Regardless of which side of the ideological divide you fall on, this might be a good time to acquaint yourself with YouTuber Blaire White, who, in 2015, began her online career with a controversial vlog on antifeminism. If you’re an avid reader of Breitbart, you probably already know White because since then, she has made a name for herself as a transgender men’s rights activist who offers unapologetically bold yet paradoxically nuanced commentaries. On her channel, videos on topics such as social justice, free speech, gender and racism gain hundreds of thousands of views, underlining just how much weight these subjects have in our current cultural climate.
In February, Facebook banned White from its platform for 30 days. Because Facebook representatives couldn’t offer an explanation for her ban, however, they called it a mistake and reinstated her account soon after. “Facebook has repeatedly shown their dedication to censoring libertarian and conservative pages,“ White said at the time. "They’ve also shown…they have no problem booting minorities from their website if they have the wrong opinion.” White even has her own entry on UrbanDictionary.com, which reads, “Absolute motherfucking bad-ass anti-feminist who is willing to attack all movements that she feels is worthy of shit talking.”
In my Q&A with the 23-year-old Northern California native, White discusses feminism, countering intellectual dishonesty and where she sees herself in the future. In a time when gradations in character and background are becoming more commonplace among commentators on the right—if not more celebrated, from Megyn Kelly to Tomi Lahren to Milo Yiannopoulos—White is sure to become only more popular during Donald Trump’s presidency.
For my readers who have been asking what we can do to fight back against ideological warfare, what stood out to me most in this exchange is how White, a sort of anti-social justice warrior, emphasized the importance of being both fact-based and critical of your political allies—in addition to your opponents—in order to gain an informed opinion on an issue and to avoid existing in an echo chamber.
How would you describe your political affiliation?
I would describe it as center-right. Some people describe me as a classical liberal; others, as conservative. I don’t think I fit in any box. I try to look at each issue in a vacuum and remove any preconceived ideas I have about how certain political groups may perceive the issue. People get caught up in playing teams too often.
With more than half of millennials leaning left, what shaped you into going the other way?
Most people my age do have radically different worldviews than me and I think it’s in large part due to the education my generation has received. Moral authoritarianism and ideological suppression is rampant in academia. I never had a single right-leaning teacher throughout grade school or even a professor in college who hasn’t been a devoted liberal and who goes out of their way to constantly express their bias.
In my teenage years I was definitely more of what you would call an “SJW” [social justice warrior], but as I got older I began to question things more. Maybe being a feminist wasn’t a requirement for caring about women. Maybe I wasn’t a horrible oppressor simply because I was white. Once I became aware of how an entire side of the political spectrum was virtually censored from me in school, I began to open myself up to new ideas.
It takes courage for a person to put their face and real name on contrarian opinions. What has driven you to do so, despite the pushback?
I’ve never been one to hide. I am unapologetically myself, whether it’s being open about being transgender or expressing my political views. I also find that your words hold more weight if you’re able to show your face and name beside them. Anyone can hop on an anonymous Twitter account and scream at people online. The backlash from showing my face can be intense though; certain political groups have targeted [me] and my family in distasteful ways. I can take the heat, but I do worry about my family facing repercussions due to my work.
Why do you think mainstream feminism has become as popular as it has?
I think it’s more popular to say you’re a feminist than to actually be a feminist. The movement has latched itself onto popular culture and become something on people’s moral checklist of what they want to consider themselves. That’s why the most work feminists tend to do is wear a pink hat, write some snarky message about their genitals on a sign and walk around pretending they’re changing the world. When it comes to real activism, which involves assisting women facing subjugation in true patriarchal and oppressive societies, you’ll hear crickets.
Do you think we’ll eventually return to some political middle ground or are safe spaces, trigger warnings, fake news and censorship here to stay?
It’s possible that we could reach that point. I think Trump, regardless of his policies or success as a President, represents a cultural turning point. The country took such a sharp and, in many ways, unexpected turn to the Right, which I feel presents how fed up people are with the blatant stranglehold the Left has on academia, media and popular culture. I personally hope that pendulum swings back to the middle ground, because that’s the only place where a free marketplace of ideas can thrive.
What can people do to fight back against intellectual dishonesty?
The absolute best thing a person can do to combat intellectual dishonesty is to remain strongly principled and stick to fact-based argumentation. Call out falsities where you see them from both your ideological opponents and like-minded people. I strongly oppose the political tribalism that has taken over this country and caused people to behave like they’re on a team rather than than truth-seeking individualists.
Men are at a disadvantage when it comes to a variety of issues, including education, the criminal system and suicide rates. What can we do to fix this?
The first step toward solving those issues is acknowledging they exist. When is the last time you heard the fact that men, on average, are given twice as long a prison sentence than their female counterparts for the same exact crime? When has the mainstream media ever made a point to talk about the male suicide rate, which is four times higher than the female suicide rate?
These things are easily learned through research, but are still never prioritized as a discussion. I do my part as a YouTuber to highlight these things, but my voice can only go so far. They need to become a part of our collective [consciousness] in the same way that women’s issues are.
Where do you see yourself and your channel, five and 10 years down the road?
I hope to still be working online, which is funny because I would have never thought that this was the path I’d take a year and a half ago. It all kind of fell into my lap, and I want to take it as far as I can.
On a more personal level, I would love to be married with children in 10 years. A lot of aspects of who I am may be unconventional, but the idea of a traditional nuclear family is really attractive to me.
Debra W. Soh is a sex writer and sexual neuroscientist at York University in Toronto. She has written for Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail and many others. Follow her on Twitter: @debra_soh.