Imagine you're telling a buddy about all the lousy drivers on the road during your usual crummy commute that day, and how some jerk busted your headlight in the parking lot and just drove off. Your buddy suddenly gets really upset and defensive and says that they're a driver too, you know, and they really didn't appreciate the way you were always saying bad things about drivers, and were you trying to tell them you had a problem with them or something, just because they drove a car?
What else should they think when you say your commute sucked, or that you're bummed your headlight is broken? Why do you keep talking about bad things drivers do? Don't you see that it could hurt their feelings that you complain about drivers to them, knowing they drive? Why are you so mean? Every time you talk about an accident you saw on the way home, it's really passive aggressive bullying - you're trying to make them feel bad about being a driver. Don't you realize how insensitive that is? Why can't you just get over it instead of talking about it? Why do you have to talk to them about it? Do you blame them for your broken headlight because they are a driver? Is the real problem that you just don't like drivers? If you dislike drivers so much, maybe you should just stay off the road! They're tired of hearing all this driver-bashing! Why, they can hardly turn on the news without finding a story about an accident! I mean, when did it become a crime to be a driver?
That is what it is often like trying to talk about sexism and/or racism.
You turn to someone you think of as a friend, looking for sympathy or comfort because something bad happened to you. Instead of getting angry at the person that hurt you, your "friend" gets angry at you for complaining about someone who happens to look a tiny bit like them.
White men do not have a monopoly on racism or sexism, that is for darn sure, but they are the ones who most frequently display this particular turn-off-the-brain-and-get-defensive-so-I-don't-have-to-face-reality-or-do-anything-about-it neurosis. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who do - just the most likely to.
Many emotional papercuts-to-the-heart are inflicted by people who would be sure they didn't need to read this, because they don't think of themselves as evil, so they assume they never do anything racially offensive or racist. In reality, the fact that you aren't evil or don't feel like a racist doesn't keep you from hurting people when you step on their emotions any more than it keeps you from hurting people when you step on their foot.
Then there are those who for some inexplicable (but not uncommon) reason think the fact that they are your "friend" makes it hurt *less* when they say something rude, insulting, nightmare-inducing, depressing and/or patronizing - and then laugh, because you ought to know they were just joking. Or because "you're not like those other <insert name of folk being insulted here>."
Oh, and one more thing - if you, as a white man, are tired of hearing complaints about whites and/or men, maybe the answer is for you to vent to other whites and/or men about how pissed off you are that white men keep hurting your friends, rather than adding insult to injury by dumping your frustration on the person who got hurt. I've lost count of the times I've seen and heard white men get angry because some poor schmuck made the mistake of looking for sympathy over the shitty thing that happened to them.
Q: "Why are you always talking about bad things white men do?"
A: "Because some white man always reminds me - it's not like I have the option of forgetting. And because I thought you cared about what happened to me."
Note: this rant was inspired by this article: