Many men are quick to get outraged by racism. It’s now considered common sense to at least oppose racism in theory, even when a lot of people remain unconsciously racist in practice. But when confronted by sexism, these same, ostensibly sensitive men will have no second thoughts about dismissing feminism. “Oh, but this is different.”
Sexism comes in many shapes, permeating all the way into academia, in areas like anthropology or sociology, where it’s not just about the practices of its members, but the actual theories and tenets that are held and taught. Some cultural relativists out there feel certain misogynist practices belong to the sacred realm of culture, or of religion, and should therefore be respected above all else. This stems from the fact that how women are treated is seen as part of cultural practice — and from the fact that women are seen as cultural objects themselves.
Think, for example, of how many travel guides promote places for their “delicious food, pleasant weather, and beautiful women.” Colombia, for example, is an expert on this.
I could not have done it better than Lonely Planet describing the city of Cali, Colombia:
“While the city itself isn’t breathtaking, Cali famously claims to produce the most beautiful women in Colombia.”
One word: produce. Like sugar cane or fucking cholaos.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a travel guide praising a city for “producing the most handsome men” in wherever. See how ridiculous that sounds? Who writes, edits, supervises these travel guides, and who do they write them for? The answer might not just be “men”, but a specific type of men, and it might also be women, who are accustomed to this type of thinking and embrace it as the accepted worldview.
But this is of course, only one side of the racist/sexist hypocrisy lines many men traverse daily as professional sport.
When it’s about barbaric treatment of men toward other men, it’s despicable, it’s genocide, crimes against humanity, behavior that should be campaigned against, that should be stopped with an invasion, with state-backed aggression.
But when it’s systematic attacks toward women, because they’re women, when they’re starved to death in favor of their brothers, and millions of them die every year in deplorable conditions, then it’s a “women’s issue.” That can wait for later. That’s you being a feminist (queue hissing cat), being hysterical and too emotional, and not focusing on the important things, like human rights.
This is exactly what is happening as we speak with the peace negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where women’s rights are being bartered for the sake of political gains, on both sides. PBS did a wonderful series, Women, War and Peace, where urgent issues as this one are explored. In the Afghanistan episode, Peace Unveiled, we can hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promise Afghan women that “peace and justice can’t come at the cost of women and women’s lives.” Time is running out, and the pressure increasing. Will the world forget these Afghan women? Will we do anything about it?
- International Feminists Organizing (gaylekimball.wordpress.com)
- Fearing Taliban talks, Afghan women keep pushing to have voices heard (msnbc.msn.com)
- Listen to women in a new Afghanistan (cnn.com)