7 "Helpful" Tips From A White Guy

7 "Helpful" Tips From A White Guy

Navigating the world we live in is tough. Here are some things I have learned.

There has been a lot of talk recently about how us white folks should address sensitive issues around racism, free speech, and triggers. Up front, I am a white guy whose main faults are introversion and pending unemployment, so if you're expecting truly important or revolutionary writing, I'd advise searching elsewhere. This article represents nothing more than my way of working through highly sensitive issues, but here are some tips I've come up with in the past 22 years:

1. Trust Your Peers

A lot of the criticism I've heard about trigger warnings or being conscious of language has come from those who assume that what another person feels and experiences is somehow made up or disingenuous. I'm not sure if that assumption exists as a product of our cynical world or just hegemony, but it makes me sad to see that people jump to such an unreasonable conclusion. People have no reason to lie, so why would they?

2. Don't Assume Someone Else's Hurt Is About You

The perverse sibling of White Guilt is a tendency I'll call "White Paranoia." Here's an example I recently passed by: Person A says that they feel unsafe around white people recently. Person B, who identifies as a caucasian male, gets defensive because he likes to think of himself as a pretty reasonable dude. The argument gets heated, but why? Person B was never directly insulted, but he did feel implicated in the statement because of his own identity, and reacted acerbically. What he failed to recognize was that statement was not about him; it was about his friend, who felt hurt and unsafe. Dwelling on personal offense in that situation is like complaining about a sprained ankle in a car crash.

3. Don't Not Assume Someone Else's Hurt Is About You

To directly contradict my last point, sometimes Person B would have to realize that yes, they personally are actively participating in and benefiting from a system that is causing the hurt. While focusing on Person A first is important, swinging around after the fact to challenge what about Person B can change in themselves is just as key.

4. Civility Is Nice, But It Sure Doesn't Change Much

I am still 100 percent convinced that if we as Americans continue on our current trajectory, there will be an internal revolution in the next 25 years. Personally, I believe America needs to be challenged into relatively nonviolent change before that happens. Simply put, acting nicely and going through proper channels is conforming to an oppressive system, and a diplomatic protest could be considered an oxymoron. Disrupting the status quo and making things that seem a molehill to some into a mountain to rally around is absolutely necessary for society to advance; we never change unless we're uncomfortable. Take for instance the classic debate: #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter. Some argue that the latter could appeal to more people, but that's missing the entire point. Movements are meant to change the world, not please the masses.

5. Empathy Is Essential, But Understand That It Only Goes So Far

The great secret (that is no secret, really) is that I will never experience what it is like to be Black in America, and to think I do would just be arrogant. While I do try constantly to empathize with my peers and understand what I can do to reduce my own transgressions, at a certain point, no one can exit their own identity completely. I am no different.

6. Don't Apologize

OK, yes, if you personally have acted like an a**hole, be a human and apologize to the person or people you have offended. But to focus all your energy on constant show-stealing apology instead of either actively helping or just stepping back when your effort is not needed or desired is selfish. Again, another person's struggle is not about you feeling better about yourself.

7. We Are All Human

Everyone on all sides makes mistakes constantly; to assume you are any different is a strange flavor of naïveté. I consider myself a fairly progressive person, but that doesn't mean I don't constantly make offensive mistakes (in fact, I'm still somewhat convinced that this article is one of them). Recognizing that you are a flawed and evolving thinker and that you will never not be is the first step toward improving what you can.

Cover Image Credit: i.huffpost.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Boys Will Be Boys: Social, Economic, and Political Dimensions of Gender Inequality

A change must be made before I can be prideful of the country in which I was raised.


I am a woman.

I am labeled as such because of the reproductive organs with which I was born, the hormones they produce, and the two X chromosomes identified in my DNA. I had no control over these outcomes, just like my brother had no say in whether "male" or "female" was written on his birth certificate. These biological differences are simple, but they have dramatically affected the choices and treatment of men and women throughout history and even today.

Because of a simple difference in anatomical structure, women are inherently disadvantaged in assigned gender norms, workforce expectations, and leadership roles.

For this paper, I must issue a disclaimer: I will be referring to "gender" in terms of gender roles and biases, along with "sex" as interchangeable terms to define gender dichotomy of male and female. I understand and acknowledge that these terms have deeper, more complex differences, but will refrain from delving further into these due to the nature of my paper and the allotted space to make my points.

1. Social

From an early age, society imposes gender roles on children that institutionalize sex differences and gender inequality. Expecting "masculine" behaviors from boys and "feminine" behaviors from girls, insinuating that there is something wrong with being a "tomboy" as a girl or "girly" as a boy, socializes men and women into believing these differences are natural. By teaching attitudes that affirm the inferiority of women from a young age, gender differences that perpetuate gender inequality become more difficult to dismantle.

Even if gender roles are abolished in the United States, other social hierarchies will continue to oppress select groups of women across the globe. A prime example of this is the sex-trade industry in which millions of men, women, and children are involved every year. It is important to note, however, that women and girls make up 96% of those victimized by sex trafficking. Although human trafficking is an expansive industry – generating the second most profit of all forms of transnational crime – it remains relatively hidden; fraud, fear, and force prevent participants from revealing the true extent of its impact to law enforcement, researchers, doctors, and peers.

This stigmatization often leaves women expelled from their families, marginalized by society, and reliant on sex for survival, thus perpetuating the cycle of vulnerability. Those who enter the sex trade in developing countries are often unable to provide for themselves and thus rely on older partners. Many then endure a loss of sexual freedom for access to basic needs in exchange such as food or other relief supplies to pass borders or to gain certain types of protection. Power dynamics are often seen in age-disparate sexual relationships between young women and older men, as cultural factors often include social norms that emphasize sexuality of women and masculinity of their partner(s). Unequal gender power dynamics, due to socially perpetuated norms, not only influence gender-based violence, but also male control over sexual decision-making, which leads to difficulty in negotiating condom use and leaves women more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and diseases when stigma prevents them from seeking treatment.

Female sex workers are often not only treated negatively by their partners, but also by the societies in which they live. Even though sex work is legal in some countries, the law rarely protects sex workers. Often, when a sex worker seeks help from a hospital, police station, or from another legal service, they face the stigma of their profession. Payal, an 18-year-old sex trader in Nepal, said of her experience at a hospital, "Health personnel were not polite and immediately asked me if I was a sex worker. A doctor asked me outright, 'Are you HIV positive?'" The stigma and social obstacles that sex workers face can make it hard for them to access healthcare, legal, and social services, creating a toxic environment for women around the world.

2. Economic

Socializing gender roles normalizes socially constructed gender differences as exemplified above. As men are raised to pursue traditional notions of masculinity – sexuality, aggressiveness, and competitiveness – they are wired to perceive and respond more effectively to more individuals exhibiting similar characteristics: other males. Data collected from a study performed by Harvard's Schools of Government and Business suggests that hiring managers develops and uses his or her own biases when evaluating job applicants. One such opinion is that "Females are believed to be worse at math tasks and better at verbal tasks than males." To test this claim, 600 candidates were each given math and verbal aptitude tests. When presented with the results of these tests, the employer was more likely to choose men over women for math-related tasks, and vice versa for verbally-demanding duties, even if the candidate had a weak performance on the initial test. These behaviors certainly imply that gender biases exist when determining which roles men and women were most qualified to perform.

Gender bias remains a very real and impacting element in today's business world. When searching for jobs, men and women were asked what factors deter them from applying for an opportunity. The top three barriers for women, together accounting for 78% of reasons for not applying, are as follows: "I didn't think they would hire me since I didn't meet the qualifications, and I didn't want to waste my time and energy," "I didn't think they would hire me since I didn't meet the qualifications and I didn't want to put myself out there if I was likely to fail," and "I was following the guidelines about who should apply". Why did men still apply to jobs when women felt unqualified on paper?

Of all the forces that hold women back, none are as powerful as the social biases that emerge in gender-based scenarios. While companies have worked hard to eliminate overt discrimination, women are face difficulty from mindsets that limit opportunity. Managers—male and female—continue to take viable female candidates out of the running, often on the assumption that women cannot handle certain jobs and also discharge family obligations. In fact, in this study, men were TWICE as likely to be hired over their female counterparts, even if the female was a more qualified candidate. This same research found that men are often hired or promoted based on their potential, while women for their concrete experience. These "rules" were established by society early on in an individual's development and are further exemplified and perpetuated throughout daily life.

3. Political

News coverage of men in politics, especially Donald Trump in the 2016 election, typically centers around the individual's power when raising his voice, or how vulnerability and emotion is a positive trait. However, with the comparatively smaller population of women involved in United States politics, there is a clear imbalance in news coverage. For example, in the same election, Hillary Clinton was publicly broadcasted as "shrill" when she raised her voice out of passion and as "emotionally unstable" when showing emotion. In fact, an analysis performed by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) suggests that roughly one-in-ten Americans believe men are better "emotionally suited" for politics than are women.

To succeed in positions of leadership, it seems, women often have to be strong and decisive. But in doing so, they risk being penalized for violating social norms.Their very success in roles associated with men can have negative consequences, including making them seem less "likable," when research has shown that being likable is more important than any other factor to a woman's success in a political race. The imbalance continues. If rigid, polarizing expectations for men and women were dismantled, individuals would be able to embrace unique passions and pursue leadership of any form without fear of backlash.

As such, the inequal treatment of women in the social scheme must first be addressed in order to grant women the opportunity to represent themselves in the economy and workplace or earn a political platform using their qualifications rather than biases brought on by differences in organs, hormones, and chromosomes. However, some brave women that came before me have fought hard, a successful fire that continues to burn bright in the passion of female leaders like those deemed responsible for ending the government shutdown. According to Claudia Golden, "The converging roles of men and women are among the grandest advances in society and the economy in the last century". I am optimistic it will continue to grow.

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