Monday, April 26, 2010

Excuses, excuses

Every one of these common excuses for racism from the Double Standard applies to sexism as well. Some choice quotes:
6. Who cares? I don’t care if they’re purple, orange or blue. All I care about is whether they meet the criteria, are qualified and/or can do the job.

Artist-activist Damali Ayo calls this a “three year old’s understanding of race.” Yet another variation of the anti-Affirmative Action argument. People who make this argument obscure social construct with lived reality. They forget that much of our reality is constructed, particularly by a dominant culture paradigm that puts people of color at the bottom of the social ladder. ...

7. Well, probably there weren’t any qualified/talented/pretty/smart/up-and-coming people of color who they could have included. Should they not have featured/hired the qualified white people? I mean, I can’t think of any black/Hispanic/Asian people who fit the bill.

Two quick points. One: Most white people admit to having no or few friends of color, yet some are comfortable asserting that there are none qualified for various positions/awards/etc. This begs the question: How would they know? Two: This point is false. There are many qualified, talented, intelligent, and/or beautiful people of color. ...

2. It’s racist to point out it’s racist.

Even when it is the elephant in the room—anyone with eyes, except perhaps the “colorblind” (and I don’t mean that in the medical sense) can see what’s missing or happening—if you are a person of color and you point “it” out, expect to have the tables turned on you. You will inevitably be accused of trying to stir up controversy, playing the victim, dividing people, etc. You will then be called a reverse racist for even bringing the subject up.
I'd add an eleventh excuse to the list: "If we're going to worry about sexism then we have to worry about racism, ageism, gay rights, etc., too." I think they also left off blaming the oppressed for allowing themselves to be oppressed.

Thanks to Barrelhouse for the pointer to this piece.


  1. "10. It's not racism, just good marketing. Their target audience is white, so what do you expect?"

    Don't see how this one applies to sexism as well. Men and women need/want different products. What would you like to see? More tampon ads targeted towards men?

  2. The point is that this excuse is used when the product in question (movies? books? magazines? food? cleaning products?) could easily apply to both men and women, or people of all races.

    Tampons? Really?

  3. Who is "antinym" and why do they evince such a commitment to denying that sexism and racism should be discussed with an eye toward eliminating them?

  4. "Most white people admit to having no or few friends of color, yet some are comfortable asserting that there are none qualified for various positions/awards/etc."

    This is what gets to the all-male publishing issue. Not that guys are only friends with other guys, but that like often associates with like, and if you don't *make an effort* to be more inclusionary, whether it's race or gender or age or whatever, you're going to wind up with monotony. Often, though, the privilaged group doesn't see/realize the need to make that effort (whereas the non-privilaged group is used to the effort after a lifetimeof needing to make it), and can resent the implication that they should make that effort. "It all looks good from up here; what's your problem?"

    Oh, and Kathy and Elisa, I really wish you guys would stop writing so many poems about tampons. I mean, really, I know you're females and all, but just try.

  5. i agree with the point about it's not racist to point out it's racist. more generally, a lot of (white) people don't seem to want to discuss race at all and that has always struck me as pretty odd. there was some article recently talking about the best way to talk about race while raising kids which argued against the view that if you never bring race up with your kids, then they will think "colorblind", the article making the point that any idiot kid can see the difference between the races and if you don't talk about it they just draw the "obvious" conclusion (minorities are inferior cause they're not on tv, "our kind" doesn't associate with black people, whatever). so not bringing up race is just silly since race is obviously in your face and there's no avoiding it.

    kinda like germans and parades or marches. oh snap mybad!

    i'm always amazed when i watch tv and it's like everyone's white, that just stands out so strongly to me as weird. i mean is that what the world looks like if you're white? if you just walk around boston it's like 40% nonwhite people (i am counting hispanics etc as "nonwhite" since hey, let's face it, they ain't whitebread). that's just weird. like "brothers and sisters" hahaha

  6. I agree, never talking about race doesn't help anything. Your kids don't grow up in a vacuum and they can pick up on signals from the outside world like that everyone else is treating minorities differently.

  7. Thanks for reposting my piece, Elisa! I'm glad to see it's reaching a broad audience.

    Best wishes,

  8. Elaine Showalter and the best American novelists: