Nice White Guy: a profile

“I’m basically an honorary brown because of the way I got treated at the Israeli border control” said the wall-colored freckled male American passport holder. 

That was where I should have recoiled from any interaction with this person in disgust, but, as an inquisitive observer of human moeurs, I decided to let him go on.

“I hate being around white people! It just makes me feel so uncomfortable!”

Should I tell him I’m half-white and he just racistly wrote off my family?

The subject is a liberal white writer from a semi-privileged suburban background. Liberal meaning: everything he writes rehashes everything mainstream liberal media already thinks. You should vote for Hillary Clinton, or else. Black lives matter, America is bad. Free Palestine, boycott bad things. I skimmed through these extraordinarily ordinary articles (so ordinary they were in fact unreadable), as he sent them to me on facebook after our brief meeting at an unremarkable social gathering.

I decided to agree to his requests to meet up purely out of anthropological interest. This may have been one of the greatest risks in which I’ve placed myself while conducting independent research, and certainly the most uncomfortable one.

“So do you actually enjoy living in Jordan? Really??? That’s the first positive response I’ve heard from a female friend! Don’t you get harassed a lot by the men here? Doesn’t it bother you?”

Why thank you so much for worrying about how the brown natives have treated the defenseless damsel in distress, nice white guy, but actually, you’ve just touched me more allowingly in these past five minutes than any respectful Jordanian I’ve just met. The look of disgust on my face should be enough for you to know to back off. But nice white guys need a verbal negation to stop inappropriately touching a woman.

Nice white guys cannot even fathom that they themselves embody the rape culture they denounce on social media.

 “You’re so smart! I’m so glad I’ve met you. I haven’t met that many smart people in this city. Especially women.”

As a daily combatant of sexism, I started pouring out names of the dozens extremely intelligent female PhD students, artists, academics, who I’d met in my brief time in Amman, the brilliant minds he had just ignored. Of course I was foolish in believing a nice white guy actually cared about intelligent women; the sexist remark was a way of complimenting me. 

After some diatribe against racism, then some bizarre remarks (compliments?) on my skin color, a cringey story about going to strip clubs in Japan, the nice white guy randomly edged in for a kiss. “What the fuck?” I brushed it off, and everything in my face screamed: repulsion. Everything in his face screamed: fear and relief. “Thanks for not freaking out.” 

I happen to be of laid-back temperament and just take things as they go; I judge intellectually, which is my own way of emasculating. However, in this situation, it would be in any woman’s right, to ‘freak out’– the idea that responding to sexual objectification angrily is ‘freaking out’ is a sexist and patriarchal one. The phrase ‘to freak out’ in a sexual context is only ever associated with women; it is within the tradition of ascribing any deviational female behavior to ‘hysteria’ (lit: uterus). 

In that one phrase, I knew I was dealing with the same level of intelligence and respect for women’s control over their body as the Stanford rapist, the nice white guy who (allegedly) thinks he was just having fun at a party and whoops I didn’t even notice she was unconscious. 

There is nothing abnormal about this kind of mentality; it is rampant in clubs and bars across America. What frightens me is that this sexist individual not only walks around in broad daylight as a ‘liberal’, but writes like one too. Like the nice white guys behind ‘Salam Neighbor’ (read my review on their naively racist film here) , frequently ‘social justice warriors’ in reality harm the groups they profess to defend. It is precisely the imbalance of power which they simultaneously criticize and  enact that allows their ‘claim to fame’ through access to soft cultural production such as documentaries or articles. 

So I just went home after the unpleasant night, and wrote a piece of femicide. It’s so pleasant to be reminded that rape culture is also in my nice little circle of liberal foreigners.

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