Monday, November 23, 2015

'Whitesplaining': what it is and how it works

Leftists usually run away from  any contact with conservative discourse because the factual points made by conservatives are toxic to Leftist beliefs.  As a conservative, however, I have no fears about Leftist discourse and am always ready to learn so I read quite a lot of Leftist writing, even though I am often disappointed by its vacuity.

So I read with interest the attempt below by Catriona Elder (an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney) to explain some very fashionable Leftist tropes.

There she is, complete with feminist haircut

Sadly, however, amid her long ramble
below I have found nothing but opinion.  I would have thought that a social science professor might have brought some facts and data to bear but she has not done so.

And even her reasoning is just a ramble.  I have read the article carefully, with particular attention to her view that being "colour-blind" is somehow wrong.  Why is it wrong?  She does not  say -- but simply asserts that we are not in fact colour blind. Our behaviour does not match our beliefs.  That is no new point, however; psychologists have been saying that since the 1930s.

But surely being color blind is a worthy goal? Perhaps not.  It is difficult to get a grip on what she is saying but she seems to think that we should become MORE race-conscious.  She wants us to SEE racial differences rather than ignore them.

That is very naive.  The whole motivation behind the colour-blind  people is to avoid us seeing too much.  There ARE real race differences in educational attainmemnt, occupational attainment, crime-rates, IQ and much else.  In one way I could be seen as her ideal person.  I DO look at and report race differences.  I have many published academic journal articles on race-related topics. And, as a psychometrician, I always feel free to mention black IQ if it is relevant.

Is that what she wants?  I doubt it.  She wants some ideal world where people see only those things that she wants them to see.

And her comments on privilege are frankly Marxist.  Marx said that what you see depends on where you are.  While that is trivially true in some ways, Marx meant that there was no objective truth and that what you see as truth will depend on your social class position. Catriona thinks the same, except that she sees your race as the important influence on your perceptions.

The nature of truth is a very large philosophical topic so, despite my interest in such matters I will forgo any attempt to address it fully here.  Suffice it to say that those who deploy the "no absolute truth" weapon aim a gun at their own heads.

For example, if there is no absolute truth, why should I believe anything that Catriona says?  She might simply be seeing the world from her own privileged viewpoint (I think she does) and all her resultant conclusions from that might simply be wrong and worthy only of being disregarded. She evidently wants to say that nothing is right excerpt what she says.  Which is roughly what Mussolini said.  She is a neo-Fascist.

So as far as I can see, what she says is an expression of muddled and poorly-founded opinion that expresses a diffuse sense of rage but achieves nothing more.  I certainly fail to see from her writing that "race-blind" people are doing anything unworthy.  Given that there are real and not always congenial differences between the races, I think that they are in fact rather heroic people.  Ignoring race differences may be the best most people can do when it comes to fostering harmonious race relations.

I am not entirely sure that I am spending my time wisely in  commenting on the addled lucubration of an airhead like Catriona but her position in a senior university post is significant.  The feebleness of her "explanations" should help to confirm in the minds of my fellow conservatives that even the smarter end of Leftism is intellectually incompetent.  Had her screed been presented to me as a student essay in my time teaching sociology at Uni NSW, I would have failed it on the grounds of its incoherence.

Have you ever had an experience where someone is explaining to you, maybe in a lot of detail, something you actually already know quite a lot about? Possibly about your own life?

It’s frustrating. But it’s not a random occurrence, and it’s often about power. There’s a word for it: “whitesplaining”.

It’s a term that’s been in high rotation over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Hollywood film star Matt Damon and Australian radio and TV personality Kyle Sandilands, whose comments around issues of racial diversity and sexuality have sparked debate around issues of white privilege and “colour-blindness”.

Let’s reexamine their comments:

While appearing on Project Greenlight two weeks ago, Matt Damon - in the midst of a discussion about forming a directorial team for a reality show - argued the decision to appoint a director should be based on merit rather than diversity.

His comments suggest diversity is only an issue when casting actors, not behind-the-scenes crew such as directors.

A short while later, Damon gave an interview to The Observer where he argued gay actors should remain private about their sexuality:

"But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play."

As Nigel Smith pointed out in The Guardian, Damon’s point negated the interview he then gave, which spanned such personal topics as how he met his wife, their children and family life, his childhood and his political views.

Closer to home, Kyle Sandilands last week explained to the Australia television viewing public that the lack of non-white contestants on a new season of The Bachelorette is irrelevant:

"I think a lot of young people don’t think like that. They don’t think 'Oh we better have a black, we better have a brown'."

Being ‘colour-blind’ and why it’s a problem

Let’s begin by unpacking Sandilands' comments. His perspective is one that suggests “people are people”.

About 20 years ago academic Ruth Frankenberg studied the phenomenon of white people explaining away race and difference by declaring “people are people”. Her book White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993), explores the unspoken racial hierarchies around us.

In her terms, Sandilands self-identifies as “colour-blind”. It means you say you don’t see racial difference. Often making reference to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote about being judged not “by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,” proponents argue that drawing any attention to race is, in fact, more racist.

An extreme form of a colour-blind attitude to race can be seen in the US movement Unhyphenate America, which argues terms such as African-American are divisive:

"Cultural cohesion and connectedness are more important than having a 'diversity' of skin colour. Anyone can choose to be a part of this culture, because the principles aren’t ethnically exclusive."

Sandilands made his on-air comments in response to his guest Sam Frost’s defence that The Bachelorette producers didn’t even think about race when casting the show.

But in a “colour-blind” world, they should have thought about it - because all the contestants for The Bachelorette are the same colour. In fact, Australian television in general fails to reflect our diverse population. So what’s happening here?

The selection process for who ends up on our screens is not neutral because, like it or not, we do notice difference, including race or ethnic differences, and we act on this awareness in subtle ways.

Ways that end up suggesting that the bachelors of Australia are white.

This is where the episode of Damon “whitesplaining” the world of race to an African-American woman is useful to explore. Richard Dyer, another scholar of race and culture, describes these situations in terms of white invisibility and white privilege:

"White people create the dominant images of the world and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their image."

White people move through the world in a way that is made to suit a particular worldview. Damon, in explaining away any need for affirmative action, or awareness of race in film and TV, is only saying: I, personally, did not need it. He does not see his whiteness and all the privileges that come along with it.


Whitesplaining - derived from “mansplaining” - is a new, zietgeisty, word, but it’s essentially an expression of privilege: the unconscious, unearned and largely un-examined benefits of prejudice.

The concept of “privilege” was fully articulated in its modern form by Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 essay,White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

In it, McIntosh lists specific and personal examples of her white privilege. Point number thirty is particularly relevant here:

"If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of colour will have."

Sandilands and Damon are white, famous, middle-aged men. They used their platforms to make statements about the nonexistence of social issues that actively benefit them.

All of this is not to say Damon or Sandilands are necessarily racist. Their comments, however, are examples of how easy it is for those with privilege to assume their experiences are universal. Because our media, our government and our cultural institutions constantly reflect whiteness back at us, it is easy act as if is the default.

Privilege is insidious because benefiting generally involves little to no effort. It is often the result of other people’s actions towards you, and requires simply that you look a certain way. Conversely, perpetuating privilege means acting on invisibly socialised patterns of behaviour.

Calling out whitesplaining is not about saying white people can’t talk about race: it means prioritising the voices of those with experience, not those with the loudest megaphone.


Greedy multiculturalist who was already earning a six-figure salary is jailed after he conned a charity out of £325,000

A greedy businessman who earned a six-figure salary at a housing charity and conned them of £325,000 to buy a chain of Subway sandwich shops has been jailed for three years.

Lakhbir Jaspal, 47, made £147,000-a-year as an executive of Accord Group and lived in a palatial seven-bedroom house with an indoor pool and gymnasium.

He created a bogus firm to steal money from the organisation that builds affordable homes for low-income families and vulnerable people. 

When the qualified accountant's ruse was uncovered he lied to officers, telling them he needed cash to fund end-of-life care for his frail mother.

Detectives later discovered the money had been used to buy two Subway franchises in Coventry, with Jaspal on his way to acquiring a third when his scheming was uncovered.

He had bought his first Subway franchise at Coventry's Arena Park for £245,000 in December 2012.

He then paid £97,000 for a second sandwich outlet in Radford, in Coventry, on April 1 this year and was in the process of purchasing a third in the city's Gallagher retail park. 

Today, he admitted eight counts of fraud at Birmingham Crown Court today and was handed concurrent jail sentences for his crimes. He has also agreed to pay back the money owed.

Jaspal's deceit only came to light when a series of dodgy invoices - the largest for £97,980 - submitted to Accord were found to have been raised by companies controlled by the 47-year-old.

He resigned from his post at West Bromwich-based Accord in June after being confronted over the bogus paperwork by his employer.

Police then arrested Jaspal on August 6 this year at his £1 million luxury seven-bed Warwickshire home in Gaydon, which featured its own indoor swimming pool and gym.

Despite claiming he was desperate for cash to fund his mother's care, detectives found out she was being looked after on the NHS.

Further scrutiny of his finances revealed he had spent £13,000 on jewellery in just two months.

Detective Constable Mark Delaney said: 'It is a classic case of pure greed.

'Not satisfied with a £147,000-a-year salary he spotted an opportunity to defraud the company - one that is part-funded by the taxpayer - to line his own pockets.'

He added: 'He was the principal budget holder with responsibility for monitoring and authorising expenditure.

'He is a qualified accountant and abused his accountancy skills and his senior position to hide the fictitious invoices in Accords' account figures.

'It's particularly distasteful he tried claiming he needed the money to pay for his mother's end-of-life care - but our inquiries showed she was admitted to a home in December 2013, more than 12 months after his last successful fraudulent invoice.'

Police today released pictures showing the luxurious lifestyle he enjoyed, with a BMW X5 parked on the driveway, as well as his indoor pool and gym. 

A spokesperson for Accord said: 'We were shocked and disappointed with the actions of this one individual within our company who abused his position to steal.

'This was an isolated incident and we have a zero tolerance policy against any such crimes.

'We have a legal agreement in place to recover the money and all costs, and we would like to reassure our staff and customers that it is business as usual for the group.'


Forget the Badedas beauty from the Seventies. It's today's ads mocking MEN that are truly sexist, writes TOM UTLEY

Every so often comes a jolt to remind my generation of just how much times and attitudes have changed over the course of our lifetime, and how strange we must seem to our young.

Such a moment came for me yesterday when I opened the paper to see two pages of advertisements from the Seventies, headlined: ‘The ads that put the sex in sexism.’

Now, like many of my age (I’ll be 62 this month), I’ve always regarded the decade of my late teens and 20s as pretty modern times. True, men tended to wear their hair longer than today — and such fashions as sideburns, flared trousers and avocado bathroom fittings look decidedly dated in 2015.

But we were free-thinking, tolerant and liberated, surely — brimming over, in our thoroughly modern way, with respect for our fellow human beings, whatever their race, creed, sexual orientation, class or sex.

Or were we? It’s only when I see a feature like yesterday’s that it fully strikes me how it’s not just outward appearances and fashions that have changed, but society’s whole way of thinking about the difference between the wholly unremarkable and the downright offensive.

Indeed, some attitudes of the Seventies must seem as baffling and remote to my young, born in the Eighties and Nineties, as those of the Thirties and Forties seemed to our generation when we were growing up.

At this point, I must make a dreadful confession. For the truth is that even now, after decades of listening to feminists on Woman’s Hour, I struggle to see why anyone should be offended by some of the old advertisements reproduced in yesterday’s Mail.

In fact, without the prompting of the headline, inviting us to tut-tut and shake our heads with a wry smile, I might have turned the page without realising there was anything unacceptable about the way these ads depicted women.

Take the memorable Badedas bubble bath campaign. This shows a young woman, just emerged from the bath and decorously wrapped in a towel, looking out of the window at two men who are about to fight a duel over her. Beneath is the caption: ‘Things happen after a Badedas bath.’

Yes, we can all see that the scene is a little preposterous, with the duellers absurdly dressed in bow-ties, flared trousers and brightly coloured shirts — one purple, one orange (‘Shame the blokes look like rejects from Strictly,’ as the Mail’s caption writer observed).

I can see, too, that earnest-minded feminists would argue we’re being encouraged to see the young woman as a sex-object. After all, the implication of the advertisement is that the prize for the winning duellist will be a place in her Badedas-scented arms.

But what I cannot understand is why anyone should think it demeaning to women to suggest men are likely to fight for their favours after they’ve soaked in a fragrant bath. Haven’t women through the ages — men, too — sought to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex?

All right, I concede that some of the other advertisements were more gratuitous in exploiting female beauty to market their wares. For example, perhaps it wasn’t strictly necessary for the Trustee Savings Bank to promote its travellers’ cheques by depicting a beautiful young woman in her underwear (she was off to the South of France, we were told, and would be spending her TSB cheques on a slap-up meal and ‘better beach clothes than this lot’).

There’s a touch of desperation, too, about the ad for Rest Assured furniture, showing a woman with an hour-glass figure — fully dressed, this time — perched awkwardly on a perfectly hideous orange chair. Above her is the slogan: ‘Our curves are in all the right places.’

Certainly, I award the copywriter no points for imagination, wit or relevance. Indeed, the furniture he’s advertising (I assume he’s male, in my sexist way) doesn’t even look particularly curvy, making his pun fall all the flatter.

But offensive to women? I just can’t see it. I reckon it’s a fact of life — and nothing to make a fuss about — that good-looking models attract the eye. But perhaps I’m merely betraying my extreme antiquity.

What is surely safe to say is that, 40 years on, advertisers are more careful about how they depict women, fearful of feminists’ wrath if they’re seen to be sexist or patronising.

Strikingly, however, no such scruples appear to apply to the depiction of men. Indeed, a whole new genre of advertisement has sprung up, showing mine as the weaker and feebler sex, inferior in every way to the modern woman.

Think of the slogan for the cleaning product, Shower and Bath Pride: ‘So easy, a man could do it.’ If they’d substituted ‘woman’ for ‘man’, they’d have been lynched by now.

Or Asda’s 2012 Christmas ad, which showed a multi-tasking woman making all the preparations for the big day, while her hopeless man hangs around doing nothing except getting in the way (an all-too- accurate depiction of the Utley family Christmas, I have to admit).

Or consider the ad for KFC Bargain Buckets, in which a twit of a husband proudly shows his wife a novelty lamp he’s bought, with a clown’s face on it, declaring it a bargain.

‘No, this is a bargain,’ she tells him, pointing to her bucket of fried chicken. He meekly agrees to return the lamp.

Ads for BT Infinity broadband, Lynx shower gel, Samsung’s Evolution TV — all show smart women running rings around the cavemen in their lives. And, as is proved by the famous Diet Coke ads, which show female office workers gazing lustfully at bare-chested workmen during their break, these days no one turns a hair when men are shown as sex-objects.

Fair enough, you may well say, that the boot is now firmly on the other foot, after all these decades in which women have been portrayed as the ditzy airheads.

But is this new turn the sex war has taken really any more healthy than the old? On any number of fronts, after all, it’s simply not true any more that women are the downtrodden sex.


At school, girls outperform boys by a growing margin. Meanwhile, men are 20 times more likely to go to prison, have lower life expectancy, are more likely to be homeless and fewer men than women go to university or enter the law or medicine. Only this week, it emerged that up to the age of 35, women are better paid than men.

To crown the woes of my sex, men are also much more likely than women to commit suicide — and the gap is widening.

Yet all hell broke loose from the sisterhood when an academic administrator at York University tried to draw attention to these trends, planning an event to mark yesterday’s International Men’s Day (yes, it passed me by, too).

Some 200 academics, alumni and present students at York rose up in arms, insisting that the event, organised by Dr Adrian Lee from the university’s equality and diversity committee, would amplify ‘existing, structurally imposed inequalities’, accusing the university of echoing ‘misogynistic rhetoric that men’s issues have been drowned out by the focus on women’s rights’.

So how ironic it is that this is precisely what the protesters succeeded in doing. By bullying the university into cancelling Dr Lee’s event, they drowned his attempt to highlight the plight of men in modern Britain.

Feebly, the authorities went on to apologise for the ‘unhappiness’ Dr Lee may have caused feminists by pointing out that female candidates appeared to have a better chance of academic staff appointments than men.

The focus of their ‘gender inequality work’, they said, should ‘continue to be on the inequalities faced by women’.

I wonder if, 40 years from now, the next generation will look back on the advertisements of 2015 — and marvel how anyone could have thought it acceptable to belittle and ridicule men.


Archbishop Welby's fury at cinema ban on 'offensive' Lord's prayer

Britain's biggest cinema chains have banned the screening of a film in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the public recite the Lord’s Prayer – because they say it could be offensive to movie-goers.

Odeon, Cineworld and Vue have refused to show the one-minute film the Church of England planned to run in cinemas across the UK before the new Star Wars blockbuster, which opens a week before Christmas.

Last night the Church of England threatened legal action against the cinemas, saying it was the victim of religious discrimination.

The astonishing decision to block the film was made even though it was given a Universal certificate by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) – meaning anyone, of any age, can watch it – and approved by the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA).

Last night Archbishop Justin Welby reacted with fury, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

‘Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis. I think they would be astonished and deeply saddened by this decision, especially in the light of the terrorist attack in Paris where many people have found comfort and solace in prayer.

‘This advert is about as “offensive” as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day.’

The Archbishop, who appears in the film walking through a park as his voiceover intones ‘Our Father in heaven…’, urged people to judge the advert themselves rather ‘than be censored or dictated to’.

The ban will heighten fears that Christianity is being pushed to the margins of society by political correctness, and the Church said it could have a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech.

A series of emails seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that executives representing the leading cinema chains initially encouraged the film – which was to have been screened over two weeks before the main feature Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and would have been watched by an estimated five million cinema-goers.

But the executives suddenly pulled the plug, saying that ads that reflected people’s political or personal beliefs risked ‘upsetting, or offending, audiences’ – even though they are backing a ‘global’ advert supporting UN policies on poverty, injustice and climate change with actor Liam Neeson providing what has been described as the ‘voice of God’.

Church officials drew up plans for the film to promote a new campaign to encourage more people to pray. It shows Christians from all backgrounds including weight-lifters, a police office, refugees in a support centre and schoolchildren reciting or singing a line each of the prayer.

One participant, Ian McDowell, 50, a former bouncer who was ‘saved’ from a life of violence by ‘finding God’, and who co-founded the charity Tough Talk which preaches the Gospel in prisons, said: ‘It’s lots of different people saying a prayer, some people singing a line, I just don’t see how it can be offensive.’

The assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, said: ‘I am flabbergasted that anyone would find this prayer offensive to anybody, including people of no particular religious belief.’

Government watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it could not comment on individual cases, but added: ‘There is nothing in law that prevents Christian organisations promoting their faith through adverts.’

The emails show that the Church was in contact in spring with Digital Cinema Media (DCM), jointly owned by Odeon and Cineworld and which handles the majority of cinema advertising in the UK, and was told there should be no problem as long as the film was cleared by the CA A and BBFC.

In May, DCM even offered the Church a 55 per cent discount for a slot in the ‘ad reel’ that is screened before the seventh Star Wars film when it opens on December 18.

But three months later, the agency told the Reverend Arun Arora, the Church’s director of communications, that Odeon, Cineworld and Vue had vetoed the film, saying they could not carry ads of a religious nature.

At the end of August, a bemused Rev Arora spoke to Andy Edge, commercial director for Odeon and a board member of DCM, who agreed to try to resolve the issue.

However, in another email sent on September 16, DCM’s finance director Paul Maloney told Rev Arora: ‘Having fully looked into the matter, I am afraid we will be unable to take forward the proposed Church of England campaign … DCM has a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs.

'Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.

'We at DCM had first-hand experience of this risk when we and our members received considerable negative feedback from audiences following our decision to allow both Yes and No campaigners to run adverts in the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum.

‘Having learned from this … the board of DCM took the decision not to run any advertising promoting any religion or political views.’

The Church’s chief legal adviser, Stephen Slack, then wrote to the UK Cinema Association, an umbrella organisation that took over the dispute from DCM, saying the decision was ‘extremely disappointing’.

He warned it could ‘give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings’ under the Equality Act, which outlaws commercial organisations from refusing services on the grounds of religion.

However, the Association’s chief executive Phil Clapp said the DCM was within its right to refuse to show the film.

Rev Arora said: ‘In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech.’

Last night Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Religious freedom is a cornerstone of British values. The public will find it surprising, particularly at this time of year, that cinemas have reacted in this way.’



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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