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Daddy Has No Clothes
March 24, 2001
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 working class.

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 order.

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.

 

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