The Onion and the Intersection of Male and White Privilege

The other day I started a conversation in a Facebook group I belong to that’s supposed to be for nerds to generally geek out over dorky things, but to also sometimes have meaningful conversations. 

The topic I brought up was The Onion and Quvenzhane Wallis. I was noticing how people were reacting all over the Internet, and I started to see that there were demographic patterns emerging. It seemed that the people who were most vocal about their disapproval of The Onion where female and black. It seemed that white men were more likely to defend The Onion. White women and black men seemed split in either camp. I wasn’t sure if it was as much of a gender thing than it was a race thing, so I brought it up in a Facebook group which consists of mostly men of color.

Surprisingly (not really tho), I was called a wench and was told it’d be comical if I were raped by 5 men. Not really sure how it got to that point, but there’s a transcript on Facebook. Now, this is the Internet, and I’m okay at spotting trolling when I see it (which this was), but it still doesn’t negate how much male privilege played in the conversation. On multiple occasions I was told that I had no sense of humor and that I was getting “my jimmies rustled”. Am I angry? No. Being a black female in America, you can snort and laugh at this conversation at the age of 15….this is nothing new to me. What WAS interesting to me though, was how much the men tried to use my own gender against me in the discussion, and how little respect they had for the views of the few females in the group.

Also, for the men in the group who claim to be feminists or for equal rights, not one of them stepped in to use their male privilege to combat the obvious misogyny that was being perpetrated against me. Am I saying I expected them to do it? No. I, myself, don’t need to be defended. I’m a pretty strong person. My feelings weren’t hurt. But it’s interesting, even if I was being a bitch about it (which I don’t think I was but someone else might say differently), once I was called a wench (didn’t call him or anyone in the actual conversation out of their name) and told to get raped, why wouldn’t someone step in and say “that’s not cool?”. The person who DID step in to say something about how the conversation was going was female. 

I don’t know if any of this is true or not. I don’t have any stats or anything to back this up. These are my limited observations. I’m just getting my thoughts out about this, but this to me was quite telling. This made it much clearer to me how The Onion could feel so comfortable in broadcasting that tweet. And who should speak out about this? The people in the room with little privilege? At what point do the people with institutional power and privilege step in and say “This isn’t cool”?


And as soon as I post this, I look at the Facebook thread and I see this written by the troll:
We were discussing how women take things altogether too seriously but how discussing part of their anatomy can resolve most issues fairly quickly.”