White guys, step aside

2 weeks ago Douglas Hardman Comments Off on White guys, step aside

White men are ruining the arts with their sexual misconduct, abuse and misogyny

I’d like preface this by saying  that when I make a statement about  “all men,” there is usually an ‘*’ because I do not actually believe that “all men are ____.”

That being said: white, cisgender, straight men are huge deficits to the arts. I’m talking music, theatre, film, etc. The problems and the complications that arise are far too many to count and are disgusting to even think about. Plus, the abhorrent disrespect and disregard they instill onto women, LGBTQ+ members, persons of color and anyone who opposes their idealistic views on what art is, proves that their place in the arts should be limited, unless they prove to be adaptable, compromising and respectful.

The biggest stories you will find to highlight this point are celebrities, or persons of high wealth/status. Harvey Weinstein is probably the first name to come to mind. What are the key characteristics of that story? Sexual misconduct, abuse, misogyny and many, many more grotesque details. Wait: if Harvey Weinstein is the only offender noted, how can one say that “all straight, white men are ruining the arts?” I’m glad we asked that question.

Harvey Weinstein was not the first, nor the last, nor the most recent example of this blatant misogyny, disrespect, and egomaniacal behavior. Actor Kevin Spacey was sexually assaulting young actors while maintaining a status among the elites. Years and years of lies on Spacey’s part while young actors, like Anthony Rapp, had to live with the shame and trauma instilled in them. When the courage to speak up arises, when time has healed as best it can, Spacey takes the claim that he was secretly a homosexual the entire time, hoping to justify his blatant pedophilia and sexual abuse.

The biggest correlation associated with these stories are white men in power. White men, who either believe they have power or have power bestowed upon them, will do anything to protect their power. There’s kind of an old-timey sentiment around the idea of manifest destiny, that a person can take what they desire, regardless of consequences, as well as the thought that it is justified and unavoidable. While this saying originated with colonial expansion, it has definitely taken on a sick double meaning for the patriarchy. White men, usually of heterosexual orientation, believe they are the superior beings on this planet and their will is the way things are supposed to be. They will do anything within their “power” to ensure their will is adhered to.

When it comes to the arts, such a theatre, it is usually a haven for the outcasts. The people in society who are usually rejected can find solace in a safe and accepting space. Women, POC, and LQBTQ+ members will always be accepted and celebrated by the arts, much more than by society as whole. The minority of society would not be the minority if they acted as a single community. So when the safe haven feels infiltrated, tainted and abused by unyielding, hypermasculine beings who want things done their way and only their way, how should they feel other than discouraged and lost?

For so long, society has adhered to the straight white male agenda and I am tired of it, especially when it corrupts what I hold dear to my heart. Straight men should not be directing plays with LGBTQ+ stories. They should not be directing plays with strong female leads or any play with complex character development. Straight white men have proven to be unartistic, complicated (in a non-interesting way), and uneager when it comes to collaboration and compromise. Straight white men who claim to have been directing shows for years that show no personal or artistic growth, yet belittle and shun and disrespect artists with a true and pure vision just because it is “not the way they do things.”

I think it’s time for a cleanse in the artistic community. Wipe away the negativity, bring in fresh talent and creative minds, and let the arts be what they were always meant to be. Art is an escape from reality, yet also a statement about reality. Straight white men are the bane of my existence, as well as the artistic community, and I’m ready for yet another renaissance. The arts belong to those willing to sacrifice their ego and reservations for the sake of art itself.

Douglas Hardman
ddhardman@vwu.edu