This Is Not Tawana Brawley

Why is it, that on every website/blog I see about the Duke alleged rape case, people keep bringing up Tawana Brawley? As if she set the standard for all black women who can claim rape. It is very unsettling that because of Tawana’s story, which took place over 20 years ago, this black woman in North Carolina has been reduced to an immoral stripper, who is obviously charging these young men with rape for her own benefit. Although, I am not quite sure how she would benefit from these accusations.

When the media and other folks continue to compare her story to Tawana’s, they yet again, reinforce the idea that if a black woman claims rape, she must be lying. That black women cannot be trusted. That black women who tell their story of sexual assault, have a secret agenda. That black women are out to get white men. Bull. These two cases are exceedingly different on many, many levels.

It’s also interesting to note that, no one rushes to evoke the numerous stories of lynched black men who were accussed of raping white women. When white women lie about being raped by black men, no one resurrects photographs of black bodies hanging from trees, or the mangled and bloated body of young Emmitt Till who, supposedly, only whistled at a white woman.

If anything, the only connection I see between the two cases is the media hype and racial “taking sides” we have all fallen suspect too. How dare anyone to compare these two cases, when the facts and evidence are strinkingly different. People do lie. But that is no justification for criminalizing other rape victims.

I urge you all to see Aishah Shahidah Simmons NO! the rape documentary. I can’t stress enough how important this film is in challenging media hype about black female rape victims and idiots who continue to compare this case with Tawana Brawley. Black women are indeed victims of rape, just as much as other women–we must understand that.

Also posted on my blog

This entry posted in Duke Rape Case, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

150 Responses to This Is Not Tawana Brawley

  1. 101
    Lanoire says:

    Daran, you are (deliberately?) misunderstanding the term “privilege.” White Joe Sixpack who cleans the toilets might not have a thrilling life, but he is privileged–thanks to race and gender–compared to Black Mary Sixpack who has a similar toilet-cleaning job. Mary, thanks to racism both historical and current, is also more likely to have the toilet-cleaning job than Joe, who has more opportunities. Joe is less privileged than rich G.W. Bush because of his socioeconomic status. I’m not sure why you and Tuomas seem to think that, because I’m arguing for the existence of race and gender privilege, I don’t believe class privilege exists.

    Exceptions DO NOT prove the rule.

    Neither do they disprove it.

    And about the military service thing: so, the fact that men can in extenuating circumstances be drafted (and are highly unlikely to be drafted in this post-Vietnam world) invalidates the day-to-day discrimination, poverty (yes, poverty is a gendered issue), rape and violence that women face? Good to know.

    Thanks a lot for the links, Radfem.

  2. 102
    ginmar says:

    I think it’s interesting that people invoke celebrity privilege for black men while refusing to acknowledge that white female privilege works exactly the same way for white women. You get set on a pedestal? Then men can look up your skirt and call you a whore—and justify knocking you off it. Any man cand do this. If he calls you the right things, all sorts of men will rally these days to join in in bashing you.

    I swear, when discussing interracial rape what it amounts to is counting up points. “Your side got to rape one of our women, so that’s unfair! Your side got away with raping a woman, but we got caught and punished! Our side gets punished for raping women more!” Yeah, it’s so nice to know that to all kinds of men, sexism and its attitude toward women can bring them togethet in their feeling of outraged brotherhood when they can’t rape and get away with it in the name of freedom.

  3. 103
    RonF says:

    Charles:

    Mary Doe didn’t lie about being raped,

    Presuming that Mary Doe is the pseudonym for the complainant in the Duke rape case, unless I’ve missed something it seems to me that this statement has to be regarded right now as opinion, rather than proven fact. Once the trial is finished and all the evidence is out that may change, of course.

  4. 104
    Charles says:

    RonF,

    You haven’t lied about attending MIT or having children.

    Oh, wait, I don’t think that has been proven in a court of law either.

    Mary Doe isn’t on trial, so the current case will likely do nothing to answer what you feel remains an open question. I accept that 1) the accused men may be innocent (mis-identification happens) and 2) both the accused men and the rapists (should they happen to be different people) may be found not guilty (or never tried), but a not guilty verdict will not demonstrate that Mary Doe lied.

    Is it conceivable that this has all been some grand conspiracy? Obviously, some people are able to conceive of it, so yes. Do I see any evidence for that? No. Unless some massive body of evidence develops to support the contention that such a conspiracy exists, I see no reason to doubt that the rape happened.

    I am not a potential juror in this case, so I don’t need to maintain a studiously open mind. She was raped, and I hope her rapists get convicted.

  5. 105
    Radfem says:

    Sorry about all the links, Amp. I was trying to find a few for each case. I’m much more familiar with the Miller case than Haggerty’s, as that happened in my backyard. I think they both happened around the same time, along with Margaret Mitchell(Black mentally ill homeless woman shot and killed by LAPD) and Amadou Diallo.

    Thanks for fixing my links, Amp. The frustrating thing is I believe that was the only time I wrote them in correct format. :p

    Your welcome, Lanoire. I think both cases occurred around 1998-9. There’s still quite a few articles available on both of them online. The Stolen Lives Project publishes a book every few years detailing all fatalities associated with law enforcement agencies nationwide.

    They were in situations where I do not believe had they been White women, they would have been shot and killed, let alone as many times over as they were. Even when African-Americans, male or female, are in medical distress(seizure, diabetics episode) they are viewed by police officers as dangerous and hostile, not sick or even dying. Mentally ill? Forget it, they aren’t ill, they are really on drugs. Or so the cops on my site have been spewing about an unarmed Black man who was killed by police earlier this month, mostly to avoid addressing the fact that apparently one officer hit the other with his taser gun, just before he fired his gun at the man.

    As far as what the Duke rape case has to do with Tawana Brawley, I agree with what BA in her original posting.

  6. 106
    Tuomas says:

    Charles:

    Mostly the measurement is statistical trick-playing: Amalgamating the averages, for example. Hence, someone who is black and from a rich family is oppressed as a black due to fact that most blacks are poor. It makes no sense. I’m sure I could make a case that blue-eyed people are more privileged than green-eyed (like me), and statistically it would probably be true (as the vast majority of blue-eyed people are white, and thus likely first-worlders). It would be a lousy argument: It doesn’t hurt me as an invidual that some green-eyed person in India is poor (beyond empathetical sense, of course).

    Also, note that I have not come to the conclusion that privilege (white, male…) does not exist, but I think it is exaggerated and not nearly as universal as it is usually claimed to be.

    I’m not sure why you and Tuomas seem to think that, because I’m arguing for the existence of race and gender privilege, I don’t believe class privilege exists.

    So Joe Six-Pack shares the privilege GW Bush? How do you figure? Because they are both white men? Do white men collectively benefit from one white man being rich?

    No.

    the fact that men can in extenuating circumstances be drafted (and are highly unlikely to be drafted in this post-Vietnam world) invalidates the day-to-day discrimination, poverty (yes, poverty is a gendered issue), rape and violence that women face? Good to know.

    No one argued that, so this is a strawman.

    Besides, male-only draft or conscription exists in many First World countries, and is usually not measured at all by feminists when comparing gender privilege (well, to be fair, some feminists make a case that men learn to be neanderthat thugs and wife-beaters in the army, so it hurts women, which is insulting and untrue).

    Do you have evidence of poverty being a gendered issue, other than your assertation?

    Exceptions DO NOT prove the rule.

    Neither do they disprove it.

    Of course exceptions disprove the rule! Duh! If the rule is not universal, it is not a rule, but mere postmodern posturing.

  7. 107
    Tuomas says:

    Oh, I suppose I must say too that comparing this alleged rape case to Tawana Brawley seems far-fetched (here I agree).

  8. 108
    Tuomas says:

    neanderthat…

    neanderthal.

  9. 109
    Ampersand says:

    Radfem: Sorry about all the links, Amp.

    Nothing to be sorry about! Please, feel totally free to post link-rich posts – I really appreciate you having done the research and sharing it with us. It’s just that link-rich posts will have to wait a little while to be approved, unfortunately. But it’s not a problem for me.

  10. 110
    Ampersand says:

    Tuomas:

    No one argued that, so this is a strawman.

    The effrontery of you criticizing other people for (alleged) strawman arguments, in a post in which virtually every argument you make is a strawman, really staggers me.

    Hence, someone who is black and from a rich family is oppressed as a black due to fact that most blacks are poor.

    Strawman number one. Can you quote anyone making this argument?

    So Joe Six-Pack shares the privilege GW Bush?

    Strawman number two. That’s not what Charles said, and that’s not at all what the bit you quoted said.

    well, to be fair, some feminists make a case that men learn to be neanderthat thugs and wife-beaters in the army, so it hurts women, which is insulting and untrue.

    When a right-winger says “some feminists…” without specifying any particular feminists, it’s usually a bald-faced lie – or at best, some wildly unrepresentative feminist passed off as if s/he were representative of the norm (i.e., “some college sophomore said…”).

    Prove me wrong. Link to two examples of actual feminists making that claim. If you can’t do that, then what we’ve got is strawman argument number three.

    Do you have evidence of poverty being a gendered issue, other than your assertation?

    In the United States, there’s no serious doubt that women are disproportionately in poverty – see the references cited in this article, for example. However, in very poor countries, there’s evidence that the ratios are more even (although that’s a matter of some contention).

    Of course exceptions disprove the rule! Duh! If the rule is not universal, it is not a rule, but mere postmodern posturing.

    “On average, adults are taller than children.” Unless you compare an exceptionally tall 10-year-old to an exceptionally short adult, that is. Since the exception disprove the rule, I guess it’s only postmodern posturing to say that adults are taller than children.

  11. 111
    Tuomas says:

    The effrontery of you criticizing other people for (alleged) strawman arguments, in a post in which virtually every argument you make is a strawman, really staggers me.

    Eh, sorry. Me pot. You kettle.

    Strawman number one. Can you quote anyone making this argument?

    Lanoire (I should have splitted the response there, this is not to Charles) does not believe in class privilege, but in withe and male privilege. This isn’t a “quote”, granted, but logical conclusion of her argument that class privilege is nonexistent, but White and Male privilege are real.

    Prove me wrong. Link to two examples of actual feminists making that claim. If you can’t do that, then what we’ve got is strawman argument number three.

    You have a certainly hyperbolic, short-hand simplification argument here (based on anecdote), but let’s see if I can prove my case….
    This site:

    Now if you think about it, the inequalities and distortions of gender in a patriarchal society are very characteristic of social systems we call militarist and nationalist. They are kind of ‘brother’ ideologies, and have very similar scenarios for women and men, for gender relations. They model an active, aggressive, public kind of man and masculinity.This ‘real man’ is sharply differentiated from the proper woman, whose femininity features passivity, domesticity and loyalty. In all three of these mindsets, the male (father, patriot, soldier) is ascribed much higher value than the female.

    My emphasis.

    What this site desrcibes as the masculine and feminine mindset is simply incorrect: Military emphasizes loyalty above all, and the average man is expendable.

    I’m saying that feminist analysis like this emphasizes gender divide and it’s link to militarism, making the case that militarism and patriarchy are natural allies.

    Here you have an example of militarism making men traditionally masculine. Now, is this a bad thing? According to Hugo Schwyzer, definitely yes:

    I want to offer them alternatives to the straitjacket of traditional masculinity, based as it is on thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for women. That is not to say that there aren’t virtues to be found within traditional sex roles: courage and honesty and determination are seen as classically male virtues, though of course women can manifest them just as well. In encouraging young men to better verbally describe their own emotional terrain, and in instilling in them a strong sense that women are truly their equals, I am not “feminizing” my guys. Rather, I am encouraging my boys to develop an under-used and often ignored side of their own masculine selves.

    Emphasis changed by me.

    Now, to be fair to Hugo (whom I kind of like and respect), his masculinity had just been attacked by a MRA, so I’m not sure how relevant this is.

    I guess I must admit that this isn’t a direct argument most feminists make (and may really be about the fact that many feminists are pacifists, and thus may have negative view of the military).

    But the link between militarism and “inarticulate, disrespectful masculinity” can be found (I do not consider it to be completely off-base, certainly deserving of attention) on the feminist side.

    In the United States, there’s no serious doubt that women are disproportionately in poverty – see the references cited in this article, for example. However, in very poor countries, there’s evidence that the ratios are more even (although that’s a matter of some contention).

    Thanks! I do not ask for evidence out of snarkiness (really!). If it is provided, I accept it.

    Since the exception disprove the rule, I guess it’s only postmodern posturing to say that adults are taller than children.

    That’s not what I said or inferred. Surely you admit it that having enough exceptions to some rule does disprove it (bottom line: I HATE the saying “exception proves the rule”, it is dishonest to extreme).

    So there is a link between exceptions and the rule.

    I apologize for the postmodern slam. That was not necessary at all.

  12. 112
    Radfem says:

    A wealthy White man or woman can live in a neighborhood with other wealthy White people and not be scrutinized as to what they are doing there. They can move about freely at all times of the day or night, without scrutiny.

    For Black men or women if they are wealthy and live in a mostly White neighborhood, their presense in that neighborhood will often be questioned and scrutinized. They may be followed in their cars and stopped while either on foot or in their cars by private security companies or police officers, to be asked what they are doing there. If they are driving a new car or certain models, they might be asked where they got it or told after they might be interrogated or have had their vehicle searched, that it resembles one that was reported stolen. They might be asked if they were on probation or parole and often that’s the first question. If they are young, what gang they run with might be the second question.

    ( I was reminded of that yesterday, when I had a racial profiling stop of two Latinos occur right in front of me, while I was walking through a lily white neighborhood. )

    They may even be told that they don’t look like they live in the neighborhood. They will be asked where they are going and how long they will be there by officers on a traffic stop.

    The better off financially they are, the harder it will be for them to get a mortgage or a housing loan to buy a house. That’s built in to try and limit the neighborhoods they can *afford* to live in to mostly Black and/or Latino neighborhoods.

    Maybe their neighbors will accept them, at least as a novelty if they are the only family there. Maybe they will embrace them and invite them to their homes or welcome them to the neighborhood. Maybe they won’t. Hopefully, they won’t form a neighborhood committee/task force to keep an eye on this person or their family and launch petitions against them, as happened to a guy I know who was the first Latino to move into his new neighborhood. On the bright side, he had a few words with them about discrimination and harassment and the committee was soon dismantled at least for the time being.

    Hopefully, the neighborhood racist “group”(racial privliage allows them to be called a “group”, not a “gang”) won’t assault them or scribble racist slurs or swastikas on their homes or cars.

    Latinos might be mistaken for landscapers or housekeepers/nannies. I remember I was traveling to a running event with two men who were Latino in a pickup and we got lost in a White enclave, in L.A. We stopped to ask someone for directions and they asked us if we were gardeners and where our equipment was.

    You can gain class privilage, but racism is not erased with it. It still exists.

  13. 113
    Radfem says:

    Ooops, I did it again. :o

  14. 114
    Tuomas says:

    Just so you all know, I have a long comment where I responded to Ampersand in the moderation (been there for long).

  15. 115
    curiousgyrl says:

    Who, boy. Thought ya’ll should see this, in case you haven’t:

    http://www.nbc17.com/news/8836537/detail.html

  16. 116
    Lanoire says:

    So Joe Six-Pack shares the privilege GW Bush? How do you figure? Because they are both white men? Do white men collectively benefit from one white man being rich?

    No.

    White men collectively benefit from all white men not being black or Hispanic or some other race, yes. Joe Six-Pack doesn’t benefit from GW Bush being rich, but he does benefit from belonging to a group that is historically and currently dominent. This is such a simple, straight-forward point that I’m starting to think you’re deliberately misunderstanding me and attacking a straw-man.

    Lanoire (I should have splitted the response there, this is not to Charles) does not believe in class privilege, but in withe and male privilege. This isn’t a “quote”, granted, but logical conclusion of her argument that class privilege is nonexistent, but White and Male privilege are real.

    What the fuck? Where have I ever said or implied that “class privilege is nonexistent but white and male privilege are real”? You pulled that straight out of your ass, Tuomas, because what I’ve been arguing is that white, male and class privilege are all real and all interact to create an unjust world. In some situations, white privilege is the strongest factor; in others, it’s gender or class. Joe Sixpack is far less privileged than George Bush, and Oprah Winfrey as well because in that particular scenario Oprah’s class privilege is so strong as to trump Joe’s white male privilege, but he’s far more privileged than a black woman of similar socioeconomic status to himself. This is simple. And it can in no way be construed as saying “class privilege is nonexistent.”

    Of course exceptions disprove the rule! Duh! If the rule is not universal, it is not a rule, but mere postmodern posturing.

    Bullshit. Lots of rules are not universal, as Amp points out. An “exception” is just that–something unusual. If you have a high enough number of exceptions, then they cease to be exceptions at all.

  17. 117
    Lanoire says:

    White men collectively benefit from all white men not being black or Hispanic or some other race, yes.

    Awkward sentence–I should have just said that all white men benefit from their race, though this benefit may be counteracted by their class.

  18. 118
    Tuomas says:

    Joe Six-Pack doesn’t benefit from GW Bush being rich, but he does benefit from belonging to a group that is historically and currently dominent.

    How? Really how?

    This is such a simple, straight-forward point that I’m starting to think you’re deliberately misunderstanding me and attacking a straw-man.

    It is not simple at all to me, this idea that humans exist as parts of a collective hivemind. But I did misread you, I somehow read that you had claimed class privilege does not exist. Sorry.

    Now, can you tell me, as I am a white male (and supposedly benefit from being the same in terms of race and gender as many powerful people, because… Just because!), and it is “simple and straightforward” that I benefit from this, why would I not support White Supremacy and Patriarchy? Why would I ever vote for a nonwhite, or a woman (I have done so. How stupid of me.)?

    How is part of the privilege of GWB enjoys transferred to me? What is the mechanism? This honestly sounds like voodoo to me.

    Bullshit. Lots of rules are not universal, as Amp points out. An “exception” is just that”“something unusual. If you have a high enough number of exceptions, then they cease to be exceptions at all.

    Which means that those rules are less valid.

  19. 119
    Charles says:

    Toumas,

    I had another long post explaining why you are wrong to claim that individual race and sex privilege can’t be shown statistically, but I think it is kind of pointless.

    Could you restate in clear and simple terms what it is that you are arguing?

    Because, at this moment, I simply have no idea what (other than that some imaginary straw-feminists and straw-anti-racists who deny that class privilege exists and is important are wrong) it is that you are arguing, either for or against.

  20. 120
    Daran says:

    Radfem:

    The better off financially they are, the harder it will be for them to get a mortgage or a housing loan to buy a house.

    I assume that you mean that it is harder for wealthier non-whites in comparison to similarly wealthy whites, not harder than for less wealthy non-whites.

  21. 121
    Tuomas says:

    Could you restate in clear and simple terms what it is that you are arguing?

    I am arguing that white and male privilege, and indeed, the whole concept of privilege is so complex and hard (practically impossible beyond statistical trickery and collectivist measures) to measure that it does not support generalized statements like “all men have privilege by virtue of being men” (this is hardly a “straw-feminist” claim) or “all whites have privilege by virtue of being white” (ditto for the straw part).

    You cannot just lump all men or all whites together, look at some statistics and conclude that this is relevant on invidual level (hence the green-eyed example).

    Truth matters.

  22. 122
    Robert says:

    Or, as one of my fellow sociology 101 students said as we trooped out of the mandatory “white-privilege-benefits-all-whites” lecture, “if I’m so God-damn privileged, why am I going to mow my own yard when I get home?”

  23. 123
    Tuomas says:

    “if I’m so God-damn privileged, why am I going to mow my own yard when I get home?”

    Well, not everyone has an own yard, for one thing. And that includes some white people (but the relevant question is: Are the opportunities of nonwhites to get their own home with a yard restricted?).

  24. 124
    Tuomas says:

    I guess that was the point, though (pointing out the obvious, but someone has to do it)…

  25. 125
    Daran says:

    Charles:

    RonF,

    You haven’t lied about attending MIT or having children.

    Oh, wait, I don’t think that has been proven in a court of law either.

    This personal information which I presume has been supplied by RonF about himself is neither in dispute, nor does it impute wrongdoing by any identifiable person.

    For myself, I would never question the claim of any poster here that they were raped or otherwise abused by someone not potentially identifiable to readers of this blog. In these cases, there is no person whose presumption of innocence is potentially compromised, and therefore, no inconsistency with my position that where alledged-wrongdoers are identified or identifiable, their guilt should not be imputed until proven.

    The claim that Mary Doe hasn’t lied implies with near certainty, that she was raped at the party. I can see no circumstances in which that could have happened without some complicity on the part of the lacrosse players, even if they did not rape her. Therefore the claim is objectionable. (The claim that she did lie is even more objectionable, since it directly imputes wrongdoing on her part, however two wrongs do not make a right.)

    I have never found adhering to this principle to hinder or prevent me from saying whatever I want to about any individual case. Rather, it forces me to be more careful in my thinking, more open-minded, and to state my assumptions explicitly. For example, in the case at hand, I can say that the alleged victim’s account of the events that night seems to be detailed, plausible, and consistent with the evidence available to the public. By contrast, the version of events according to the defence seens vague and implausible. In making this assessment, I give no weight to recent pronouncements by defence lawyers about alledged DNA and other evidence not in the public domain. If that alledged evidence were to be published, that might change the picture.

  26. 126
    Daran says:

    Or, as one of my fellow sociology 101 students said as we trooped out of the mandatory “white-privilege-benefits-all-whites” lecture, “if I’m so God-damn privileged, why am I going to mow my own yard when I get home?”

    Because you won’t have been stopped on the way home by the police for driving while black.

  27. 127
    Robert says:

    Ha! True enough, Daran.

    That goes to the essence of the disagreement, I think. It’s hard to make a coherent argument for there not being privilege, or privilege not being important. It obviously exists, and it’s obviously a defining factor many times. I wouldn’t care to be a black man trying to get home at the end of a 2 AM shift.

    But at the same time the privilege-as-universe model just requires too much suspension of disbelief and special pleading to hold as a universal sociological construct. The whole matrix-of-oppression thing; yeah, OK, however you want to see the world. I think there are more productive visions.

  28. 128
    magpie says:

    i’ve just read the comments in this thread as a result of reading blac[k]admeic’s post on whether gender trumps race on her own blog. despite some excellent comments by a few posters, my overwhelming response is that this comment thread makes my brain hurt. and that i’m surprised that blac[k]ademic had the fortitude to deal with some of the comments that were made.

    without going into a who-said-what analysis, my problem with a lot of the comments has to do with the assumption that you can take one aspect of a woman’s identity — her being a woman — and separate it out from all of her other identitiess — especially her racial identity. given the intertwined ways in which race and gender have been constructed in the US, i think anyone who believes these identities can be separated out, let alone prioritized on the ‘oppresson scale,’ is woefully mistaken.

    it also strikes me that the whole formulation of the question being argued in this thread — whether gender trumps race — largely reflects the privileged position that white people enjoy in the US. if race *isn’t* something you have to take into account in your daily life; and if you don’t have to worry about whether your race determines whether you can be safe, or get a job, or be treated fairly, then it’s easy to believe race isn’t as important as gender. after all, the significant effect that a white person’s race has on their life is to give them a leg up over almost any person of color in almost any situation. as a white person, i won’t suffer from racism. i might suffer as the result of acts of prejudice committed by individuals, but i’ll never have to deal with systemic discrimination and mistreatment because of my whiteness. to put it another way: In the US, only white people have a sufficiently privileged position *because of their race* that they can easily make the argument that race is less important than gender. or almost any other identity, actually.

    this brings me to another difference that most white people have trouble understanding: that between prejudice and racism. prejudices operate on the level of individuals, through one person’s explicit actions toward another person. racism, on the other hand, is wielded by the society as a whole, although its benefits trickle down to individual white people. racism is used by the society, via its institutions, to bludgeon entire groups of people because they are black or brown etc.

    the other way prejudice and racism differ is that people actually have to *act* on their prejudices to benefit from them. A prejudice that is unspoken and un-acted upon has no effect on the world. on the other hand, no white person has to do *anything* to benefit from racism. even a white person who opposes racism can’t escape accruing benefits from institutionalized racism in the US.

    to explain it another way: as a white person, i might get singled out by a person of color [or even a group of people of color] for some reason, and suffer indignities or injury because i was singled out. but that *isn’t* racism in action. it’s prejudice. there’s no institutional and social back-up for those prejudices . there’s *plenty’ of that back-up for racism.

    i remember a black friend once telling me that, when he walked down the street in town where he’d never been before, nobody had to say anything for him to know that he was black. as a white woman, conversely, i will almost never encounter a situation in the US where my being white will anything but a plus factor.

    a lot of the wheel-spinning in this thread has to do with confusing prejudice and racism. re-reading the comment with that in mind might be very helpful.

    i hope that my comments have been helpful and that i haven’t been too long-winded …

  29. 129
    belledame222 says:

    The very formulation of that “gender trumps race” just makes my eyes cross. “Trumps.” Terrific.

    “Hello, and welcome to yet another round of Sociopolitical Queen For a Day! where we determine who! is! The Most! Oppressed! Who then wins a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni and…”

    …and *what,* exactly?

  30. 130
    Mendy says:

    Although I know and accept the differences between predjucdice and racism, I tend to think that one must follow from the other. In other words, in order to have institutionalized racism in this society we must have enough individuals with the predjucdice to construct and support that construction.

    And like several other commentors, this idea of separating out a person’s identities for the purpose of measuring which oppression is the greatest is, in my eyes at least, counterproductive to opposing oppression. Of course, a person of color’s experience is different than a white person’s experience.

    And now that I’ve given myself a headache, I’ll go back to lurking.

  31. 131
    RonF says:

    Charles:

    a not guilty verdict will not demonstrate that Mary Doe lied.

    I don’t question that. “Not Guilty” does not equal “innocent”, it simply means “not unanimously proved beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 people”. But what “not guilty” does do is to leave the question open from a legal viewpoint. You may certainly choose to believe her (I’m personally going to wait to see what comes out at trial), but there’s a difference between “Mary Doe was raped” and “I believe that Mary Doe was raped”. A “not guilty” verdict could leave us at “Mary Doe lied about the whole thing”, “Mary Doe was assaulted but rape is an open question”, “Mary Doe was assaulted and raped, but not by the people she named”, or “It appears that Mary Doe was assaulted and raped by the people she named, but they got off due to some legal issues.”

    You may have one of these opinions now, but until everything comes out at trial, I think that opinions on the matter are just that; opinions. A flat factual statement of “Mary Doe was raped” sounds like an assertion of fact, but I think right now that’s misleading.

  32. 132
    Radfem says:

    Radfem:

    The better off financially they are, the harder it will be for them to get a mortgage or a housing loan to buy a house.

    I assume that you mean that it is harder for wealthier non-whites in comparison to similarly wealthy whites, not harder than for less wealthy non-whites.

    You assumed wrong. It surprised me the first time I learned this in sociology class.

    The more money a person has, the more options they have for which neighborhood, meaning for a Black person or family they could move into houses in “White” neighborhoods. Consequently, they have a tougher time often getting money from lending institutions if they are more affluent and have better credit. Often, Black people are steered away from looking at houses in “White” neighborhoods by realtors and taken to neighborhoods that are traditionally Black and/or Latino. I’ve heard of a lot of cases of the latter from people trying to buy homes.

    it also strikes me that the whole formulation of the question being argued in this thread … whether gender trumps race … largely reflects the privileged position that white people enjoy in the US. if race *isn’t* something you have to take into account in your daily life; and if you don’t have to worry about whether your race determines whether you can be safe, or get a job, or be treated fairly, then it’s easy to believe race isn’t as important as gender.

    I agree. How a woman identifies herself is her own choice, her right. I don’t understand how other women(primarily White women) think they have the right to decide what is right for ALL women based on their own experiences as White women. The only way it makes sense is to see it as another way of exercising White privilage.

  33. 133
    Radfem says:

    without going into a who-said-what analysis, my problem with a lot of the comments has to do with the assumption that you can take one aspect of a woman’s identity … her being a woman … and separate it out from all of her other identitiess … especially her racial identity. given the intertwined ways in which race and gender have been constructed in the US, i think anyone who believes these identities can be separated out, let alone prioritized on the ‘oppresson scale,’ is woefully mistaken.

    I agree. I think this most definitely applies to the crime of rape.

  34. 134
    Daran says:

    Radfem:

    The better off financially they are, the harder it will be for them to get a mortgage or a housing loan to buy a house.

    Me:

    I assume that you mean that it is harder for wealthier non-whites in comparison to similarly wealthy whites, not harder than for less wealthy non-whites.

    Radfem:

    You assumed wrong. It surprised me the first time I learned this in sociology class.

    The more money a person has, the more options they have for which neighborhood, meaning for a Black person or family they could move into houses in “White” neighborhoods. Consequently, they have a tougher time often getting money from lending institutions if they are more affluent and have better credit.

    I’m still not clear about the claim here.

    You’re claiming that a black person earning $50,000 per year would find it harder to get a $100,000 mortgage to buy a $150,000 home than a black person earning $25,000 per year would to get a $50,000 mortgage to buy a $75,000 home, because the $150,000 home is more likely to be in a white area than the $75,000 home.

    You’re not claiming that a black person earning $50,000 per year would find it harder to get a $100,000 mortgage to buy a $150,000 home than a black person earning $25,000 per year would to get a $50,000 mortgage to buy the same $75,000 home.

    Or is my assumption still wrong?

  35. 135
    Radfem says:

    No, you are leaving racism involving lending institutions out of your mathematic equations. Loans are granted by human beings, not calculators and not computers.

  36. 136
    Charles says:

    Radfem,

    Daran messed up his clarifying example, so let me ask it again, just to be clear.

    If a black person with an income of $100,000 goes in to get a $75,000 loan for a $100,000 home, will they have a worse chance of getting it than a black person with a $50,000 income trying to get the same loan for the same house?

    I don’t disbelieve it, but I’m not clear if that was what you meant or not.

  37. 137
    Lanoire says:

    Joe Six-Pack doesn’t benefit from GW Bush being rich, but he does benefit from belonging to a group that is historically and currently dominent.

    How? Really how?

    He benefits because he’s not black and not Hispanic and therefore free from racist oppression. Again, I have to wonder if you’re being serious.

    It is not simple at all to me, this idea that humans exist as parts of a collective hivemind.

    Collective hivemind? Huh? Once more you’re imagining things I never said or implied. I’m saying that you benefit from racism, which gives you a leg up on people of color. What does this have to do with a “hivemind”?

    Now, can you tell me, as I am a white male (and supposedly benefit from being the same in terms of race and gender as many powerful people, because… Just because!), and it is “simple and straightforward” that I benefit from this, why would I not support White Supremacy and Patriarchy? Why would I ever vote for a nonwhite, or a woman (I have done so. How stupid of me.)?

    Because not all human beings are 100% self-interested. What does this have to do with anything?

    How is part of the privilege of GWB enjoys transferred to me? What is the mechanism? This honestly sounds like voodoo to me.

    It’s not “transferred” to you. It’s your privilege as much as it is his. Because you’re white, you won’t be oppressed by racism. Because you’re not rich and or a member of the Bush family, you don’t have his class privilege. But you share his race privilege. Do I need to provide statistics for you to prove that racism exists?

    Bullshit. Lots of rules are not universal, as Amp points out. An “exception” is just that”“something unusual. If you have a high enough number of exceptions, then they cease to be exceptions at all.

    Which means that those rules are less valid.

    …yeah. And your point? I’m guessing your point is that there are enough exceptions to rules like “black people are oppressed” and “women are oppressed” to invalidate those rules. I disagree, if that’s what you are saying.

    I am arguing that white and male privilege, and indeed, the whole concept of privilege is so complex and hard (practically impossible beyond statistical trickery and collectivist measures) to measure that it does not support generalized statements like “all men have privilege by virtue of being men” (this is hardly a “straw-feminist” claim) or “all whites have privilege by virtue of being white” (ditto for the straw part).

    No, it’s really not that complex at all. You’re probably never going to be raped unless you go to prison, Tuomas. The same goes for all men. Guess what? ALL of you share that privilege, by virtue of being men.

    You cannot just lump all men or all whites together, look at some statistics and conclude that this is relevant on invidual level (hence the green-eyed example).

    Now you’re moving the goal-posts, and in a ridiculous way. On an “individual level” no generalizations whatsoever are possible. It doesn’t mean that no generalizations are valid. It means that, in order to spot patterns, you need to step away from the individual level. On an individual level, saying “black people are oppressed” in pre-Civil War America would have been impossible.

    Truth matters.

    Ah, yes. Whereas the rest of us have been claiming that truth doesn’t matter and lies are actually really cool. Good to know. Carry on.

  38. 138
    Daran says:

    Radfem:

    No, you are leaving racism involving lending institutions out of your mathematic equations. Loans are granted by human beings, not calculators and not computers.

    I’m not leaving it out. I am trying to understand what it is you are claiming is the effect of the racism.

    Charles:

    Daran messed up his clarifying example

    So I did. Thanks for your correction.

    I don’t disbelieve it, but I’m not clear if that was what you meant or not.

    I’d consider that interpretation to be an extraordinary claim.

  39. 139
    Robert says:

    He benefits because he’s not black and not Hispanic and therefore free from racist oppression. Again, I have to wonder if you’re being serious.

    Well, it’s better to be free of racist oppression than not free of racist oppression.

    But characterizing that as a privilege of one group seems to require that we posit a world where oppression is inevitable, and only one special class of people is immune from this omnipresent evil.

    The difficulty with this approach is that it makes working for justice a complete waste of time. There is no justice; there’s only a question of whether you’re in the special group or not. The only way to improve society for any particular person is for that person to try and make their group the dominant one. The only way to improve society’s overall level of oppression is to get the special group to give up its privilege and be completely fucked like everyone else. Neither of these propositions is very attractive, other than to the relatively small number of people in each oppressed group who think that maintaining a system of oppression, but having their group at the top, would be just ducky.

    I – and I suspect, most other people – would instead take the tack that being black or Hispanic are disadvantages in terms of oppression – that white people’s experience of not being oppressed is what everyone ought to be entitled to. The advantage of this approach is that it presents a positive goal, rather than negative ones. You don’t pitch to black people “smash whitey” – you pitch “help make what whitey gets, what everybody gets”. You don’t ask white people to fuck themselves over; you ask them to help other people climb out of the shit.

  40. 140
    Daran says:

    Magpie:

    the significant effect that a white person’s race has on their life is to give them a leg up over almost any person of color in almost any situation.

    I agree.

    as a white person, i won’t suffer from racism.

    The unstated assumption here is that structural racism harms and oppresses non-whites, maybe benefits whites by redistributing some wealth and opportunity from non-whites to whites and has no other effect on whites. I disagree. It seems to me that racism places huge burdens upon society which fall upon everybody. Of course they fall most heavily on non-whites, but the smaller burden which falls upon whites is still heavy enough to outweigh the slight benefits to them.

    The focus upon relative privilege (racism unquestionably means that whites are privileged in comparison to non-whites) hides the true situation which is that we all suffer as a result of it, and that it is in the general self-interest of whites to oppose and to seek to remedy racism.

  41. 141
    Daran says:

    Bugger: Boloxed the blockquoting. “I agree” in the above are my words. “as a white person, I won’t suffer from racism” should be quoted. Amperand, please fix.

    [Fixed! --Amp]

  42. 142
    Daran says:

    I agreed with everything you wrote, until I got to this bit:

    Robert:

    The advantage of this approach is that it presents a positive goal, rather than negative ones. You don’t pitch to black people “smash whitey” – you pitch “help make what whitey gets, what everybody gets”. You don’t ask white people to fuck themselves over; you ask them to help other people climb out of the shit.

    Firstly those saying “smash whitey” would appear to be a tiny and insignificant minority, and none of them appear to be posting here, so in the context of this discussion, that is a strawman.

    Secondly, although you acknowledged throughout your post that racism is oppression, it seems, in the quoted passage, to have turned into mere disadvantage. Disadvantage is being in a tub of shit. Oppression is when people are pushing you into it with ten-foot poles. These people, as I have argued elsewhere, are acting against their own class-interest. So in addition to pitching “help make what whitey gets, what everyone gets” to non-whites, you should also pitch it to whites on grounds of not merely of justice (though that is important) but also self-interest. It may also be necessary to break the poles.

  43. 143
    ginmar says:

    The very formulation of that “gender trumps race” just makes my eyes cross. “Trumps.” Terrific.

    “Hello, and welcome to yet another round of Sociopolitical Queen For a Day! where we determine who! is! The Most! Oppressed! Who then wins a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni and…”

    …and *what,* exactly?

    Yeah, because the fact that men got the vote before women is so very hard to deal with. And the fact that they were granted this right by other men. And the fact that t hey then got to own women. And then there’s the fact that other men got to own more women than men.

    Sorry, but it breaks down in a very simple way. Are men acting in a sexist fashion? Then they’re sexist. You want to make excuses? They’re still sexist. Kiss their ass if you must, but they’re still sexist, and if you deflect that sexism on another group of women, what are you?

  44. 144
    nonwhiteperson says:

    I’m gonna be rad as a woman of color and agree with ginmar that ALL men should be called out on their sexism. Oppression is oppression and it should be called out in private or public spheres.

  45. 145
    Lanoire says:

    But characterizing that as a privilege of one group seems to require that we posit a world where oppression is inevitable, and only one special class of people is immune from this omnipresent evil.

    Would you be more comfortable if we described this, not as “privilege,” but as minorities being deprived of their rights? Because that’s what I mean when I talk about privilege.

    I didn’t like the term “privilege”–still don’t, actually–because in my mind “privilege” refers to a teenager getting to take the car out on weekends. But that’s clearly not what those of us who have been talking about privilege on this thread mean by it. The word has become part of a jargon now, and in that jargon it means something other than what it means in everyday speech. In everyday speech, “privilege” means “stuff that’s nice but not a right.” But when feminists, for example, talk about “male privilege,” we mean that men aren’t likely to have certain rights of theirs dismissed the way women’s are.

  46. 146
    Tuomas says:

    Lanoire:

    But that’s clearly not what those of us who have been talking about privilege on this thread mean by it. The word has become part of a jargon now, and in that jargon it means something other than what it means in everyday speech. In everyday speech, “privilege” means “stuff that’s nice but not a right.” But when feminists, for example, talk about “male privilege,” we mean that men aren’t likely to have certain rights of theirs dismissed the way women’s are.

    Now, that explains a lot (but does everyone realize that, among feminists?)!

    Because not all human beings are 100% self-interested. What does this have to do with anything?

    Of course not, but what I’m getting at is that I generally do not agree with the universality of certain rules of privilege, I also think that gender equality and racial equality is in the intersts of everyone, in other words, while racism probably hurts POC more than it does whites, the injustice of racism harms whites too, and it is a net negative result. Few “gain” from oppression, and justice and fairness isn’t a zero-sum game that always screws someone over (I agree with Robert and Daran on what they wrote).

    For example, countries that do not have basic rights for women in the law (Saudi Arabia etc.) are usually oppressive to the vast majority of men too in many ways.

    Neither are there economic benefits: Often it is talked about how the US was built on slave labor, but economically, despite the initial boost the South received from slaveholding, the oppressive, stagnant system of slavery (with blacks as the most oppressed, poor whites as quite oppressed too, altough not as much) did not have the economic potential of the North with it’s social mobility and Free Market (no links, got this from McPherson’s Battle Cry Of Freedom [book]). The technological and economic superiority was one reason for that particular war went how it went.

    Or, about police harassing blacks and latinos: Sounds like a waste of time. This harassment is away from the time the police could use to protect and to serve (spending time harassing noncriminals does not reduce crime).

    In short, I do not see that much advanteges in racism and sexism to those with “privilege”, altough the relative position in the system is better.

  47. 147
    Lanoire says:

    I also think that gender equality and racial equality is in the intersts of everyone, in other words, while racism probably hurts POC more than it does whites, the injustice of racism harms whites too, and it is a net negative result. Few “gain” from oppression, and justice and fairness isn’t a zero-sum game that always screws someone over (I agree with Robert and Daran on what they wrote).

    I agree.

    When I (and most other feminists) talk about privilege, we generally aren’t saying that you and other white men get a net gain from this so-called privilege. When we talk about privilege, it’s usually some fairly concrete things we’re referring to: the likelihood of being raped. The likelihood of being arrested, and of serving a long jail sentence, and of being executed. The opportunities to better your life.

    Are you better off in a system where women have a 25% chance of being raped and where people of color are harassed by the police? Nope. But that stuff isn’t happening directly to you, though you are affected by the net negative consequences of living in a society where it happens. That’s all “privilege” means.

    Now, that explains a lot (but does everyone realize that, among feminists?)!

    Among feminists, yeah. For non-feminists, or newbie feminists unacquainted with the jargon, it can be a little confusing. One reason I don’t like the term “privilege” though I use it for clarity’s sake on feminist-dominated blogs like this one.

  48. 148
    Robert says:

    When I (and most other feminists) talk about privilege, we generally aren’t saying that you and other white men get a net gain from this so-called privilege.

    That isn’t the impression I’ve gotten from other feminists. I take you at your word that’s what you’ve meant, but I don’t think that there is consensus on your interpretation. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted what other feminists have written to me.

  49. 149
    belledame222 says:

    >and if you deflect that sexism on another group of women, what are you?

    I’d answer that, but I’m too busy having my vagina embalmed.

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