Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Sexism for Dummies

with 6 comments

Okay, I couldn’t help myself.  This


appeared on Facebook yesterday, and I’ll admit it so completely floored me I couldn’t respond to it right away. 

In fact, it had been so long since I’d seen something quite this idiotic, I’d actually started to thing we were past all this now.

Since we seem not to be past all this now, I’ve got a few comments to make.

I’d like to point out that I make them as part of a “marginalised group,” a phrase the writer of this thing seems to thing she’s got a trademark on.

If you haven’t read this thing, none of the comments that follow are going to make any sense, so go ahead and read it.

It’s long.

Let me start with something that should be obvious to anybody who’s ever read anything I’ve written:  no conversation of this kind would ever reach the point of using any of these “ploys” if you were having the conversation with me.

That’s because I reject the premise in its totality.

“Oppression” is a word with a meaning, and the meaning isn’t “being put down by a jerk once in a while” or “not liking the stereotype of some group I belong to in the media” or even “condescended to by an ass with half your IQ.”

In China this past week-end, Christians attempting to celebrate Easter were rounded up and taken off to jail, where the chances are better than pretty good that they’ll be physically tortured–and with “torture” as it was defined in WWII, not in Iraq.  That’s oppression.

When Saddam Hussein had his functionaries put a woman in the cell next to the one where her infant child was and then had those functionaries drill through the infant’s skull until the mother couldn’t stand the screams any more and gave away the locations of her fathers and brothers working for the resistance–that’s oppression.

Hell, even life in a Muslim state as a dhimmi is oppression, because you are legally (note the LEGALLY) prevented from openly practicing your religion, or proselytizing for it in any way, and are required to pay a special tax simply because you are not a Muslim.

There has been oppression in the United States–there has been slavery, for instance, and Jim Crow, and lynching.

But I’m sorry, the Constitution says you have the right to the pursuit of happiness, not the right to have everybody approve of your pursuit, and certainly not the right to be comfortable all the time. 

In fact, I reject the entire concept of “human rights.” 

I DO accept INDIVIDUAL rights–which are the rights individuals have that prevent the government (note:  government, not everybody on earth) from interfering in certain activities and decisions.

Freedom of speech is an individual right.  Freedom of conscience is an individual right.  The government can’t stop me or punish me for either.

But that doesn’t mean my fellow citizens can’t hate me for both.  That’s an individual right, too.

I also accept a moral obligation to other human beings:  to treat them as individuals, NOT as members of a group, marginalized or otherwise. 

And this means no double standards–the standard I apply to person A I must also apply to person B, period. 

And those two things are what I except every other human being has a moral obligation to extend to me.

And that, the writer of this essay does not do.

There is, for instance, the implication that insisting on evidence and facts is wrong and oppressive, because I should be giving a privileged place to “lived experience.”

But if I give a priveleged place to “lived experience” in the case of “marginalised groups,” then I must give that same privileged place to the lived experience of everybody else–and sorry, no.  Not going to happen.

I know people who tell me sincerely that God has spoken to them and told them to wipe homosexuality off the face of the earth–that’s their “lived experience,” and without some good, solid evidence behind it, I’d say it was bunk. 

I know people who say they have been kidnapped by aliens, too.  No evidence–sorry, I just won’t believe it.

So if your lived experience contradicts what factual evidence I have, I’m not going to accept it. 

Oh, and by the way–I also happen to think that if something is true, that’s the end of it.  Prove to me it’s not true and I’ll stop saying it and believing it, but don’t just tell me how you feel about it. Truth is its own defense.  See above. 

But the kicker here comes in the section called “But I Know Another Person from Your Group Who Disagrees” and it goes like this:


This one is fantastic to bring out if you feel at all backed into a corner. If, for example, the Marginalised Person™ is making sense and you’re beginning to get the unpleasant feeling that you were wrong about something, just whip up your friend – your black friend, or your trans friend, your friend with a mental illness, or your friend who is a sex worker, and vehemently express how they completely and stridently support your opinions on these issues.

Of course, you must make out as though you are entirely oblivious to internalised stigma and how your friends may have been adversely affected by discrimination wielded by the Privileged®.<<<

 Take a look at that for a minute. 

Do you know what that says?

That says that a white middle class guy has full control of his mind and his intellect, and the free choice and free will to decide to be a Baptist or a Libertarian, to be for or against affirmative action, to hold any opinion at all–

But I don’t, because I’m from a Marginalized Group.  I’m a woman, and therefore if I report my “lived experience” as anything different from–or antagonistic to–the ideas held by that author, well, it’s not because I have a mind, it’s not because I can make up my own mind, it’s because…well, I’ve been “adversely affected” by my “oppression” and so I’ve been so addled I just think I think unlike the herd.

Forty years ago, I got myself thrown out of a consciousness raising group for saying what I thought about this particular line of argument.

I called it what it actually is–bigotry, pure and simple, that assumes that biology is destiny and I am a slave to whatever my genetics randomly produced in my mother’s womb.

We’ll be past real bigotry and discrimination when everybody–marginalized or not–is accepted as having a mind of her own that she actually thinks with.

In the meantime, I’m going to go let the men in my house cook me dinner.


Written by janeh

April 25th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Sexism for Dummies'

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  1. The derailing article was too long for me. I took it to be sarcasm or irony rather than serious.


    25 Apr 11 at 10:16 pm

  2. That was my first impression too. I simply can’t imagine how anyone could have written that stuff seriously.


    26 Apr 11 at 1:31 am

  3. That was my take too, although I think the author is generally pro-‘marginalized’ people and anti-any attempt by individuals to deal with ‘marginalized people’ as individuals.

    It’s probably a good thing I never went to a consciousness-raising session, because I never liked the idea behind it (we know better than you what you’d really think if you understood things properly). Once things got past equal pay for work of equal value, and into all this stuff about how only certain attitudes or beliefs were really pro-women, and just being a woman didn’t entitle you to disagree, I quit following and stayed back in my early version of feminism.


    26 Apr 11 at 6:23 am

  4. “I’d actually started to thing we were past all this now.”

    Sorry. I very much doubt we’ll be “past all this” in either of our lifetimes. We’ve got a legal and political system which awards points for belonging to selected groups, and no incentive whatever for any group to forgo marginalized/oppressed status. In fact, all the incentives are to invent such a group and belong to it. I think it will all end suddenly–but not soon, and probably not without getting worse first.


    26 Apr 11 at 7:20 pm

  5. Robert’s comment is interesting. The US used to have the reputation of being a mixing bowl for taking immigrants from many cultures and turning them into Americans. Now it seems to be separating out into many “minorities”, each of which thinks its entitled to special treatment.


    27 Apr 11 at 6:43 pm

  6. Apropos the above, Mark Steyn says about all that could possibly need to be said about “identity politics” in the 21st century.


    Oh, Canada!



    29 Apr 11 at 1:35 am

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