"You can't be sexist against men" / "You can't be racist against white people"

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Jorick, May 5, 2015.

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  1. I've been seeing these kinds of statements in use a lot lately, and they're irritating me enough that I almost just made a rant thread about them. Instead, I figured it was worth trying for some rational discussion and debate to see what other people thing of these sentiments and the thoughts behind them, so here we go.

    In all the explanations I've seen of these sorts of statements, it seems to come down to a matter of people having decided to redefine the key words to mean something that is more fitting for their opinions and cannot be used against them. For the two examples in the thread title, the basic gist of it is that the definition they're using is that sexism/racism are defined as something along the lines of “power + prejudice against people based on their sex/race.” The prejudice part by itself has been the standard definition of these words for ages, and although some dictionaries would include side bits like “especially against women” for sexism, the overall meaning was that any prejudice based on race/sex was racism/sexism.

    These altered definitions apparently originate from the quote “Racism = Prejudice + Power” from a 1970 book titled Developing New Perspectives on Race by Pat Bidol, and in that book the author used that definition to make a case as to why black people in the United States could not be racist against white people. This reasoning seemed to appeal to feminists, so it led to a redefinition of sexism, and more recently there are other words with similar definitions I've seen tossed around (such as people saying it's impossible for a female trans person to be transphobic against trans males). This definition essentially means that the words cannot be applied when a person of the less socially powerful/dominant group is prejudiced against someone of the dominant group because they lack social power, therefore it's just prejudice rather than one of the -ism words. The argument used to back up this usage of the words is generally a form of circular logic: women can't be sexist against men because the definition of sexism is power + prejudice because so-and-so source says sexism is about power so women can't be sexist against men because the definition... and the cycle repeats ad nauseam. Apparently we are to assume that the fact that these definitions have been used in textbooks for various social science classes means that they are the true and absolute definition of the words.

    The above things annoy me largely for linguistic reasons. The vast majority of people who give a damn about English linguistics have agreed that definitions ought to be descriptive, meaning that they should describe actual use rather than trying to posit the "true" meaning; this is why English dictionaries tend to give a main definition and a bunch of secondaries that are also valid. This is in contrast to prescriptive definitions, where some sort of authority prescribes the meaning of words and then that meaning is the only legitimate one; for example, the Académie française exists to decide what the correct usage of the French language is. These redefinitions of the words are an attempt to force niche prescriptive definitions to be a thing in English to support the biases of various groups.

    That second bit is the other major reason this pisses me off. It's not just a matter of people thinking a certain definition is the right one, they're pushing it for their own benefit. They want to capture all the power of the rightfully negative connotations of these words and make sure they cannot be used against their own people. Here's a fun example of someone throwing around the weight of the word "racism" for their own benefit, just to show you what I mean. The "you can't be racist/sexist against minorities/women" thing is used similarly, sometimes offensively to prevent claims of racism, other times defensively after making prejudiced statements against men or white people. For instance, here a woman dismisses someone as a "white trash meninist," gets called out, goes for the "lol nah" defense of implying it was fine because racism against white people isn't a thing. It becomes a shield for prejudiced behavior rather than a way to clarify and focus the discussion about prejudice. These people seem to operate under the assumption that there's some kind of binary going on here where sexism/racism are bad and everything else is not bad, therefore they can claim not to be sexist/racist to instantly declare that they've done nothing wrong. It's just fucking awful.

    Now that I've gotten my semi-rant explanation of things out of the way, I want to know what you guys think. How do you feel about the “prejudice + power” definition of these kinds of words? Have you seen it in use as well, or is this news to you? Do you agree with me that it's self-serving nonsense, do you think it makes total sense, or something in between? For those who think it's bad, do you think it should be countered by denying the definition or by accepting this new framework and instead calling applicable offending people out for plain prejudice rather than using the fancy -ism words? For those who think this power definition is fine, how do you feel about people using it as a defense for prejudiced statements and behaviors and what, if anything, ought to be done about it? That should be enough to get some discussion and debate rolling.

    Disclaimer: I realize that things like feminism and race relations will come up in this thread, and that's totally fine, but try to keep it all on point about the topic at hand instead of devolving into a debate specifically about those related but separate things. If you wanna argue about feminism in particular and how you feel about it, for example, I'd suggest making a separate thread instead of derailing this one and probably getting it locked.
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  2. I wasn't aware of the original source/cause of this trend, but it's good to know.
    As for how I feel? I agree that it's silly, not only because it allows people to be racist and sexist and then claim they're not, but also because it paints a false image of society as a whole systematically trying to oppress X minority.
    Oh I've seen it, a lot.
    Watching channels such as Thunderf00t, TheAmazingAtheist, InternetAristocrat, Sargon of Akkad & TL;DR tends to expose you to those kinds of loonies.
    It's self-serving nonsense.
    Not only painting false images, but it's sending us in the reverse direction of equality.
    People like Martin Luther King fought hard to see us all enjoy equality, but stuff like this is essentially allowing some of those same conflicts (granted on a far less severe level) surface again, just with the groups switched around.

    Basically it's dividing people when what we should be doing is uniting.
    Stick with the actual definitions.
    If we start treating their definitions legitimately they'll simply do the same thing again with words such as Prejudice and we'll be back at square one again.
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  3. Related video.

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  4. I think it's all bullcrap to further an agenda of some sort.

    Surely one could find many sources and crackpots that say "diversity and multiculturalism basically means white genocide", which to me it does a little bit. But that's something else entirely I feel like.

    But yea, completely agree with you, Jorick. On all points. More often then not no one is willing to stand up for common sense because they fear being labeled as racist. A situation similar to that happens near daily here at my workplace.

    Now then. I came here to read good replies. Not end up being chewed out because my writing isn't as eloquent or polite as everyone else's.

    Edit, @Jorick your second link after the one about the British mayor is broken. It links to a 1x1 something.
    #4 Windsong, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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  5. In my opinion, trying to use “Racism = Prejudice + Power” to justify minority group X for being hateful against privileged group Y is in itself racist. That is making a blanket statement that all X has no power over Y, which is both demeaning and untrue. Acting hatefully against people for the conditions of their birth is always wrong, and as it turns out, everyone holds some sort of power that can be used to hurt others. When they do, it is always sad because those same powers can be used to create new things rather than tear down the old things. If these people want to talk about using words correctly, they will first have to explain to me how someone who is using words to protect hateful and destructive behavior has the authority to determine their good use.
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  6. I recently made a friend who I get along with quite well, although she does vehemently subscribe to the "you can't be racist against white people" philosophy because "Racism is a system-based thing, and it's a white-ruled country" or something to that effect. To be fair to her, she did say that people can and absolutely do treat white people in awful and shitty ways, but in her mind racism seems to be tied to economic and social status of races, which I disagree with and I did mention that racism is discrimination against race, no matter which way it goes, but didn't really feel like getting into a big debate over the meaning of a word because while I disagree with her opinion of what racism means, what she was describing overall was pretty much on the ball even if I didn't agree with the label. It's kind of like when somebody calls a truck a car, you both know what they're talking about as soon as you start to describe it, even if it's technically incorrect.

    As for my own beliefs, yes, you can be racist against white people, regardless of their social status and the fact society tends to treat minorities a lot less favourably.
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  7. I was under the impression that any kind of '-ism' was a belief that your group is better because the other is lesser. It has nothing to do with power, just hate and scorn.

    I learned this from Die Hard 3.
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  8. Eh, what link? There's only one after the mayor thing.
  9. I worded that poorly. Sorry.

    It says 'here' after the longer one.
  10. It's the same thing with religion:
    "You can't be bigoted against Christians!"
    isn't it?
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  11. That one is linked to this: http://i.imgur.com/1tFwgGG.jpg

    If you're seeing something else, then something is weird and broken. If you're seeing that and think it's messed up, idk what's up with you. :P
    Yep, that's another version of this same concept for sure.
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  12. I'm a little on the fence. Ignoring a definition to serve a personal agenda or using your own interpretation to excuse your actions is just as bad as "regular" racism/sexism. It doesn't really solve anything.

    However, I am a fan of hating people who deserve it. So I can see the justification for hating, say, white males. Oppressing other ethnicities and the female gender is written all over history. There's a lot of bad blood because of it, and some people hold a grudge like that. I'm pretty sure the line of thought behind that is "sure it might be racist, but they deserve it! Look at what they've done!"

    Now I used that example because 1: white males hold the most power in western society, and 2: I am a white male. I'll often rip on my own ethnicity and gender because of the past (and why more often than I'd like, the present), figuring that I'm insulting myself too, so it's kind of a wash. Is this really a balance? Can you insult a group so long as it's not also a hate crime? Probably not; there's bound to be an ism for this, too.

    But I only insult people who have actually done something wrong. I will admit to associating them to a group (example: whites in the south are racist. I know this isn't universal, but every Alabama or Florida police shooting of a black guy who did nothing wrong reinforces it.), and I will admit to that being wrong, but cataloging things is human nature. It's how we make sense of the world. I can only apologize for being human.

    The term I've heard for this is "reverse racism" or "reverse sexism." It's not really a reverse, though, is it? More like a big circle.
  13. Yeah, but who deserves to be hated? The better you understand how someone got into a situation, the harder it is to hate them. It is easy to hate a murderer, it is hard to hate that same murderer after watching him experience years of abuse at the hands of their parents while tormented by an untreated mental disorder. Hate cannot exist at the same time as complete understanding. Understanding that you don't know everything about why people do what they do is an important step because that is the point at which you realize that you are systematically disadvantaging yourself by hating something/someone.

    You don't need to blindly hate something to want to stop it or not agree with it. You are much more powerful and able to cause real change when you know your enemy.
    #13 ☆Luna☆, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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  14. That saying is wrong and prone to its own accusations. It is like saying that it's okay for black females to, for example, deny job applications from white men, just because they're white men. Two wrongs don't make a right, unfortunately a lot of people don't care about that.

    How do you feel about the “prejudice + power” definition of these kinds of words?
    Bullshit. Not because certain people use it, no, just because it's wrong.

    Depends. I think you don't necessarily need power to be racist/sexist, meaning you could simply have that mindset without abusing some kind of power to apply it.

    Have you seen it in use as well, or is this news to you?
    I have. I believe Anita Sarkeesian tweeted it at some point.

    EDIT: She actually twittered the whole two sentences.

    Do you agree with me that it's self-serving nonsense, do you think it makes total sense, or something in between?
    Of course I agree. Now I'm a misogynist!

    EDIT: In this case.

    For those who think it's bad, do you think it should be countered by denying the definition or by accepting this new framework and instead calling applicable offending people out for plain prejudice rather than using the fancy -ism words?
    Just deny it. Definitions need to be true.

    EDIT: I wouldn't include it because it depends largely on how you define other words.
    #14 Wolk, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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  15. I disagree with this, as I tend to see hate as something spawned from passionate disagreements and entrenched opinions, and complete understanding can give way to more disagreements. Understanding doesn't always get rid of hate, sometimes it just gives you more and better words to describe and reinforce your hate. It may also make you pity someone too, but pity, understanding, and hate aren't exclusive.

    On topic, yeah prejudice can exist towards anything, and racism is really just any prejudice that's based around race / ethnicity regardless of the power or institutionalism behind it, and sexism is that but based on sex (and not the fun kind). Sure, prejudice with power may be more damaging, but prejudice is still prejudice, and damage is still damage.
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  16. Oh, someone dissenting, neat. I was thinking this might just turn into an echo chamber after all the previous replies, haha.

    I've got a few questions and things for you to consider and answer if you feel like it.

    Who gets to decide what groups deserve to be hated? Is there some objective arbiter that decides what groups are and are not worthy targets of hate? If not, then it's just more subjective discrimination under the guise of fairness, isn't it?

    Do the sins of the father become the sins of the son? Should the son of a murderer also be branded guilty of a crime due to blood relation? Modern law says no. Justifying prejudice because of things in the past says yes. Why is it okay to condemn someone for the acts of their ancestor in this broad area of prejudice but not in more specific areas like theft and so forth?

    If the argument behind allowing hate of white people is "look at what they've done," then why are they the only group worthy of hate? If a history of oppression and slavery are enough to condemn the modern descendents of a group, then most ethnic groups deserve hate for this reason. There was a lively and thriving slave trade in the Middle East long before Europeans (I believe the Portuguese were the first of that lot) ever joined in on it. Hell, the Africans were enslaving other Africans and selling/trading them before Europeans showed up, and the Europeans just bought into the existing system. Going further back than the colonial era, to the middle ages, there were slaves taken by the Vikings (they called them thralls), the Mongols, and the Ottoman Empire (among other powers in the Middle East), there was some slavery action on the British Isles for a while, and lots of slave taking/selling went on between Muslim and Christian groups in Spain, Portugal, and northern Africa. Jump back to the classic era and we know the Romans and Greeks had slaves, and some evidence suggest the Celts did too. Go back into antiquity and there's evidence of slavery in what is now called the Middle East (quite a few civilizations in this area dealt in slaves way back in the day, in fact), Egypt, China, India, and some of the native cultures of the Americas. That's a whole lot of groups that did the slavery and oppression thing at some time in their past. Is there some kind of expiration date on the whole sins of the father thing that excludes these other people from being worthy of hate because of oppressive activities while white people still get it, or is something else going on here?

    Since the basis for allowing hatred against white males is that they hold the power in western society, does that mean that elsewhere in the world it's cool for minority groups to hate on those in power? Say, for example, is it totally legit for people from Hong Kong to hate Chinese people just because the Chinese are the dominant people in Asia?

    Who decides the truth of a definition though? I happen to agree that it should be denied, but your reasoning seems odd to me. I deny it because it's a blatantly selfish and self-serving redefining of a term, not because it's fake. Should enough people start defining racism/sexism as power + prejudice, then by logic of descriptive linguistics they will become legitimate secondary definitions, and if they become the main usage then they will become the main definition.

    If you prefer prescriptive definitions, then who decides what definition is true and not true?
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  17. Such things can be scientifically proven, and as it happens the burden of proof lies upon whoever makes a statement like this.
    Technically, this saying is as true as the inperceptible nacho floating right over your head.
  18. I find your argument about the meaning of 'definitions' strange in light of our aeons-old debate about 'progress in philosophy' :\

    What's your definition of racism? As far as most minorities know, it is in fact prejudice + power. A simple google search about white privilege should prove this in spades.
  19. Ah, hell, guess I'll wade into this. I'll start from this quoted line, and move on from there with all the passion I can muster.
    Except that's not how history works. Oppression is not relegated solely to a gender or ethnicity: Kings used to rule with absolute authority over their subjects. The Roman Empire would conscript farmers against their will, so much so that farmers began cutting off their own thumbs to avoid being forced to fight wars they didn't want to be involved in. They were white people. The various nations of Asia engaged in genocidal & violent conflicts, purging and destroying anything that was different: From the Nanking Slaughter to the Martyrs of Japan: The Martyrs, by the way, were Christians both white and Japanese who were slaughtered for their beliefs. The Islamic World engaged in the African slave trade long before Europeans ever did, and even then, the Portuguese and Spanish purchased slaves from the West Coast Kingdoms of Africa who enslaved other blacks living in tribes in central Africa. In other words: Blacks sold other blacks.

    If you're wondering why there are no major black populations in the Islamic world today like there are in the United States, it's because the Islamic Caliphates at the time neutered the men to prevent them from breeding.

    Do you know who tried to stop the slave trade? Great Britain did. With this. Which they used as a legal reason to declare war on other European powers who continued to engage in the slave trade, most prominently the Portuguese and the Spanish. Prior to this, it was illegal to export slaves via Great Britain for hundreds of years, and was outlawed by the Church for over 250 years prior to that: It was outlawed by William the Conqueror/Bastard. This set up the culture in Great Britain that made the actions of the West Africa Squadron celebrated by its people during peace time as a national act of pride.

    The idea that historical discrimination can be associated by a colour is so fictitious as to stretch the imagination to its thinnest point for the sheer purposes of eliciting guilt. All of our ancestors, regardless of where they were born, were generally savage peoples living in savage times. The Iroquois completely wiped out the Huron without white men: Every man, woman, and child, was slaughtered without a second thought of mercy. The Métis were looked upon with just as much disdain and disgust from the Native American tribes as they were by the white government of Canada. Discrimination has no colour, neither does hatred, nor ignorance.

    The only reason white people ended up on top in the veritable socioeconomic ladder is entirely by chance of geographic area. The Atlantic is shorter than the Pacific and the trade winds blow favourably for colonization from Europe instead of Asia. The lands which Europeans live on are extremely and extraordinarily fruitful, allowing European populations to multiply a lot faster. They gained a technological advantage by the ability of the cultures in the area to adapt outside influences to their own atop being able to come up with their own inventions: Such as learning the secrets of gunpowder from the Chinese and then adapting that into firearms and cannons, or learning how to do numbers from India and then using said numbers to invent the Mercantile economic system, or create the first stock exchange for tulips. Cultures, geography, and chance led to Imperialism being dominated by white civilizations: Not the fact that they were white. So to say that white people were especially terrible for oppressing other peoples is ignoring the context of history. That is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the modern age. After all, I'm pretty sure the serfs living in absolute destitute poverty in Georgia and Russia didn't ask to be gangfucked by the Mongolian invasion.

    Is there no such thing as racism? No. Racism exists, obviously. It exists the same as any other form of discrimination: Perpetuated by ignorant people to be hateful towards others, or feeling guilty for themselves. Were you born white? Congratu-fucking-lations. That means absolutely nothing for who you are as a person: The pigment of your skin does not control your beliefs or knowledge. Where you are born, and what you choose to make of your life, decides far more about you than the colour of your skin. There are white Christians, and white Muslims, and white Buddhists, and white atheists, and white agnostics, and white socialists, and white capitalists, and white authoritarians, and white libertarians, and white tyrants, and white peacemakers. There are wise men like Voltaire, and monsters like Hitler.

    So long as history is viewed in the lenses of colour instead of culture, of oppression instead of ignorance, we will never be free of racism. If you blame the troubles of your life on racism, you will never be free of it. If you judge anyone by skin tone first and foremost, you are the oppressor. Remember forever the first rule of the fanatic: When you become obsessed with the enemy you become the enemy. When you become obsessed with prosecuting thought crime, with removing racism from a single ethnicity of people (whites), you become a racist. You become the oppressor. The longer you stare into the abyss, the longer it stares back at you.

    Anyone who believes that you cannot be racist against white people because they have power is perpetuating the very thing they hate the most. I don't hate those people: I pity them. It's a tragedy when you begin to view the worst aspects of mankind by a colour instead of by actions. Voltaire wasn't wise because he was white: He was wise because he studied hard, and spent his life trying to come up with the best way for human beings to live. Hitler wasn't a monster because he was white: He was a monster because he spread hatred and fear, and part of that was racism. "The Jews own the banks!" What makes it any different to say that the whites own the banks? What kind of moral superiority do you have when you spout the words of a madman tyrant who murdered seven million people?

    As for sexism... People like to look back at history and point out that women had less rights than men. This is true, but then, look back to the medieval era with an honest gaze: Men are more suitable for the rigours of melee combat than women. Men were conscripted to fight and die by the millions to defend their culture and country from perceived aggressors or against perceived transgressions of the times. Men had more power because they were expected to fight and die at a moment's notice. Women were too important to risk in war, when the infant mortality rate was much higher because easily preventable diseases and birth complications of today were not present back then. Look at the portrayal of women of the time: They were to be beautiful, to be kind, to be loving and caring. They weren't simply chattle to be exchanged in deals: These were family members, these were daughters, children, people to protect by getting them into the highest possible social strata possible via marriage. It's backwards by today's standards, but it was hardly malevolent: It was ignorant. I would not wish such a fate on anyone in the modern world, man or woman, because the needs of medieval societies are no longer present in the modern day. We have advanced beyond the need for tribalism.

    The peasants of the medieval era had only slightly more power than their female counterparts. As we grew as a species, as the Divine Right to Rule was pushed aside for Human Rights: For individual merit, value, independence, and rights, to become more important than the power of the state. As a result, not only were peasant men liberated, but soon after so were women, so were other races, so were immigrants who would have once been slaves. Generations of patriots have watered the tree of liberty for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today: White or black, man or woman. Bravery and empathy are not limited to a race, or a gender.

    Are we completely equal? No. I'm not sure we ever can be. We're imperfect humans working with imperfect systems... But the idea that racism or sexism can be relegated exclusively to any particular group, serves only to dehumanize through victimization: If you're black, don't try to empower yourself! Just blame white people. If you're a woman and you lost your job, it's not because of bad luck: It's because the patriarchy is suppressing you! You can't be racist against white people or sexist against men, after all, white people and men aren't humans: They're white, or men. They're the oppressors, the dragons to be slain, to the monsters that go bump in the night who kidnap your children. There's no such thing as men who live in poverty, or whites who live in poverty. There's no such thing as men or whites being unlawfully detained or murdered without justice ever being delivered. There's no such thing as empathy for that which is different: If it's white, it's evil. If it's a man, it's evil. Victimize yourself, blame others for your problems, demand that others solve your problems.

    Hatred only breeds hatred. Discrimination to stop discrimination will only make more innocent victims. You don't uplift women by pulling men down, and you don't uplift blacks and asians by pulling whites down: You merely damage the whole of society by creating more reasons for hatred instead of less.

    So, remember always: That we are all of one species, and that hatred and ignorance is not dedicated exclusively to any one particular group of people. Hatred and Love are two wolves we always fight within ourselves: The one that wins is the one you feed.
    #19 Brovo, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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  20. Hate is too strong an emotion to give to those you don't like.
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