In ‘fighting’ racism and sexism…are we actually perpetuating it?
Over the course of my studies, I have spent a lot of time dealing with these two issues. Everything can be seen in terms of feminism, racism, equality (capitalism, consumerism,marxism,postmodernism,post colonialism…any ‘ism’ you’d care to mention actually) and to be honest, I’ve kind of had enough.
This is a rather different direction, post-wise than most of my others, but it’s a big part of my life and it’s been pressing on my mind for a while, so I thought I’d get it out there! It’s a rant, but I feel it’s a fairly well constructed rant!
I am female. I am a woman. Of course I want equality and equal standards and rights, but to be completely honest, I’m not a feminist. And most feminists completely piss me off.
I can’t really approach racism in the same way, never really having experienced it myself and not being the ‘typical’ target for it (“Hey, skinny white girl…” in the South East London area is the closest I get and to be honest…I am Skinny (ish) I am white and I am a girl…how could that be offensive anyway?)
My point is this: In our over-sensitised, ‘political-correctness-maddened’ society, I believe we are doing more to perpetuate and breed racism and sexism than we are to remove it. When we cast a black child in the role of Billy Elliot (a white, working class 12 year old son of a coal miner in the 80’s in Durham) is this about equality and fairness or are we just drawing attention to race as being something that differentiates us?
In the utopian world of equality for all, man and woman, black, white or asian would all be exactly the same, enjoy the same rights and no one would even consider their skin/gender in terms of defining them. Of course, this is not, nor will it ever be the case.
We as human beings define ourselves by others. We can have no real sense of ourselves until we have encountered someone outside of ourselves and compared ourselves to them. And being as we make about 90% of our first impressions of a person on their appearance, gender and ethnicity will play a big part in defining both ourselves and others around us. I see no problem with this.
If two white, 20 year old women meet face to face and then you asked them about one another, answers like “she had blonde hair, she was tanned, she had lovely eyes, big lips, curly hair…etc” would not make you blink. And then if you asked them to make a judgement on the kind of person the other was based on only that brief encounter, an answer such as “she obviously takes care of herself, she was pretty, she makes an effort, she seemed very professional, she seemed care-free…etc” would also be acceptable. But this is because they are two white girls. If you mixed the race, suddenly ‘racism’ comes in to play and an answer “she’s black” becomes tricky and any judgement made about ‘the kind of person she seemed to be’ (based on minimal information) suddenly could be seen as ‘racist’.
We are so careful not to appear racist, that I believe we are actually being racist. If racism is judging and potentially discriminating against or having a certain opinion of a person based on their skin colour, then surely when we say “We have to have at least one black back-up dancer in this music video….we need a black presenter on the news etc” we are actually just being racist and perpetuating it. What if the white condidates are simply better? What if there is no genuinely suitable black substitute and WHITE people lose out in the name of ‘equality’? Is this not just judging someone for their skin colour just in another way?
I have plenty of ‘black’ friends, and one of best best childhood friends was Indian…but I never defined them by these terms. And if you asked me to point out my friend I would happily say “the black girl over there” and it’s not racist…it’s fact!
The same goes for feminism and sexism. By constantly drawing attention to it, I believe we make it happen and cause it to continue. Any anyway, whats wrong with a few stereotypes?
I like shopping. Okay, I LOVE shopping.
I like make up, and hair and clothes and beauty and fashion and all ‘feminine’ things. So what? If people want to make a judgement about me based on that information, then they are entitled to. I don’t care, and if they want to treat me a certain way as a result, and I don’t appreciate their views and behaviours, then I don’t need them in my lives, I can move on and it doesn’t matter.
Stop being so sensitive. Everyone judges others based on appearances, stereotypes and initial snap judgements and impressions. It’s HUMAN NATURE! As animals, we had to judge if another animal was threat or not based on their APPEARANCE and our own EXPERIENCE AND INSTINCTS :
How did we know that the striped animal approaching was dangerous? A) Its sripey…but ORANGE and stripey, so its a tiger (not a zebra for example) B) We’ve seen people get eaten by tigers, so we know they’re dangerous C) It’s growling and has big teeth…stereotype suggests it’s dangerous so RUN!
The only information we have comes from our own past experiences, cultural stereotypes and what we see in front of our eyes. So of course we will judge someone based on those three elements. That doesn’t make it wrong, and we can always change our opinions…I don’t think anyone can say that the first impresssion they had of any given person didn’t change one bit upon getting to know them. Maybe we’ll be pretty accurate, maybe we’ll be completely wrong, but we can change our minds, develop our opinions and have new views. First impressions matter, but they are not the be all and end all and sometimes we need those first impressions just to go about or lives. Get over it.
And seriously, what’s with all the hate for Nigella becuse she’s ‘anti-feminist’, realistically, I don’t believe a female, ANY female, could possibly be anti-feminist! If she wants to claim power over he body and be all sexualised and such on her show, then let her. How is it anti-feminist? I love Nigella…
I appreciate that Racism and Feminism are issues which do need to be addressed. There are horrible acts of race-violence and murder and terrorism and some places, Women are treated horribly, but I am talking in terms of this, our Western world (UK, but USA too and other ‘forward-thinking’ countries) and the society here. I’m not saying these aren’t issues, I’m saying that we often make them much more than they are/could be/need to be, or just create them when they weren’t there in the first place.
Stop fussing about being ‘politically correct’ and ‘equality’ and ‘equal rights’. We are all people, we are all different, we all do it anyway, maybe we just don’t say it and maybe its on a more subconscious level but we do it. Deal with it and don’t let it define you or your actions and all will be well.
And anyway, I’m a girl and I want equal rights, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice when a man hold the door open for me based on his internal first judgements of me. In fact, I quite like it!!