Musings: Misogyny Masks Racism

Rough musings: Why do I say misogyny masks racism:

-They come from the same place; threatened white male entitlement. Though the conversation about race and gender play out in different arenas, they are essentially the same conversation and tend to intersect when women of color (in particular, black women), enter the fray. Undeserved benefits, special rights, ‘you’re already equal, stop complaining,’ ‘NotAllMen/Whites,’ etc. It’s the same crap from the same people. That’s not to say that gender inequity doesn’t exist in communities of color (intersectionality’s complicated, amirite?), but there is a brand of American racism that is brought to you by the makers of American sexism and vice versa, and they are pumped out of the same factory.

-The anti-HRC narrative is both inherently sexist but is inherently racist, too. I say that for two reasons. One is that the narrative of ‘crooked Hillary’ comes from two places: the GOP and the ‘Berners.’ These two groups are all but indistinguishable in their make-up: overwhelmingly white, majority male, and entitled as fuck. And that narrative is equally laden with racist dog whistles as it is sexism. The second reason is rarely stated explicitly, but is quite obvious; the contempt on the part of both the above groups for women, for PoC, and especially, for WoC as actors on the political stage. Look at your poll numbers: PoC, especially women of color, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary, in the primary and the general. But the ‘berner’ movement scoffed at the notion that non-white voters had any idea what they were talking about, or were able to select the candidate that was in their best interests. (I wrote a piece about that problem during the campaign.) Hell, even Sanders did that, when he refused to meaningfully engage black voters in the south. As far as the Democratic party goes, blacks, Latina, LGBT, and women (though women to a lesser degree, I’ll admit) are in a similar boat – we DRIVE the party and the agenda, but then tend to get left out when the elections are over. 

-There is also the number of Sanders voters that voted for Trump, whose numbers skew hugely toward those who “are much more likely to disagree that whites are advantaged in the US.” In other words, racism drove ostensibly ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ voters to Trump, right alongside sexism. But the conversation about why Hillary lost is focused on sexism (not that Trump isn’t openly called out as racist, and should be). But look at the pushback we see when Trump voters are criticized: it’s much more to protest that they are not racist – you don’t hear anywhere near as much outcry of ‘we are not all sexist,’ in fact they are happy to own their disgust for feminism at the same time as insisting they are not racist. However, it seems that they are, in fact, every bit as racist as they are sexist.

-Feminism is, at its core, fueled by women of color. That’s not me talking, that’s Gloria Steinem, for one, and plenty of others. ‘White feminism’ (or as I like to call it ‘non-fat almond milk fair trade latte with a side of kombucha’ feminism) is HUGELY problematic, particularly given the sheer number of white women (53%) who voted for Trump, many of whom call themselves feminist. If it is the case that true feminism (and I’m using that loosely, not to try and run my own purity test, but white feminism is not part of it) is driven by WoC, then antifeminism is directed at both women and minorities at least equally, though I would argue more-so at WoC, and, as I said starting out, comes from the same exact place of white male fragility, and in most cases by the same people. If a black man and a white woman (or a gay person, for that matter) having equal rights is terrifying to the white male of America today, how much scarier is a black woman?

-Also, white feminists (and this sucks for me to say for obvious reasons) are shit allies on issues of race (and often LGBTQ issues as well; exhibit A: ‘TERFs.’) I have literally spent far more time than I should have trying to explain that, no, talking about white feminism as problematic does not mean all white feminists are racist, or that (for some odd reason) all white women are feminist…  White feminists are quick to screech about first-world, white girl oppression, like breastfeeding at Starbucks or something, while completely ignoring the vastly more complex and dangerous issues non-white-privileged women face.  Which is, of course, racism, or at least passive racism. 

-It is still far less taboo to use bitch, slut, cunt, feminazi, etc, than it is to use the n-word in the mainstream public arena. Rape jokes are still more acceptable than lynching jokes.* Men who complain bitterly about feminism are too often chided with a rueful headshake or moue of distaste. People who complain as bitterly about race still lose their jobs on occasion (if not often enough). But even now, it’s still pretty much verboten to be quite as bitter or hateful about race as it is about gender. The left is complicit here, too, by the way, and I don’t mean just the fauxgressive berner left. I mean the ‘don’t be Islamaphobic, hijabs-are-feminist’ crowd too. People will jump down your throat for critiquing Islam because that’s racist, while cheerfully advocating tolerance of some of the most misogynist rhetoric on earth (though the religious right in the U/S. is poised to give it a run for its money.)

*By the way, I am not saying women ‘have it worse;’ in fact I think the opposite, if not by much. And of course, women of color get the brunt of both inequities. That is, of course, part of the problem. 

Consider GamerGate; the misogynist, rape-threatening, hate-spewing trolls involved got plenty of sympathy and were able to spin the entire thing as women being too sensitive, etc. While I’m not going to claim for a second shit like ‘blue lives’ isn’t also a thing, OPEN racism still gets called out a bit faster than open sexism. Exhibit B: Milo….a man who is both sexist and racist, but gets criticized for his sexism (while still getting speaking gigs right and left), while his racism goes uncommented, because it hides beneath his open sexism.

If this seems contradictory, that’s part of the problem: it is BOTH that sexism is more socially acceptable than racism (if by a narrowing margin, and not in the right direction, sadly), but also that when someone can channel their hate into a public expression of sexism, then that’s all we ever end up talking about; like it’s more titillating or something. 

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