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Opinion

Some white men may lack perspective on issues of inequality

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December 16, 2015

Editor’s note: Read the response of the speaker mentioned in this column, “Inclusivity positions could be utilized by everyone.”

On Tuesday night, Dec. 8, I attended a Student Senate meeting to make a comment about the committee I’m on, the Committee on Advancing Sustainable Efforts. We’re hosting an event in the Library on the 17th during finals week, centered on sustainable living and mental health, and advocating an $8.75 due that will be put into a green fund for students to use on sustainable projects on campus. After I made my plug I stuck around to see what else goes on during the weekly business meeting of our student government, and was intrigued by a bill to re-implement a position that would serve the students as someone they could talk to if they feel marginalized, offended or wronged by the University. When the list of speakers was made, I was sadly unsurprised when the first person to speak was a white male, who asked in sum “why would we need this? I don’t know of anyone that feels this way.” The second speaker, another white male, reiterated this question.

I was at first extremely surprised that anyone would question why a safe space to express problems on this campus is necessary. With over 85 percent of the University being white, obviously a person of color might be uncomfortable going to directly to administration with issues surrounding their race. As well, there is no information about sexuality diversity of this campus, so a LGBT person probably wouldn’t even know where to go if they had an issue. Other historically marginalized groups- such as women, disabled, muslim, etcetera,- would be able to utilize a student in this position to voice their concerns for them, since often their concerns are swept under the rug.

But after a little more consideration, I wasn’t surprised that this question was asked, because of who asked it. In general, white men have little to no problem having their voices heard on our campus and in society more generally. Throughout all of modern history, white men have been the powers-that-be. A white man may have less insight on what the experience of the less privileged have, and why they might feel insecure talking to administration about their problems.

The next morning as I traversed the University Center in search of coffee, I was annoyed to say the least that the Men’s Rights Coalition was once again allowed to perpetuate their flawed and misogynistic work at a table. Rather than going into specifics, I’ll simply say that what they stand for seems rather irrelevant to, seeing as the population the represent comprises the largest percentage of people in congress.

To deny that white men do not control the western world is to deny reality. What I tried to get across to these men was that as a feminist, I advocate for complete equality of men and women across all platforms. With an ever-increasing percentage of minorities in our lovely nation, those who have historically held control of power have to start agreeing to letting some of their power go, in order to achieve a fully representative democracy.

Adding this position to the Student Life committee board seems like a necessary and proper thing to do if the senate is committed to improving inclusivity on campus, as well as because we are slowly becoming a more diverse campus. In an increasingly globalized world, we all need to not only get used to, but embrace, having people who don’t look like us as apart of our culture and being represented by them in the legislative process.

Molly Kinney is a journalism student with a political science minor. She enjoys reading, camping, music, art and exploring new cities in her free time. In the future, she would love to travel the world and cover politics for NPR.

Comments

Lake on 26 Dec 2015: Roderick - OMG!!! Seriously, I was searching the web for inequalities based on discrimination and I came across this webpage/post. I cannot believe you are making such a big deal over this column or opinion. Does it disturb you that much that someone was surprised at that question? If so, Get over it Roderick! Learn from this! And spend your time writing more productive posts!

Roderick Babilius on 22 Dec 2015: You quoted me, or summarized me, if you will, either way that is not what I said or expressed. So be it an opinion piece or not, you still have to correctly quote me and my sentiments, and then follow up with your interpretation of what I said. You cannot directly replace what I said with your opinion. I have no problem with you as a person Molly, I just want to ensure the quality and standard of the work we as students produce, and I cannot standby when there is such a breach of journalistic ethics. I believe that push-back like this coming from me will only make you a better journalist and writer, and help you sharpen your argument. We likely agree more than we disagree on this topic when we really get down to it, however, discussion like this is healthy. I hold no animosity with you as a person; I can have no problem with an individual, and respectfully disagree with them at the same time. The increasing inability in our society for people to respectfully disagree is an entirely different discussion, but one that would be worth having to help make necessary advances.

Student47 on 21 Dec 2015: You say that's your only agenda, but you are apparently annoyed that UWRF isn't censoring an organization because it talks about issues men face and deal with. Supporting men =/= misogyny.

Molly on 21 Dec 2015: This is a column, an opinion piece though, not an article meant to give hard facts to the student body. This isn't a fabricated quote, it's simply a summary of what you said, and I clearly state that. In an opinion piece you can push an agenda, my only agenda being more representation for marginalized groups of people.

Roderick Babilius on 19 Dec 2015: “why would we need this? I don’t know of anyone that feels this way.” These are most certainly not the sentiments that I expressed at all, nor the words the words that I spoke at all. These words shouldn't even be in quotations much less attached to any particular person present that night as they are words that weren't spoken or a sentiment that was expressed in any way. Keeping my identity anonymous does not give you the "journalistic freedom" to tailor fit what you wanted to say and then attach them to an anonymous speaker. In the event that a journalist chooses to keep a source anonymous, that journalist must still maintain the integrity of that anonymous source, their sentiments, and especially their quotations; not doing just this is called pure fabrication. You attempted to create a character and put words in his mouth because you assumed that I was saying what you think every other man is saying. Unfortunately this character isn't a fabrication and you cannot put words in his mouth. The white male population as a whole does not represent or define me, and I do not represent or define them. By attaching fabricated quotes and sentiments to an event that actually happened, and to the "first PERSON to speak," you most certainly made it clear you were speaking of a specific individual. You cannot link fabricated quotes and sentiments to a real person and event that took place to make a point or support an agenda. That is slander, libel, and journalistic malpractice. If you want to promote your charge do it the correct way, don't make things up, because as you should know, making things up breaks just about every rule of journalism.

Molly Kinney on 16 Dec 2015: As the author of this column, I'd like to make clear that I did not intend for the speaker to be specifically identified, or personally attacked. Instead I meant to keep the referenced speaker anonymous, as the sentiments he expressed are ones I've often found reiterated by others in his perceived demographic, and simply found this instance and topics discussed because of the question he asked a good opportunity to address issues surrounding patriarchy, as well as heterosexual, cisgender, and white privilege. I didn't intend for anyone to be offended, and wrote it to prompt discussion and consideration of what 'marginalization' actually means.