Thursday, May 24, 2007

I know what post I'm nominating for best post in the next Koufax Awards

And that would be Mandolin's brilliant post at Alas, where she is guest blogging this month. Expanding on Hugo's post from last year, Words are not fists: some thoughts on how men work to defuse feminist anger, Mandolin examines how this observation becomes even more true the less privilege the "attacker" is perceived to have.
But I want to take it farther than Hugo does. People don’t just say “don’t attack me” as a way of getting feminists to back down. They also say it because they have a sense of being attacked. Criticism is not fists, but people really seem to perceive it that way.

And the less privilege the person who’s making the criticism has, the more it feels like an attack. In this post, Ginmar quotes Amanda Marcotte: “The less right you have to talk in the eyes of the hierarchy, the louder you seem. Which is probably why black women are seen as the loudest people ever.”*

We see this in a lot of places, right? The common sense conviction that women talk more than men cannot be supported, and in fact, people find data that suggests that — in ordinary conversation — men talk more than women. If researchers externally impose a requirement that both men and women speak the same amount, then they both report that it feels like the men hardly got a chance to talk at all.

Women aren’t supposed to talk, so when they talk, they’re seen as talking A LOT. Black women really aren’t supposed to talk, so when they talk, they’re seen as talking REALLY LOUDLY.

Women aren’t supposed to criticize, so when they criticize, it’s not just words — the surprise of their criticism feels like fists. And when women of color criticize? Well, then it’s World War III.

No, really. World War III.

...I’m particularly disturbed by the escalation in the violent imagery that one sees when comparing the examples that Hugo brings up (men talking to women in a gendered environment) to the examples that I’m bringing up (white people talking about people of color in a racialized environment). Men are worried about being beaten up; white people are worried about crucifixion, World War III, having their feet blown off by landmines.

I'm trying hard to not just quote the whole damn thing. So, just go read it yourself.


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