On Saturday morning hundreds of old white men in Christmas sweaters and high-waisted trousers took to the streets of Sydney’s CBD to protest in the annual Old White Men Walk. The event, in its third year, was originally sparked by comments from a Vancouver police officer who suggested that old white men try to disguise themselves as younger, less white individuals in order to be taken more seriously in arguments.
“I’m tired of people summarily dismissing my opinions on social and political affairs because of my age, ethnicity and gender,” said protester Jeff Bridges, a seventy-one year old retiree from Vaucluse. “Whenever I make a claim in a debate, people just dismiss it as the ravings of an old white man. It’s time to reclaim the word! “
“Actually, I guess it’s more of a phrase really,” Bridges went on to say. “Reclaim the phrase!”
Some bystanders supported the protestors and their cause. “It’s really good to see them out and about,” said Sally Chen, a twenty-seven year old medical student from Campsie. “Personally I have lot of respect for the old white male community and I think they have a lot to offer the world, despite their weirdly dated appearance and tendency to forget their position of inherent, systematic privilege in society.”
Other onlookers were less sympathetic. “If these guys don’t want to be treated like old white men, then I’m sorry but they shouldn’t be dressing up like old white men,” said Christopher Hasluck, a thirty-three year old project manager from Epping. “I mean, look at that guy in the loafers, does he really think people will consider any comments he makes relevant to the issues facing our modern, multicultural society if he’s wearing those? Come on, it’s just basic common sense.”
“They could at least put on some fucking toupées, I’ve seen way too much bare skin today” he added.
In 2011 Vancouver Police Department constable Andrew Jenkins advised a community meeting that seeming old, white and male just wasn’t sensible when engaging in debate, prompting the rise of the now global Old White Men Walk movement. “Look, I really shouldn’t be saying this, but you probably won’t be victimised if you try to hide the fact that you’re an old white man,” he said at the meeting. “Just dye your hair or something, buy some anti-wrinkle cream, people will actually notice you making arguments again.”
“I mean, Johnny Depp is like fifty and white as, but he’s got that ‘ambiguously ethnic’ thing going for him, maybe try that out,” Jenkins continued.