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  • Thursday, September 25, 2008

    Failings and Flailing of feminist Allies

    (Jump to comments.)

    Take it from me, going from a teenage pseudo–egalitarian who would occasionally apologize for rape culture (once told a gal friend over IM that people are responsible for their reputations and take blame for not being believed in some cases), to the feminist I am today has been hard work. Actually, that's not true. It's been what, 8 years coming, freshman year of high school until now? When you think about it, there's so little to the transformation it's a wonder anybody finds it hard at all. The thing is, the biggest obstacle we men have to becoming male feminists is ourselves.

    I want to talk today on what makes or does not make a feminist ally. I want to talk about the intersection of feminism and skepticism & science, and even more on racism.

    As you can see from my list of profiles in my sidebar, I've been a science enthusiast much longer than I've been a part of any other type of activism. Because I was not a competent feminist, not fully aware of my male, white, and cisgender privileges, every fallacy I am going to point out, I have been a part of in the past. A couple even recently.

    One thing that's increasingly frustrating for me as a budding feminist online activist and a skeptic is the pseudo–feminism I run into in my so–called peers and pioneers. My post today is inspired by some particularly infuriating language used by new James Randi Educational Foundation president Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer. It's especially sour because if I had to name my first 5 skeptical influences, it would be thus:

    I even used Phil's book in an essay for class credit once. So as somebody who's cited him academically and have linked to him for years, I see it as my responsibility to point out what parts of his activism I do endorse and those that I do not.

    This started within the last year when I began officially coming out as a feminist. I've come to find that the Skepchicks and their asinine calendars are an utter failure at feminism. And, no surprise if you're following the patterns here, Phil is the first person I ever saw mention them. The Skepchick calendar is a nude (but "sfw") calendar of the few women of the current skeptic movement. It's nothing more, in theory at least, than an attempt to boost revenue for skeptic organizations. But all it really does is prostitute the women inside the movement. There's nothing empowering about posing for a calendar that does not send any money or resources towards a feminist organization. Yes, the Skepchicks group on the group blog will occasionally say something positive and correct about misogyny, but overall, they're hardly feminist. They sure as shit hardly feel the need to write about feminism. They rarely find cause to even use the word. All the calendar and that site has done as far as getting women into the skeptic movement is to encourage eye candy for the male members.

    Point in case, look at this comment from Laura in this post about TAM6:

    I’m really interested in finding out your thoughts about women in the Skeptical movement. I struggle with feeling like I’m being taken seriously, especially since I’m not a scientist or a computer geek (although I <3 my laptop). I think being in calendar helped me meet more people, but unfortunately it rarely spawned conversation further than how much they liked my photo (July 2009) which is nice, don’t get me wrong. But I also do a lot of other things.

    Oh yeah, those skepchicks are so empowered by the calendar. NOT!

    So this is grating my nerves more and more, and I start noticing a pattern. Phil is one of the biggest abusers of this mindset, and most male skeptics are the same way. Go a head. Google his blog at blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastromy or his old host badastronomy.com for "hot" and "hawt" and you'll see the pattern. When it comes to recruiting women, Phil and other skeptic leaders only seem interesting in finding conventionally sexy women.

    I finally blew up in his post Nerd Girls. At the year of astronomy 2009 conference and at the recent TAM, Phil started talking about how important it is to start getting more women into science. Then he comes up with this shit:

    It can be hard to promote this. Society can sometimes just see women as sexual objects, which is unfair. I prefer to think of people as being very complicated, and sexuality is just one part of a complex and rich structure. However, millions of years of evolution is hard to deny, and attractive people tend to get more attention. But the converse is that sometimes attractive people get stereotyped as dumb, or useless, or whatever.

    So I think I support the Nerd Girls. These young women are strong, smart, technically advanced, and also happen to be somewhat hawt. This can actually be used to debunk two stereotypes: that pretty women are dumb, and that smart women aren’t pretty. And if it gets men to think of women as other than just sexual objects, then that’s a good thing. It’s a part of a far more interesting whole.

    (Emphasis mine)

    What the fuck? Am I taking crazy pills? If Phil wants to do something about only seeing women as sexual objects, he needs to stop making their sexiness a factor in judging their merit as friends and skeptics! Does nobody else see this shit? And since when are women sometimes seen as sexual objects? Try constantly, numbnuts. Way to minimalize bigotry. Here's my angry (but completely accurate) reactions in the comments:

    It’d be easier to take your alleged feminist–friendly views seriously, Phil, if you didn’t automatically invoke the “But I think you’re f**kable!” crap at every turn.

    But it’s well-known that my readers are smarter, funnier, and more attractive than the average person. So what do you say?

    Oh yeah. You say you want more women in science, and that you want women treated better, but all you can do is continue to force them into the trap that being sexy is a measure of self-worth. Every time you refer to arealgirl or rebeccawatson as hot or something on Twitter, you reveal yourself as the male-privileged asshat you are.

    Wanna help women get more interested in science? Stop treating your female colleagues on the internet as other chauvinist white-collar guys treat their secretaries.

    And no, this is not somebody trolling as the Aerik you’ve spoken to before. This is the original.

    ...

    Another thing: you can’t list hot/attractive separately from smart one second, then pretend that to you hot subsumes intelligence the next second. Don’t you get it? Phil and the lot of you DO separate intelligence from allure all the time. That’s why every time Phil can only turn into paris hilton going “you’re hot, that’s hot, what you did was so hot, nyah nah nah” when he’s chatting online and doing videos, he is conveying sexism whether or not he intended it. And considering how rarely he brings up gender inequality in science, he’s not exactly a champion in spite of that crap, either.

    ...

    And there’s a word for that crap you do with separating and jointing hot and smart on a whim: moving goalpost syndrome.

    I’m out. You turds aren’t doing a very good job polishing yourselves.

    Also notice, he takes pleasure in providing evidence that conventionally sexy women aren't dumb, and wants to boost the self esteem of pretty women who are being called dumb.

    But where is his enthusiasm for helping out conventionally ugly women get into science? Or the self–esteem sexually of dumb women? Not to be found. Is he just assuming that conventionally ugly women are already into science? That if they're ugly they automatically try to be more "manly" and are already into boy things, like science? Are dumb women in no need to reached to in terms of being comfortable and informed about their sexuality? Cuz bimbos are automatically sluts?

    Don't worry though. It's not his fault, right? I mean, "millions of years of evolution is hard to deny," right? So, it's evolution, teh science, he can't help but be a total asshole! Nature = excuse, baby, don't you know?

    No. That is 100% bullshit. Sexual drive is not so all–encompassing that we can't expect our behaviors to improve, and you can't discount how much training we men have received to act the way we do towards women. Sexiness trends have change far too many times and too drastically in a matter of a few dozen centuries to even pretend that the kind of body–type Western men find attractive and foster in our women is at all natural, healthy, "normal," or so biologically single–tracked. We can't just "forget" that fat women used to be attractive because it indicated that they have leisure, implying class and wealth. Look at sexy women from the 1920's. It's hardly comparable to the porn culture of today. Look at castrati, men that were neutered as young boys so that their vocal chords would not lengthen with puberty even though growth hormones never turned off and they became giants, and they were massively popular with women and envied by other men. These three examples alone show how vapidity of this idea that the kind of bodies that we idolize today has anything to do with nature. Phil and other skeptics may as well start spewing "alpha male" this and "beta male" that, it's all the same vomit.

    At least my comments made one friend. Podblack later pointed out to me another thing Phil did: he'd talk about the photos of females in a new set of science courses aimed at women, but not the content of the curricula. The mindset is that shallow.

    ...

    Fast forward to today. I'm listening to Episode 086 of Skepticality [MP3!] and there's a clip of Phil talking. And what do I hear? Phil gets up to speak and the first subject is thus (start right at 52:00, applause and intro, then Phil):

    ... looking out in this audience I can see, everybody's faces and not the back of everybody's wigs, uh, I think I'm lookin at it, um, the audience here is fairly substantially well balanced, although I'm seeing mostly white faces, which is an issue. Um, I'm seeing a lot of women, um a lot of women here, and thats, uh, that's very important, uh, for a lot of reasons, but mostly just because of, um, yeah, because we need to reproduce, um. (cut to other guy doing fake caveman voice "skeptics need women!" audience cracks up) Um, wow... I can make more sexist jokes (audience laughs some more), but seriously, traditionally...

    Then the usual wishy washy crap about how he wishes more women would come into the skeptic/science movement but it's just so hard for the men to reach out, whine about how they don't know how to do it, blah blah.

    Can somebody tell me what's so fucking funny, about reducing women to baby factories?

    Maybe Phil's intent was to make them laugh at something sexist, then point out how sexist it was. But I gotta tell ya, I know something about bad satire, and if satire was his intent I have to say he failed miserably. He did nothing to actually confront the audience about the misogyny of the joke and their enjoyment of it. They knew they were laughing with him. That's not confrontational, and that's not progressive.

    I know something about doing bad satire because I've done it myself. When I was hanging out in the SGU–fans IRC channel, I'd occasionally go with something sexist or degrading to children they were doing, then present a more extreme example, and they'd want to change the subject. I'd try to ask why they were with a certain level of inexcusable hatred, but not with the next logical example, and they'd just change the subject in a snap. It's an especially hard clique to break into, these IRC rape apologists, and even so I doubt these attempts were done so well in the first place.

    Example: Somebody linked up a page of erotic fanart of children's tv show and book characters. A whole page of drawn pedophilia. So I gave a few sarcastic lol's, and then I suggested we laugh at another example, an incest–obsessed artist called "tram pararam." As I said, instead of actual discussion of why the first page was laughable but another would be "too far," was not allowed to take place. Just a "No, Aerik. No." and the subject changed, without ever justifying why we were supposed to laugh at any of it in the first place.

    The reasons these attempts at creating discussion failed? Once I was in the IRC channel for more than a week, they assumed I agreed with their love of rape 100%, and instead of wondering why I would seem to suddenly change my mind, the deluded themselves into thinking I had some kind of mental snap. I got retaliation more befitting a "race traitor" than a dissenter. I should've done the final confrontation much, much sooner.

    Warning: I am not going to allow a discussion of the SGU forums or channel specifically in the comments. The comments here will not be used as a pissing match for SGU forum members. If anybody tries to detract from the whole of this post's topic and degrade into a forum fight, you will be immediately perma–banned.

    At some point you have to admit you aren't doing sarcasm or satire well, and you have to admit when you're failing as a feminist ally. So here I'm going to post some good and bad ideas for feminist allies. Phil, I hope you're reading. I'm going to underline the things I'm accusing you of or things I think you're utterly failing to do.

    Come to think of it, many of these will also apply to the atheist experience / non–prophets podcast I discussed before I changed my blog.

    1. Being Amber Rhea: How to Be a Feminist Ally
      • DON’T “stay out of it” just because you don’t get it. Inaction is complicity. If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.

      • DON’T expect a cookie/hug/pat on the back simply for not being a total asshole. Don’t expect women to just accept it when you say you’re a feminist ally. Expect to have to work hard, and understand that this is not an unreasonable expectation. Understand, too, that it’s vitally important and necessary, and resist the urge to just throw up your hands and say fuck it.

      • Expanding on the above about not expecting a pat on the back: Congrats, all you did was what should be default expected behavior. Part of a sexist society is the fact that it holds men to a ridiculously low standard. Hold men to a higher standard and call out your male friends/colleagues/associates when they’re being assholes. It’s not easy but things that really matter seldom are. Again, silence is complicity.

      • DON’T make it all about you. E.g., in a feminist forum, don’t make comments such as, “Not all men do [x]!”, “Men can be raped too!”, “Patriarchy hurts men too!” etc. WE KNOW. But at the moment, we really don’t need you taking the focus away from women again.

      • This is the most important one: LISTEN. Read, re-read, and re-read again. Think and process. Take time to really think before you speak/type. Ask questions, but be mindful of the space in which you are asking. Some spaces are not appropriate for some questions, and remember that feminists are not here to do your homework for you. Do your due diligence. Educate yourself on the basics of feminism by (here it comes again!) listening. Then, ask specific and thoughtful questions in venues that are appropriate for it.

    2. Heart of Falsehood: How Not to Be a Feminist Ally: a List
      1. Stop listening. Fill all the time you would have listened with incessant, uninformed, under-researched talking. Make sure you talk over any women who happen to try to converse with you. Interrupt them often. But never, ever interrupt any men who may be in the conversation. You’ll never get your Oppressor Card with shit like that.
      2. Have priorities and values that drive your every move, and if a feminist calls you out on them because they’re privileged and oppressive, tell her to go fuck herself. Bonus points if your buddies hear.
      3. Ask feminists questions about feminism. When they answer, tell the feminists that they’re wrong, and/or that they didn’t answer the question you asked, and/or that in your experience, what they say couldn’t possibly be true and they must have been reading the Reality Book wrong. Make sure you represent the male perspective as often and as loudly as you can.
      4. Get a job working for a men’s magazine, a strip club, a porn production company, or as a pimp, and tell yourself that you’re doing sex–positive, female–empowering work. Refuse to listen to any comments otherwise.
      5. Develop a love of going to bars just to hit on the ladies — this works best on ladies’ night. Keep your feminist-ally rhetoric up to date just so that the ladies feel safe with you. The first thing out of your mouth should always be “I’m a feminist, ladies.” Then the ladies will be all yours, all night long.
      6. Tell your buddies you got laid last night and imply that you are now a better man than they are. This also makes the feminists stay away from you, so it’s a good tool to have in the ol’ toolbelt.
      7. Instead of telling your buddies to stop being misogynist assholes, encourage their anti–woman behaviors. Learn from them and participate once you regain your bearings. One way to start, if you don’t have misogynist friends, is to comment on every single woman’s fuckability. Is she hot enough for you? If not, what should she have done differently to attract you? What would you like to do to that blonde over there? Use these questions as conversation starters.
      8. Use violence to get your way and/or to make your point.
      9. Tell everyone, including feminists, that feminists aren’t doing anything, that all they do is sit around and complain.
      10. Not only aren’t feminists doing anything, but they’re divided! They don’t know what they want and they’re not efficient or effective! Make sure everyone knows about these divisions! And, by golly, make sure you either a) take a side or b) sit back, observe, and point out what everyone’s doing wrong. Because you’re the objective one.
      11. Demand cookies from feminists whenever you say anything about women, women’s rights, or gender roles. Pout if you don’t get them. Cry “Oppression!!1″ and “Female privileges!!!” and “Misandry!!!!” if they tell you you’re being an idiot.
      12. Defend unfettered capitalism, porn in all its forms, and your interpretation of the First Amendment to the death.
    3. Muslimah Media Watch: What Not To Do If You're a Feminist Ally



    I have a few additions of my own.

    More Ways to Fail as a Feminist Ally
    • Avoid using the words "feminism" and "feminist" at all costs, while still claiming to be striving for what are clearly feminist goals.
    • Avoid linking to feminist blogs as much as possible.
    • Avoid talking about any feminists you know of or have met as much as possible.
    • Refuse to directly confront sexism when it's right in front of you. When you're finally forced to, say "um" and "uh" and "but seriously" so that nobody thinks that even you really believe what you're going to say, then assure your audience that you're not accusing anybody of anything, even though you know many or most of them clearly are.
    • When you're talking to a group of feminists, begin many of your interjections with, "Now I'm not sexist, but..." so you can be as sexist or saturated with male privilege and not feel guilty, but you know you look it anyway.
    • Begin every discussion in which you disagree even the littlest bit with the feminists, with "I know you feminists will hate me for this, but..." This way, you get to accuse them of being man–hating bitches, putting them in the position of having to come off as complete saints in their reply to your bullshit, or else they've only proven that they are man–hating bitches. And if they call you on your bigoted tactic, say that proves it as well. Remember, anger in your direction is never your fault.
    • Believe that selling yourself as a feminist–ally in name is the same thing as actually doing women any good.
    • Blog about how science is being abused to get people killed or hurt in every other way except the abuse of scientific surveys and studies that are being distorted to put women down.

    A couple of these fallacies I've even done myself. During the Amanda Marcotte / Seal Press affair, I tried to submit a comment to Pandagon or Feministing in which I defended Amanda, but my language made it more about me declaring myself a feminist than about what she did right or wrong. It was compounded by comment publishing troubles and I must've tried to re–submit the comment more than a dozen times. Spam cue, anyone? It was never published, but I deserved a swift kick in the butt. And then I made an obvious mistake, which was I accepted when she made the ultimate bad apology faux pas: "Sorry to the people I may have offended." It's terribly privileged, stupid, and hurtful to ever put an apology that way. You know you offended, don't pretend like there's a possibility they're all mistaken. And Phil, if you dare do this yourself, I'm coming down on you hard.

    I don't know how much more I can say about this. I've listened to a lot of James Randi, former president of JREF, and although he did his best to avoid active feminism at all costs as well, he didn't do the active bullshit that Phil is doing now. I think if Phil wants to work on the misogyny of the nerds/geeks in the skeptic movement, he better admit right now that he is not equipped to do so, and instead hire a team of feminists and feminist allies.

    It would work out for everybody. The feminist authors at Feministing, Feministe, Pandagon and RH Reality have all been staunch advocates of accurate science and scientific literacy, he should definitely pick some from that group. Podblack's a good pick. Here is an example of a feminist ally pseudonymously called "Ampersand," correcting abuse of statistics to put women down. He should be on the team, definitely. Edit: I've learned that my adblock/noscript extensions had hidden me to some very naughty behavior on the part of that particular author. I've removed the link and will never link to that particular author again. Hat tip to L I think it'd be a relatively easy department to set up within JREF, I really do. But if Phil can't even do that, there's not much hope for improvement.

    I'm tired. Ending this post.

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    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Repost: Women Deserve Better

    (Jump to comments.)
    • Culturally-diversified bi-racial girl,
      with a small diamond nose-ring
      and a pretty smile
      poses beside the words: "Women deserve better".

    • And I almost let her non-threatening grin begin to
      infiltrate my psyche-
      till I read the unlikely small-print at the bottom of the ad.
      'Sponsored by the US Secretariate for Pro Life Activities
      and the Knights of Columbus'
      on a bus, in a city with a population of 563,000.

    • Four teenage mothers on the bus with me.
      One latino woman with three children under three,
      and no signs of a daddy.
      One sixteen year old black girl,
      standing in twenty two degree weather
      with only a sweater,
      and a bookbag,
      and a bassinet, with an infant that ain't even four weeks yet-

    • Tell me that yes: Women do deserve better.

    • Women deserve better
      than public transportation rhetoric
      from the same people who won't give that teenage mother
      a ride to the next tranist.
      Won't let you talk to their kids about safer sex,
      and never had to listen as the door slams
      behind the man
      who adamantly says "that SHIT ain't his"-
      leaving her to wonder how she'll raise this kid.

    • Women deserve better than the three hundred dollars
      TANF and AFDC will provide that family of three.
      Or the six dollar an hour job at KFC
      with no benefits for her new baby-
      or the college degree she'll never see,
      because you can't have infants at the university.

    • Women deserve better
      than lip-service paid for by politicians
      who have no alternatives to abortion.
      Though I'm sure right now
      one of their seventeen year old daughters
      is sitting in a clinic lobby, sobbing quietly
      and anonymously,
      praying parents don't find out-
      Or is waiting for mom to pick her up because
      research shows that out-of-wedlock childbirth
      don't look good on political polls.
      And Bush ain't having that.

    • Women deserve better
      than backward governmental policies
      that don't want to pay for welfare for kids,
      or healthcare for kids,
      or childcare for kids.
      Don't want to pay living wages to working mothers.
      Don't want to make men who only want to be
      last night's lovers
      responsible for the semen they lay.
      Just like [they] don't want to pay for shit,
      but want to control the woman who's having it.

    • Acting outraged at abortion,
      when I'm outraged that they want us to believe
      that they believe
      "Women deserve better".

    • The Vatican won't prosecute pedophile priests,
      but I decide I'm not ready for motherhood
      and it's condemnation for me.
      These are the same people
      who won't support national condom distribution
      to prevent teenage pregnancy--

    • But women deserve better.

    • Women deserve better than back-alley surgeries
      that leave our wombs barren and empty.
      Deserve better than organizations bearing the name
      of land-stealing, racist, rapists
      funding million dollar campaigns on subway trains
      with no money to give these women--
      While balding, middle-aged white men
      tell us what to do with our bodies,
      while they wage wars and kill other people's babies.

    • So maybe,
      Women deserve better than propaganda and lies
      to get into office.
      Propaganda and lies
      to get into panties,
      to get out of court,
      to get out of paying child-support.

    • Get the fuck out of our decisions
      and give us back our VOICE.

    • Women do deserve better.

    • Women deserve choice.

    -Sonya "The Drama" Boom Renee
    Individual World Poetry Slam Finals 2006

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    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Kansas City Continues Backwards Spiral Into Jim Crow Era

    (Jump to comments.)

    Yeah, I said it. It only takes a single drive through KCK or KCMO to see that the area segregates racially pretty well. Just recently my father took me on a trip obsessed with pointing out how there's a chunk of downtown that went from being black and religiously vague to black and almost exclusively Muslim. Shit like that happens all over the metro.

    Only months ago, Cordish Co., which runs KC P&L (or "the power and light district") decided they wanted to enforce a dress code that is quite obviously racist. Here's a short summary:

    • No ripped or baggy clothes (including sweat pants — all sweat pants, baggy or not in reality).
    • No t–shirts that are much longer than the waste.
    • No bandanas.
    • No work boots.
    • etc. ...
    • Basically no anything that makes you look non–white or non–vanilla; only blue&nash;collar republicans, really.

    See the pattern? Cordish / KC P&L saw some rap videos, stereotyped their attire, and made a dress code to exclude that stereotype. It's painfully obvious, as this Judge cartoon shows:

    KCP&L Dress Code

    The image is linked to a whole series Judge did on the affair, and a comment thread overflowing with overt racism, covert racism, and dripping white privilege.

    Googling "what is the power light district dress code" quickly finds us to this video by Fox 4 news of KCMO. Notice now Cordish Co. used a similar dress code in Louisville, KY that was more expansive, including sports jerseys and hats worn backwards. I think it's obvious they decided to go back on this because it barred white hockey or football fans, and a lawsuit came up.

    Also notice that Alonzo Washington was wearing what he said was a very nice pair of sweat pants. So what Cordish / KCP%amp;L has done is to pigeonhole all sweatpants into some amorphous stereotype that only a "dangerous element" would wear. I wonder if they would ban the hundreds of white Shawnee Mission School District students from the downtown area for wearing all the sweatpants and hoodies bearing their school team logos? Does Jon Stephen (speaking on behalf of KCP&L) think high schoolers are inherently dangerous? Hardly. They have a wristband system to control underage drinking, so obviously they want teenagers of some kind coming in.

    Additionally, did you notice that one of the performers on stage was wearing a baggy hoodie? Convenient that people contributing cash somehow to KCP&L are allowed to break the rules.

    What makes all this segregation more disturbing than it would otherwise be is this: this dress code does not affect a building or a campus, something easily distinguishable as private property separate from public city property. No, it's a district. It is a section of the city.

    That, my dear readers, is basically Jim Crow by osmosis.

    That started months ago. Fast–forward to today, we find out that Cordish now even gets to put up signs about their dresscode.

    Fuck this shit. I'm boycotting that entire area of the city.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    On Privileges Aplenty

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    Just thought I'd throw out my thoughts on white privilege as a blog post to get off my arse. I originally submitted this to a receptive thread at Resist Racism here. It's several comment posts in the same thread, actually. If anybody ever asks me about white privilege, I want to guarantee a link and summary of my views on it.

    Most white people seem to think white privilege is “having been cognizant of direct, covert instances of racism stealing something from a minority and giving it to me instead unmerited.”

    No. That’s not what it is. That’s not just what it is, anyways.

    White privilege is… I, as a white man, can watch any sci-fi channel show I want, and in some way identify with the main characters and cast. I can easily “fail to notice” that in most science fiction, the blacker characters are, the more violent they are. I can claim, and get credit and approval and recognition as an egalitarian activist, if I claim that Romulans and Cardassians disprove this trend, while ignoring the fact that all Star Trek did was re-double the stereotype so that the blacker species were more likely to love being violent in jungle or desert climates.

    And so on and so forth concerning any genre of any subject.

    Rarely can a non-white person in the United States benefit at all from noting that he or she has been subject to, or noticed, racism between minorities.

    But as a white man, I can readily depend on gaining credibility and an egalitarian if I can put on the affect of empathizing with other ethnicities simply on the basis of being poor or a redhead.

    The mantra of marriage and family in the United States easily shields me from recognizing bigotry as a white man. Nothing forces races into isolation better than an emphasis on family. Tim Wise tells us of the story of how after Katrina, a bunch of white people scrambled back into their town before the black people could, and tried to enact a law that decried only family of the then-present city council could move back in. And that’s only one example.

    That’s overt racism and a bit more than privilege there, but I have privileged pscyhological advantages simply because being poor effects the marriage and family statistics of non-whites more significantly than whites, and I can pretend that my success in family has more to do with my will than ethno-economic factors.

    That is white privilege. The fact is, you don’t have to feel it to have it. Another fact: you can’t get rid of it (that you can is another myth white people cling to). It’s given to me by racists and racist patterns in society, and it takes the conscious effort of an entire society to take it back.

    It doesn’t matter how anti-racist I am. I walk by a car dealership and and a racist dealer looks out the window and thinks he’d rather sell to somebody who looks or dresses like me, and the ethnic persons trying to buy from him have their chances cut. I wasn’t active in this racism, but my privilege was.

    That’s the reality of white privilege.

    Danny could you please proofread that and form more than one long run-on sentence so I can understand what you’re getting at?

    @Crissa (and everyone):

    Yes, it is also a racist trend that not only are the non-white characters portrayed poorly in sci-fi, but the casting is overwhelmingly white in a way that’s blatantly antithetical to any of the alleged near-utopias that they try to illustrate.

    Star Trek: After World War THREE, Earth puts racial bigotries and war behind. Yet somehow 99% of humans in the alpha quadrant are white.

    Battlestar Galactica: same shit, except Earth didn’t survive.

    Stargate: most of the non-goaul’d planets are inhabited by white people. Every black settlement is a form of Jaffa. All the priors of the Ori are white, the goaul’d prefer white hosts, almost everybody in the other two galaxies are white as well (actually can anybody remember a single non-white native of the Ori galaxy?). — and did you see a single black scientist? I didn’t.

    Farscape: never watched more than 2 episodes, but I did notice that once again all the good guys and bad guys were white, and the one ethnic-looking character was again a ‘warrior’.

    sci-fi channel shows: the seinfeld and Friends of the nerd sphere. And like with those shows, it’ll take years after the cancellation of the show and endless syndication until its white fans finally have to have it spelled out to them and then they’ll say “Oh, well I didn’t really notice…”

    Oh, and here’s some shit. The Discovery Channel show Mythbusters has been pissing me off recently.

    Any time they do a show where they need to remark upon the history of a device, and the inventor wasn’t an American, Adam Savage needs to do a horrible accent stereotyping the guy’s country of origin.

    And he always does this amazingly bigoted French pseudo-accent, disney style, when they do food and he gets even close to cooking something. And the producers go ahead and throw in some accordion music to help the xenophobia along.

    The more aware I become of my white, American, male privilege, the more I am noticing that nerds can be just as bigoted, if not moreso, than anybody else.

    I mean fuck, have you ever heard of DragonCon? A scifi/fantasy convention that named itself after the most white-centric mythic creature ever, the dragon (and you damned well know they don’t imaging Chinese dragons). The dragon, which is just an amalgum of raptors, predator cats, and reptiles. An idea anybody could come up with, and everybody did.

    You’d think that something that literally appeals to the lowest common denominator would be surrounded by diversity and acceptance, but no. There’s all this medieval-like bullshit they read and write, where the default race an culture of the character is a white Englishman with an American accent. Yeah, the fucking dark ages or early renaissance, I can’t think of a better place to produce hero archetypes. Damnit.

    Danny wanted to disagree with me that you can't get rid of your own privilege. The reality is, though, that you can't. This is because you are not the only creator of it. It's created and distributed by deliberate racists and other people sharing the same privilege. It is up to them to become anti-racist for you to have any hope that your own privilege will diminish. And it has to be all of them.

    These are just some very quick thoughts of mine on privileges, but here are a some more links that I agree with.

    I bet I can find more later.

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    Monday, August 18, 2008

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    Sunday, August 17, 2008

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    Looks like this is my new blog. Keepin it simple, with the url and title. I will now modify the template, may have to revert to old style to keep the 3 column view I liked.

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