Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Not Sexist, Homophobic Or Racist But...

Continuing on yesterdays theme regarding allies, I thought that today would be an appropriate time to discuss language. Many people profess to be anti racist,  pro gay rights, or against sexism but routinely use language that is necessarily oppressive.  To espouse a particular point of view one needs to be cognizant of  language, and its ability to discursively construct someone as 'other'. In the English language alone, there are many colloquial sayings that are oppressive that have been deemed acceptable as a form of communication. How many times have you heard someone say, that's just retarded, or that's so gay as a negative descriptor, and then turn around and say that they possess no biases? One of my personal favorites is "the best chefs are men". This of course ignores the fact that cooking is only valuable when done in the public sphere to attain a profit. When women cook at home to feed their families, and friends it has no value.

When we make blanket statements involving a group of people it creates them as 'other'.  A space is unsafe when an individual feels unfairly targeted. Being conscious of language is something that I am dedicated to. Have I perfected the art of speaking without minimizing people at all times? No of course not, I am a product of society just as anyone else is.  Here is the part where the ally thing comes into play. If you say something offensive the key is to acknowledge it. Don't get defensive because that does nothing to further the conversation.  Admit your error and recommit yourself to change. Unless you are living in the stigmatized body you cannot possibly know all of the nuances involved, so expect to make mistakes.

Many are afraid to speak out because of fear of alienating people. They question themselves needlessly. If you are even thinking about the intersections of race, class, and gender, you are more advanced than many in our society.  Most importantly if you don't take the risk and put yourself out there, you will never grow as a person.  It may be safer to sit on the sidelines silently cheering, but you will have contributed nothing to struggle, and gained no significant knowledge.

There will always be those that will not accept that your intent was good simply because they are so wrapped up in their issues, that they are blind to an ally when they see one. Some will throw accusatory words at you, perhaps even accuse you of not "owning your privilege" (note feminist war words). Others will toss such vicious vitriol in your direction that you pray to morph into a turtle.   Hold your head high if you know that your intentions were good.  There will be someone who will acknowledge your intent. Feminist spheres are not always a friendly place to inhabit, but there is usually at least one individual who will say, I know what you meant to say.

Finally when we come together to share ideas, we should actually listen to what someone is saying, and not just pick apart an argument because we can. Anyone reading this blog, knows that I am a smart ass, and probably has guessed that I can pick apart just about any argument. Does it mean that I constantly engage in this activity because I can...No. Do I hold others up to ridicule when it is clear that they were trying to speak in solidarity...no.  I recognize that nothing can be gained from that, other than to encourage the speaker to never again attempt to articulate a point of view that was meant to uplift me as a  WOC. Will I gently point out a few things that were omitted...yes, however I will not do so in a way that vilifies the speaker because I realize that intent is worth something. If you really want to encourage people to "own their privileges", the way to go about it is not by shooting them in the foot, the minute they step into the arena. 

15 comments:

julie said...

This is a real tough one to me. I understand how people can be hurt by comments or statements or even from a ruling in a group that has a taste of discrimination but I think discrimination can also be important.

It has it's place and I think the world is going overboard with what is politically correct in language.

I personally don't see why gays are getting upset about a question on a sheet when giving blood. It is not just gays that are targeted when giving blood. And AIDS is very relevant. Drugs users and those who have travelled overseas within the last year are also targeted.

Saying that men are better cooks because they are the highest paid in the field is not bias to women who cook at home IMO. It is said in a particular context. And in the context it looks to be correct. What is wrong with saying something that is correct?

Also I think that if we put too much empathises on not hurting anyone because our words may discriminate as in hurting someone's pride or feelings, then how can we have real hard core discussion over important issues.

Kindness will kill us all in the end if we are not careful. Sometimes honesty is better.

And yet, I don't mean that people should abuse the right to speak up but I am a firm believer in freedom of speech.

Renee, I hope I am on topic for this post. I have some feelings that discriminate against others. I think it is natural for someone to care for themselves first and second their immediate family.

And I think that even though I have privilege, those that don't are gaining privilege by taking away my privilege. Which means that they will have more privilege than I will.

In other words, for example; I will be subjected to poisoned blood because gays are fighting for the right to give poisoned blood. Some of my gay friends are also upset about this too.

Some feminists are going crazy about men getting rights because they don't want their privilege taken away. Women are in men's workforce and men are moving into the home/parenting area. Each side has to lose privilege and gain privilege.

Renee said...

And I think that even though I have privilege, those that don't are gaining privilege by taking away my privilege. Which means that they will have more privilege than I will.

In this you are making a supposition. The goal of rights movements is to establish equality and at the very least recognition of a shared humanity.

I personally don't see why gays are getting upset about a question on a sheet when giving blood. It is not just gays that are targeted when giving blood. And AIDS is very relevant. Drugs users and those who have travelled overseas within the last year are also targeted.

I am not sure what issue you are dealing with here but I will comment that it is problematic to center out people that may identify as gay. Sexual orientation is not a natural indicator of caring the aids virus. If something is aimed at the gay community regarding testing it should equally apply to the hetero community. No one group is more or less deviant than the other.

julie said...

I am not sure what issue you are dealing with here but I will comment that it is problematic to center out people that may identify as gay. Sexual orientation is not a natural indicator of caring the aids virus. If something is aimed at the gay community regarding testing it should equally apply to the hetero community. No one group is more or less deviant than the other.

Oh, 100% sure the gay community is suffering from AIDS. And we who are into PC are harming them by ignoring their problem.

We listen once again to political agenda and yet we shut down anyone and I mean even the truth speakers if they dare to show how important this group is.

We don't care about the gay community. We only care about equality.

We make sexism and homophobic and racism. We make it by allowing an agenda that we are not ready for.

You can google all this info. I wouldn't have a clue which site to pick amongst the millions.

But I will say that medically, we have so far cared about gays and Aids. Australia has made remarkable steps forward.


In this you are making a supposition. The goal of rights movements is to establish equality and at the very least recognition of a shared humanity.


I know too well. I work closely with the Human Rights Commission.

It is very carefully played. And equality is something I think people really need to understand. You me and everyone else will be stripped completely down. Yes, in the end generations down the track, our offspring will be equal.

You know, feminists have no idea how many rights they soon will be giving up for men. Men have not yet even started having rights. Humanist created rights. So far, only women, homosexuals, religion, transsexuals and race have rights. OK, I may have missed one or two. Not too interested in giving facts. I am tired.

How much Renee of your own identity as a black woman are you willing to give up? How important is your history to you? How proud are you?

You see, by humanists telling you how much you are a victim, and how much you buy into it, will create how much you will hate it.

Renee said...

Oh, 100% sure the gay community is suffering from AIDS. And we who are into PC are harming them by ignoring their problem.
That is just the point Julie, AIDS is not a gay disease. It is contracted through the spread of bodily fluids which can just as easily happen during heterosexual sex. Africa has the worlds highest AIDS rate and do you really believe that it is a continent that has the highest ratio of homosexuals?

It is very carefully played. And equality is something I think people really need to understand. You me and everyone else will be stripped completely down. Yes, in the end generations down the track, our offspring will be equal.
So what you are saying that we need to keep oppressing to hold on to our privilege? That simply does not work for me. I am no more entitled to the privilege I live with than anyone else.

So far, only women, homosexuals, religion, transsexuals and race have rights. OK, I may have missed one or two. Not too interested in giving
facts. I am tired.

Ok the list that you mentioned is filled with the worlds most oppressed people. How can you claim that transexuals have more rights? That is completely nonsensical, I am sorry.

You see, by humanists telling you how much you are a victim, and how much you buy into it, will create how much you will hate it.
I am not victim and I have never owned that word as a descriptor attached to my person in anyway. I am subject to racism and sexism due to the inequalities that exist in our present system.

julie said...

@Renee,

That is just the point Julie, AIDS is not a gay disease. It is contracted through the spread of bodily fluids which can just as easily happen during heterosexual sex. Africa has the worlds highest AIDS rate and do you really believe that it is a continent that has the highest ratio of homosexuals?

Of course what you say is worthwhile argument. And I think it is better to give the Gay community an agenda to follow such as gay rights with millions of dollars on the whole and tell them that they should fight for their rights to give blood rather than tell them that they should be suing the wealthy, I mean mega wealthy, drug companies for giving them Aids in the first place.

There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. The epidemic was caused by the "introduction" of a new retrovirus (the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV for short); and the introduction of a new herpes-8 virus, the virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma, widely known as the "gay cancer" of AIDS. The taboo theory that AIDS is a man-made disease is largely based on research showing an intimate connection between government vaccine experiments and the outbreak of "the gay plague"

http://tinyurl.com/4hfxbd

Now ... let me teach you something about you as a black woman. The rulers of this world don't care about you. Look what is happening in Africa. Look at your sisters and what is happening to them. Is your heart and guts not ripped from your body wondering why the world UN doesn't care?

Have you been watching the world news with Margaby? He said, "Only God will take me down". Do you know why he said that?

Because of the Rockefeller family and the other elite that us feminist are giving power too. And yes, it is their money they protect over Aids.

It is their money that pays for our feminist rights.

Corporate involvement with the UN may be traced to its very origins. The corporate-heavy club Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has produced most of the US secretaries of state and treasury since 1949.

A word regarding selection of directors or secretaries-general: Specialized UN agencies have their own rules and practices for selecting or replacing directors, and these processes are not formally related to those of other agencies or the UN in general [Urquhart and Childers, 1996]. The secretary-general of the UN is nominated by the Security Council and "appointed" by the General Assembly, meaning that the five powers with vetoes in the Security Council informally agree on a candidate, and the General Assembly accepts or rejects.


Who is the Council for foreign Relations???

None other than ....

Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations’ David Rockefeller Studies Program. We are the Council’s “think tank.”
http://www.cfr.org/thinktank/

And what sort of studies do they do???

Could this be so .....

Climate Change and National Security

Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

And who is David Rockefeller?


http://tinyurl.com/5j8ueg

You need to read the article to find out.

Renee said...

Of course what you say is worthwhile argument. And I think it is better to give the Gay community an agenda to follow such as gay rights with millions of dollars on the whole and tell them that they should fight for their rights to give blood rather than tell them that they should be suing the wealthy, I mean mega wealthy, drug companies for giving them Aids in the first place.
aids is not a gay disease

Now ... let me teach you something about you as a black woman. The rulers of this world don't care about you. Look what is happening in Africa. Look at your sisters and what is happening to them. Is your heart and guts not ripped from your body wondering why the world UN doesn't care?
that statement was extremely prejudicial, one it assumes that I have no idea of the racial and gender hierarchy in this world, which I clearly do and two I am very well versed on the politics of the UN. I am sorry to tell you Julie but there is nothing that you can teach me about being black and female in this world

julie said...

@Renee,

aids is not a gay disease

How do you know this?

Are you not anti gay yourself by not allowing them to own it?

Have you any idea how many gays got and died from Aids?

Man made this disease and infected gay men. But you want to protect powers that insult them.

Why Renee? Are you so certain that Aids is not about being Gay? Are you so certain that making gays fight against Aids being theirs to own is the right thing?

julie said...

@Renee, I am happy that there is nothing I can teach you about being a black woman.

I am not black but I am brown. I know about discrimination.

But see what you just did?

I tried to help and you threw it in my face that I don't have right to say anything.

So maybe now you can understand why white people stand back.

Are you not as prejudice as I am?

Renee said...

@ Julie
I am certain that AIDS is not a gay disease because heterosexuals get it as well. AIDS is passed through the exchange of bodily fluids. THis means blood, semen, saliva etc. If it were truly just a gay disease you would not have so many sectors of society contracting it. As far as upsetting homosexuals between the two of us on this thread I am sure many more people who identify as gay would side with me on this one.

julie said...

@Renee,

I am certain that AIDS is not a gay disease because heterosexuals get it as well. AIDS is passed through the exchange of bodily fluids. THis means blood, semen, saliva etc. If it were truly just a gay disease you would not have so many sectors of society contracting it. As far as upsetting homosexuals between the two of us on this thread I am sure many more people who identify as gay would side with me on this one.

You are right in what you say.

How convenient for the powers that be.

But gays deserve the respect to take this to the higher level. By people who are not gay fighting pro an agenda just because it is the newest label doesn't make this OK. In fact many, many people not just gays have the right to sue the pharmaceutical companies who are making billions upon billions on death and medication.

Can you see how PC will destroy us if we allow this sort of stuff to continue?

But I will say this to you.

I am not wanting to pull you out of feminists groups. I did not pick your site out. I just happened to come across it.

But I am really hoping that other sites will speak up so that the gay community hears how they are being used and abused.

Renee said...

I am not black but I am brown. I know about discrimination.

But see what you just did?

I tried to help and you threw it in my face that I don't have right to say anything.

You may have viewed that as trying to help me Julie but the tone was condescending and not said in the approach of an ally. You cannot say to as POC let me teach you about something as a black woman as it invalidates my experiences as a WOC. It necessarily assumes that even though you don't own the stigmatized body that you have more information than me and that is a problem. White people who do not own their privileges will of course be put off but no one can learn by hearing their own point of view parroted back at them continually....(on a side not I am off to bed so I will read the rest of your commentary tomorrow. sleep well)

julie said...

@Renee,

I must apologise for coming over the wrong way. I do have a tendency to do that sometimes.

I think you have been great to discuss all this with me and thanx for that. It must be very hard for you to move away from things in the past.

I like your network of sites here. I should keep looking around and give you a wee break.

Renee said...

@julie...I created womanist musings for the sake of discussion. I know that we cannot always agree but the more people are thinking critically and talking about issues that matter the better. That said feel free to comment at anytime.

Daomadan said...

Julie: "I personally don't see why gays are getting upset about a question on a sheet when giving blood. It is not just gays that are targeted when giving blood. And AIDS is very relevant. Drugs users and those who have travelled overseas within the last year are also targeted."

And how would you feel if you weren't allowed to donate blood because you're a woman, or a POC, or a new immigrant, etc?

Some of the regulations policing blood donations were made in the 80s when HIV and AIDS were considered "that gay disease". And while it still affects parts of our community, it affects numerous communities across the entire world. So, I think some of us queer folk DO have a right to "be upset" (thanks for dismissing our concerns as emotionality) when the FDA and Red Cross, etc are basing their policies on outdated circumstances.

You also says things such as, "Can you see how PC will destroy us if we allow this sort of stuff to continue?" This is nothing but a strawman argument and often used to shut down conversations on "-isms".

By calling it "100% a gay thing" you do a disserivice to those who are not gay men and infected or think they won't be infected because "they can't get the gay disease".

Renee, you already did an excellent job of arguing how I feel on the point, but I just wanted to add my 2 cents.

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