Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Default Man and Me

In which I analyse my own behaviour in light of all that I have read, watched and learned since making my last post on Grayson Perry. Not least the fact that there is so much more to the man than his transvestism and the fact that I am now teaching Sociology properly. It behooves me to do some sociology. After all, I teach History by dint of doing some actual historian things now and again.

So, would you like to know more?

When I read the essay by Grayson Perry, having watched his documentaries on taste in the UK covering the middle and working classes, I was impressed and thought he had some good ideas about what the Great White Male - Default Man - was and how he had captured the keys to the kingdom. As I read further through the articles that he had gathered under his banner, Perry, not Default Man, I realised that I was barely scratching the surface of what had been brought up and it, in turn, was a mere microcosm of all that I have discovered myself regarding Feminism, the role of women online and my own journey without a definitive box for myself - something I find hard as someone who rather likes to use labels.

And speaking of labels I realised something. I am a Default Male sympathiser. That is, the desire has been very much planted in me to be like Default Man. Statistically I am white, heterosexual, middle aged, middle class, educated and male. I serve in a professional that is as close as one can get to the establishment without necessarily being an active part of it (as close to the beast as to feel the breathing as my own) and uphold a series of societal rules that have little or no relevance beyond enforcing certain cliches and preventing social mobility. Ken Robinson has my profession pegged as one that seeks to perpetuate society, to tamp down the need for change and create an anaesthetised youth. Someone that seeks to send young people to sleep, concentrated and serious sleep in a suit, rather than wake them up. And I wear a suit quite proudly, even if I pretend to subvert it with my cheap jackets, cheaper trousers and old shirts. I uphold the use of a tie to express limited personality, tell students not to give in to emotion and remain entirely rational.

My objectivity is male subjectivity, my normative behaviour shaped by the Default Man. I am the Default Man, anxious to camouflage myself and live in the background, to be ignored by the mass and left to my own devices. I lack the courage of my convictions and I lack the courage to be myself. Yesterday and today I asserted a little of the one thing I do that distances me from the norm - the sort of thing that no one would see or be able to tell. The small things, you know? The kind of rebellion I am happy to encourage in students - little acts that can't be traced and don't rock the boat or offend the sensibilities of... uh... something. Because God forbid girls have more piercings or wear particular make up or anyone dyes their hair or... uniform things.

But even by doing that small act of apparent rebellion I am very much Default Man - I have successfully placed all that is me being me into a box so small and compressed that no one can tell. Then I wear black and grey socks, ties that barely stand out from my shirts (mainly blue shirts, mainly reddish plain ties) and my suit. I speak of grand things but do nothing. I drive a car that is not electric, I vote at election time, I read the social media blogs, I inwardly support groups without ever actually taking a risk. Exam results drive my behaviour at work, although I don't believe that examinations actually serve any purpose I will drive students through a mixture of blackmail and social manipulation and emotional manipulation toward a goal that I know is useless beyond telling them that they are always one step from failure and only worth what other people tell them that they are worth. And I do that because, deep down, I believe that of myself.

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