Friday, May 30, 2008

Sexism v. Racism

Limits and Ambitions - Ann @ Feministing

See, I knew Ruth Marcus was full of it when she wrote her op-ed on the 'ambition gap' between men and women in politics. The whole piece just didn't feel right in the sense that I knew there were other, more legitimate explanations than simply that women were not as ambitious as men. But Ann from Feministing nails down what it was that troubled me. Even so, Ann brings up another point that I find troubling: the idea that sexism is just as bad as racism. Yes, I will agree that sexism is bad, particularly in today's media and most of the more serious problems in organized religion come from religious leader's attempts to control sex through women. But, if I recall my American history correctly, 700,000 American lives were not spent on getting women the right to vote. Nor did white American women in the 20th century have to worry about getting lynched among other things. If you want to make the case that sexism is as bad as racism then you have to take it out of a 21st century American context and look at all of world history. But comparing American sexism to American racism not only mitigates the plight not just of blacks but of any minority in America but also overstates the plight of white women in America. Yes, rape and sexual harrassment and abuse are terrible things. But to say that it's worse than what blacks in America have had to go through ignores black history. Of course this comes from a white male third-wave feminist perspective, so take it with as big a grain of salt as you'd like.