This has recently been posted by many on social media:
To be fair, maybe a dark-skinned black man who feels really well-supported by the NRA and all of the other parties touted below wrote this piece, and Steve Reichert, the NRA, or his ilk just found it, and were super delighted to have their horns tooted, but that doesn’t seem very likely. Steve Reichert is white (and running for 2018 NRA Board Of Directors), the manly savior and the helpless lady in the photo of the boat are both white, and there are overt references that denigrate those who oppose white supremacy in the piece that follow.
“Let this sink in for a minute…..Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Houston. Almost all of them driven by men. They’re using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.“
Hey, that IS great! Is this going to be a piece that busts gender stereotypes? Men CAN be caregivers! Will this be a rallying cry to action? Will it promote ways that more dudes who like to focus on their private property can use such to facilitate the needs of others? Huzzah!
“Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-used gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there’s a preponderance of camo. Most are probably gun owners, and most probably voted for Trump.“
Yes, we should bust these stereotypes! I myself — a queer, registered Democrat, far left, hippie mom, domestic abuse survivor, tofu-and-beef-eating, masters-degree-holding nerd, etc. — own guns, have been hunting since I was twelve years old, have killed and gutted Bambi, still live rurally, have three tractors, can farmer-blow my nose like nobody’s business, and can barely afford my own gas to get into town where I teach at a technical college with farmers, welders, mechanics, and the workers who install your air conditioning. We do deserve acknowledgement for the damn hard work we put in, the sacrifices we make, the poverty and educational gaps that we face, and for having more compassion than that for which we typically receive credit. Try to read the poem, “The Names Of Horses,” by Donald Hall, without weeping about our agrarian heartaches.
“These are the people the Left loves to hate, the ones Maddow mocks. The ones Maher and Olbermann just *know* they’re so much better than.”
Oh. No, wait a moment. I need a moment to sit with the sadness and outrage that I have again made space for all of my beloved, rural, often disadvantaged neighbors, but they have not made space for me. Again, instead of including me and my entire family in those who are about to explode the stereotypes of rural residents, I am vilified. Because we are teachers, union members, gay, not into mocking vegetarians, in favor of more restrictions on the idiots who try to walk around with guns like they know anything, and have beloved family members in South America, Europe, The Middle East, and Asia, … they now think that we hate them. Again.
And it’s not true. It’s never been true. I didn’t hate the men whom I forced into teaching me how to hunt. I didn’t hate the Christians whom I forced into accepting that I was in love with and marrying another woman. I didn’t hate all of the neighbors whom I tried to tell that our family full of teachers and union members are being consistently pooped on by our state and federal conservative reps. I don’t hate any of the loved ones whom I ask not to speak words like “fag,” “retard,” or the N-word, because those are also real, flesh and blood loved ones that they are tossing around as insults. I have not even disliked the students who have peed on my car in the school parking lot when they felt angry and defensive as they even began to glimpse the reality of why I asked them not to make rape jokes about the prices of their tool sets.
If anything, I have hated the system and culture that has raised us all to believe that these responses to hearing other humans’ stories are acceptable. I spend my career repeatedly introducing myself and anyone around me to these systems of oppression that affect us all. If there’s anything that I feel better at, it’s accepting my privileges and tenaciously studying my place in the system, and to varying degrees, so do the relatively liberal celebrities mentioned above. I won’t defend Maher, who I think is pretty douchey, nor Olbermann, who I don’t prefer to cite myself, but Rachel Maddow is quite down to earth and uses well-cited information and complex narratives (alongside Joy Reid) better than most talking heads. She’s damn brilliant, rarely mocks anyone who isn’t acting inappropriately, and frequently has the most rigorous standards that can bee seen on pop TV.
I can’t speak for some of the talking heads, but most of us liberals don’t feel “better than” rural conservatives, and I constantly (hear me: constantly) figuratively shoot down those who try to make outsider jokes about farmers, rednecks, or hicks without being marginalized and identifying and living with us. The above was pretty much just a potshot at a beautiful, intelligent, kind, lesbian professional who, again, hands out some of the best contextual information I have ever seen. I was just excluded, again, from my beloved rural neighbors by virtue of being very dedicated to fact-checking and calling out marginalization of our local and global neighbors.
“These are The Quiet Ones. They don’t wear masks and tear down statues. They don’t, as a rule, march and demonstrate. And most have probably never been in a Whole Foods.”
Oh. Oh, blerg. My heart hurts. “Quiet Ones” is not here just referring to a down to earth, thoughtful, often Scandinavian-style stoicism that we really do sometimes possess (when we’re not celebrating our other social norm of uproarious bonfires, drinking, and riding free in the backs of pick-ups on unpaved roads). “Quiet Ones” is here referencing those who feel like a “silent majority,” those who feel put upon, tread upon, and very defensive as marginalized groups ask for equality. This is especially true because it is contrasted with those who “tear down statues,” which in the last few months has specifically been people of color officially and unofficially removing public tributes to treasonous Confederates. They are also contrasted with patrons of Whole Foods, implying that all those who do not want to celebrate the near-destruction of our union by slave-owners are the bourgeoisie, out-of-touch, elite shoppers who can always afford to fork over the dollar for organic foods. While I do want all of my agricultural neighbors to not be themselves poisoned by nitrates and pesticides that also enter our water tables and private wells, I resent the implication that I am not stoic, thoughtful, and considerate even when I am outspoken after much listening and research, and that all but they are loud, wild, and brash.
“But they’ll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They’ll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.“
Yes, caregivers frequently face hellish conditions, physically and emotionally. Welcome to the club. Welcome to caregiver life. This is was it is often like for many of us. This is not shocking; this is status quo, and it is not being used to celebrate all caregivers, but only those who typically do not speak up and put their bodies on the line in the name of justice. These self-identified “Quiet Ones” often vote against and sometimes sneer at those of us who frequently put our bodies on the line in these ways, including nurses, teachers, union workers, social workers, those who routinely hug, feed, bathe, pay our taxes on behalf of, and serve the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, hopelessly addicted, homeless, or survivors of every variety of trauma. Welcome to the club.
“When disaster strikes, it’s what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they’ll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they’ve never met before, and talk about fish, or ten-point bucks, or the benefits of hollow-point ammo, or their F-150.
Ah, I see. Despite female caregivers routinely not receiving the credit, salaries, or protections that they deserve as constant heroes, this one instance of disaster wherein rural men felt themselves particularly helpful is a sore spot for those men. Again, welcome to the world of caregiving. You don’t always get a cookie for stepping up. It’s just the right thing to do, and the even more righteous thing to do here would be to not ask for credit, but to promote how more can join in.
Instead, the author and many who shared this post, fall back on praising their traditional masculinity, reinforcing gender and ethnicity stereotypes rather than refuting or expanding them. Which men aren’t “real?” The ones that don’t drink because alcoholism is all too pervasive in our necks of the woods? The ones that don’t see the need for hollow-point ammo? The ones who are licensed social workers, addiction counselors, or family therapists who don’t drive trucks? The ones that were born elsewhere and have not yet been allowed to gladly pay taxes in exchange for a social security number?
Why is the help of the “American men” here called out, not bothering to include the Mexican citizens who also flocked to Texas provide aid? Or anyone like Jesus Contreras, a DACA beneficiary and paramedic, who worked six days straight in the same dangers? They are not aligning themselves with the breadth of all those providing heroic care; they are contrasting themselves, putting themselves above the others who frequently step into caregiver roles. They are not seeking unity; they are seeking superiority.
“And the next time they hear someone talk about “the patriarchy”, or “male privilege”, they’ll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.“
How nice that these supposed caregivers and heroes would snort at the wage gaps, abuse and violence statistics, incarceration and conviction rates, and double-standards that hurt and marginalize many of us. They profess that they’ve rescued us in their boats, but they ignore the rest of what we tell them about our lives, and decline to recognize any of the ways in which they are not as disadvantaged, harassed, and discriminated against as many of us. We make space for their challenges, but they scoff at us and turn off our voices, instead of listening to how we could all do this together if they’d just see us as peers worth hearing.
“In the meantime, they’ll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work’s done.“
You know who’s already in this club? Most of us. If only these up early, hardworking peers would also listen to us, recognize the system that keeps trying to make us helpless, and stop giving themselves savior complexes while otherwise shutting the rest of us down.
“They’re unlikely to be reimbursed. There won’t be medals. They won’t care. They’re heroes. And it’s what they do.“
Doesn’t it suck to be a caregiver who isn’t reimbursed or even noticed? Tons of us already knew that. Stop asking for special recognition for a small slice of the work being done. Stop turning off the TV and our voices when we try to talk to you about this shitty system that marginalizes each of us in turn. Go read about intersectionality and fragility. Join with those around you for justice. Maybe if we better recognized all of our intersectionality we could actually take down the 1%, who actually get the best rewards for the least work.
The mostly men who have shared this piece of writing — some of whom briefly shared their boats; most of whom largely identify with white NRA perspectives — instead of joining forces with traditional caregivers and promoting further generosity, shouldn’t get the giant pat on the back for which they are asking. They should pause, take a deep breath, look around, and realize that they should be joining with the others who are also working without receiving what they deserve and take down the uneven system, not pan those who more frequently speak up against it. Instead of denigrating those of us who consistently perform this work and act with heroic generosity, they could vote, listen, and give credit more generously alongside their occasional boat usage.