Daddy Has No Clothes
By Meg Gardner
Clinton haters. Southern Baptists demanding women submit
to their husbands. Pro-lifers. Defense-of-marriage promoters.
Affirmative-action foes. Corporate-welfare hounds. Union busters.
Tax-cuts-for-the-rich activists. Culture-war zealots. What
do these right-wing-nuts have in common? A Pavlovian need
to prop up and maintain rich, white, heterosexual, male privilege.
Clinton, the alpha male of the world, governed like a black.
Governed like a woman. Governed like a true child of the sixties:
taking in data and finding consensus. Clinton was not a hierarchical,
Father-Knows-Best, iron-fisted leader. Right-wing-nut masculinity
is threatened by a man like that.
Women and minorities have been chipping away at white male
privilege for decades. Gays, the ultimate threat to a "real-man's"
image, have come out of their closets to demand their rights,
including the right to marry. How can two "equals"
be married? What happens to a husband's-right-to-service when
a marriage can occur between people without gender roles geared
to benefit the male? Right-wing-nuts insist that men must
be men and that women know their place.
And what about the men and women who do our labor? The privileged
delegate the dirty work, the hard work, to minorities, women
and "lower-class" males, but reap increasingly outsized-portions
of the reward. Labor unions, voting women, minorities and
working-class white males cannot be allowed to take their
real share. CEOs, running corporations for their own benefit,
purchase government officials with campaign "donations"
to ensure labor stays in its place. Right-wing-nuts know their
natural superiority ensures their rise above the lowly, faceless
And so we have a culture war. A brazen attempt to return
to the happy days of the fifties. Where white men can beat
their wives and children, take all of the good jobs, hang
blacks, beat gays to death, and rape women and children. And,
best of all, no one will dare call them on it. Surely most
white men in the fifties did not do violence. But, just as
surely, all of them benefited by keeping their potentially
restless servants in their places. Best not to mention that
right-wing-nuts need the tools of violence to maintain proper
In fact, the age of innocence referred to recently in the
press, is not the innocence of the children after all, but
the innocence of the privileged. For them the fifties is all
"Father Knows Best", "Leave It to Beaver",
and the "Andy Griffith Show". And many of the privileged-class,
right-wing-nut or not, want to remain innocent of the evil
done for them. Such talk makes them uncomfortable. They want
to maintain their impenetrable cloak of privilege, a sense
of natural entitlement not to be questioned.
Just ask George W. Bush how he got into Yale or Harvard or
got into business (upper-class affirmative action), made millions
(corporate welfare) or got to be president (civil-rights for
the chosen). He thinks he earned it. Really. He does. He thinks
God meant for him to be Emperor, er, president. And so, Bush,
the new alpha male of the right-wing-nuts, "governs"
like an iron-fisted, Father-Knows-Best patriarch. Governs
like a true man of the fifties: ignoring outside data and
issuing his own edicts. Right-wing-nut masculinity is reassured
by a man like that. "Daddy" is in charge and all
will be well.
But not everyone shares Bush Junior's delusions. We know
George W. Bush used and abused every thread of privilege available
to him. And, we realize that not everyone knowingly wants
unearned privilege. Some look the other way, though, trying
not to notice the right-wing-nuts' dirty work. It's time for
us to completely debunk this mythical cloak of patriarchal
privilege and to declare once and for all: the emperor - I
mean Daddy - has no clothes.