Whorled View

September 29, 2008

Identifying racism or sexism … A Test

“… I won’t necessarily think you’re racist or sexist, but … some of your other recipients might not be as forgiving as me.”

My last entry was critical of Obama.  I’ve been just as critical of McCain (see “McCain debates Hillary, lovingly“).  Honestly, I would be equally critical of both more often if I found an excuse to do so, but I feel compelled to help even the playing field, and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you have to admit that the MSM has been one sided.  If, for example, Palin had said that FDR did the fireside chats by TV then NBC, CBS, and ABC would have had a field day about it, but when Biden said that exact thing last week the only place you heard about it was on Fox news – a news outlet that liberals spitefully despise because they feel it tramples on their rights to deceive distort and dissuade the public on an otherwise monopolized news market.

But I’m getting off topic.

Sexism and Racism still exists in the media … and especially in non-professional media, such as grassroots email campaigns.  There are guilty people on all sides of the fence, and I think it’s pretty despicable whenever I see it regardless of who does it.  By the same token there’s a lot of posturing by calling certain comments or positions racist or sexist, as was recently done by McCain’s Fiorina when she freaked out about the “lipstick on a pig” comment- that she acted so offended was also despicable in my opinion.  Then there’s even posturing by accusing whole parties of posturing when it was only one person, as was done by nearly all liberal leaders accusing the republican party of posturing when it was only Fiorina who was freaking out.  That, in my opinion is equally despicable.  Now I’m just waiting for someone posturing by accusing me of posturing by accusing liberals posturing about Fiorina posturing about Obama’s benign “lipstick on a pig” comment.  If you’re not thoroughly confused now … let me just say this: there’s been way too much posturing on the issue of sexism or racism if you ask me.

“If you don’t really care whether people think your racist or sexist then you might not care to do this test. Maybe you’re confident that none of the recipients would ever consider you racist or sexist. Don’t be so sure.”

The bottom line is that there needs to be some kind of simple method whereby one can easily detect and determine the level of racism or sexism in a given comment.  I think I’ve come up with such a method:  You must imagine the comment in a completely sex / race neutral setting then ask yourself “is it just as funny or does it make just as much sense as before?”  If it is just as funny and makes just as much sense then it’s neither racist nor sexist.  If however, if it seems to loose some of it’s edge then perhaps it has some sexist or racist overtones.

For example: You get an email where a photograph shows Obama and Palin photoshop’ed in, and the photo is supposed to be funny.  Now imagine that Hillary had been nominated and so she was in that picture instead of Obama.  Does the picture still make sense? Is that photoshop’ed photo just as funny, or did it totally loose it’s edge?  If it’s just as funny then congratulations … what you have there is a genuinely funny article, otherwise it’s probably just racist or sexist (or both) and if you spread it around you will offend a lot of people – don’t kid yourself.

“… let me just say this: there’s been way too much posturing on the issue of sexism or racism if you ask me.”

So what?  Well, this method could be useful if you forward a lot of political opinions or content to friends and family.  Before you forward on that cartoon see if it passes the above test.  If you don’t really care whether people think you’re racist or sexist then you might not care to do this test.  Maybe you’re confident that none of the recipients would ever consider you racist or sexist.  Don’t be so sure. Most people live by the motto “actions speak louder than words” and many think that forwarding someone else’s words makes them your words.

I won’t necessarily think you’re racist or sexist, and in fact I’m more likely to conclude that you simply didn’t think twice before sending on that email with little regard to how it might offend others.  We all do thoughtless things, and it doesn’t make you a bad person to do so, myself being the prime example as I do thoughtless things all the time … but like I said, some of your other recipients might not be as forgiving as me.

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4 Comments »

  1. Excellent post, great idea. Well said!

    Comment by Sally — September 29, 2008 @ 1:27 am

  2. I am a racist and a sexist. Okay, not really (your pulse quickened there for a split second, eh?) but in a way I really do believe we all are, because we notice when people are different than us and we make decisions about how we talk and act accordingly. Obviously, there is real harm in slandering someone because of their race or sex. The hard part is drawing the line of where it becomes unreasonable and prejudiced rather than inevitable and harmless. You’ve offered a sensible test in that regard. And, not every comment about someone’s race or sex is racism or sexism, but it is certainly politically advantageous to act like it. It trivializes truly insidious comments and behaviors by turning racism/sexism into a gotcha game of verbal slap-boxing.

    Comment by Joe — September 29, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  3. > It trivializes truly insidious comments and behaviors by turning racism/sexism into a gotcha game of verbal slap-boxing.

    I could agree more!

    Comment by lullabyman — September 30, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  4. We are all racist and sexist to an extent. The point is do I treat a Jew, Budhhist, Christian, Asian, Black, women or man differently (not necessarily in a negative manner). More than likely at least on a sub conscious level, I may try to accomodate or change my behaviour. Ie in many Chinese families no or little physical contact occurs, so no hugging for example. Now this ‘racial profiling’ maybe sympathetic or at least a display of my ignorance of their culture- and hence I group people into boxes to help me deal with them.

    While this form of racial profiling by myself is a method of breaking down barriers it is still racism because I modify behaviour based on race. Likewise sexism – I do treat women differently to men, simply because we are different. Would I promote a man over women- dependant on the job requirement most likely not. However I still change my behaviour to accomodate the difference. Do I treat men and women equally at all times- no I don’t. I value women in areas over men, and vice versa dependant on the situation and so on, but this profiling is still racism or sexism dependant on the view of the beholder.

    The problem is that many people view racism and sexism as only a negative impact which is wrong. The mere providence of beneficial treatment because of race or sex actually is counterproductive and creates an underlying acceptance and recognition of the necessity of policy, behaviour and provided opportunity for a person based on sex and race.

    Comment by Jeremy — July 8, 2011 @ 12:17 am


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