Do you understand why this is a problem yet?

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The difference between racism and sexism is…?

Subway_Mugger

Read these and then guess which one is the unchanged – and acceptable one.

My black, adopted son is at University. He came down this weekend with his girlfriend to visit and to bring some stuff down from his Residence Hall before finishing up this year and moving back for the summer. He related this story to me;

He was walking home from his girlfriend’s Residence Hall at about midnight. A pretty fast clip, but just walking. Another guy, white, came down some stairs and started walking in front of him. He was probably 12 feet or so behind him at this point. But realize, he was already on the sidewalk – he turned in front of him.

As they are going along he notices that he speeds up considerably. Eventually pumping up the speed to a jog. Simply because he was a black guy, walking behind him. He felt terrible. He told me he didn’t want to say anything to him to assuage his fear because he might get even more spooked.

He is finishing up a semester in Race Studies – he is one of two blacks in the class. He said this experience bothered him so much that he wants to spearhead a chapter of Blacks Against Mugging at his University next year. It may happen, it may not; but this mom couldn’t be prouder of her son.

When he finished his story, all I really said was, “This is white people’s reality.” I could see how that impacted him even further.

***

My son is at University. He came down this weekend with his girlfriend to visit and to bring some stuff down from his Residence Hall before finishing up this year and moving back for the summer. He related this story to me;

He was walking home from his girlfriend’s Residence Hall at about midnight. A pretty fast clip, but just walking. Another girl came down some stairs and started walking in front of him. He was probably 12 feet or so behind her at this point. But realize, he was already on the sidewalk – she turned in front of him.

As they are going along he notices that she speeds up considerably. Eventually pumping up the speed to a jog. Simply because he was a man, walking behind her. He felt terrible. He told me he didn’t want to say anything to her to assuage her fear because she might get even more afraid.

He is finishing up a semester in Women’s Studies – he is one of two men in the class. He said this experience bothered him so much that he wants to spearhead a chapter of Men Against Violence at his University next year. It may happen, it may not; but this mom couldn’t be prouder of her son.

When he finished his story, all I really said was, “This is our reality.” I could see how that impacted him even further.

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Would we ever see black men, despite the disproportionate statistics and prison numbers (yes, there are reasons for this including racism and disproportionate poverty), tacitly accepting that people are afraid they’re thieves and muggers? Internalising this as somehow their fault and that they should act passively and show concern for people who are scared of them because they are black? Of course we wouldn’t. That’s an example of prejudice, despite the way some statistics can be spun to rationalise the ‘threat’ that they represent. Quite rightly we object to and reject this kind of stereotyping just as we do racial profiling for terrorism threat assessment.

Change race to gender though and suddenly we’re supposed to tacitly accept that we’re scary and nasty. That simply because we’re male we’re a threat and deserve to be treated as though we’re guilty before we’ve even done anything. This is just as unacceptable and yet unlike the example above men are willing to line up to agree that they should be treated with prejudice, with fear that they somehow deserve it just because of their Y chromosome.

This was a real post, made by an otherwise reasonable human being and supported by people who are otherwise reasonable human beings, including men. It was a public post and I have stripped out names etc so hopefully this isn’t overstepping any marks but it was jaw-droppingly insensitive and prejudiced. Any solution to these problems is not going to be met by simply reversing the direction of prejudice.

Formulating *ism

Our point of conflict may be that I don’t accept the addition of ‘power’ to the equation of working out if something is *ist or if someone is prejudiced. For me discrimination is discrimination regardless. I regard the addition of ‘power’ as transparently obvious special pleading.

That is many formulate *ism as:
*ism = power + prejudice based on X (gender, race etc).

This is patently stupid on its face. If one looks at, for example, the prejudices of the poor in terms of race it is their own lack of power that leads to their prejudice. Unemployment, poverty and low prospects turning them against – commonly – immigrants.

So I formulate it as:

*ism = prejudice based on X (gender, race etc).

Much clearer, no special pleading and consistent.

Nice Guys & Schroedinger’s Bitch

The whole nice-guy thing has flared up again recently and the introverted, nice-guy nerd takes yet another beating and is, apparently, supposed to take it on the chin with a smile. All kinds of aspersions are cast as to the motivation of the nice guy, his views on women and his emotional experiences and damage are written off and belittled in a way that would never be accepted if the gender direction were reversed.

This makes me very angry, to the point of near incoherence. It’s not just the hypocrisy, it’s the presumptions and the way that emotionally hurtful experiences are written off by the very same people who expect their own irrational, hurtful experiences to be catered to and treated seriously.

I’ve been the nice guy pretty much all my life. The shoulder to cry on, the safe male friend. Not as part of some sort of ‘game’ to try and get women. Not with any sort of expectation but simply because that was who I was. The nice guy hears his female friends problems, sees them fall for bad guys over and over again. He hears what they say they want and pretty often that’s ‘Why can’t he be more like you?’

You want a guy like me?

I’m a guy like me!

Many successful relationships come from friendships and little wonder that through the intimacy of a strong friendship so also romantic affection can spring. This isn’t sinister, or creepy. Its not planned. It doesn’t indicate that the nice guy thinks of the woman as an object or that sex is his due for being a nice guy any more than the lounge lizard necessarily thinks he’s going to get anywhere with his cheesy lines.

Where does the resentment come from? It might be different these days, now that rampant nerdery has a certain cachet, but back in the day that was far from the case. As an introverted nerd with strange hobbies and interests you were a target for scorn and intelligence and humour didn’t get you very far either. Even if you weren’t that bad looking everything else counted against you so much that it didn’t help.

Friendship? Maybe. Anything more? Not on your life.

Again, you don’t necessarily expect it but when you buy into the whole ‘New Man’ thing because it seems to fit you. When you’re taken advantage of. When you’re told over and over again that the qualities you have are desirable but that never turns out to be true. When you do pick up the bravery to make a romantic move and get turned down again and again, banished to the Friend Zone despite all that talk, the hypocrisy and lies understandably get to you.

A broken heart leaves scars.

Apparently though, the nice guy – now once bitten, twice shy – isn’t allowed to dwell on this or to become wary of women, particularly pretty women. He is, instead, blamed for becoming bitter and disenchanted. It’s his fault he was manipulated and disappointed. He should never have been attracted to someone ‘out of his league’. Somehow he’s as much of a ¬†problem as the sexually aggressive swine. Despite having the qualities that many women say they want.

Bollocks.

As men we’re supposed to simply accept that we’re going to be treated as potentially dangerous rapists. Schroedinger’s Rapist is completely irrational and nonsensical and yet we’re supposed to just suck it up and to understand that women are irrationally afraid of us and let it go at that.

What about Schroedinger’s Bitch? Isn’t that just as (in)valid? Maybe we have our ownemotional reasons from bitter, past experience for being wary of women. Especially pretty women. Maybe we’ve been brushed off, lied to, treated like crap, exploited or dumped for the kind of guys you said you didn’t want too many times. How about some respect and understanding for OUR irrational fears eh?

Don’t guess at the nice guy’s motives and them damn him based on you own, insulting presumptions. Somehow, it seems, victim blaming is just fine so long as the guy’s the victim.