Monday, July 11, 2011

The Problem with Reversing the Ism

A quick list of things I don't believe in: ghosts, rational libertarianism, that the Cubs will ever win a World Series, and reverse racism/sexism. Let's talk about that last one.

Racism and sexism aren't a series of individual acts. They are systemic problems in American culture. In other words, racism isn't something that happens to a black person. It's the experience of Black People (and Muslims and Latinos) Sexism isn't something that happens to a woman. It's the experience of Women.

So, while an individual black person might act like an asshole to an individual white person because that individual black person doesn't like white people, white people in America are not victims of racism. And while a woman might be an asshole to a man because she doesn't like men, men in America are not victims of sexism.

When you start using those words to label isolated experiences, you cheapen them.

We don't live in a bias-free America. There are a different set of rules for women than for men and there are a different set of rule for races other than Caucasian. It's not cool for people who have no experience living under these differing sets of rules to appropriate those fights.

There are times when I'd love to get a giant megaphone and just announce loudly to the world, "STOP ACTING LIKE ASSHOLES AND START BEING NICE TO EACH OTHER." And while that is certainly a valid wish and one, I'm sure, we all share. We can't get there by just being nice to each other. We have to start with genuinely trying to recognize and remedy systemic unfairness. And the quickest #epicfail on the road to recognition is appropriation.

In short: Shut it, Fox News: there's no war on Christians. No one's gunning for whitey. And feminists don't hate men. Be aware of your privilege.

(Also stop acting like assholes and be nice to people)