Friday, April 12, 2013

Reverse Discrimination

I've always felt that when I'm discussing an important social issue and someone brings up reverse discrimination, it completely takes the wind out of my sails.  Rather than get to the heart of an issue and try to make sense of an injustice, I feel like the conversation has been taken off the rails and I'm being forced to give credence to an irrelevant view point.  I used to think I was the only one who felt this way, until I read this excellent article today:
The article pokes holes at the notion of 'reverse sexism' and bigotry against men stating that since bigotry is defined as perpetuating a stereotype that reinforces the imbalance of power and the balance of power is not with women, there is no such thing as reverse sexism.  I couldn't agree more. 
For me it's these kinds of claims that take away from the important issues that need to change.
I'd like to highlight some of the key points for my own sake -- helps the message sink in:

  • talking out loud about stigmatized issues, expressing anger and frustration is a good thing -- it's where change beings
  • getting mad at the root causes such as male patriarchy and male privledge does not mean getting mad at you (men) personally
  • sometimes there's a lot of fear and hurt and anger that are brought to these conversations and it's not particularly welcoming for men
  • it's not bigotry, it's a reaction against years of being diminished
  • if I'm on the power side of the equation and want to engage in a conversation to effect change by being an ally, I have to own up to the structural inequalities that exist.  We need to be able to hear the ways in which those inequalities have hurt other people, even if the stories are ugly and make us uncomfortable and we want reassurance that the ugliness isn’t our fault.  It's not the job of the oppressed to make us feel better.
  • recognizing and challenging those generalities in our own actions is the way to change and to eventually make the generalities disappear

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