Sunday, September 2, 2012

looking at a few of my critics, warriors of privilege

I was surprised when Micole Coffeeandink responded so angrily to my social concerns. Then I learned she's a Harvard grad and understood. Those who are born to the upper class and those who join the upper class love being in that class. Liberal capitalists want the upper class to look like America in terms of race and gender, but those who have the privileges of wealth don't want to lose them, and those who dream of having those privileges don't want to lose their dream.

Which doesn't mean they're bad people, of course. They see the injustices I've seen all my life. Until I was forty or so, I was another liberal Democrat with the same concern for class issues they have. It's pleasant to dream that someday hierarchies will be built on merit. But it's better to work to end hierarchies.

Learning Micole’s class made me wonder about my other critics, so I did a few minutes of googling to see what they’d said about their class backgrounds. The answer, not surprisingly, is very little.

Julia Sparkymonster said, "I went to Harvard-Radcliffe where I earned a degree with honors. Boy do I know about elitism and exclusivity."

Deepad said: is very much a problem of the privileged, but going to an English medium school and being upper class means that I am not fluent enough to be able to write fiction in my mother tongues. I certainly lay firm claim to Indian English, but I struggle with representing the multi-lingual part of my world.
India's upper class includes the owner of the most expensive home in the world, but Deepa D, may have been careless with her terms. She was a student in the US; she could be one of the people mentioned in Upper middle class seceding from India: "The most dramatic manifestation of this is the manner in which they have begun to export their children straight from school."

Julia Sullivan, aka Icecreamempress and Sidhedevil and a few other identities that she's acknowledged but I'm not bothering to list, describes herself as being from a "very upper-middle-class white WASP family" and calls herself "a rich white WASP woman".
She lives, appropriately enough, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a Harvard grad. Her understanding of class is charmingly feudal: "My family didn't have much money growing up, but I was still marinating in upper-middle-class white American privilege, and the fact that we were broke didn't mitigate that."

When I mentioned being surprised at Metafilter by a racefailer using a different name, she wrote, "I'm Sidhedevil over there, and he thought he was being a Big Man by "outing" me as IceCreamEmpress at LiveJournal, as though everyone but him who cared didn't know that. He's always thinking he's scoring points off me with his nonsense."

I didn't think I was scoring points, because I didn't think I was outing her—I learned it by reading her profile at Metafilter. As I've said so many times, how can you out someone who's out?

• Veejane is a graduate of Choate, the prep school I was kicked out of. At Making Light, she said, "The trouble with having all the DAR-type reseach done (by a great-grandfather) for my family is that it brings to light all of the unpleasant stories as well as the funny ones. One branch of the family lived in Maryland for a long, long time, before decamping suddenly to Brazil in the 1860s, and then returned to Maryland in the early 1890s. Officially? Missionaries. Unofficially, in some really obvious ways? Couldn't bear the idea of Maryland being a free state, and moved to the last country in the New World to outlaw slavery (which Brazil did in 1888)."

We never had "the DAR research" done, but the internet genealogies are useful. The Shetterlys came to the US before the Revolution and fought in it, so my sister would've been eligible, I suppose. But we came to be farmers, and were farmers until my father looked elsewhere for a future. The Appalachias are full of poor folk whose ancestors came to the US centuries ago, and who never had Veejane's advantages.

Nora "NK" Jemisin is a graduate of Tulane, another of the US's expensive private schools. Some people overcome the great sense of entitlement that upper class schools teach, but Jemisin is the only person I've seen seriously dis anyone by saying they live in "flyover country." She then gave a half-assed apology acknowledging her "inner snob", probably because she realized that in the terms of sj warriors, she's as classist as classist can be. The liberal capitalist concern about "classism" is related to the concept of noblesse oblige: toss the working class a few bones of respect in the hope they won't revolt. Perhaps that's why she apologized for her inner snob.

I gave a few their own posts:

Micole Coffeeandink, SJW

K. Tempest Bradford, SJW

Elizabeth Vom Marlowe, SJW

Rose Fox, SJW

If you wonder why I've only listed women so far, it's because the most prominent SJ Warriors are women. There are some men, but frankly, they're boring. I suspect it's because they're too busy checking their privilege and making sure they don't say anything another warrior might call them on. I almost feel sorry for social justice fandom's white male "allies"—they know that in that community, their race and gender will always make them suspect.

Note: Some of my critics complain that I'm speculating about them by noting what they've said. They are welcome to correct the record in the comments.

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