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Sex(ism) & “Race”(ism)

June 24, 2015

There’s still so much thinking that needs to be done in these pages about racism, and I want to do as much as I can, as soon as I can (given my problems with my eyes—not going blind, apparently, and even seemingly possibly recovering, but still limiting).  But right now I’m most urgently feeling the need to float some thoughts about the relationship between sex and “race,” in a male chauvinist and white dominant society—particularly my own.

I put “race” in quotes, because it’s a fake concept.  There’s no such thing.  Nevertheless a lot of us go on thinking there is such, and identifying it with dualistic reductionism of skin color to black/white, and then using that delusionary thinking to justify our inhumane behavior.

So I use the word “racism” to refer to that kind of fool’s thought, including prejudice, discrimination, and murder (I’ll do some thinking aloud about those in another episode).

When I think about either sexism or racism, I keep coming back to something I read, long ago, by the anthropologist, Ashley Montague.  He was discussing observations of a large population of Great Apes living in a mountainside rain forest.  These apes lived in self-identifying distinct groups, each with its own general territory.  They got along quite peacefully, except when a male from one group came onto the territory of another, with the evident intent of poaching a female.  Then the males of that territory would get really pissed and violent.

Quickly thinking, then, of all the historical instances that we know, of competition between men of male-dominant territorial groups of humans, over possession of women—including (and this gets gruesome but I want to get a sense of its magnitude into our realistic and honest thoughtfulness) the “Rape of the Sabine Women” (depicted by Rubens and many others) (“rape” meaning steal, abduct, and then assault) by the early expansionary Romans, to add to their stock of fertile females; sexual enslavement of the indigenous women found by Columbus in the Caribbean; use of rape as a weapon of warfare, including genocide, by members of the American army and local militias against the indigenous population of North America; equally racist assault by the Japanese military in China; the campaign of rape by the Soviet military in Germany; the use of rape as a vengeful and terrorist weapon of war by West Pakistan in its attempt to prevent East Pakistan from becoming an independent nation….

Dear Reader, isn’t that really what it’s all about:  territorial ownership of women by men?  Access and control, by means of warfare and repeated acts of terror.

Sexism is primary, racism is one form that sexism takes.

Think, for instance, of the white supremacist Dylann Roof’s reported self-justification, spoken to his victims at the moment of his murdering all but one, whom he said he left alive to report his acts and words:  “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.  You have to go.”

From → racism, sexism

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