The Dangerous Dance Around the White Male Ego

As you all know by now, I am originally from Jamaica. I have only been in America for four years. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, there are many White men living in my country. Some of them are Jamaican and others are expatriates on years-long work assignments. Naturally, we also have plenty of tourists.

While living in Jamaica, if you asked me who had a bigger ego, I would have told you Jamaican men. My White male friends — and boyfriends — were primarily European. While I’m sure egos run wild in Europe in any country, I never felt it firsthand from any of them. I also felt no desire or need to tap dance around their egos.

They were the most feminist men I had ever met. One ex from Spain told me, “You’re a power woman. Don’t ever take sh!t from anyone. Not even me.” English was not his first language, but you get the point. This was my typical experience, whether they came from Hungary, the UK, Spain, Italy, or even Jamaica.

Landing on U.S. Shores

While living in Jamaica, I did frequent the United States, and in so doing, found myself in a long-distance relationship more than once. I never dated Americans in Jamaica, so the long-distance runs were my first introduction to dating White American men. I stumbled across the same problem every time.

At some point, I would excel too greatly at one thing, and he would become upset. Sly remarks would follow about my college degree, followed by remarks about my travelling, housing choices, and overall lifestyle. Other times, we would disagree on a specific thing and the underhanded remarks would follow.

This has been my experience with almost every White American male I have ever dated or befriended. Even in my marriage, experience has taught me that there are some topics best avoided if you don’t want to somehow bruise an ego.

Whenever I travel, I can also count on losing at least one White American male friend per trip, either right before, during or right after the trip. I kid you not. Meanwhile, my European White male friends want to know how the trip went, how much did it cost, what did I do, and whether or not I think it’s worth a visit for them.

An Honest Tantrum

One American was actually honest enough to tell the truth, or rather, yell it at me angrily. “Yes, I’m jealous!” he practically screamed at me. “I’m jealous that you get to travel and see sh!t. You think I don’t want to travel too? But I can’t afford it! Lucky you for being able to do it!” He also brought up:

  • That I owned my home rather than rented
  • That I only had to work 3 days per week
  • That I owned my own business

How did this conversation start? I don’t blame you for wondering. There was a group of about six of us who were supposed to hang out that Saint Patty’s night in 2018. It was shortly before my trip to Utah and Colorado with Tristan, which I had actually invited this idiot to. All along, he had pretended he would come, only to tell me at the last minute that he couldn’t afford it.

I get this a lot, so it didn’t even faze me. I told him we could all go camping when I got back in prep for a few music festivals we had planned to attend. He then began to complain that what was a camping trip compared to some fancy trek into the desert? I saw where it was going, hugged the rest of the group goodbye and took my leave. While I waited for my Uber to come get me, he had his little toddler tantrum on the porch.

Always, after these episodes, I ask myself. What are they really mad about? Is it because I’m a woman, an immigrant who just got here, or because I’m Black?

The Halfhearted Compliments

Not all White American males I know are this vocal about their feelings. The others may choose more passive aggressive ways of showing it. I first began to notice it when I made my initial big leaps forward in my writing career on U.S. soil.

I specifically remember the day I was published on a major lifestyle blog. I was super excited. I crafted my text message and copy and pasted it to all my friends. Some I changed a little per the person, but overall the message was the same.

Shortly afterwards, tonnes of responses poured in. My Jamaican and European friends shared my excitement, as did one White American male friend. Those who did not know the website, looked it up. In contrast, my White American male friends responded with “OK” or “Cool” or something else monosyllabic. I believe one may have said, “Congrats!”

The Backhanded Compliments

When I was working on my novel, the problem was the same. I enlisted the help of a young history professor to help me fact-check the historical points as a beta reader. Within three days of trying to hammer out the details, he said to me, “People like you strive for the superlative; I am perfectly content with my mediocrity.”

He was upset because he had pointed out an error that was not history-related, which turned out to be wrong. Rather than blatantly tell him he was wrong, I had forwarded an article from Britannica covering the topic. Well, how dare I!

After I published, I still received some backhanded compliments. Women of all colours, ethnic backgrounds and nationalities were excited about the novel. My male friends from Jamaica bought it and congratulated me even when they did not make it past the first chapter, because they weren’t big on reading fiction, least of all something written in 1800’s English.

But, the response that sticks out most among my friends — who had their own thoughts on the matter — came from a White American male. His praised included telling me that it was wonderful novel for a first try and that his four-star rating was meant to “encourage” me as a writer to do better next time.

In the words of one of my friends, which I later reiterated in my chats with others who asked about it:

Isn’t it ironic that you write an independently published book as a Black, female Jamaican immigrant about feminism, slavery and racial struggles, and a White American man comes along to give you four stars as a favour so you can grow? Or even better, so you can improve the way you tell our own ancestors’ stories for him?

Shortly afterwards, I wrote a blog post about my trips in the Caribbean last year. He commented to say my blog was well-written and if I had ever considered professional travel writing. He did not for a second stop to think that I already do this as — cue: dramatic gasp — a professional writer.

My friends read the comment and shot me emoji eye rolls. “What is wrong with this guy?” they asked me.

I laughed. “Welcome to ‘Murica! Most of them aren’t even aware they do it.”

I then wrote a post alluding to it, entitled:

THIS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:
MEN, PLEASE STOP EMPOWERING WOMEN!

If you already read that post and remember what it was about, I’m sure it makes a hell of a lot more sense to you now.

The Unexpected Perpetrators

When it comes to the dangerous tap dance around White men’s egos, the ethnicity of the woman has little to do with it. While I am sure, it is much worse for women of colour, I hear the same complaints from White women.

In fact, it was speaking to White women that helped me formulate my list of things not to discuss with most White American men. Many shared that they also had similar issues with their boyfriends or husbands, and that they had learned over the years to avoid certain topics to keep the peace. I have also heard similar complaints from African-American men who work in “White spaces”.

Here’s what’s funny. When Liberal America hops on the topic of White male ego and how toxic it becomes in an already patriarchal society, the focus is often on old White men, usually of the Republican variety.

Well, I’m here to disabuse you of this notion. Those men are in the spotlight, because they have the power to act on their biases and their desire to keep women in line. But, in my experience, White millennial men of the Liberal variety are just as guilty — even the self-proclaimed feminists.

The Real MVPs

My European and Jamaican male friends will always be the real MVPs. I can tell them anything — from my greatness to my smallness — and rely on their support. Any disagreement is on the merit of the argument, not my alleged privilege because I “strive for the superlative”. I have rarely, if ever, faced any hostility regarding my accomplishments, even when it surpassed their own. Nor, have they given me any backhanded compliments to help me grow.

The same is true for some of my White American friends and family members. One said to me the other day, “You’re so consistent and determined with your goals”.

“It’s the Third World fever,” I joked. “We start way behind when we get here, so we really are determined to catch up.”

He promptly requested that I infect him with this fever of mine as he had been struggling with one particular goal of his, even though he has come a long way. The following day, he joined us on a family outing, and I had a grand time sharing the desert house design plans with him. He shared his feedback and amusement with how thought out I had it already: no backhanded or halfhearted compliments included.

After these experiences in America, here’s what I do know. The next time a White American tells me I am “lucky” that I “get” to do anything or tries to make me feel bad for holding myself to “superlative standards” I’m going to share some words that might be difficult to swallow.

But, who knows? Perhaps my words will only be passable for a first-time novelist somehow writing her 40th novel or maybe I should consider becoming a professional wordsmith first…

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61 thoughts on “The Dangerous Dance Around the White Male Ego

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with “striving for the superlative”; far better than aiming low! Stick to your guns, girl, you’re doing great! 👍❤

  2. Damn I’m not sure why some males feel the need to dish out back-handed compliments to people, and yes it is often women who are the target. I’m guessing they see giving out compliments as a sign of weakness, which is a little ironic as they come across as insecure and jealous when they do that.

    1. Maybe they do see it as a sign of weakness. He did mention that he’s “picky” about what he gives five stars, which is fine by me.

      He left a lengthy review and I was with him even for the four stars. He said he didn’t like one of the main characters, which was understandable. I was all for it until he added that he had also given it 4 stars to encourage me to do better on my “second novel”. That was my 39th. I just hadn’t published the others yet. They’ve gone through beta reviews and all that, so that was insulting. But, I suppose rather than be insulted, I should shut up and grow. 😂

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I had the pleasure of working with many white male artists. Because they were a generation older than I was in many cases they had to overcome the stereotype that they weren’t “real” men. I never encountered anything other than kindness and support. Guess it helps to be in the backwater of American life sometimes.

    1. Older men tend to think of us women fondly when they can mentor us, because they do so from a place of established superiority, I think. Tables turn when you “compete” on the same grounds, at least in my experience. Then they become a bit more feisty. I certainly have to deal with it, even worse when I’m their supervisor.

      You are right though. Men who have to feel superior to feel like a man are not “real men”. Strength is internal, not based on external factors.

      1. I escaped that sense of superiority from them, or else I was clueless since it never occurred to me that they were superior!

      2. They don’t make me forget. Unfortunately, I disagree, which tends to lead to a tug of war. 😂

  4. wow! i guess since i worked mostly with women i never really interacted with men except when i was in the navy (combat). when reading this, all i could think was who the hell do all these people you meet come from??? maybe im just too naive???? and i know you know im an old white guy land owner american (lol) and it just blows me away to read of your experiences with people. me, jealous of your accomplishments just because im a white male american??? am i threatened by you and all you have done just because i am a white male american? pish!!! i am impressed with what you have done but not because you are a jamaican female living in america, but because you have done things that i feel are impressive. you are an interesting woman and have interesting adventures and write about them in an enjoyable way to be read. i guess im glad to NOT have met the white american males you and some of your readers have met for im sure i would walk away shaking my head. lol

    thanks for an interesting read

    1. You’re not a millennial and you’ve been influenced by Cali’s inclusiveness, so I think you’ve escaped the entitlement more common among White American millennial males. 😂 I guess it’s also worth considering that most of my European friends were older millennials and some were Gen X-ers (the under 50s). I do believe that group suffers less from feelings of entitlement worldwide.

      These guys I meet come from all across the United States, but maybe Atlanta attracts a certain type of U.S. migrant. I’m hoping when I move out west, I’ll have less of it to deal with. I’m 90% sure that will be the case. I wish me luck!!

      And thank you! I don’t understand why we can’t all just be proud of each other and help each other along. It blows my mind this feeling a lot of guys my age have that they need to “be better” to feel like a man. Talk about fragile egos…

      1. LOL!! Maybe I’ll have a more accurate picture when I become a Cali girl! 💃

    1. That’s interesting! While writing a post for a client in Cali, one study I found said that Asian women at work tend to feel more pressured to act meek and feminine than “sassy African-Americans” and “crazy Latinas”. I suppose it’s less negative of a sort of pressure, but I always thought that might feel very limiting! Glad you’ve never experienced it! I think the percentage was around 60+.

      And thank you. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading my novel! I’m glad you enjoyed it. That makes my day 🤗 if you haven’t already left a review, I’d really appreciate one on Amazon or Goodreads.

      I do believe it is a virtue and it is one we have to learn. I’m not going to say I’ve never heard of someone else achieving something else and going “Damn….I wish that was me”. But I always congratulate them and ask questions. It should be a learning experience. We owe them our genuine happiness. Won’t we want the same when it’s out turn?

      1. Haha, thank you! But there’s actually been a Kindle version since Halloween 2018 😅.

        You can purchase it via this website in the Store > Novels section. Or, you can get it off Amazon. The link at the bottom of this article goes straight to the paperback and ebook on Amazon. 🙃

      2. For your information, it’s not. 😅 I’ve had several people buy it recently with no issues. I also just checked and have the option to purchase another copy myself for $3.03 That said, I’m looking at US Amazon. I don’t know if you’re looking at another country’s Amazon, but I had the book enabled in all countries. Even my friends in the UK and Japan have bought it. Please check your settings or email me a screenshot and I will ask Amazon about it. Otherwise, I see no issues.

        I also did provide you with 2 options, not 1. You can purchase it via my website, which is what most people do, because it’s cheaper. Here is the link: https://alexischateau.com/product/the-moreau-witches-ebook/

        It’s also available at Barnes and Noble, Google Books and the iStore. 🙂

        Thanks!

      3. I see a few potential problems here:
        (1) I think you may need to visit Canadian Amazon if that’s where you are. .com is usually US and it’s talking about shipping to Canada. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the difficulties of using the wrong site in the wrong country, and Canada was actually the big complaint.
        (2) You could try clicking on the author and seeing what books come up under my name.
        (3) As mentioned before, you can still get the Kindle version via my website. If Amazon isn’t cooperating with you, that’s the only foolproof solution I can offer. I can’t control Amazon, but I do control my website.

        Thanks again!

      4. Other readers don’t have such a problem either. Someone else just bought the book this morning and half a dozen bought it the day before. So, I’m not sure what the issue is with your Amazon as no one else has reported that problem so far. All but one bought the Kindle version.

        I understand your frustration, but “the other authors don’t have such a problem” remark comes off as unnecessarily hostile to me, as does your initial comments.

        I have already provided what solutions I can in the interim, while Amazon handles it, all of which you have ignored to keep coming at me over a website I don’t have control over.

        If they are not agreeable to you and this is going to lead to more confrontational comments, don’t buy the book. That will preserve both our peace of minds.

      5. For your information, I’m not frustrated. There is a difference between being frustrated and highlighting the truth. There is nothing wrong with my Amazon account as I already told you the comparison was done after logging out of the account. Thank you for letting me know that you’ll have many more future reviews even without my support. I’m very happy for you 🙂

  5. As a White American Male, I need to say, uhm, well, yeah, I see it far too often. When we bought our vacation house on Cape Cod, we didn’t tell any of my wife’s friends or family for a while because when we did they were all jealous. I don’t understand. Shouldn’t we be happy for a friend or family member’s success? It drives me crazy. I think it is this thing that we are told from age zero that we have to compete with everyone, but there is a different league for “girls”. This ultra-machismo is driven into us from birth.

    On the other hand, if you told me the greatest news in the world, don’t be surprised if all I say is “Cool!” or “Congrats!”. I am not trying to kill you with faint praise! A nephew of mine recently got a new job driving spaceships. Yes, you read that right, spaceships (satellites). I said, “Cool!” Yes, I was super happy and excited for him, but what more is there to say? Maybe that is another fault of American males – we do not know how to express strong positive emotions. It is part of that built in machismo, i guess. Don’t know.

    Part of that is that a lot of us are very self-focused, occasionally to the point of being selfish. “Cool what Alexis just did. OK, where was I?” We are so wrapped up in our lives that we forget to celebrate the lives of those around us. I know I am 100% guilty of this all of the time.

    Anyway, i wish you continuing success, and keep those travel photos coming! 🙂

    1. Trent, you’re one of the exceptions. Please stay that way! You’re also not a millennial. Entitlement is a serious problem among this generation here, particularly the males, and of all colours on that account.

      I’ve heard similar stories to your own. A guy I work with actually shared the same with me. Like you, he felt uncomfortable sharing his achievements with his fellow White male friends because it always generated so much hate.

      As for the “Cool” responses, I will say this much about the persons who sent these. When they had something to report about themselves, I can expect essays. They would want you to ask questions and delve into what they did to make it happen and would become upset if you didn’t, but they wouldn’t offer the same to other people. To me, that’s not a communication problem. That’s downright selfishness. They can communicate when it suits their ego, but not when it doesn’t. I’m not saying that’s the case for all the “Cool”s, but that was the case with the ones I received.

      And, thank you! I wish us both continued success. Travelling has been on the back burner because of saving for my house! But I’ll be going to the Maldives in September and Cali in October so stay tuned. 🤗

      1. I’m glad you explained about the “Cool!” response. I’ve met people like that, so I understand.

        The Maldives – cool! Oh, I mean, I’m excited for you 😉 Not at the top of my bucket list, but still a place I wouldn’t mind seeing. Sounds like a tropical paradise… Yeah, I just bought a house so have 3 that I can’t afford (one is on the market, so hopefully it will soon be two that I can almost afford ;)), so no travel for me for a year or two. Maybe three.

      2. THREE HOUSES?? 😱 How did that happen? I guess I’ll be at 2 when I get the other one, but mom and I own this one together, so it doesn’t really count. I won’t be paying the mortgage anymore after I leave. That will be up to her and dad. I think they’re selling it for 2021. 🤔

        Maldives wasn’t really on the top of my list either to be honest. I could have just as easily gone to Hawaii. However, someone offered me free rooms at a hotel there and I decided to take them up on it. Of course, as soon as I booked my trip, they stopped responding to my messages, but I’m still going. They had offered me 3 nights and I was already planning on 10 to 14, so they were never going to be the main stay anyway. 😂

      3. I have my main house up in New Hampshire that I’ve had forever. About 6 or 7 years ago we bought a 4 season cottage on Cape Cod as a get away. I have always said that I want to retire on Cape Cod, but the 4 season cottage would be too small. So, out of the blue we bought the retirement home, even though retirement is still years away. It’s a great place, if a bit of a fixer-upper. Now we just have to sell the cottage before going completely broke!

        Yeah, flying half way across the world for 3 nights wouldn’t make sense! If you were going to stay someplace else for most of the time anyway, I guess not a huge loss. And it does look like a great place.

      4. Oh wow! I want to be like you when I grow up!

        I’m doing my downsizing early by starting small 😅 The house I’m building out west will be about 500 SF with a 2 car garage and sitting on (if it’s still there when I go to look in October) 3/4ths acre of land. I figured the smaller house would be better for my budget and saving for the long-term and such.

        I hope you get the extra house sold soon! I can just imagine how stressful that can be. Fingers crossed for you!

        Yes, just to get there is 2 to 3 days!! I leave on the 3rd and arrive on the 5th! I’ve never been to Asia before, so I’m looking forward to it.

      5. Oh yes, that is always the secret sauce. I have no intentions of having any either. All the happiest people I know are childless, women especially.

  6. I love the way you weave your stories and put things in perspective which are so identifiable for most of us who are of independent thought and action. Your writing is very engaging and insightful. I particularly say this is because I am seeing what I think through a persons lens who did not grown up in the American culture which now has become even more difficult to traverse than ever. ; > }

    1. We share a similar experience in that light then: this being a culture we didn’t grow up in but have to navigate. I wish us both look and endurance.

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I think the typical white American man has been brought up to believe that he deserves success because he simply exists, and he doesn’t much like it when he looks around and sees women and minorities achieving success. He doesn’t care if they worked hard for what they have. It bugs him.

    1. if feel if they have been brought up this way, it has been the wrong way. and it makes me sad and angry people are this way and there are people who think this. it should not matter who the person is achieving the success as long as they are successful and maybe it is time to stop singling them out???? and just celebrate the success.

      1. Agree with you 100% buddy. I don’t think they all care WHO the person is. Most seem to be mad it’s just not them. However, I have noticed that the ones who come from redneck backgrounds and Trump families, even when they are liberal, they tend to have more of that undercurrent bias that it’s a person of colour or a woman or an immigrant.

        You know that saying about how you can take the man out of Texas but not the Texas out of the man? Replace the word “Texas” with “conservative” and adjust for grammar. 😂

    2. I agree with you, Paula. While writing an article for a Cali client on women’s rights recently, research showed me that American women only held about 6.25% of managerial positions. That number really stuck with me because Jamaican women hold almost 60%.

      Imagine my culture shock here and the culture shock I often deliver to these poor White men who aren’t used to being around a woman who ALSO believes she deserves greatness because she exists, as does anyone else who exists if they’re willing to work for it.

      Then comes the glass ceilings of womanhood, immigration and colour to knock some “sense” into me. It’s a big change for me, but let them be mad. Jamaicans like to throw stones at glass objects. That’s how we got to 60% as women. 😂

  8. I’m in awe of anyone who goes after what they want. I really admire you for everything you’ve achieved, and everything you’re trying to achieve. I think anyone with that much determination to live life should be emulated, not derided.

    For a country that claims to cherish personal responsibility, Americans are often far too quick to blame others for personal failings. Yes, there are systemic failings, and some people are born with the odds stacked against them. Some people will find certain things very hard due to personal circumstances. However, if that person is not even going to try, and just sit around on their backside blaming others, then nobody else is to blame but themselves.

    That guy who got angry at your for travelling is a case in point. Was anything stopping him? There is much that needs to change about their culture and many of their problems are related to the general love of money and social status.

    1. Thank you Mason! You’re European though and therefore prove my point. 😂 I don’t run into these issues with you guys. I never have. One American told me (and I think it’s the same complainer) that European men are more secure because they’re wealthier. I just looked at him. I don’t think it even warranted a response.

      America cherishes personal responsibility for women, POC and immigrants, then personal achievement for men, Whites and “non-immigrants”. That’s what I’ve seen and that’s the general feedback I’ve received even from some White males themselves who are more self-aware.

      The ironic thing is that these men that came at me were not hampered. The PhD guy was, after all, a PhD holder and a professor in his 20s. Another was the son of 2 doctors who turned down a full scholarship to college. Screamer was 31, lived in the city and had a nice car. He spent $200 per month on drugs, plus more on a 6-pack of beer every day. I told him if he had just been sober for 2 months, he would have been able to come. The entire trip cost me $500 and some change for flight and accomodations. All we did was hike. We didn’t do any big attractions that were expensive. In short, nothing was stopping him but his own idiocy.

      To his credit (if we can call it that), he also made snide remarks about anyone else who travelled or had money. I told him once before that that he was a bitter person when it came to other people’s achievements. He even called soccer moms “dumb bitches” when they weren’t money savvy. I really tried to be that bit of positivity and he did try to absorb it, but some people just hit a stopping point here and stop growing. I’ve never seen that prior to moving.

      I view my victories as an achievement and other people’s victories as a lesson. What can they teach me so I can do better when it’s my turn? That’s helped me A LOT over the years.

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