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Nice White Lady of the Week™

June 17, 2010

Adrian, a reader of my office supply blog Does This Pen Write?, and I have been trading emails enclosed with links of egregious acts of Nice White Lady™ fuckery. Many are hilarious and naturally, I decided to start a weekly series highlighting these warriors of niceness, whiteness and ladyness. Most will not be famous or even infamous – but everyday folks who have the misfortune of sharing their random acts of NWLism with the interwebz.

A great friend of mine once said, “You are transphobic like a motherfuck until I say otherwise. You’re not the boss of my -ism.” And so it is with NWL™, which when used by me is most certainly a pejorative. If you feel upset and hurt having it hurled at you, then my mission was a success. Go write a pained, chow chow laden crybaby blog entry about it.

NWL™

  • tokenize the marginalized folks in their world, using human shields whenever they are called out for acts of -ism fuckery.
  • believe they deserve the benefit of the doubt because they are thoughtful, compassionate human beings.
  • believe commitment to dismantling kyriarchy is on a case by case basis. If they don’t happen to like a specific marginalized person, somehow it’s acceptable to engage in privileged behavior because that person is “mean” or says things the NWL™ doesn’t want to hear from someone she believes should be grateful for her support.
  • collude with other NWLs™ – when called out by marginalized folks – in an attempt to bully. derail or silence. But often are silent when marginalized people are being treated poorly, either by believing the marginalized person is “strong” enough to handle the fuckery themselves or they probably are overacting to the situation.
  • think it’s okay to engage in emotional manipulation – white woman’s tears – when confronted in regards to problematic behavior.
  • believe they know as much about -ism they don’t have as the people who have them. They also believe they are in a better position to articulate the concerns of these groups.
  • appropriate a marginalized identity for themselves via their overuse of the term “ally”. As “allies” NWLs™ tend to frame being an ally to a community as an identity worthy of inclusion in all aspects of social justice work, particularly if they get to run things.
  • will be the first to chime in here and talk about the other NWLs™ they know and how they aren’t like that themselves. As though they get to dictate the terms.
  • aren’t in fact, nice at all. Merely privileged white women, sometimes with single serving oppressions who believe their status as cisgendered women or fat white women or working class white women negates the privileges afforded due to race.

This series is not an educational opportunity. I’m not holding anyone’s fucking hand or explaining anything other than, “Check out this fucking Nice White Lady™!” If this is too much for you, then go read something else. If you email me, I can suggest tons of Nice White Lady™ bloggers who will be more appropriate for your sometimey social justice warrior needs.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. ozma permalink
    June 17, 2010 9:17 pm

    Darn, I can’t watch the video.

    But can I just say ‘eck’ about the NWL.

    Kyriarchy! Had to google that. Good word.

    OK, the video turned on and I watched it.

    Anyway, this is brilliant. This needs to be its own blog, pretty much.

  2. June 17, 2010 10:17 pm

    I can hardly wait for the first award. Because as a Nice White Guy, I’m sure none of the characteristics you pointed out could ever apply to me.

  3. Teaspoon permalink
    June 17, 2010 10:47 pm

    Wait, so, I have, like, magical powers of inspiration or something, by virtue of my relative kindness, gender identity and general lack of melanin?

    Apparently, I’ve been wasting my life and depriving inner city kids of the glory that is me, which is, of course, all they need to overcome years of profiling and disadvantage built into the system.

    *heavy sigh*

    How selfish of me.

  4. June 18, 2010 2:30 am

    1) I love that Mad TV sketch SO. MUCH. I feel like that show never got its due for being really hilarious a lot of the time. And often at times when SNL was painfully un-hilarious.

    2) I need to show this post and the following posts to my good friend Peta who has long regaled me with stories of what ze once dubbed “Crying White Woman”. Which I have a feeling is a character trait that exists under the larger umbrella of “Nice White Lady”. I have a feeling you’ve got a new fan on the horizon!

  5. June 18, 2010 7:30 am

    If you email me, I can suggest tons of Nice White Lady™ bloggers who will be more appropriate for your sometimey social justice warrior needs.

    I want to see that list.

  6. Deena permalink
    June 18, 2010 9:24 am

    @chris0 – White Women’s Tears!

    http://wiki.feministsf.net/index.php?title=White_women%27s_tears

    I can’t find any of the other relevant links I wanted to post and associate with that, and the wiki links don’t seem to be working properly. Boo-urns.

    That MADtv sketch is so perfect. Recognizing the concept and seeing parts of myself in it were harsh but necessary moments. I look forward to seeing all the NWL featured!

  7. June 18, 2010 12:27 pm

    I am plotting my crybaby blog entry as we speak. Beware the crybaby blog entry! My Fluffy White Cat and I shall collude on it. Perhaps I shall my pearls while writing it, and clutch them.

    In other news, did anyone else keep waiting for the NWL to swap her “adorable patterned blouse” for a leather jacket and some kung fu moves she learned in the marines? Or am I dating my NWL teacher movie knowledge here?

  8. June 18, 2010 12:36 pm

    In other news, did anyone else keep waiting for the NWL to swap her “adorable patterned blouse” for a leather jacket and some kung fu moves she learned in the marines? Or am I dating my NWL teacher movie knowledge here?

    Careful, man, I have a beverage here. *wipes down screen*

  9. June 18, 2010 12:43 pm

    I hope to see a franchise of other Nice ____ Lady posts, with all the -isms of the rainbow calling out the assclownery of those nice, helpful allies who get on their last disabled/trans/fat/queer/working class/whathaveyou nerve.

  10. Hank permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:43 pm

    I fear that my mom is kind of a NWL. Then again, she’s no Nancy Botwin, either.

  11. June 18, 2010 4:31 pm

    Peggy Hill strikes me as the southern version of it. Nothing you’ve ever said or I’ve read (of your mom’s awesome blog) reminds me of Peggy Hill!

  12. lemonadeandlemoncake permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:17 pm

    excited for this.

  13. June 18, 2010 7:42 pm

    Quote from True Blood the other night after Arlene having talked about “what black people do”:

    Tara: “Stupid ass racist dyed haired bitch!”
    Arlene: “I hate when they make everything about race.”

  14. Alibelle permalink
    June 20, 2010 4:48 pm

    Oh Snarky, I love you so. And that means something coming as it does from a nice white lady.

  15. June 20, 2010 8:34 pm

    Awesome.

    I’ve had my own issues with being the Nice White Lady at various points in my life (like when I spent about 2 years helping raise my biracial nieces and nephew), but the best time it was ever pointed out to me was by an Ethnic Sociology professor who was “better” than me about recognizing his various forms of privilege because even though he was a rich white dude, he understood more about “Afro-Americans” than I ever would because he was married to one once. I was like, um, no, dude. You’re just as ill-informed as me.

    And wow, that was a hell of a sentence.

    Peggy Hill is the ultimate NWL; I love the Obligatory Racism Episode where she takes an online quiz that proves she’s not racist.

  16. June 20, 2010 10:02 pm

    Peggy Hill is the ultimate NWL; I love the Obligatory Racism Episode where she takes an online quiz that proves she’s not racist.

    Omg, “Racist Dawg” is one of my favorite eppies! I mean I know I’m supposed to be enlightened and all, but I was like, “Please don’t let Ladybird be a racist. I heart Ladybird.” I have this weird obsession with Ladybird Johnson and all the TEXAS stuffs on KotH, which probably accounts for my love of the show. It’s such a great exploration of race, because it does tend to handle people with far more compassion and honestly, I think Hank Hill is just one of the most intriguing characters on TV because he is principled, but also is quite teachable. He can readjust his “world view” in ways, that are rare for television – and life. I also liked how the “allies” were more obnoxious than Hank, who was really trying to make things right, not because of his dog, but because as the son of a military dude, he really was taught things the way he frames them, even they scan as problematic to outsiders. And Hank does tend to treat people fairly equally, with very little chow chow or high horsery, except as it relates to propane and propane accessories. He’s definitely not without flaws, but again, it’s that teachable thing. It’s endearing. I don’t know anything about the writers, but they just seem really good at capturing the essence of Texan culture in ways that both highlight its issues and celebrate its cool parts!

    Like the Bushes, I also am faux Texan by way of Connecticut. San Antonio, representin’.

  17. June 21, 2010 12:51 pm

    You can’t have a NWL post without mentioning Riot GRRL! Maybe in a future post?

  18. Kelly permalink
    June 21, 2010 9:15 pm

    I’m obsessed with NWL syndrome, being a card-carrying lady of that stripe. I like your breakdown of some of the characteristics.

  19. AnthroK8 permalink
    June 21, 2010 10:33 pm

    Oh, my goodness gracious.

    My friend (name redacted) has a brilliant rant about how, in her Graduate Student of Color Association (sorry, trying to keep things really anonymous), There Can Be Only One White Girl. Like, the white girls who are the nicest, smartest, most awarest, tapped into the issuesest will join and then eliminate one another through backstabbing combat because being an ally is best if You Are The Only One.

    And she. will. love. this. The post, the video, the whole enchilada.

  20. June 21, 2010 10:39 pm

    My friend (name redacted) has a brilliant rant about how, in her Graduate Student of Color Association (sorry, trying to keep things really anonymous), There Can Be Only One White Girl. Like, the white girls who are the nicest, smartest, most awarest, tapped into the issuesest will join and then eliminate one another through backstabbing combat because being an ally is best if You Are The Only One.

    Ally cage fight! Oh I do remember those.

  21. aliciamaud permalink
    June 23, 2010 5:58 am

    I sent this link to many teacher friends…the Nice White Lady is one of the teaching tropes that make me want to jab my eyes out before watching another movie about education. Cuz all you have to do is *care* a little more, and all systemic inequity and injustices just evaporate before your very eyes! And make an effort to speak to Them in Their “language”–history disappears and poetry will happen like magic!

    Makes me wanna borrow that guy’s flask…

    (A friend and I start an education class with a clip fest of pop culture representations of educators…consider this added to the queue!)

  22. June 24, 2010 11:30 pm

    Snarky’s:

    I can’t decide which delights me more. The image of the ally cage-fight, or the Highlander-style combat in parking garages.

    That was the same student association where a white guy wanted to be president. It wasn’t the X-STUDIES association. It was the X-STUDENTS association. You shouldn’t even want to be the white-guy president of the ISM-STUDENTS association, much less insist you are allowed. How hard is that to comprehend?

  23. friday jones permalink
    June 29, 2010 6:33 pm

    O, why won’t YOU PEOPLE let me teach you? I have so much wisdom lurking under my sweater vest! :p

  24. keight permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:38 am

    C –

    in what way(s) do you think Riot Grrl was an example of NWL?
    just curious
    thanks 🙂

  25. June 30, 2010 1:39 pm

    Keight, it would probably be easier to ask the question, “In what ways wasn’t Riot Grrrl an example of NWL?”

    It’s pretty obvious; Riot Grrrl virtually erased the voices of women who were not white, middle class, cisgendered, straight and able bodied. It was just like 2nd wave feminism in baby barrettes. Trust me, I did the legwork.

    It’s kind of why I fled to the Spice Girls. At least they had a brown chick. I found their view of grrrl power just as fatuous as Riot Grrrl. But they came out ahead because the music was better and they at least paid lipservice to diversity. Riot Grrrl couldn’t really be bothered with that.

    Read some zines by margainalized women from that time. I swear that’s pretty much what they wrote about. I even did a workshop at Southern Girls Convention entitled – wait for it – “Marginalization and Tokenization in the Grrrl Movement”.

  26. Keight permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:20 pm

    I definitely agree with you, and wasn’t opposing that argument. riot grrrl was narrow in scope for sure. I just wanted to know how other people would articulate it as well. I think what the most NWL thing about them is that they claimed that their ‘revolution’ would be the saving grace of everyone when they so obviously did not include all women and people. I know the term NWL is sarcastic, but the riot grrls didn’t even pretend to be nice, and weren’t at all. and thanks for the zine tip!

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