Great post from Asian Identity here.
White men utilize aggressive verbal/behavioral attacks on an as-needed basis which solidifies their place in the social hierarchy. I know this post looks lengthy, but I think members will get something out of it.
I want to talk about the Social since I think it has a lot to do with everything else. About Social Dynamics and White Interpersonal Aggression. White men have built up a strong brand for themselves. The dominant group shapes the society (including the culture) so that individually they can navigate it successfully, with a smile on their face, minimal stress. So that the others look up to them which makes their job even easier. Then they can go through the obstacle course, without breaking a sweat, which the people admire them for even more (smiling and being decent, on the surface anyhow, because they don’t face social micro-aggressions) while the others toil more laboriously, making it harder for them to be so ‘magnanimous in victory’ and cheerful overall.
The Brand and the Reality of White Men Don’t Match – which is why it works
How do white men preserve their power in the social arena? The first thing I have to point out is that white men are a lot more aggressive and cruel in a social manner than they get credit for. They exercise it judiciously and often on an as-needed basis (Trump is an exception, who does it so frequently). But it is their “victories” in the social arena through this aggression that lead to people deferring to them and even, as an unfortunate part of human nature goes, as they move up the social hierarchy as a result, liking and preferring them more.
How do they do this? First white men attempt to burnish their image as ‘good’ and likable – they do this by aiming to be good conversationalists, joke-tellers, and subtly demonstrating value. Once they do this, the groundwork is set for the behavioral/verbal aggression – which will come later, and in many ways, ambush the unsuspecting other person (whether it’s a white woman, a minority male, Asian woman, etc.). In fact, the contrast between the image they’ve cultivated and the severity of their verbal attack is used to advantage just as a ‘sneak attack’ is used in the olden days. Further the society-wide brand of white men is so positive it disarms the other against him and leaves him/her unprepared for it. (As usual, the way whites attack is usually psychological and “social”)
Keeping Inventory and Then Attacking when Needed
But what they do next is also critical. (I’ve talked about Angling before, which is a subtler verbal process whites use- but I won’t elaborate on here). What many white men do is ‘keep inventory’ about the person they’re speaking with. This means keep a psychological map of the other; or more simply a log of their insecurities.
If this is hard for you to imagine, then I will take the goofiest, most blunt example of a white man who does this- Donald Trump. When I use this example, just know that most white men do this far more tactfully and sparingly than Trump. Trump seems to know what bothers other people – which is how he shuts them up. With Marco Rubio, it was his height (“little Marco”); with Elizabeth Warren, he immediately recalled her past invocation that she was Native American (turned out to be false), and called her ‘Pocohantos’ mockingly.
Despite how buffoonish Trump is in this manner, these were all essentially counter-punches, attacking after the other attacked, but doing so in a way he thought would cause them the most emotional pain.
The act of using behavioral/verbal aggression is meant to silence the other person. Embarrass them. And most importantly- to think twice about crossing them again. It is this dynamic that reinforces the social hierarchy and in turn reinforces white supremacy outside of mere social interactions.
It doesn’t have to be keeping insecurity inventory and being verbal. It can be something as simple as ignoring the other person when they speak. Or speaking past them. There’s a whole set of tools that they use; which often, minorities are blind to but feel nevertheless. Whites will go further in this regard then I’ve seen Asians and Hispanics.
Social Aggression and “Winning” Social Conflicts is Valued in America
This quality is valued in America. And white men pride themselves on it, but typically done in a far more low-key way than Trump.
(Many Asians do not engage in this. It’s not our culture. We may make more modest attacks of one another; but we don’t make an art of picking on one another’s insecurities. If you were to engage in this kind of interpersonal aggression in Asia or even in just Asian-American groups, I think one would be shunned. But in the rest of America, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.)
It so happens that women are more insecure than men; more vulnerable. This allows white men to take liberties with both white women and non-white women in their interactions. Women are more sensitive about propriety (being proper), their weight, their looks – and throughout history white men have had a field day with this. On an individual basis, they do the same thing.
I remember this one Indian woman who was in a social group; there’s one white guy who she had some disagreement with. At one point, he joked that she was “hairy”. It was in my view, a below the belt kind of attack. But it was effective. In the social sphere, white males are aided by the fact that other whites tend to view their attacks of others as less threatening to them (same-race bias). This is VITAL in the social conflict; because ultimately you don’t want to alienate others with social aggression, and the fact that Whites+Chans/Toms > Non-Tom Minorities in most social groups, means they have an unfair advantage. “Hairy” is a subtle insult used against Indian women; but if that woman were to strike back and call him a ‘pigskin’, she would be ostracized by the entire group.
The weapon you use against the other depends on the setting. At work, you don’t keep inventory of the other’s insecurities as much as you do of their past mistakes/blunders. And it’s this then that’s get used when there are conflicts, if referenced in a more subtle, “professional” way. We shouldn’t ignore that whites, especially white men, are versed at this – and use it Against other people.
This subject could go for hours, but I think I’ll leave it there, and at this point simply reference an example.
Example: In High School, I was part of a social group of all white guys (it was an almost all white school). White Guy 1- let’s call him Rick was the person I think of when I think of white male social aggression. In that, he was rarely aggressive. But when he was, he was ruthless. Which meant, despite his nice guy-joking manner, he was keeping careful tabs on everyone in the group- and what bothered them, what got under their skin. Because whenever there was a verbal spat, he had the insult all cued up. At one point, White Guy 2- let’s call him Patrick had said something about Rick, I forget what. Rick immediately mocked Patrick’s taste in music, including that he had said before he liked Michael Jackson. The next 5 minutes were him tearing into how ‘gay’ it was to like Michael Jackson and implying Patrick was gay. Nothing prompted that line of attack; it wasn’t germane really to the conversation. It was clear, that insecurity was registered and the line of attack was prepared well in advance.
It is weird going around in life developing attack plans in your mind on other people (in case you need it), even of people you like, but that’s what white people do. Not all of them, but many of them.
Obviously, the method of attack one uses is different given the circumstances; the kind of attack in HS is different to one used as an adult in the workplace or an adult social group.
The Way People Process These Attacks
If the group feels the WhiteGuy being attacked was justified in attacking back, there are few group repercussions. But more often than not, people respond in a very primitive fashion- which is to respect strength. Lest, they be on the receiving end. What’s worse – and a bit disturbing- is that some women (enough of them) are actually attracted to both: men putting other men down, and even men using this technique against them (in PUA speak- this is a form of “negging”). If done skillfully, as PUA authors have talked about, female ‘tingles (or primal attraction) are born in the defensive crouch. This is even more so the case from AF->WM because the former already puts white men on a pedestal, and assumes everything they do is acceptable.
Ultimately, the point I want to make is that White Interpersonal Aggression is often subtle, but decisive in preserving the place of white men in the social hierarchy. The net results of Social Dynamics, who prevails, who loses, etc. plays a large role in how the social hierarchy impacts other areas of American life, such as: Who’s seen as the best mate?, Who’s a “strong” manager? etc.
In terms of takeaways, it’s nothing to be alarmed at. We all know this since we’ve lived in this country; I am just putting it in concrete terms. Obviously, important not to be blindsided or fooled by the “White men are upstanding” brand and then be surprised when they engage in Interpersonal Aggression. Also, it’s I think unavoidable to have to ‘play the game’ too. In general, I don’t keep white friends that “cross a line”, but for whites in social groups who I don’t invite or at work, where I have no choice who I work with, I have to keep some inventory myself. And I’m not afraid to use it.
Know the terrain. Know the Game. Know how to win it.