Tuesday, June 22, 2010

White Privilege/Hegemonic Masculinity in China

Anyone who thinks white male privilege does not exist in the global economy, read on.

All you need to be is a white male, presumably well groomed, and business-looking, and you can pose as a quality assurance figurehead in China. Seriously? Talk about symbols of white male privilege operating in real life! From NPR, "
Job Ad In China: White Man. No Experience Needed" (original story in The Atlantic):

There's opportunity in China even if you're a Westerner with no skills. If you're a white male and have a nice suit, you can get a job that pays well — and requires no work.


Mitch Moxley, a freelance writer who lives in Beijing, discovered that with just those assets, he could make a living as a fake American businessman.


Moxley says his guess is that companies hire white people in suits to gain "a bit of credibility." He says that connections in China are important, especially in business.

"It was pretty funny. The whole thing was a little bit surreal," he says. "We were down there and were being paraded around a half-built factory and we had to sit in temporary offices the rest of the day, not really doing anything. ... We were sleeping at our desks or reading magazines."

But Moxley says he and the fake businessmen got the "red-carpet treatment" at the opening ceremony for the factory.

Not good enough to be a woman, from any background, or a male of color. But if you're a western, white man, irrespective of your experience or skill set, you're good to go. People will just assume your authority and expertise, and you can literally get paid simply to parade your demographic around, cruizing back in a fake office in between "inspections."

This is a perfect example of hegemonic masculinity. No, there's no reference to physical strength, sexuality, or violence, but what we do see is the ongoing dominance of Caucasian males in the global economy. Perception outweighs merit, in this case perpetuating minorities' already degraded image in the business world. White males are good enough to evaluate Chinese factories, to oversee the lowly Asian workers and middle management; minorities supposedly don't have those evaluation skills. But even the white males who truly don't have those skills get the evaluator jobs, to do virtually nothing.

Sometimes I wonder how these types of stories make it on NPR without more critical analysis.

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  1. Yes! I have found my dream job! I am soooooo made!