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14.10.06

Which Oppression Is Greater?

From the department of "Alon Levy posts I meant to link to a while ago," I liked his analysis of why "this oppression is more socially acceptable than that one" arguments are so common yet come to such different conclusions:

The reason both gender-trumps-race and race-trumps-gender arguments can come off as reasonable is that racism and sexism don’t work exactly the same way. In some areas, gender dominates - for example, there’s more awareness of racially motivated hate crimes than of gender-based ones. In others, race dominates - for example, the irrational fear of The Other is much stronger with race than with gender.

... To see why, look at the criteria people use to establish trumping hierarchies. It’s natural for feminists to be aware mostly of gender-specific forms of inequality: sexual puritanism, ignorance of hate crimes, traditional values; job discrimination against mothers and pregnant women, devaluing female labor, anti-working mother sentiments. These are as far as I can tell much more acute on gender than on race, so someone who’s acquainted with these can easily be misled to believe that gender trumps race.

Contrariwise, antiracists, who are more aware of race-specific inequality (overhyped fear of BOW crime, police racism, intolerance of mixed-race relationships; high unemployment among most minorities, employment discrimination among people with ethnic-sounding names, low spending on majority-minority schools), will similarly tend to evaluate other forms of inequality based on the criteria familiar to them, again reaching the conclusion that their situation is worse.

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