The difference between sexism and racism

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006 · 66 Comments »

One is acceptable; the other isn’t.

Imagine if the host of a popular TV show on dog training had made the following remarks:

“Black people are the only species that is wired different from the rest. They always apply affection before discipline. White people apply discipline then affection, so we’re more psychological than emotional. All animals follow dominant leaders; they don’t follow lovable leaders.”

He would probably be fired, don’t you think? But professional dog-trainer/fucktard Cesar Millan made precisely these remarks about women — substitute “woman” for “black people” in the paragraph above, re-conjugate the verbs as necessary, and voilá: the Cesar Millan Theory of Gender. Somehow I don’t think he’s going to lose his job. He’s just a crazy colorful Latino, right?

And before any of you rush to inform me that the random remarks of some dog handler don’t amount to a hill of beans in this godforsaken world, dig it: I know. Well aware. I’m not going to start a petition to have Cesar Millan censored, fired, or placed in a choke collar and firmly brought to heel. Actually, the damage he’s doing to dogs is of far more concern to me than his asinine views on gender. I just think little drive-by examples of sexism are interesting precisely because they illustrate so well what we take for granted. In this case, that it’s still basically okay to announce in public that women are an inferior “species” who are more emotional than men.

via Salon.

Filed under: Various and Sundry · Tags:

66 Responses to “The difference between sexism and racism”

  1. ginmar says:

    Yeah, well, you know, sexism just isn’t as serious as racism, because….because……Well, sexism is pretty, you know. Racism is ugly and it’s easy to see and there’s nothing pretty about it. C’mon, aren’t you grateful for sexism that tells you you just have to be pretty? Is that so bad? It’s not like slavery or anything, is it?

  2. dhawhee says:

    I blogged about this same quote (though not nearly as funnily) and now am getting lambasted by some Millan devotee. As in: this person is asking me how my kids are (when he means dogs).

  3. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    I must ask why you people spend your time worried about what some Catlick wetback has to say while Our GODLY President has lost his interest in nuking the ragheads. Forget about the little brown chihuahua-choker and get down to the abortion clinic where the day after pill is ruining the flower of American womanhood.

  4. shannon says:

    Maybe you need to pay a little more attention to racism. Really, check the priv. Sexism is ignored in society, but racism is too. Just because you’re a white woman and don’t have to deal with it doesn’t mean you gotta go with the annoying ass “but people of color have it better than us” crap. If you need help, I have some books and news articles you can read.

  5. alyx says:

    [Women] are the only species that is wired different from the rest.

    The Rest = Men? That’s interesting, because there are marginally more females on the planet than males, so it would be more accurate to say that it’s men who are wired differently from women. If his stupid claims were actually true, ‘course.

    All animals follow dominant leaders; they don’t follow lovable leaders.

    This guy’s obviously never heard of Margaret Thatcher.

  6. foilwoman says:

    Or Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir or Boudicca or Elizabeth I or Victoria. (Funny how Britain, a really patriarchal country with primogeniture still on the actual lawbooks really only does best when led by someone with a clitoris. Just saying.)

    I will now make a blanket and stereotypical comment about other people. All those animal trainers, etc. on TV, Barbara Woodhouse, that annoying and fraudulent “pet psychic”, psychotic Steve Irwin, the Cesar-dude: they’re morons. Morons, morons, morons. That’s not to say morons can’t hurt us, they can. But someone who gets paid to tell other people how to get their dogs not to eat the carpet or pee on the couch and gets filmed doing that, well, I hope they find the “celebrity” life deeply fulfilling.

  7. gordo says:

    shannon–

    Of course, there is a lot of racism that people get away with in the media. In fact, it’s interesting to see what people get away with. Bill O’Reilly once said:

    Will African-Americans break away from the pack thinking and reject immorality–because that’s the reason the family’s breaking apart–alcohol, drugs, infidelity. You have to reject that, and it doesn’t seem–and I’m broadly speaking here, but a lot of African-Americans won’t reject it.

    He’s still on Fox every weeknight, spouting his crap. In the specific instance highlighted by Dr. Socks, though, I think that a racial version of his slur would probably have gotten him fired.

    So it would seem that there are certain racist and sexist things that can be said, but not others.

  8. alyx says:

    Foilwoman: My point was that he was implying that women make poor leaders because we’re supposedly lovable rather than dominant–”if trainer guy thinks women are lovable, he’s obviously never heard of Thatcher!”

    But I’d prefer the Iron Maiden to some of the male alternatives anyway. Reactionary politics aside, she was quite witty.

    Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir or Boudicca or Elizabeth I or Victoria

    The Kiwis will give you the stink eye if you forget to mention Helen Clark. :) Anyway, NZ, Britain, Israel, Indonesia (former prez Megawati Sukarnoputri) are lightyears ahead of my lame country. Even if the leaders are just patriarchal sock puppets, they’re female and they’re in charge, which is more than I can say for the Dicks Only ghetto of Aussie Prime Ministership.

    psychotic Steve Irwin

    You mean this guy hasn’t been eaten yet?

  9. ruth says:

    Odd timing about the Steve Irwin comments …… I’ve just heard on radio news that Steve Irwin died earlier today from a stingray barb to the heart (!) while diving in the Queensland ocean (not sure where exactly).

  10. alyx says:

    Ruth: I heard that on the radio only a couple of hours after I posted the comment. I thought, “No fucking way.”

    And: It’s also weird that Irwin was killed by the barb of a stingray, because his daughter’s name—Bindi—means ‘thorn’. Freaky, huh?

  11. shrieking lizzy says:

    >
    As an Irish woman, living in the north, I gotta tell you most of your examples liz 1 , Victoria, Liz 2, Thatcher et al were far from ‘good leaders’ — unless you’re counting imperialism, occupation and genocide as nice qualities in a leader. Palestinians might say the same for Golda Mier, who is noted for saying ‘The Palestian does not exist’.
    — Getting in a round about way to my point — someone earlier mentioned that we need to be more attentive to the issue of racism. Racism is/was a significant factor in way all the above women operated as leaders — so yes, indeed — I agree with Shannon, we need to be more attentive race and racism, and we need to resist the temptation of looking at the issues of race and ‘gender’ as binary opposites competing against one another. Keep in mind that that sort of thinking is part and parcel of white privilege.

  12. ginmar says:

    You know, women make up more than half the population, but discrimination against them is no big deal. Racism affects a population that is both male and female, adn the men can often appeal to otherwise racist men by being sexist. That option is not available to women. Racism gets taken seriously. How many people have been fired due to racist remarks, while sexism is the standard of movies, books, and TV?

  13. ginmar says:

    I’m trying to remember anything that was the equivalent of the flap over a guy using the word ‘niggardly’ and getting fired for it—-with a sexist equivalent.

  14. ginmar says:

    Wow, Shannon, do some checking yourself. There’s a difference between pointing out that racism is taken more seriously in society than sexism and saying that ‘black people have it better than us.’

  15. will says:

    “I’m trying to remember anything that was the equivalent of the flap over a guy using the word ‘niggardly’ and getting fired for it—-with a sexist equivalent.”

    How about the President of Harvard?

  16. will says:

    The other issue about sexism v. racism is that we supposedly attempt to provide greater protection for a minority group than we do for a group that is the majority.

    If there was a consensus among women, they could hold considerable power without even the aid of a single male vote.

    That is what is often so perplexing.

  17. ginmar says:

    The guy who used the word ‘niggardly’, however, was fired not for what he said, but what he didn’t say. Summers was fired for saying exactly what he did say, and for being sexist, so it’s not like the two are similar.

    And the idea that a majority of numbers is more important than a majority of power is, frankly, bullshit. TAke a look at the government and tell me how many women are there, and don’t try and blame it on women, either.

  18. ginmar says:

    Oh, what am I saying. It’s all womens’ fault that the poor dears don’t vote as a group, so let’s just ignore it.

    Will sounds an awful lot like Lawrence Summers himself. Betcha the next whine is something about how, “Be it on your heads that those women don’t vote, sexism shmexism, they just need to get off their asses.”

  19. will says:

    I am just surprised that more hasn’t been accomplish with all the fighting for these issues that you have done.

    Go give the Dem’s Hell, Ginmar!! It sure seems to be working well.

  20. ginmar says:

    Look, it’s Will, oversimplifying anything that doesn’t have an impact on him. Go beat that strawfeminist, Will, it becomes you. It’s all you fucking do.

  21. will says:

    It amazes me how much venom comes out of you at someone who is a natural voting ally with you.

    You refuse to vote for the Democrats or the Republicans.

    Please tell me what you are doing to help women’s issues.

    You have been fighting the good fight, insulting those who mostly agree with you?

    I asked you this in the other thread, but you never answered: Have you helped anyone get elected who might help women’s issues? Have you even donated any money? Have you registered any voters?

    How exactly are you fighting the good fight?

    And, if you havent done any of these things, why not?

    Do you not care about reproductive rights? What issues are you fighting for if you sit on the sidelines and complain?

  22. Violet says:

    You can’t fight in here! This is the war room!

    I don’t think Summers actually got fired, did he? Didn’t he resign to spend more time with Andrew Card’s children?

    If there was a consensus among women, they could hold considerable power without even the aid of a single male vote.

    That is what is often so perplexing.

    It’s not perplexing, really, because women — females — aren’t a natural group. We’re just half the human race. Humans form themselves around families, primarily, and the larger structures that emanate from families, and so racial/ethnic solidarity, even national solidarity, is vastly more achievable than something that attempts to unite the half of the species that happens to have two X chromosomes. And collective action is not easy for humans to achieve anyway, even on the ethnic level.

  23. Violet says:

    There’s a difference between pointing out that racism is taken more seriously in society than sexism and saying that ‘black people have it better than us.’

    Thanks for that, ginmar. So glad that some people actually read the post!

  24. will says:

    “It’s not perplexing, really, because women — females — aren’t a natural group. ”

    But men are a natural group?

  25. Violet says:

    No, not in the way that I’m talking about. I defy you to come up with anything that the entire mixed-chromosome half of the human race would agree on.

    It is true, though, that men-as-men in each patriarchal society tend to form a kind of cadre of privilege, a social alliance that women rarely form because they’re disempowered people without means to forge that kind of inter-family bond. Patriarchy, once it’s in place, does tend to make men into a group — an artificial group — with power, and to isolate women from each other. How that intersects with racial, ethnic, and class issues is interesting; as ginmar pointed out above, privileged men take racism seriously because it affects other men. But that’s kind of a psychological affiliation. It would be much more rare to find examples of men uniting with each other across ethnic and class divides to form an actual working alliance (an army, say) to defeat women.

  26. will says:

    So men unite to oppress women, but women cannot unite (or even create a coalition with some men) to get more power?

    I realize that this hasnt happened. Thus, my comment.

    My point was that as a society we provide greater protection for those who do not have power more than we do for those who chose not to exercise more power for themselves.

    Women have grabbed power for those issues on which they agree:

    voting, property rights, partial reproductive rights, etc.

    Women are not united in wanting to elect other females in the upper reaches of power.

    In industry, that has been changing, albet slowly. In government, that is changing, albet slowly.

  27. Violet says:

    So men unite to oppress women, but women cannot unite (or even create a coalition with some men) to get more power?

    Privileged groups maintain their privilege through networking and mutual support; disempowered individuals are, by virtue of their disempowerment, largely prevented from uniting. This is standard sociology, and doesn’t just apply to men and women. It’s how 10% of a population (white, or aristocratic, or what have you) are able to keep 90% of a population (black, slaves, Russian serfs) in chains.

    In the past two centuries in the West this has started to change, with oppressed groups gradually uniting to overthrow the social structure. First on the class level, then on the racial level, then on the gender level. It’s an ongoing process.

  28. ginmar says:

    Nice woman-blaming,courtesy of Will, there. Sexism doesn’t impede women, evidently, it’s their own failures.

  29. will says:

    “Nice woman-blaming,courtesy of Will, there. Sexism doesn’t impede women, evidently, it’s their own failures.”

    Excellent analysis of what I said!

    Have you addressed my questions yet?

    I realize that you are very busy fighting the good fight!

  30. will says:

    Violet:

    The difficulty is one of self-identification and of identifying your self-interest.

    But I want to go back to your starting point:

    He identified women as being more inclined to start with affection.

    You identified that as a weak trait, not him.

    Are you suggesting that men and women are the same?

    Are there any gender differences?

    If so, is it acceptable to point them out?

    Hasn’t this very blog identified actions that are inherently male?

  31. Violet says:

    You identified that as a weak trait, not him.

    I’m basing my reading on the NYTimes article on Millan’s remarks. He apparently thinks women are weak, emotional, whatever.

    The only sexual differences I think we can be absolutely sure of are the obvious biological ones: women give birth and suckle, men can pee standing up. Other than that, everything is potentially cultural. Nature versus nurture, and so far everything we’ve traditionally considered nature has turned out to be nurture. Even greater aggressiveness in males, which it’s tempting to think of as innate given its almost ubiquitous manifestation, may not be: controlled testing hasn’t supported a difference between males and females in this regard, and there are in fact some cultures where men are considered intrinsically more gentle than women.

    Whenever I refer to men’s general behavior, the assumption is always that we’re talking about socially conditioned norms, not intrinsic traits.

  32. BAC says:

    Nature versus nurture is the $64,000 question. Speaking in broad stereotypes, I do think men are naturally more violent than women, but that doesn’t mean a woman could not be violent. It also does not mean that all men are violent.

    What I find interesting about discussions of racism vs sexism is how they play into the bigger picture. Let’s face it, in the US the people with the most power are rich, white men — who also happen to be the minority population. There are more women than men, and when you combine women and people of color, white men become even more a minority.

    So how does a minority attain and keep power? By encouraging discussions that get the majority population pointing fingers at each other, instead of pointing their fingers at the real source of their disempowerment — namely, rich white men.

    Sexism is far too rampant in our society, as is racism, heterosexism, classism, etc. So just how are the people in power (rich white men) able to get citizens in Ohio to vote against their own best interests (as was the case in the last election)?

    We are sold this “American Dream” that if you simply work hard, put your nose to the grind stone, you too can be a billionaire. What few seem to realize is that many of the “rich white men” didn’t get rich by working hard — they got rich by stealing from their employees pension plans and from their stock holders.

    What Ken Lay did was far worse than Martha Stewart’s actions — but only Martha ever served time in jail.

    It’s 65 days to the next election … don’t forget to vote.

    BAC

  33. ginmar says:

    Well, it’s pretty clear that the enemy is striaght white conservative rich guys—and the guys who vote for them.

  34. Violet says:

    I hope that most of my readers have better comprehension skills than Shannon, but just in case I’ll clarify here: the point of my post is that sexism is more acceptable in the world than racism. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an observable fact. I’m not saying that sexism is worse than racism, or that racism has gone away; nor am I comparing the status of any oppressed groups. I’m simply pointing out — and here it is again — that sexism is more acceptable in the world than racism.

    Our species has reached the point in its moral evolution where we generally agree that racism is wrong. Racism is still ubiquitous and horrible and practiced around the world, but it’s officially a Bad Thing. Sexism, on the other hand, is still regarded as an acceptable cultural variation. Many of us in the West deplore it, but in most of the world women still have sub-human status and the official global community isn’t about to do anything about it. Ethnic cleansing will get the U.N. peacekeepers on your doorstep; treat women like cattle and you’re just practicing your traditional culture.

    Consider the difference between the global condemnation of apartheid South Africa, for example, and the complete absence of any censure whatsoever of Saudi Arabia or any number of other countries where women don’t have basic human rights. A woman in Saudi Arabia has about the same rights as a camel, but hey, that’s their culture. Watch the next Olympics, and note how many countries do not allow women to compete, or to compete only while wearing bags over their heads. Ask yourself what would happen if a country disallowed an ethnic minority from competing or forced its members to compete only while wearing a special Hefty Bag costume. Any such nation would of course be barred from the Games.

    Again, I’m not comparing the relative badness of sexism or racism. Just pointing out where we are in our moral evolution.

  35. shannon says:

    White priviledge in action. I can’t read because Violet doesn’t pay attention to reality. And ginmar, I am ashamed of you. (Ok, I’m ashamed of most white people in this country. They buy into a multi million dollar industry of pundits saying black folks are all terrible, of books saying that blacks have only themselves to blame for racism, of movies promoting the basest of stereotypes, of t shirts promoting racial intolerance and wearing the fucking Confederate flag on your shirt, and then they turn around and lie that there’s no racism in society. Heck, I’d pull up the news article where a black guy got beaten with a bat and some asshat tried to say that’s not racist, because that’s light denial compared to most white people) (I haven’t even started on who watches Lou Dobbs and thinks we should profile all the Arabs)

    You’ve been warned about your toxic levels of white privlege before, and it’s a shame that you have chosen to be ignorant. I’m sad as well, that you have chosen to be ignorant, Violet. You own your own stupidity, and will be forever responsible for the consequences.

    For those of you who may want to actually not be a terrible bag of shit, first, read Tim Wise. Don’t worry, he’s not one of us scary scary coloreds who can’t read!

    Also, use this
    list
    as a beginning reading guide. Some might gasp be written by people of color, or even the very very rare white person who looks up minority infant mortality rates or poverty rates or heck, any actual information on people of color at all in this country up before whining that some guy got fired.

    But yea, we’re not as important as a white guy’s job. I got the message already ginmar. Nearly every single white person wants to remind me of the fact that I don’t deserve an education, don’t deserve a job, don’t deserve not to be insulted to my face.

  36. Violet says:

    Shannon, I don’t suffer fools gladly, and fools who insult me I don’t suffer at all. I’m sorry you’re so confused, but please take it elsewhere.

  37. ginmar says:

    Translation: “You said all men are rapists!” in classic form.

    Yeah, if you accuse somebody of something else they didn’t say, I think you get a toaster. BEyond that, you’re not even interesting.

  38. richard cherry says:

    Violet 34 – there’s hardly a word of it I would like to change. (Mind you, the woman in the 1500 metres with the bag on her head did so well – if only she hadn’t run the last 100 metres across the javelin area. Still, she’ll be back training in a few weeks.)
    But, just to muddy the waters, let’s take your comparison with the world’s silence at Saudi Arabia and its screaming (eventually) at apartheid South Africa (with the exception of Margaret Thatcher who basically called us all pinko commie faggot subversives and what’s wrong with a bit of nigger-whuppin anyway – those who seem to think she was OK clearly never lived under her despotic regime as I and foilwoman did – and fw may even not have wanted to be part of the bloody country Thatcher ruled but had no voice or choice – don’t know your feelings fw, and not ascribing any to you, but as an ethnic english person, too few have admitted that what my country has done to all kinds of people in Ireland over centuries is just as great a shame as apartheid – not to forget occupied Wales and Scotland. And please never let us hold up Thatcher as any sort of exemplar for women.)
    Saudi Arabia is rich and has stuff we need – South Africa not. Perhaps it makes money and power the most common of denominators for our outrage rather than racism or sexism.
    And shannon – I don’t share your experience but I can’t see the things you are reading into violet’s comments – she’s not the enemy – or if she is she’s under bloody deep cover.
    And Ginmar – you caled me ugly – please can I have a toaster?

  39. Infidel says:

    Violet:
    “The only sexual differences I think we can be absolutely sure of are the obvious biological ones: women give birth and suckle, men can pee standing up. Other than that, everything is potentially cultural.”

    Honestly, there must be more to it, Physiologically, than that.

    As to rightful recognition and respect equality regardless of gender should be a given, and yes variance based on race is less accepted then variance based on gender.

  40. Infidel says:

    one is accepted and one isn’t
    one is acceptable and one isn’t

    one is facetious and one isn’t

  41. Violet says:

    Perhaps it makes money and power the most common of denominators for our outrage rather than racism or sexism.

    That’s true enough. But I do think there’s a long-term trajectory in these things across human history. It proceeds by fits and starts and unequally across the globe, but nevertheless it does proceed. It’s a gradually expanding circle of humans who are considered entitled to a certain minimal level of rights. One of the first steps is to conclude that maybe human sacrifice is not okay. Then perhaps to decide that the neighboring tribe, or race, is actually human. A gradual awakening to the idea that maybe slavery is wrong. Then the notion that all men are entitled to equal justice under the law. Then the radical notion that perhaps women are human too!

    Personally I think the next stage, once we finally all agree that we’re all human and all entitled to the basic rights, is to expand the moral circle to include animals.

  42. richard cherry says:

    on the basis that animals are human too? you lost me with the last paragraph. are you some militant veggie like my beloved or a buddhist like err other buddhists…?

  43. Violet says:

    on the basis that animals are human too?

    On the basis that animals also feel and suffer. There’s an animal activist (whose name escapes me at the moment) who has pointed out that he simply cannot see why it is legal and morally acceptable to torture a chimpanzee, when it’s certainly not legal or morally acceptable to torture a four-year-old human child. I agree with him completely. (No doubt cheeky Richard will say so you want the right to torture four-year-old humans, is that the problem?)

  44. Infidel says:

    hmmmm? Human sacrifice not okay?

  45. richard cherry says:

    ok so an attempt to be less flippant…I agree it isn’t morally acceptable to torture a chimpanzee. The problem is I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to kill animals for food if it’s done reasonably humanely – but if I accept that they feel and suffer (I do), how can I logicaly say it’s ok to cause them any suffering – and I’m sure the most humane slaughtering (nice term) process does cause them some (don’t get me started on halal). It’s the old liberal fudge on where you draw the line and I draw it at the end of the human race (or ‘tories’ as they are known in this country); and it’s hard to accept that when you draw a line anywhere you shouldn’t shift it a touch in any direction, and it’s emotive and not necessarily logical. I don’t want anyone causing pointless suffering to animals, but that’s about it. I’m glad hunting has been banned in Britain because not only is it unpleasant, it makes the humans involved look pretty fucking appalling (tho those who hunt probably don’t need too much help in that department – see also ‘tories’ above). Shooting things, while I wouldn’t choose to do it, doesn’t piss me off in the same way – probably less to do with the drawn-out death of the animal than the silly clothes people feel the need to wear to hunt.
    Err how did we get here? I can’t accept the importance of animal rights being on a par with human rights – sorry that’s not quite what you were saying – I think the way we treat animals is important only because of its reflection of our own humanity. I don’t deny there is plenty that’s brutal and ignoble in us as humans, but I hope we can try to keep finding ways to maximise the bits of ‘human nature’ (whatever that is) that make us greater, more caring etc etc. Yes waffy and liberal like hoping the sun will shine a bit more (though we’re all doing our bit to help that happen burning fossil fuels like crazy) but it presupposes a lot of hard fighting too.

  46. Violet says:

    I think the way we treat animals is important only because of its reflection of our own humanity.

    You’ve got to be kidding. The suffering of the animal doesn’t count? The only reason not to torture a chimpanzee — intelligent, sentient — is because torture has such an unpleasant effect on our characters?

  47. richard cherry says:

    now now, violet. i try not to be flippant and you go all shannon on me – read the whole of the comment, please. the bits where I agree about humane treatment of animals…
    But to be fair, the sentence you quote is perhaps not my most accurate (ahem!) – removing the ‘only’ improves it for a start – I don’t want animals suffering for the very sensible reason that they errr suffer – and I read that as your opinion too. But I do think it is critical that animal rights are secondary to human rights and while it’s good for lots of reasons to have a basic standard of treating them it comes way lower on my priorities than addressing loads of ways in which society treats humans unfairly. I apologise for taking so long to articulate what I think most people will say is self-evident (so shut up and get on with the improving bit), but of course stating the obvious is easier hence our liberal predeliction for doing it.

  48. the angry black woman says:

    Volet, the hardest thing for white liberls to do is to step back and check their white privilege. However, you need to. Shannon is completely right about this issue and about you.

  49. Infidel says:

    Read the comments policy. Stepping back and checking is done from the get go and anything racist is on a par with hatred, end of story.

  50. Violet says:

    I’m not a “white liberal,” I’m a historian. I suggest you read my comment #34 (and #41) above. If you still don’t understand what I’m saying, then try reading it again. If that doesn’t work, then I can’t help you. Sorry.

  51. the angry black woman says:

    I read comment 34 and I still say you’re wrong. you’re just wrong on all levels. What you say isn’t fact. Right now, it’s merely your opinion.

    I understand completely what you are saying, and I’m saying you are wrong. Perhaps because you do not experience racism yet you may experience sexism doesn’t mean that “sexism is more acceptable in the world than racism”. It merely means that your perception is skewed and you refuse to acknowledge that. Pardon us folks who have to deal with sexism AND racism on a daily basis; we differ.

    Does being a historian stop you from needing to check your priv? No, no it does not. I’m glad that you think it does, because it gives me a really good indicator of where you’re coming from. It’s a scary place. I’ll not tred on it.

  52. Sheelzebub says:

    People say racist crap all of the time and they don’t get fired or penalized for it; it’s perfectly acceptable. Ann Coulter advocates invading Arab nations and killing the people there, and she’s selling more books than ever. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly spout racist drivel the way other people breathe and they still have their jobs. People have won elections using the spectre of violent Black men run amok. Willie Horton anyone? Pseudo evo-psych intellectualls write a screed that insists Blacks are inferior, and they don’t get fired or penalized. Congresspeople have had associations with White supremacists groups for years, and it’s only recently that they’ve caught heat for it. And even then, it wasn’t that bad for them. It’s par the course for conservatives to whine about political correctness and how diversity is destroying America. No one minds.

    I don’t think Shannon misunderstood you, or has a reading comprehension problem. She simply doesn’t agree that racism is less acceptable than sexism is.

  53. Violet says:

    I understand completely what you are saying

    No, obviously you don’t. Certainly Shannon didn’t. One more time: The subject of my post is what it is publicly acceptable to say, which generally correlates to how people think they are supposed to behave (as opposed to how they actually behave). Racism has not gone away by a long shot, but people now “know” it’s wrong and so public expressions of it are frowned upon. In America, Republicans talk in code, white supremacists claim they’re just practicing “European pride” or something, and so forth. They’re as racist as ever, but they know they’re supposed to hide it. These are really not earthshaking observations. It’s a pretty standard analysis of the state of public morality (as opposed to how people actually behave, which is vastly more complicated).

    Sexism has not quite reached this level yet, certainly not globally. There is not a general agreement that it’s always wrong and therefore there is not nearly the effort to hide it. Even in America, which has one of the lowest tolerance levels for public sexism in the world, it’s publicly acceptable to believe that women are inferior to men. And in most countries sexism doesn’t even register as a bad thing.

    Somehow Shannon got it into his/her head that I believe racism doesn’t exist, or is less important than sexism, or whatever, which is not what I said nor what I believe. It wasn’t even the subject of the post. As for Shannon’s reading comprehension problem, here’s what I said: “I’m not saying that sexism is worse than racism, or that racism has gone away; nor am I comparing the status of any oppressed groups…Racism is still ubiquitous and horrible and practiced around the world…” etc. — to which Shannon replied with an outraged multi-paragraph comment accusing me of saying racism doesn’t exist or is less important than sexism. Yeah, I’d say there’s a reading comprehension problem there.

  54. Violet says:

    Sheelzebub, I will just point out that I’m talking about the world, not just America, and 10,000 years of history, not the past 40. I stand by my observation that the species is further along in acknowledging that racism is wrong than in acknowledging that sexism is wrong. Note that acknowledging that something is wrong is not the same as actually stopping it.

  55. Radfem says:

    If Shannon is a “fool”, I’m definitely in the wrong place. I agree with what she said.

    I can show you the articles where a White woman with a gun in a broken down car alone at night is seen as protecting herself. Throw in an epileptic seizure and I can show you articles about a Black woman in that situation who ends up with 12 bullets to the back of her head and body. Oh, and her tax dollars paid her killers’ salaries. Even unconscious, even female, she was still in the dangerous class as far as they were concerned in a way a White woman will never be classified.

    White women are on very shaky ground to say what’s worse, racism or sexism and it’s problematic to say the least when you substitute this word(race) for this word(gender) either. I think there’s some grounds for comparison of experiences to learn from each other but in terms of judging “better” or “worse”, we’re on very shaky ground.The women who are most qualified to make these comparisons are often ridiculed or told to be quiet when they address these issues at all, by White feminists.

    We experience discrimination and oppression on the gender side to varying degrees, but racially, we’re on the top of the list in terms of privilage. We do not experience institutional racism, let alone that
    form that is unique to women of color, to Black women, Latinas, Asian or Asian American women, indigenous women, in part because of the intertwining of race and gender and lots of past and present involving both.

    We experience gender discrimination and racial privilage. So we tend to emphasize the one that’s easier to deal with(the oppression)over the one that isn’t(the privilage) in attempts to “bond” with other women who do experience racism on a daily basis under some “women” banner, racism that is often perpetuated by White women, because being racist isn’t just a guy thing.

    But it’s not an honest way to do this and it’s one reason why many women do not want to be identified as feminists.

    We are part of the oppressive class in that regard. We don’t keep that in mind when we set out to define things like “women”, “gender” and “sexism/misogyny” based on our own experiences as White women, then take that definition and try to apply it to all women.

    I just feel that attacks against women of color who challenge us on our racial privilage and our definition of what “women” really means and who is included(the two often go hand in hand in these discussions)in that definition and in those discussions is grossly unfair. Sometimes I think that White feminists have no problem with women of color in their ranks…until they open their mouths.

    It’s too easy to say racism isn’t as bad as sexism because we experience one as being bad and whether we like to admit it or not, we benefit from the other. So of course, sexism is going to trump racism in our book, but it’s just not an accurate picture of the world in my opinion and it’s not feminist either.

  56. Violet says:

    What the fuck is wrong with you people? Can none of you read?

    White women are on very shaky ground to say what’s worse, racism or sexism

    Ah, this must be in reply to that sentence where I explicitly noted that I was NOT comparing racism and sexism or saying sexism was worse…

    It’s too easy to say racism isn’t as bad as sexism

    Except I didn’t say that, and several times now have explicitly noted that I’m NOT saying racism isn’t as bad as sexism.

    Look, folks: I’m not doing this. I’m not going to be insulted for things I didn’t say, nor am I going to spend any more time explaining what I didn’t say, or arguing over what I didn’t say. Get a grip.

  57. Radfem says:

    What the fuck is wrong with you people? Can none of you read?

    As a matter of fact, yes I can read and have enjoyed doing so for many years now. Simply because I disagree with you doesn’t make me illiterate. I got your point. I disagree with it.

    You know, there’s a way to say that sexist statements which impact women are just flat wrong and to condemn them without saying, women who face only sexism have it worse than those who experience racism especially since you make it appear that for all of us those have to be two separate realities meaning that a person can at most only experience one and not both. And you expect women of color to agree with your statement that sexism is acceptable and racism is not even when their own experiences give them reason to disagree. Your response to their stated disagreement is to say they can’t read and have poor reading comprehension and pretty much throw a tantrum about it. That’s surely a tribute to feminism and its inclusiveness, indeed.

    Besides, I can name a really good example of an individual who made racist and sexist comments and was NOT fired. In fact, I don’t even know what happened in that case because he is protected by confidentiality standards.

    Ah, this must be in reply to that sentence where I explicitly noted that I was NOT comparing racism and sexism or saying sexism was worse…

    But you did exactly that, right at the beginning of your article when you stated this:

    “One is acceptable. One is not.”

    I believe that’s the thesis of your piece, as a matter of fact. People disagree with it so now I guess it’s not?

    Look, folks: I’m not doing this. I’m not going to be insulted for things I didn’t say, nor am I going to spend any more time explaining what I didn’t say, or arguing over what I didn’t say. Get a grip.

    Thanks for the suggestion, but that’s neither here nor there. If all this disagreement makes you feel uncomfortable, you can walk away from it or disassociate yourself from it, write the dissidents off as being illiterate. All far easier, than a White woman can walk away from sexism or a woman of color can walk away from both racism and sexism.

  58. ginmar says:

    Yeah, that’s great, Radfem, except that everybody can tell those anecdotes. I can tell you stories about being sexually harassed by all different kinds of men, and the general indifference of all different kinds of men to womens’ rights. And I got fired for complaining too, because given a choice between a man with a different skin color but the same basic attitude toward women, and a woman who made him think, my boss decided that any man, no many how many sexual assaults he committed, was better than the best woman out there. Any guy was better than any woman. Any guy, any race, any language. No woman ever will be. Unless you’re gay, you cannot avoid the other gender. Racists, however, successfully avoid the objects of their hatred. Women cannot escape from that hatred of women. Even a man who suffers from racism can still be sexist—may, in fact, regard sexism as a god-given right to dominate all women. Black women suffer from the dual burden of racism, but black men can use sexism to their own advantages. Sexism brings men together, because well, you’re a man, not one of them horrible inimitable women. Sexism is how men lift themselves up–and keep women down.

  59. bint alshamsa says:

    the point of my post is that sexism is more acceptable in the world than racism. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an observable fact.

    What you’ve observed isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of the general state of affairs. In other words, unless you can prove your assertion, there is no reason to view it as anything more than opinion and NOT fact as you would like to believe.

    Our species has reached the point in its moral evolution where we generally agree that racism is wrong.

    If we generally agreed about this, then racism wouldn’t be so rampant even today. Also, this idea that there’s been a “moral evolution” that has taken place on anything other than the individual level of some of those in our species seems especially specious given the fact that there are no universally accepted set morals.

    Racism is still ubiquitous and horrible and practiced around the world, but it’s officially a Bad Thing. Sexism, on the other hand, is still regarded as an acceptable cultural variation.

    Who decided that racism is “officially a Bad Thing”? I have yet to see any worldwide consensus on this. Your argument seems to be based on what amounts to a logical fallacy.

    Many of us in the West deplore it, but in most of the world women still have sub-human status and the official global community isn’t about to do anything about it.

    Likewise, in most of the world, racism relegates entire groups to sub-human status and, judging from the (general) world’s collective yawn, there is no more likelihood that racism is on its way out than sexism.

    Consider the difference between the global condemnation of apartheid South Africa, for example, and the complete absence of any censure whatsoever of Saudi Arabia or any number of other countries where women don’t have basic human rights.

    For every example of some supposed condemnation of racism, I can name hundreds of examples where it is completely ignored. Your description of what’s going on in Saudi Arabia shows sans mentioning the rampant racism in that country shows how much people tend to overlook racism even when they claim to abhore it.

    A woman in Saudi Arabia has about the same rights as a camel, but hey, that’s their culture.

    I really hope that you are simply intending to use hyperbole with this statement because it reflects a real ignorance regarding Saudi Arabian laws.

    Watch the next Olympics, and note how many countries do not allow women to compete, or to compete only while wearing bags over their heads.

    I suppose it’s inconceivable to you that these women may not be being forced to wear head scarfs while competing. I mean, it’s practically a proven fact that, if allowed, they’d all dress according to western standards, right? By the way, way to go with the total disrespect that you showed for women in that country with your “bags over their heads” comment.

    Ask yourself what would happen if a country disallowed an ethnic minority from competing or forced its members to compete only while wearing a special Hefty Bag costume. Any such nation would of course be barred from the Games.

    Uh, hello? Are you really unaware of that this is the de facto practice in many countries and they haven’t been barred from the Olympics? When was the last time an undocumented/illegal ethnic Mexican residing in the U.S.A. was allowed to be a memeber of one of our Olympic teams? Then there’s the countries like in the U.A.E. that such strict policies that result in a situation where certain ethnicities are almost never allowed to become citizens and, therefore, are restricted from participating in the Olympic team in the country where they are residents.

    Again, I’m not comparing the relative badness of sexism or racism. Just pointing out where we are in our moral evolution.

    Given the way that we are constantly “repeating history”, I’d say that there is no moral evolution that has taken place. Homo sapiens are essentially still treating each other just like they did thousands and thousands of years ago.

  60. Violet says:

    Simply because I disagree with you doesn’t make me illiterate. I got your point. I disagree with it.

    Everything you said in your comment #55 was fine, very eloquent, and I agree. The problem is that you apparently thought this was a reply to the issue of this post. It wasn’t. We’re talking about completely different things. Hence, it seems rather clear to me that you are confused as to my point.

    I believe that’s the thesis of your piece, as a matter of fact. People disagree with it so now I guess it’s not?

    The thesis of my piece is that it is still acceptable to express sexism in public in a way that it is no longer acceptable to express racism in public. It was a throwaway post about some guy’s public remarks, with not much elaboration, but subsequently in a number of comments I’ve explained: the issue is public morality and how people think they’re supposed to behave, what they think they must hide, what our global conception of right and wrong is. There is general agreement that racism is officially bad, though it certainly hasn’t gone away. (There’s also general agreement that genocide is wrong, but it keeps happening.) There is as yet no such consensus on the rights of women. This should not even be a contentious point, merely an observation.

    This is a very different issue from how people actually behave, how racism and sexism actually exist in the world, much less how they intersect, which is extremely complicated.

    If all this disagreement makes you feel uncomfortable, you can walk away from it or disassociate yourself from it, write the dissidents off as being illiterate.

    Disagreement doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but so far only two people in this thread (Richard and Sheelzebub) have disagreed with my actual point. The rest of you are arguing with me about things I didn’t say. That’s what I object to, and in fact do not tolerate on this blog: misreading of my statements and straw arguments. It’s time-consuming and absurd.

  61. bint alshamsa says:

    Infidel:As to rightful recognition and respect equality regardless of gender should be a given, and yes variance based on race is less accepted then variance based on gender.

    What measurement are you using to establish this? Exactly how would you quantify the level of acceptance when it comes to race versus gender?

  62. bint alshamsa says:

    Violet:It proceeds by fits and starts and unequally across the globe, but nevertheless it does proceed.

    Who decides what’s progress? Is it progress if we all adopt the standards that you value? What if we all adopted standards that you do not approve of? Would that still be progress?

    It’s a gradually expanding circle of humans who are considered entitled to a certain minimal level of rights.

    We (human beings as a whole) still haven’t decided that anyone is entitled to some level of rights. If we had, then we wouldn’t have any wars and we wouldn’t create so many food shortages et cetera. These things belie the claim that we believe in rights at all. So how could this circle that doesn’t exist be expanding?

    One of the first steps is to conclude that maybe human sacrifice is not okay.

    The bodies of thousands of dead Iraqis prove that we still believe that human sacrifice is okay and so do the bodies of all the other peoples that have been sacrificed to the “gods” of greed.

    Then perhaps to decide that the neighboring tribe, or race, is actually human.

    This was figured out before our ancestors even evolved into homo sapiens, so this isn’t some marker of our “moral evolution”. The fact that the concept of race was ever introduced shows that there has been no forward moral evolution in this department. After it had already been determined that we were all the same species, many cultures decided to propagate the idea that what had already been determined was not fact. To be concise, if anything, we’ve devolved to the state where we are now.

    A gradual awakening to the idea that maybe slavery is wrong.

    This is really laughable. Slavery wasn’t carried out by some people who “just didn’t know any better”. For as long as we have been homo sapiens, we’ve known full well what we were doing when we enslaved others. No awakening took place. When humans find it convient to enslave others, you can bet your bottom dollar that some will do it because there is no agreed upon morality. Some people define right and wrong according to what’s politically expedient. Others use what’s in their holy books or what’s in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magaine.

    Personally I think the next stage, once we finally all agree that we’re all human and all entitled to the basic rights, is to expand the moral circle to include animals.

    “Once we finally agree”? Unless you have a working crystal ball at your disposal, there is no reason for us to believe that humans will ever agree to this stuff you’ve mentioned, so how could we reach what you see as the next step?

  63. bint alshamsa says:

    Volet, the hardest thing for white liberls to do is to step back and check their white privilege. However, you need to. Shannon is completely right about this issue and about you.

    I agree completely. I think sometimes people get so carried away with talking about one sort of injustice that it leads them to make false assumptions about the state of affairs when it comes to other injustices that are also going on in the world. It’s a simple case of ignoring the inconvient facts. It doesn’t make Violet a bad person. It just means that she’s being a bit illogical and making erroneous statements.

  64. the angry black woman says:

    I notice that anyone who disagrees with you gets painted with the “you can’t read” brush. We can read, hon, but we still disagree. We’re still pretty sure you’re wrong. If you go around life saying that everyone who disagrees with you is illiterate, then perhaps it’s not all of us who need to learn something.

  65. bint alshamsa says:

    Violet: The rest of you are arguing with me about things I didn’t say.

    Excuse me? I definitely do take issue with the things that you did say. You can choose to ignore the fact that several people have pointed out how problematic (to say the least) many of your assumptions are but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been addressed.

  66. Violet says:

    bint alshamsa, gracious! Five comments in a row? Actually I don’t tend this blog minute by minute, and my last post crossed with I think your first.

    Your view of human history is certainly interesting — very dark, really — but I must say it doesn’t correspond to what I know of anthropology and the history of civilization. Weirdly enough, people didn’t sort out that we were all human even before we, er, evolved into humans. Or for quite a while after. The single most common self-identifying name for an ethnic group is some word meaning “the real people.” That’s true right around the world. Other tribes were useful for slavery and could even be mated with, but somehow they weren’t fully human. As late as 1900 it was still being debated in the United States whether Native Americans had souls.

    As for slavery, it was ubiquitous from at least the Neolithic until late antiquity. It only began to be outlawed a couple of centuries ago. It’s now illegal in every nation in the world. Is it still practiced? Of course. But the fact that it is officially illegal, and that nations attempt to disguise its presence within their borders, tells us something about cultural evolution. Which is what I’m talking about when I mention “moral evolution.” There is a rather stunning gap between what people think is right and what they actually do, but the point is that what people think is right has actually evolved. And continues to evolve.

    As for the rest of you — I’ve been a bit curious as to how my innocuous post could be misconstrued as an endorsement of racism, much less how my subsequent comments, explicit in the extreme, could be so thoroughly misread — and by all these new people, showing up all at once! Usually my readers are perceptive and the discussion level on this blog is at a fairly high level. The mystery is solved: I’ve been alerted that my sudden new visitors, whom I’ll dub “Shannon’s Friends,” are a self-appointed group of blog police with a history of going about accusing people of racism. I’m not a racist, and this is not a blog for those particular kinds of games. So goodbye, Shannon’s Friends.