If you’ve ever wondered if feminism is for you, ask yourself one simple question: Can a woman ever be sexist towards a man? If your answer is yes, then feminism is not for you.
The feminist definition of sexism is ‘discrimination based upon sex + power’. In other words, the more powerful of the sexes is the only one which can be ever be sexist. Just the same, this definition is appropriated for racism: a power asymmetry is key in determining what is and is not racist. This means that in looking at the US as a whole, only white people can be racist. But this opens up some questions about more specific interactions.
Let’s say we’re in the US southwest. Most of the residents are Hispanic. The city council is Hispanic. The mayor is Hispanic. Most businesses are Hispanic-owned. In this area, the local power is undeniably in favor of Hispanic people. Does that mean a white/black/Asian person cannot be racist here? If not, and if they can be racist a few miles away, what happens in the gray areas? That is, if they can’t be racist in neighborhood A because they aren’t part of the powerful group, but they can be racist in neighborhood C where they are part of the powerful group, what happens in the middle in neighborhood B? Do we defer to national socioeconomics?
And what of minority interactions? If, say, Asian people have greater power as a group than, say, black people, can black people not be racist towards Asian people?
This all seems like a major problem to me. An anonymous statement simply written on a piece of paper apparently may or may not be racist. We can’t know until we’ve found out the skin color and power dynamics of where we are. And then that same statement said by someone of a different skin color suddenly becomes non-racist. I guess I don’t entirely get it. There’s certainly context in statements, but saying “This racial group is less intelligent than that racial group” strikes me as racist no matter who says it.
It seems as though it would be easier to just say sexism is discrimination on the basis of sex, racism is discrimination on the basis of race, and mindsets which force us to view people not as people but as segregated groups defined by their outward characteristics are fundamentally toxic and simply a reverse of the problem, not a fix.
I have a number of issues with feminism. The biggest is that the movement is overwhelmingly pro-censorship, and that tells me there aren’t enough good arguments in its favor. However, I have another significant issue: It seeks to promote female equality when positive or beneficial things are involved with said equality, but it falls loudly silent when equality is not to the benefit of women. Specifically, I have in mind the military. After falling behind many nation’s that allowed women in combat roles, the U.S. recently caught up (or is at least in the processing of implementing its new policies on the matter). That’s fantastic and it’s how it should be. But this benefits women. Female soldiers who wish to have the opportunity to fight for their country and/or who wish to be considered for promotions where combat experience is needed now have that opportunity. Yes, this puts them in harm’s way and that is something to be admired on a certain level, but it’s a choice. More than that, it’s a desired choice. That’s why women fought for this sort of policy, and it’s why feminists are generally supportive of it. But I ask…what of the draft? Why don’t we have a movement, either spear-headed or at least supported by feminists, that would require women to sign up for the draft at 18? As I recall, I forfeited my alleged “right” to vote or some such nonsense if I didn’t fill out some card the military wanted. (I did fill it out.) Why shouldn’t women have the same requirement of them? I thought this was all about equality.
I don’t expect to hear much about this from feminists any time soon.
This cartoon comes from the hurter-of-women known as PZ Myers:
Quick back story: Someone emailed PZ and told him a big name in the atheist community sexually assaulted her. Without evidence, he named that guy. Then a bunch of other people named everyone under the Sun. Forget that these people either never went to the police or, for those that did, their reports were looked into and closed with no charges whatsoever. No, that isn’t important. What’s important is that someone has made a significant claim and that evidence is only important in philosophical and scientific claims. When it comes to Internet feminism, it’s irrelevant.
The reason the above cartoon is just so fucking stupid is that it ignores why people get these type of responses: Blogs are not the place to make criminal complaints. A person can’t expect to be taken seriously on sexual harassment when the claim is going through such a hugely wrong channel – a channel so huge that it is only reasonable to conclude that at least part of the goal is public shame of the accused, whether the claim is true or not.
I’m not particularly interested in the PZ Myers-style feminist attempt to destroy the fledgling atheist community we have, so I don’t think I’ll be addressing this issue again. I do, however, hope that the people who have made these accusations without first going through the proper channels are sued into oblivion for defamation.