Edit from June 21, 2016
I look back at this post, now made over three years in the past, and I see a person who is ignorant.
Many times, I considered deleting the words of my past self, but I feel that would be dishonest. I had, and still have, a lot of racist and sexist attitudes to work through. That has to be owned, not erased.
However, I did not wish to leave my previous perspective unchallenged.
I am always seeking out new articles and books to read, new perspectives to process. If someone does wish to share their experience, please email me. I promise to do my best to listen and to learn. My vision is that of any human’s: Limited, full of blind spots, and, as I work on improving them, subject to change.
I am not as ignorant as I was, but I now realize how much I still have to learn.
I’ve been thinking a lot about racism, sexism, and bigotry. (Wow, there’s an up-beat opener, right?) Which are all super touchy subjects, but you’ve all been amazing with handling touchy subjects in the past, so here goes.
The reason I’ve been thinking about it is this fine and upstanding elder is clearly a bigot. But when I was working on these pages I started wondering — is she also a racist? Where does the distinction get made, between bigotry and other forms of discrimination, if at all? Does racism or sexism require a larger context of historical and cultural oppression? Or is a bigot simply a member of a racist or sexist group? In which case, is racism/sexism broad (discriminating against any person on the base of their race or gender, regardless of historical context or what race or gender the discriminator is) or does racism/sexism only occur when discrimination is made by a specific type of person to another type of person, as defined by the cultural context in which they live (white person discriminating against non-white person, male discriminating against female). If the latter, then is a person discriminating against somebody else in a reversal of what is considered racist/sexist (non-white person vs. white, female vs. male) not racist or sexist, even if it is bigoted?
I’m not sure what my feelings are on it right now. Even with silly things. For example, I’ve seen a lot of proposals for reversing the oppressive “damsel in distress” role in film. Rendering the male characters into pathetic, incompetent, weak characters that are easily overcome so that their female counter-parts can rescue them. And there’s something about this that bothers me a lot. I can’t help but feel that there’s more than a little spite that goes into this idea. A “see how you like it” that empowers the female character by tearing the male character down. Now, I’m all for things being equal, but I don’t like equality at the expense of someone else. I don’t see how that helps, and I think it propagates resentment and makes people feel justifiably threatened. So I would still say it’s bigoted…but is it sexist? Is sexist content that flips the roles just as sexist? Or is it not sexist because men have not been relegated to that role in media historically, and as a result it is not sexist because it lacks that context?
What’s your take?