Thoughts About Dobbs v. Jackson

Cisgender, straight, Christian, White men in positions of power, you need to get over the idea that you are something special – entitled to the first choice of resources, the best jobs, the supreme place in society. Overturning Roe merely reflects your displeasure that the women you let into law schools, medical schools, anchor desks, governmental posts and board rooms are now doing as good a job as you do – or better. This makes you very nervous, I imagine. You are thinking you better get them under control again – or at least give them massively difficult choices. Overturning Roe is not about the sanctity of human life. If it were you would provide for those fetuses after they are born – but you don’t. You let them be raised by single mothers without resources or house them in parking garages for disabled or unwanted children. I thought you wanted them? And if it is about God, I imagine you are praying to the Jesus whose portrait was in the front of the church I grew up in. You know — the white Nordic Jesus with blue eyes and long blondish brown hair. Not the Jewish Jesus from Palestine!

Men who are Black or Brown skinned know about this. The powerful straight white men will crack the door open and let a few of you in just a tad. But when you start doing “their” jobs as well as they do – or better; when your numbers start to make them nervous; when they think you are intruding on their territory, they will do outrageous things to ‘keep you in line.’ There will be restrictions. There will be gate-keeping. There will be murders. Count on it. Because these superior straight white Christian men can’t stay on top with an even playing field. You are aware of this. Women of color are aware of this. People with few economic resources are aware of this.

People of non-Christian religions know this. We are told this is a Christian country. Says who? To my recollection many of the revered founders were Deists. Not Christians. The myth I was taught in school was that the country was founded on religious freedom. Anyone with half a brain could see that the Puritans were not embracing of people who did not think like they did in this arena. Still, don’t we pretend to stand for freedom of religion – and did not those same Deists and their Christian (white male) friends establish freedom of relgion in the much revered First Amendment?! Yet there are shootings at Mosques and Temples. Non-Christians are not safe to thrive and strive in the same way as those straight, white, Christian men.

And for the white women who side with the powerful straight, white Christian men – there is a warning. You will be fine as long as you support the supremacy of straight white Christian men – as long as only a few of you aspire to do great things or get a great education or serve in high positions like, say, the Supreme Court. For you I recommend you read Andrea Dworkin’s “Right Wing Women,” but it will be hard to find because it is out of print. You might want to use your power to get it back in print. But your men will almost certainly not like it!

I know there are straight white men and straight white Christian men out there who, if they happened to read this, would say “wait a minute, I have no power! I am oppressed! I don’t have money, fame or a fabulous job! I grind it out and get no breaks! Don’t blame me for this!” I know that lots of you are in crummy, difficult jobs or have a life with little money or joy. I know that often you have no hope of access to upper levels in jobs, housing or status. The majority of you may be in this position (I hope not). But you do need to understand that just by being male and being white you do have a leg up on the rest of us. At a job interview with non-white or non-male peers you will get extra points. In the criminal justice system you will get extra leeway. In a department store you will likely be waited on first. And you probably don’t have to worry about someone raping you if you go out for a walk at night – or someone killing you if you go for a jog in the park at night – or someone shooting up your place of worship. These things matter. Understand that life is not a zero-sum game, as much as we are led to believe it is. Think about who it might benefit for you to believe this. My answer is that it is the straight white Christian men at the top. They likely believe that they got their exalted positions because they truly are superior beings who are smiled upon by their god. But they need your votes to keep the status quo. That status quo keeps them on top and doesn’t really care much about you. You are being used as messengers and for your vote and as their weapons to keep women, people of color, gay/lesbian people and transgender people, Jews and Muslims in line. They can keep their hands clean and pretend they had nothing to do with it.

Again, power is not a zero-sum commodity. If I have power and use it to empower you there is just more power in the world. Yet we are all told by many speakers that if I gain power, you must lose power. This is not true. I get it that if there are 10 jobs available and 10 people applying, your chances are good. Your chances are better than they would be if the 10 original people applied plus 4 women and 6 people of color. But do you really want to live in that world? Where your success comes at the expense of someone else’s chance at success? Maybe that is ok with you. But if it is, note that your position is fragile. The people who limit women and people of color and others could also find some excuse to limit you.

Finally, to the straight white men who support the rights of women and who are anti-racist, tolerant of different secular and religious points of view, and supportive of gay/lesbian/transgender people: I know I left you for last and that may feel uncomfortable for you. You may have been reading this thinking “Hey, wait! I am not the enemy!” No you are not. But you do need to be ok with other people coming ahead of you some of the time. To you, I say thank you for your open mind, ability to think on your own, and courage to allow people who do not look or think like you do to have a fair chance. We need you and appreciate you. You can help to level the playing field by standing with women and with people of color and people with non-European ethnicity and gay/lesbian people and transgender people. We need you – and together we can give everyone the opportunity to contribute and to prosper.

Most importantly, to the men in the preceding paragraph and to gay and lesbian people, transgender people, people of color and non-European ethnicity, Jews and Muslims – and anyone else who supports diversity and social justice, I implore you – us – all to work together. In the 1980s I knew someone who had a bumper sticker that said: The Majority of Us Belong to Some Minority Group. (Some of us belong to two or three or four). If we work together we can level the playing field for everyone. But we need to stop squabbling. If we can come together and work as a community we need never fear competition from others for scarce resources. If we work together and support each other we can position ourselves to provide the community resources to assure that everyone can survive and even thrive. If we vote together we can assure that the will of the majority of people in this country becomes law and policy rather than the will of an organized, radical minority. This will take time and dedication but we can do it.

And for those of you thinking “Boy, is she paranoid!” I share with you a sentiment I learned long ago in the gay community: Sometimes paranoia just makes good sense.

(I have also heard people say: It isn’t paranoia if someone is really coming after you.)

© 2022 – Chris D. Cooper

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