A lot is written about the male gaze. Dubois wrote about a double consciousness. These writers write about the day to day experience of oppression. No one writes about the struggle of living day to day as a white male. White men live with the constant stares. Living every day knowing, no matter where you are no matter what you wear someone is looking at you and thinking: “what a douchebag!”
That is the great struggle of being a white man. It doesn’t matter what you do, even if you do nothing douchey you still look like a total douchebag. White, male and want to wear sunglasses, guaranteed you are going to look a total douchebag. White, male and out of your house chances are you look like a douchebag.
To illustrate just how inescapable this predicament is you just need to go through a whole number of possible looks and examine how inescapable this predicament is for the white male.
The traditional three piece suit doesn’t work. Cheap suits make you look like the scheming douchebag who spun a 200,000km off the odometer of the car you just bought. Moderately priced suits make you look like the local bank manager that got a healthy bonus for his aggressive foreclosure policy. A fancy suit is the worst you look like a so many different types of douchebags. You could look like a banker who got an undeserved bonus or a car manufacturing CEO who got an undeserved bailout purse. You could look like oil company executive profiting off of land you stole in Canada or a mining company executive profiting off of land you stole in Canada. Or you could even look like a combination mining and oil executive profiting off of a civil war in Africa. Doesn’t matter what, if you are white and male you can’t really pull of a suit without looking a total douchebag.
Uniforms are a definite no for the white man trying to escape the douche aura that follows us around. The police uniform makes you look like racial profiler. Military uniforms make you look like a mass-murderer or if you’re lucky just a rapist/hazing enthusiast. Even the religious cloth has lost its zeal of late (not that it ever really deserved it) making you look like a homophobic paedophile, the worst kind of paedophile.
Want to pretend you don’t care and go for a hipster look. Too bad you just look like a very particular type of douchebag. The I-am-pretending-not-to-care look never flatters the white male. The look always ends up just saying: hey look how much my privilege lets me get away with, I look like crap but don’t need to worry because the family’s money will carry me at the end of the day. In other words like a total douche.
Augmenting one’s hair doesn’t help the white man out. Most trim cuts make you look like a normal every day white flight, commuting-polluting, raise-your-kids-in-the-suburbs, don’t like too much ‘diversity’ republican/conservative/proto-fascist father. Grow it out and you look like a hundred thousand dollar a year professor chastising youth activists, whilst taking about your imaginary working-class roots and denigrating feminism and anti-racism as identity politics. Try growing a beard and you just end up looking like that douche interrupting every discussion of equity and fairness with: “we just want to treat everyone the same” and “this effects everyone” and “my children” like the deck wasn’t stacked in his favour by the generations of douchebaggery from which you descend.
Some white men think they can escape the douche stink by taking up non-white styles. Culturally appropriating douches are a unique type of douche perhaps the most defensive. Often due to a lack of understanding how to take care of the garb they’ve commandeered they can be smelled from a distance.
The sad part is at the end of the day unlike other prejudices which white men made up ourselves we have little to no control over our perceived and real douchiness. I mean besides the fact that almost all the douchebag things we do result from our privilege, our belief we can get away with things, a whole crapload of entitlement, and a culture that covers up and downplays it. Besides the fact that would most of us just stop being such douchebags this could pretty much all go away. Besides that it is a very heavy burden we must carry. One might call it the white man’s burden of the Twenty-First Century.
To those offended by the gendered nature of the term douchebag: Research indicates that a douchebag is medically a bad idea and should be kept away from female genitals. For this reason it is actually quite applicable to the phenomenon described above.