Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Race and sexism:

Disclaimer: Different does not mean better or worse, it simply means what it says on the tin. This post is about my experiences and what I have learned from them and what these men said, your experience may vary widely from this.

Basically in my experience? Racial stereotyping and tribalism has an impact on how men are sexist, not as much as racism but it's a definite difference, and sexism is perceived differently based on race.

Let me give an example of how tribalism can make sexism a different flavour, there's a local community here. The boys born inside the community are born into a tight knit community that largely keeps to themselves and keeps others at arms length, they largely go to community run mono-racial schools with boys of the same group. They have their own entire shopping center all run by people of the same background. In short, if you belong to that community, you can live there and go years without ever seeing a person who is an outsider outside of a TV.

Sadly some of these boys will be taught some pretty horrible sexist ideas about women of other races. In a culture bubble, they apparently never hear anyone disagree with those ideas. So they grow up, and if they don't stay in the bubble? They go out in the world and most likely sexually assault and harass women based on those beliefs. I have been attacked several times by men raised this way, the difference between them and others? Most me raised in white misogyny treat the entitlement to a woman's body as something implicit rather than explicit, other men get pissed at you for objecting to the boob grab or call you unreasonable. These guys however I have known to stare straight at you and state outright that you can't possibly have a problem with the fact that they just grabbed you because everyone knows women of "insert race here" are all whores, and that's one of the least offensive things said to me by such men.

This is not to say that their race makes them more misogynistic, it is to say that their justifications are more explicit than implicit in my experience. A white man might get angry with me for turning him down for a date because of the implicit assumption that I owe him my time because he see's me as female and therefore lesser, these guys will get angry because their world (I've had this outright said to me in as many words) explicitly promised them that my race identified me as an easy whore who would do anything they want willingly and eagerly.

What men are taught about women of other races flavours their misogyny. That's why racism and sexism are a doubly toxic mix, and racial prejudice/stereotypgin and sexism are just a remix of sexism. Same record, side b if you will.

Why I think white women often noticed misogyny by men of other races more:

In a white society, white led misogyny aimed at women is inbuilt and systemic from the day we're born. We're submerged in it. WoC often complain we don't talk about it, which we don't, because it's like privilege, so built into our lives, sometimes we don't even recognise it. So when a white woman encounters misogyny that isn't part of the white controlled narrative, it stands out in stark relief from all the white misogyny on a white background she's lived with.

It's easy to see that forcing women to wear certain garments under threat of serious social punishment in other cultures is misogynistic, harder to see that the fashion industry for western women crawls with misogyny, and that our clothing choices are made in the same toxic "dress how we demand or face social punishment or worse" environment.

Not that it excuses us from noticing and tackling it, it's just easier to see things you aren't swimming in is all. We do need to talk about how oppressive fashion is, and how women are set up to fail, one one hand society touts wearing very little as being "equal" and "freedom" on the other, it uses victim blaming and slut shaming to basically feed the idea that women who embrace the "freedom" deserve to be punished for it.

There are several things I think we need to address. I think white feminists need to do a better job of deconstructing white culture sexism instead of going for the easy target of criticizing MoC misogyny towards WoC. Us pointing out how badly MoC treat WoC is basically us batting at the thing we can see instead of addressing the harder to see issues that affect all women, WoC can address their own fight, we've got our own, what we need to do is to support them, not just go "Oh Men of color are so much more barbaric than white men are" because that claim is bullshit, slightly different misogyny is not worse misogyny.

Also included in this is white FAAB disclaimers about how much worse WoC have it. Yes, we know we have laptops and live in major world countries and we're not being forced to wear a burka in some other country. But put down the false flails and for fucks sake fellow white FAAB stop positioning women of color as the ultimate helpless victims who don't even have voices. WoC are stronger than that, when we position them as such, we are looking down on them instead of supporting them.

You do nobody any favours when you go for tiresome sack cloth and ashes bawl about how lucky you are. So your life sucks a bit less than someone elses? Doesn't mean your problems aren't real and doesn't mean you need to belittle her strength and erase her voice to support her.

So get down off the damn cross and pass the wood to those who actually need it.

The second thing is, I think we need to have the conversation about how racial prejudice interacts with sexism, instead of fucking shying away because zomg we don't want to be racist. How does that fucking help anyone? Because do you know why it happens? Because we other people, because we keep those we other locked out and locked down, and we help build that culture bubble by walling it in from the outside while others built it from the inside. So we need to have the conversation about making it possible for the society we all need to exist, we need to talk about integration, and yes, that includes minorities and minority voices because privileged people cannot do it without those who lack privilege.

In short, I think race does impact on sexism in more than one way, and it's not as simple as what white men believe.

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