Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Intersectionality and Juror B37
Much has been made of Juror B37's comments in race contexts, but her gender and indeed the involvement of gender in the general has been routinely ignored in some ways. The question of "Black Masculinity" and "white womanhood" is an inherently intersectional one.
White women and those presumed to be women are socialized to be the white man's helpmeet as it were. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that our place is behind white men, uplifting them, supporting them and yes forgiving them their trespasses. We're taught our place is to please them, to defend them, to basically near worship at the temple of white maleness. We aren't given the same instructions about men of color.
As for the notion of "white womanhood", let's make it clear, it's a patriarchal notion as well as a way to socialise white society towards racism. The notion of "white womanhood" contains a lot of bad, and it isn't just taught to white men and women, it is taught to everyone.
Firstly it frames white women's sexuality as child like, and therefore white women/those seen as women as children. Children who need constant protection, who cannot affirmatively consent to sex. White women and those seen as women have constantly been portrayed as infantile, and the notion of "white womanhood" is no different. People in general respond differently to a threat to a child, than to an adult, even if the "child" is in fact a fully grown woman. We worship the innocence of children and hold them as having higher value because of it, while at the same time holding them as lesser and requiring our guidance and control. So "White womanhood" inherently devalues us as people with our own minds at the same time as it is superficially elevating our perceived value.
Secondly it frames white women/those seen as women as inherently property of white men/those seen as men. Based on my experience I think there is a perception because of this, that white bodies which society designates as female are part of the system, not bodies belonging to people. So the white presumed female body for some MoC ends up representing the rights they are routinely denied, in short, What men of color experience sometimes results in them viewing people like me as a faceless weak point in the system they want to conquer and to conquer the "weak point", some men of color use the only weapon they know they have, their gender privilege. Given this, the question of if "Black Masculinity" is predatory and dangerous is quite complex.
Thirdly it isn't about us, it's about an idea, a veritable straight jacket we are forced to fit into for being white and having a Uterus. It's about the idea that a woman who has a relationship with a man of color is inherently soiled by it. It's about slut shaming at it's finest, where slut is the act of having anything to do with men of color. Women and those seen as women come under tremendous pressure to not be "sluts" due to the negative consequences. It's little wonder that "white womanhood" is excellent aversion therapy, it puts us neatly on a pedestal and hedges us with rules so tight that to twitch is to fall off and to fall off is to be in some serious trouble.