10 votes

'Esquire' Criticized for Cover Story on 'What It’s Like to Grow Up White, Middle Class, and Male'

35 comments

  1. [8]
    Sahasrahla (edited ) Link
    The only controversy surrounding this should be how such a bland, padded-out article with nothing to say became the cover story of a major magazine when there are so many good writers out there...

    The only controversy surrounding this should be how such a bland, padded-out article with nothing to say became the cover story of a major magazine when there are so many good writers out there struggling to make ends meet. Nothing against the kid in the article, and I suppose the author did the best she could with the assignment she was given, but the only contribution of this article to public discourse is that it exists at all.

    And, really, that's what the controversy is about. (If there even is a controversy: the linked article was mostly just a wrapper for some outraged tweets. You could do that for pineapple on pizza if you wanted.) Someone wrote an article highlighting the life and perspective of a straight white male and the response is to say, isn't that an inherently racist thing to do?

    For me I'd say that's a ridiculous argument. The idea that your immutable identity (in terms of race, sexual orientation, gender, etc.) is a core determiner of who you are and how you interact with the world is now mainstream. Your identity slots you into a box that other people will judge you by and that's as true of the progressives as it is of the bigots (as much as their opinions of those identities would differ). In that context, why would we silence an examination of any identity?

    To the argument that (to paraphrase one of the tweets) "we've heard enough about white men already," I'd say, it's not like culture has stopped changing. There's always something new to say about any topic. If talking about white identity (and it feels dirty just to type that, which I suppose is a whole other topic to unpack) is taboo then the only people who will talk about it and give it a voice will be the alt-right.

    Edit: Grammar.

    29 votes
    1. Akir Link Parent
      I feel that this situation has been exacerbated by the media. Articles like the link here are quite literally fake news. It's a Fox News weasel style of reporting "some say..." and making it seem...

      I feel that this situation has been exacerbated by the media. Articles like the link here are quite literally fake news. It's a Fox News weasel style of reporting "some say..." and making it seem like its a major deal when, in reality, it isn't. Worse, this kind of article actually publicises these oppinions and creates the manufactured shitstorm it was originally "reporting" on.

      12 votes
    2. [6]
      Maven Link Parent
      Totally off topic, but what's that Exemplary badge you have?

      Totally off topic, but what's that Exemplary badge you have?

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
        https://docs.tildes.net/mechanics#comment-labels p.s. One of your comments even received one earlier today too:...

        https://docs.tildes.net/mechanics#comment-labels

        Comment labels

        Note: This feature is currently being experimented with, and is available to users whose account is at least a week old.

        Comments can also be labeled, which is separate from voting (you can vote on a comment, or label it, or do both). Labels help to categorize comments and can have effects such as changing how the comments are sorted. Currently, there are 5 options for labeling comments:

        • Exemplary - Comments that are exceptional and deserve special recognition. Users can only label a comment as Exemplary once every 8 hours, and it requires entering a message/reason that will be displayed anonymously to the comment's author.

        p.s. One of your comments even received one earlier today too:
        https://tildes.net/~tech/abg/why_amazon_buying_eero_feels_so_disappointing#comment-2khe

        p.p.s. A suggestion for notifying users when one of their comments receives an exemplary label is already on Gitlab. ;)

        14 votes
        1. [3]
          Greg Link Parent
          Is it just me, or has the usage of these exploded in the last week or so? I can only remember seeing a small handful (definitely less than 10) of them the whole time I've been here, and I'm pretty...

          Is it just me, or has the usage of these exploded in the last week or so? I can only remember seeing a small handful (definitely less than 10) of them the whole time I've been here, and I'm pretty sure I've seen that many again in the last two days.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            Activity in general has picked up quite a bit in the last week (750 new invite requests in the last 4 days on /r/Tildes, several hundred more via email), so it's probably relative. It could also...

            Activity in general has picked up quite a bit in the last week (750 new invite requests in the last 4 days on /r/Tildes, several hundred more via email), so it's probably relative. It could also be a bit of a feedback loop, where a few more people started using them, then others realized they haven't been using theirs every 8 hours and so have started to, rinse & repeat.

            I think the change to the styling might also be a factor. A few days ago Deimos changed it so Exemplary comments don't just have a subtle blue left border anymore, they now feature the bold blue text box at the top as well. So it could just be you're noticing them more because of that, even though the frequency of exemplary comments is actually still the same as it always was.

            3 votes
            1. Greg Link Parent
              Nice to see the overall activity picking up! It seemed as though there has been more going on around here, so that explains a lot. I'm laughing at myself a little for not consciously noticing the...

              Nice to see the overall activity picking up! It seemed as though there has been more going on around here, so that explains a lot.

              I'm laughing at myself a little for not consciously noticing the styling change - now that I think about it, the new version catches my eye much more, but if anyone had pressed me to say what changed I wouldn't have been able to tell them. I'm sure I've been overlooking some of them before, so if that's the case for others as well then I can quite believe it's also somewhat driving the feedback loop.

              3 votes
      2. Sahasrahla Link Parent
        It's one of the options under "Label". You can give one out every 8 hours (I think) as a sort of super-upvote that lets you leave a message. (Edit: and, thanks by the way whoever gave the label!)

        It's one of the options under "Label". You can give one out every 8 hours (I think) as a sort of super-upvote that lets you leave a message. (Edit: and, thanks by the way whoever gave the label!)

        3 votes
  2. [6]
    JamesTeaKirk Link
    They're doing a series of articles on what it's like to grow up in this age for people of various backgrounds. I don't see why white middle class people should be left out of that.

    They're doing a series of articles on what it's like to grow up in this age for people of various backgrounds. I don't see why white middle class people should be left out of that.

    16 votes
    1. [5]
      acdw Link Parent
      The fact that it's a series does mollify Esquire's tone deafness a bit, but they really should've thought about introducing the series differently. White dudes are first in line for everything,...

      The fact that it's a series does mollify Esquire's tone deafness a bit, but they really should've thought about introducing the series differently. White dudes are first in line for everything, and I think the current moment is about finally admitting someone else get a turn.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        Sahasrahla Link Parent
        If I can be cynical: I'd guess someone made the editorial decision to start with the white guy because they knew it would be controversial and get them coverage.

        If I can be cynical: I'd guess someone made the editorial decision to start with the white guy because they knew it would be controversial and get them coverage.

        11 votes
        1. acdw Link Parent
          You know, that's completely possible. I hope it's not the case because that kind of cynical marketing push is like, the worst, but I don't know enough about Esquire's editorial team to even guess....

          You know, that's completely possible. I hope it's not the case because that kind of cynical marketing push is like, the worst, but I don't know enough about Esquire's editorial team to even guess. But you could be absolutely right.

          4 votes
      2. [2]
        Halcyon Link Parent
        Care to explain?

        White dudes are first in line for everything

        Care to explain?

        2 votes
        1. acdw Link Parent
          I'm talking about the privilege inherent to the system. Society still functions on the collective assumptions that people who are white and male are in charge of most situations. As a white man,...

          I'm talking about the privilege inherent to the system. Society still functions on the collective assumptions that people who are white and male are in charge of most situations. As a white man, all I have to do is put on a suit and I'll be seen as someone with authority, whereas women and people of color aren't afforded that assumption.

          For example, when we got our first apartment in Louisiana, our landlord would not address my fiancee (a woman) even though she was asking him most of the questions. I was assumed to be in charge and she some interloper to the conversation. I'm not saying all interactions are like that, and I'm sure that the culture in Louisiana (which is more conservative) and the fact that landlord was absolutely horrible had something to do with her treatment, but the privilege I have of being able to appear "together" easily is afforded me everywhere.

          I hope this made sense. It's early in the morning and I haven't really written this kind of stuff out before. Let me know if I need to clarify anything.

          8 votes
  3. [3]
    tiredlemma Link
    What is troubling to me is that speaking of the "experience" or "story" of people of color is quite fashionable, whereas "white identity" or "white experience" tends to autocorrelate to national...

    What is troubling to me is that speaking of the "experience" or "story" of people of color is quite fashionable, whereas "white identity" or "white experience" tends to autocorrelate to national socialism. While I am definitely on board with the state of race relations and disparity in the USA as a major problem, allowing hate groups to be the sole voice for the "white experience" seems quite problematic. The vast majority of Americans are not persons of color, and have as much of a place in this Esquire series as any other demographic categorization.

    13 votes
    1. [2]
      kfwyre Link Parent
      Agreed. There's also a lot of damage done when we imply that the stories of all white middle class males are interchangeable, as many of the criticisms of this article do. Treating him like a...

      Agreed. There's also a lot of damage done when we imply that the stories of all white middle class males are interchangeable, as many of the criticisms of this article do. Treating him like a stereotype or making him a stand-in for his gender/race/class is dismissive. It denies him his own lived experience and individual complexity. We are all entitled to each of those.

      It stings to be slapped with an indictment not for who you are but for who you are assumed to be. It stings to be rejected not as an individual but as a proxy for an entire demographic. These are feelings anyone who's ever faced discrimination is familiar with. It's not fair when done to us just as it's not fair when done to him.

      I do think it fine for people to question Esquire's motives/integrity, and I think it's fine to push for more diverse voices. I just think that we don't need to trash this one kid or white people in general in order to get those points across.

      11 votes
      1. tiredlemma Link Parent
        Further agreed, haha--I think questioning the motives/integrity of things is a core activity in a well functioning society. I do draw a distinction between that and witch-hunting though.

        Further agreed, haha--I think questioning the motives/integrity of things is a core activity in a well functioning society. I do draw a distinction between that and witch-hunting though.

        6 votes
  4. [2]
    Algernon_Asimov Link
    Maybe they could have started with the other groups, rather than leading with the white male. That might have saved them some negative publicity.

    we decided to follow that model but to enlarge it into a series on growing up now—white, black, LGBTQ, female—that will continue to appear in coming issues."

    Maybe they could have started with the other groups, rather than leading with the white male. That might have saved them some negative publicity.

    6 votes
    1. mrbig Link Parent
      While not required to follow this procedure, it would be a very easy way to avoid unnecessary trouble.

      While not required to follow this procedure, it would be a very easy way to avoid unnecessary trouble.

  5. PhysicsMonkey Link
    Those voices that claim they want equality, but clearly don't, get way too much press.

    Those voices that claim they want equality, but clearly don't, get way too much press.

    4 votes
  6. [10]
    alyaza Link
    this is possibly a straightforward issue, but i'm interested to see how people feel about the modeling controversy going on with esquire today about its decision to highlight "what it's like to...

    this is possibly a straightforward issue, but i'm interested to see how people feel about the modeling controversy going on with esquire today about its decision to highlight "what it's like to grow up white, middle class, and male" and whether or not the massive backlash to it is justified, or if it's an effective non-issue that doesn't deserve nearly as much attention as it's getting.

    personally, i have absolutely no idea what the fuck they were thinking with this one or how it got past the editors without someone saying "uh, we sure this is a good idea?" because absolutely nobody asked for this and nobody needs it, but i guess sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

    3 votes
    1. [8]
      vakieh Link Parent
      People who assume having privilege means life becomes perfect and magical 100% need these sorts of articles.

      absolutely nobody asked for this and nobody needs it

      People who assume having privilege means life becomes perfect and magical 100% need these sorts of articles.

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        culturedleftfoot Link Parent
        You can obviously find examples of just about any idiot opinion on something like Twitter, but I don't believe that's the general position of people intent on talking about privilege. People who...

        You can obviously find examples of just about any idiot opinion on something like Twitter, but I don't believe that's the general position of people intent on talking about privilege. People who are tired of hearing about privilege and haven't really engaged in the conversation seem to assume that's what they think though.

        4 votes
        1. vakieh Link Parent
          Except the idiots talking on twitter often have large followings who absorb what they're saying - just like crackpot altreichists have followings. It's necessary to deal with both with education,...

          Except the idiots talking on twitter often have large followings who absorb what they're saying - just like crackpot altreichists have followings. It's necessary to deal with both with education, not simply write them off as irrelevant.

          People who ... haven't really engaged in the conversation

          People who have engaged in the 'real' conversation are by far the minority (like a teeny tiny minority). The en masse discussion lives in hyperbole.

          4 votes
      2. [5]
        mrbig Link Parent
        Privilege is not about having everything easy in 100% of the cases, but having it easier than other groups in most situations.

        Privilege is not about having everything easy in 100% of the cases, but having it easier than other groups in most situations.

        1. [4]
          vakieh Link Parent
          No, it isn't. Having a single unearned advantage in a single situation qualifies, and that single unearned advantage can be entirely nullified by unearned disadvantages while stilling being...

          No, it isn't. Having a single unearned advantage in a single situation qualifies, and that single unearned advantage can be entirely nullified by unearned disadvantages while stilling being 'privilege'.

          1. [3]
            mrbig Link Parent
            This doesn't seem reasonable...

            Having a single unearned advantage in a single situation qualifies

            This doesn't seem reasonable...

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              vakieh Link Parent
              That's the fundamental misunderstanding behind privilege that intersectionality is just starting to undo. Though I personally see things moving backwards, since most of the discussion of privilege...

              That's the fundamental misunderstanding behind privilege that intersectionality is just starting to undo. Though I personally see things moving backwards, since most of the discussion of privilege is by people who latch on the word for self-interested reasons without getting it at all.

              Privilege is the counterpart of marginalisation, and both can occur in tiny or huge ways, and both can occur systemically in broad or local contexts. An attribute which carries privilege at a national level can be marginalised in a local community or in a particular culture.

              1 vote
              1. mrbig Link Parent
                My view may be simplistic and one may characterize me as a moderate Marxist, but every time I see that much division I think that's a very convenient situation for corporations.

                My view may be simplistic and one may characterize me as a moderate Marxist, but every time I see that much division I think that's a very convenient situation for corporations.

    2. mrbig Link Parent
      I disagree. American liberals of all colors and genders are in dire need to understand and communicate with common white conservatives. Without this you’re both going to be crushed by the...

      and nobody needs

      I disagree. American liberals of all colors and genders are in dire need to understand and communicate with common white conservatives. Without this you’re both going to be crushed by the corporations.

      1 vote
  7. mrbig (edited ) Link
    So I read the article and can say for sure that there's nothing inherently wrong about its text. I liked it a lot, actually, and I'm neither American nor White. But, because that's a cover story,...

    So I read the article and can say for sure that there's nothing inherently wrong about its text. I liked it a lot, actually, and I'm neither American nor White. But, because that's a cover story, after learning that this was published during the Black History Month I find the timing extremely out of touch.

    1 vote
  8. [2]
    supermario182 Link
    The sad thing is that now people will use criticism against this as "proof" that whites are. "becoming a minority" and that they are being discriminated against

    The sad thing is that now people will use criticism against this as "proof" that whites are. "becoming a minority" and that they are being discriminated against

    1. tiredlemma Link Parent
      I suspect the response to this article will show up in certain bands of the echochamber universe, however I seriously doubt that adults looking for discourse are going to be enchanted by these...

      I suspect the response to this article will show up in certain bands of the echochamber universe, however I seriously doubt that adults looking for discourse are going to be enchanted by these arguments.

      3 votes