sexism and racism

Subject: sexism and racism
From: Vicki Rosenzweig <murphy!acmcr!vr -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1993 10:03:32 EDT

I'm in the odd position here of not having gotten the messages
that sparked this. Nonetheless, there are a couple of things I
want to respond to, particularly the odd assertion that we can
learn more about bigotry by talking to the oppressors than to
their victims.

What we mostly learn from talking to oppressors is that most of
them don't think much about what they're doing. The racist who
won't hire people with the wrong skin color isn't thinking about
the poor shacks they'll have to live in if they can't find jobs.
He's thinking, maybe, that they're "not like us" and will be
less comfortable for him to work with. Or she's remembering some
stereotype or lie that she heard, and not even looking at the real
human being in front of her. Yes, it is worth being aware of the
banality of evil--but once we have noted that, it is more important
to listen to the victims, to see how they are being harmed, and
be motivated to do something about it. Someone said that the hard
part was finding Nazis to testify. But there's plenty of Nazi
writing and testimony available, produced all through the years
that they ruled Germany. Did we read _Mein Kampf_, or listen to
propaganda radio, and realize how horrible this was? For the most
part, no--because the Nazis painted the picture they wanted seen.
If you want to know what Nazism was really like, you read the
memoirs of the concentration camp survivors, or the Diary of Anne

Similarly, with something as institutionalized as sexism, relatively
few men think "I'm going to oppress women today." Some think "she's
getting uppity" and hit a particular woman. More make rude remarks
they would never consider addressing to another man, or pay women
less because they can get away with it. They're barely aware of what
they're doing until someone tells them its effects. And someone thinks
I can learn more by talking to the man who was told "Don't hold the
door for me" than the woman whose lover beat her. Right. Yes, it is
well to listen to everyone, but men have been coming up with reasons
why women should be quiet and listen for a long time: I don't appreciate
being told that even when the subject is women's experience, men are
the experts.

Vicki Rosenzweig
vr%acmcr -dot- uucp -at- murphy -dot- com

Previous by Author: Re: Contract rates
Next by Author: Re: What is the medium we are using?
Previous by Thread: Thank you for the advice
Next by Thread: Warnings, citation on

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads