictional "Clinton campaign staffer" meant. The Josh Marshalls of this world are so loud and obnoxious about their support for Obama in part because they think it somehow proves they aren't racist (as if that was the issue) while completely sidestepping the way in which their economic and social privilege provides the protection from significant competition.
The rage being expressed by men who are in the top two economic quintiles of the population at women is fueled in great part because white women threaten their socio-economic advantage. Women like Hillary demonstrate that they are not going to get a pass anymore because they can piss standing up. (News flash - women can do that, too. We just have to work on technique a bit more than the guyz.) I am a direct and growing threat to white male professional dominance. The old boys are retiring and the old girls are beginning to take over upper management. While it is true that women will still side with men in misogynistic ways in power struggles, this is less true as women begin to numerically dominate the workforce. I am respected at my company for working my ass off and doing impressive things, but I know I have undying support from the three top women executives in the company (and the one gay man) that has helped me weather some utterly savage take-down attempts by threatened white guys.
The success Hillary is enjoying is flushing the fauxgressives out of the woodwork. Hillary hatred has permutations beyond simple misogyny, but the very real competition that women as a class offer these guys is what we see bubbling up in anti-feminist broadsides and pathetic attempts to reduce women's choices and aspirations to acts of vagina voting or bitchy resentment. What we are seeing in this election, from right and left, is the rage of white males who see their privilege under real threat and they don't like it one bit.
Get used to it, guyz.