Three Things You Need to Know about the “Summer of Rage”

The Cut’s Rebecca Traister is drawing attention to the minority power of white men in the U.S., and how we react when their power is challenged.

Johannes Spahn / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Johannes Spahn / EyeEm/ Getty Images

The Cut columnist Rebecca Traister has written a buzzy piece discussing the reality of power in the United States — which excludes females, members of the non-white left, and any citizen who is not a white male.

As we focus on how to thrive in the age of outrage, Traister calls our attention to the perils of our country’s current political standing. She sheds light on the implications of the state of the Supreme Court, the crisis at the border, the #MeToo movement, and recent protests against White House power players. Here are three need-to-know moments from the story:

1. “Protecting the influence of that ruling minority – white men – has been the national priority from the country’s founding.”

The similarities between our historical national priorities and the current state of the country is significant, and Traister highlights the fact that white men make up almost two-thirds of elected offices in federal, state, and local legislatures today. “White men are at the center, our normative citizen, despite being only around a third of the nation’s population,” she writes. Even 140 years after the passage of the 15th Amendment and almost 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, there is a palpable feeling that when it comes to who’s in charge, we’ve moved rather little.

2. “The hold that the minority has on every realm of power — economic, social, sexual — is so pervasive and assumed that we don’t even notice when the few oppress the many.”

The #MeToo movement has been at the forefront of our national conversation, but Traister points out that “public sympathy” has been extended to “powerful men” who lost their jobs, after years of harassing females who were too scared to come forward sooner. Traister talks about philosophy professor Kate Manne’s concept of “himpathy,” in which we superficially punish these men without real consequences.

3. “One reason that the fury of women is regularly dismissed as theatrical and marginal and unserious is precisely because, on some level, the powerful must sense that it is the opposite of all of those things.”

Traister writes that the news media hasn’t taken women seriously enough, and often does not validate their political anger. Specifically, Traister references a dismissive tweet by Brian Stelter that states, “We are not a few steps from The Handmaid’s Tale… I don’t think this kind of fear-mongering helps anybody.” Traister highlights the patronizing invalidation in Stelter’s tweet. “The outlawing of abortion, the curtailment of contraceptive access, the rollback of affirmative action, the further erosion of voting and collective bargaining rights, the strengthening of anti-immigration policy, may not seem real to Stelter, who in the same conversation about border checkpoints asserted that he recalled ‘stopping at one of the checkpoints in CA last year. I didn’t find it to be a problem.’”

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