I feel myself to be an empathetic person. But empathy requires awareness. When I see someone in pain, it effects me. Entitlement, however, is a strange condition where its presence is marked particularly by operating outside of the beneficiaries awareness. I am a tall Caucasian male, well spoken, who knows how to dress and can, at times, be relatively charming. In modern day United States society there is an overwhelming number of things I can get away with without the least awareness of the people in this society who can not. It is just the way it is. Why question it? Why even look? ”Let them eat Cake.” The pronouncement mistakenly attributed to Marie Antoinette is a prime example, as it comes from a total lack of awareness of the other’s situation.
Since I have begun this blog I have become more and more aware of the overwhelming entitlement my being a white male affords me, particularly in regards to women. Listening to the complaints of a person of great importance to me that she gets no financial or physical support from her father with whom she lives because “he works full time” at first sounds unreasonable, until you consider she is a single mother, goes to nursing school, is employed part time and expected to clean, cook, and do the laundry for herself, daughter and father, plus independently pay for school, Drs. and child support outside of her own personal needs. All this because he is entitled. It reminds me of the advertised ”Mom” who keeps the house clean, children fed and well dressed, runs the local charity, and maintains herself thin and beautiful, with that slight hint of welcome to bed sexiness, as well as a happy and grateful attitude.
Dylan Matthews posted a graphic showing the relative proportion of rapes which were reported, rapist arrested, went to jail or were falsely accused. The data was taken from Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI reports. It is sobering.
I read a powerful, informative and painful article by E. J. Graff this morning. In it she talks about a truly horrendous incident in India. But to me the more frightening is that “When I told my wife the prosecutor how shocked I was by the India case’s rusty metal bar, her response disturbed me terribly: She laughed at my naïveté.” I, in my entitled ignorance, immediately had to check the sex of Ms. Graff.
I have lived through a period of US history which has seen overwhelming changes in relations between black and white. When my father was driving me to college in down state Illinois, he mentioned that in a town we passed through they were quite proud to say, “No black man has ever stayed over night here except in jail.” and I look at our recent re-election. Yet, when I look at male – female relations, we are still proud that “We” gave them the vote. THE VOTE????? GAVE????
WE, are still entitled in the most blind and incomprehensible way. WE, still have no idea of the innumerable ways we create a society where WE have the power and WE do everything we can to subjugate, limit, and control OUR women. WE do not even see it and more shamefully, WE do not even look.
It is time to look, listen to those who know and complain, and become empathetic to a state of being that can not and should not allow to continue. We need what we are refusing to see.