Tag: 9. Oktober 2016
Sexismus, Rassismus etc = Vorurteil + Macht (prejudice + power)
Die Formel Sexismus/Rassismus/X-ismus = Vorurteile und Macht scheint mir immer mehr eine der problematischsten zu sein, weil es als die „richtige Definition“ für einen „echten“ X-ismus“ angesehen wird.
Der Grundgedanke ist, dass man negative Konsequenzen aus einem Vorurteil nur dann umsetzen kann, wenn man Macht hat und ist damit eng mit Gruppentheorien verbunden, denn der einzelne typische Mann hat eben genauso wenig Macht wie die einzelne Frau.
Ein Bettler kann ein Sexist sein, eine Lehrerin, die ihren männlichen Schülern schlechtere Noten gibt, weil sie meint, dass Jungs nun einmal doof sind und es nicht anders verdient haben, hingegen keine Sexistin. Dabei hat der Bettler keinerlei Macht, die Lehrerin aber eine erhebliche Macht. Aber sie werden eben nur als Teil der Gruppe gesehen, und Macht ist dort anscheinend rein binär zu betrachten: Entweder eine Gruppe hat Macht oder sie hat sie nicht, es gibt keine Grauzonen.
Ich würde hier gern etwas zu der Theorie und ihren Grundlagen zusammentragen:
Aus der Wikipedia:
- In der Psychologie und Sozialpsychologie wird Sexismus häufig über vorurteilsbesetzte (negative) Einstellungen und diskriminierende Verhaltensweisen gegenüber Personen aufgrund ihres Geschlechts oder noch breiter als „stereotype Einschätzung, Bewertung, Benachteiligung oder Bevorzugung einer Person allein auf Grund ihrer Geschlechtszugehörigkeit“ definiert. Diese Definitionen umfassen Stereotypisierungen, Abwertungen (vgl. Dysphemismus) und Diskriminierungen, die Frauen und Männern theoretisch gleichermaßen betreffen können. Die amerikanischen Sozialpsychologen Peter Glick und Susan Fiske definieren Sexismus als Feindseligkeit gegenüber Frauen. Sexismus produziere die Aufrechterhaltung gesellschaftlicher Rollen, wobei diese insbesondere Frauen in eine untergeordnete Position und in eine Stellung mit weniger Macht dränge als Männer.
- In der soziologischen Forschung wird der strukturelle Aspekt des Sexismus betont (siehe auch Strukturfunktionalismus, sozialer Status). Hier heißt es, Sexismus sei kulturell bedingt, institutionell verankert und individuell verinnerlicht. Es sei ein weitergetragenes Denken, Glauben, Meinen und ein Handeln als gesellschaftliche Praxis, welches Männer privilegiere und Frauen unterwerfe. Hierdurch werde das Tun von Frauen abgewertet und Frauen (und Männer) würden auf bestimmte Rollen festgeschrieben. Dieser Ansatz betont die Mechanismen eines diskriminierendenGesellschaftssystems, hier des Patriarchats, und untersucht die Verschränkungen von Sexismus mit anderen kritischen Ausprägungen von Herrschaft bestimmter Gruppen wie dem Rassismus, dem Klassismus oder der Altersdiskriminierung (englisch: „ageism“), Handicapism oder Speziesismus.
- Im postfeministischen Diskurs wird als Sexismus betrachtet, von anderen zu erwarten oder zu verlangen, dass sie Geschlechternormen verkörpern. Verwandt mit diesem Ansatz sind die Diskussionen um die heterosexistische Diskriminierung von Schwulen, Lesben und Menschen, die nicht ins gängige Geschlechterkonzept passen.
Da ist es noch relativ offen und man könnte teilweise auch sehr gut Männer unterbringen.
Wenden wir uns also idoelogisch klareren Seiten zu:
Prejudice plus power is an inclusive and academic definition of axes of oppression, e.g., racism, sexism, etc., that stresses the access to institutional and cultural levels of bias that acts, systems, ideologies, and so on must possess in order to be inherently oppressive. This definition was first proposed by Patricia Bidol-Padva in 1970 in her book Developing New Perspectives on Race: An Innovative Multi-media Social Studies Curriculum in Racism Awareness for the Secondary Level.
Prejudice is a „preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience; bias, partiality.“ Power is „the capacity to exert force on or over something or someone.“Unlike many layperson or dictionary definitions, this description of oppression as prejudiced opinions combined with access to power is not defined by the institutions inpower, e.g., for racism:
Racism is prejudice plus power. On the basis of this definition, while all people can be prejudiced, only those who have power are really racist. African Americans, Latinos, Asians and American Indians the powerless in American society can be and often are most prejudiced toward Whites on an individual basis, but they are not racists at the structural, institutional level. Within this understanding of racism, to be a racist you have to possess two things: 1) socioeconomic power to force others to do what you desire even if they don’t want to, and 2), the justification of this power abuse by an ideology of biological supremacy. Keep in mind that what often is described as racism in society today, is really nothing more than prejudice and discrimination. While a Black or Latino person, through the use of a gun and/or intimidation, can force a White person to do as he as an individual desires, this is an individual act of aggression, not a socially structured power arrangement. At present, however, only Whites have that kind of power, reinforced by a belief in an ideology of supremacy, both of which constitute the basis of racism in America today.
As well as for sexism:
[I]nstitutional power: men as a class have it, women as a class don’t.What this imbalance of power translates to on an individual level is a difference in the impact of a man being prejudiced towards a woman and a woman being prejudiced towards a man. While both parties are human, and therefore have the same capacity to be hurt by the prejudice, whether they like it or not, the men have a whole system of history, traditions, assumptions, and in some caseslegal systems and “scientific” evidence giving their words a weight that the women don’t have access to.
- 1 What is institutional oppression?
- 2 Misconceptions
- 3 But are white people really the only ones allowed to be called racist?
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
What is institutional oppression?
The concept of prejudice plus power frames forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and other positions of societal disfavor as perpetrated by those in power against those that are not in power. Just disliking someone or not favoring someone because of their race, gender, or other trait is not enough to oppress them; some form of power has to back the opinion that reflects it into multiple aspects of an environment rather than just a relational conflict.
The manifestation of prejudice when installed by those in power into social systems or institutions is called institutional oppression. The positions it enforces are widespread and repeatable because to even participate in acts needed to survive in said society, one must be exposed to those ideas: by household socialization, by the dynamics of who lives where and who one sees, the media presence of those with more social privilege versus those with less, the frequency that some people are hired and for what jobs, the access to health care, transportation, and housing that people have, the favor or quality of education and who gets the most of both, what demographics can be found in high-level positions and what ones are not, who is sexualized and who is not, who is considered uglier and who is not, and these are only just to start.
A common assertion is that this definition of oppression disqualifies those with less social privilege from criticism, eg. only white people can be racist, only men can be sexist, only cisgender people can be transphobic, only able people can be ableist. However, this is a very simplistic understanding and focuses on distasteful concepts i.e. the „right“ of those with more privilege to callreverse racism or misandry or protest being called cis. The words of an oppressed class have very little power to cause any sort of detriment to those with social privilege; calling a white person a „cracker“ doesn’t impact their chances of being hired in the USA, identifying a cisgender person is not linked to the murder rate or medical care denial rate of cisgender people, and a woman proclaiming that men are encouraged to act irresponsibly doesn’t change the amount of boys entering higher science or computer education or bear implications for the rape statistics of men and boys. However, for people of color, trans people, and women these things are provably true.
Singling out a person with a major axis of privilege may be rude, but the major impact of it is limited to some hurt feelings. Singling out a person without that axis of privilege for systematically disfavored traits supports and normalizes vast systems that take away their life opportunities and often lead to acts of violence against people of their same demographic. These acts, for less privileged individuals are the bulk of microaggressions, or cumulative, frequent small expressions of oppression that can result ininternalized oppression and damage to mental-health and well-being that those on axis of greater privilege do not experience.
But are white people really the only ones allowed to be called racist?
No. Because oppression is institutional, it is often internalized by people who must use those institutions to survive. However, it’s not the place of people in more privileged positions to police them. So no, (in the USA, at least) even if that black person does seem to be acting in a racist way against other black people, it’s not a white person’s job to call them out.
Additionally, there are plenty of divisions within areas of disprivilege where multiple axis of oppression intersect that can cause people in a socially disprivileged demographic to exercise what axis they have to suppress others. Within LGBTQA+ communities, cis gay males tend to upstage other demographics, biphobia is highly prevalent, and trans individuals face poor representation and violence. Within civil rights and racial justice communities, women of color, gay women, and trans people of color are routinely othered or face poor support. Within trans communities, transmisogyny, discrimination against nonbinary individuals, and medical sexism, thrives.
Furthermore, if oppression is institutional, different countries and different societies have different institutions. Whiteness, maleness, heteronormativity, able-ness, and other axes of privilege are favored by the widespread institutions inflicted globally by white European colonialism, but in different areas of the world favor may manifest differently, and locally powerful demographics may also take positions of dominance over locally suppressed demographics. Not all oppression is at the hands of white colonialists, but white european imperialism oppresses almost everybody in some way (socially, economically, culturally, in the media, in terms of beauty standards, etc.) in contemporary times.
Es handelt sich also um Theorien, die im Kontext der amerikanischen Anti-Rassimusbewegung entstanden sind. Ein wichtiges Kriterium für Macht scheint demnach zu sein, ob der Sexismus in irgendeiner Form Wirkung entfalten kann, die über leichtes Ungemach hinaus geht. Denn wenn das der Fall ist, dann steht eine gewisse institutionelle Macht dahinter.
Aus der Sicht könnte man natürlich leicht zu dem Ergebnis kommen, dass auch ein Sexismus gegen Männer bestehen könnte. Denn die Vorurteile, dass Männer nicht mit Kindern umgehen können, führen dazu, dass sie im Residenzmodell eher bei den Frauen landen, das Vorurteil, dass Männer sexgeile Schweine sind bewirkt, dass eine entsprechende Falschbeschuldigung einen Mann ruinieren kann, das Vorurteil, dass ein echter Mann seine Familie ernähren können muss, lässt Männer weniger Zeit mit der Familie verbringen und so weiter. Natürlich: Wenn man diese Bereiche nicht als Nachteile akzeptiert, dann kann man das ausblenden. Ebenso, wenn man anführt, dass Männer als Gruppe immer noch die meisten Machtpositionen innehaben, aber das ist dann entweder Rosinenpickerei oder eine Apex Fallacy.
Hier habe ich noch eine Kritik an dem Konzept gefunden, dass auch noch etwas dazu darlegt:
Critical Race Theory is a popular pass-time among my comrades on the radical left who ascribe to various positions within the broad political ideology of identity politics. Since I’m a Marxist, or at least a Marxian, it’s largely been something I’ve ignored. This is because for the most part it has appeared, looking in from outside the social circles where this particular family of ideas have currency, to be little more than a self-serving rhetorical tactic of petit-bourgeois academics seeking, out of narcissism, to claim for themselves and certain of their peers some of the political capital owed to the working class and won by them through hard graft during the civil rights movements of the fifties and sixties. The basic tactic as I see it is that Theorist A looks on the problems of some segment of the proletariat to whom he is peripherally related via an essentialized category established by historical capitalist precedent and Theorist A claims that rather than the disadvantages owing to oppressive economic structures, the actual oppressive structure is something else which is specifically in place to target whatever group Theorist A can make a case for his or her own membership of. This move is then co-opted by non-members of the cohort as a further disenfranchisement of the proper class consciousness, and all turned on its head as a condescending way to tell working class folks that they’re really the oppressors in society, rather than the victims of the Capital that has been so kind to the afforementioned theorists in their cozy endowed fellowships and well funded „activist“ groups, funded primarily by the tax breaks given to capital so that it can spend more of itself extracting surplus labor from the workforce. No One Is Innocent. But I digress.
Out of this argument falls various alleged systems, the most commonly referenced being „The Patriarchy“ and „Institutional Racism.“ These systems are then used as watch words whereby the theorist gains attention for his or her segment of the proletariat and by association co-opts a little of their plight for him or herself. It’s bourgeois narcissm, and As I said, I largely ignore such ideas because their influence in the world is largely limited to academia.
The rhetoric of these folks has no real tactical impact on the world because this narcissism more or less limits their grasp of the world to their own slice of it, and their slice being universities and activist circles among the more incoherent left, their opinions don’t shape much policy-wise beyond the rather childish realm of academic micropolitics. In other words, unless someone is interested in playing the academic politics game, this particular political claim doesn’t matter at all because it never comes into play in the larger economic world. There is, however, one bit of leakage from this world into the larger political sphere that does cause me a bit of consternation and it’s that cross contamination that I’m going to address here.
I’m speaking, of cours,e about the bizarre stipulation by Critical Race Theorists and self described „Anti-racists“ that Racism is the confluence of Racial Prejudice and Institutional Power. Or, to put it in the more pithy slogan form that is mostly favored by the people who use this definition „Racism = Prejudice + Power.“ This is an idea that appears to be reaching a sort of critical mass among the non-academic left and is endanger of derailing a good portion of radical activism and being extremely divisive among groups that ought to be united against the common enemy of global capital. I will argue that in fact this definition is counterproductive politically and unsound philosophically and as such ought to be eliminated from discourse by the left.
First, though, a bit of history.
As near as I can tell, the formulation „Racism = Prejudice + Power“ originated in a book by Pat Bidol in 1970. Titled „Developing New Perspectives on Race,“ in it Bidol explicitly makes the formulation as stated and then uses this definition as the basis for an argument that in the United States Blacks cannot be racist against whites, they can only be racially prejudiced against them. This makes an important connection that matters as far as this particular nonsense is concerned, which is that this stipulated definition exists as an excuse to defend members of racial minorities against accusations of racism and it has always existed for this reason. The definition was largely popularized by Judy Katz, who referenced Bidol explicitly, in her 1978 book „White Awareness“ which presented a course of counter-racist training for organizations. The book was highly influential and through it the formulation, for those who were searching for such a tool with which to deflect accusations of racism, gained popularity.
Which brings us to the present day, more or less, where the slogan has achieved a sort of quasi legitimacy by virtue of having been repeated so often. Of course, it’s of absolutely no use to anyone for anything except what the slogan was intended for initially, and even then it’s a very poor tool. Nevertheless, when reading over the tossed out thoughts on race by the left wing of the technocracy in particular, it remains as a sort of gospel despite the fact that as far as I can tell, the arguments for it are either very thin or even non-existent. In the Katz book, for example, it is purely stipulated and the only argument given for it is that without the component of power, any definition of racism looks exactly like prejudice. Why the formulation „racism = racial prejudice,“ which is much more consistent with the general usage of the term, is problematic is left unexplored by Katz and by all the theorists I have found who have adopted the definition.
As for why it’s a problem to take this stipulated definition as gospel, well that requires a little unpacking. To begin with, it’s clear that the victims of racism, by and large, are members of racial minorities and those cases where racism has a material negative impact on whites are extremely rare. The case might be made that even if the definition is wrong then who cares? I think there are problems on multiple fronts. In brief, 1.) The sloppiness of the definition and the arguments in their favor give ammunition to the right to attack leftist criticisms of racism; 2.) It excuses racism between racial minorities; 3.) It is divisive between working class whites and working class racial minorities because it creates the false impression that their disadvantages are something other than economic and saying to working class whites that combatting inequality is not something that benefits them and therefore disenfranchises them as a group; 4.) It obfuscates the locus of power attributing to race what can only be attributed to class regardless of race.
I will address each of these problems in turn, but in order to see that these aren’t just problems that we have to live with in order to understand the nature of race in American politics and the global economic system, it’s first necessary to show why the definition is wrong. To begin with we have to ask what it is that gives a word it’s meaning.
Semantics and Semiotics in Brief
A word is a sign. Exactly how a sign acquires meaning is studied in the field of semiotics and in particular in the discipline of semantics by philosophers, linguists and semioticians. There are many different theories about how semiosis, or the process by which a sign becomes meaningful, takes place but on one thing most modern theories of semantics are in agreement and that is that the connection between word and meaning is conventional and arbitrary. There is no ultimate reason why the word „racism“ as it is said or written means what it does. Put another way, its meaning is what it is solely because that’s what the group of people who use the word understand it to mean. Or, as Ludwig Wittgenstein said, „…the meaning of a word is its use in a language-game.“ Descriptive lexicographers have been using this approach to discover and define the particular meaning of English words since Samuel Johnson published his dictionary in the 18th century and supported each definition with quotes culled from the corpus of English literature where the words had been used.
Taken a step further, it’s important to also note that meanings are not fixed, nor are they monolithic. Language occurs as part of what Wittgenstein referred to as the human „form of life.“ The Marxist linguist Valentin Voloshinov argued, as did Antonio Gramsci later, that meaning is as much a part of class and class struggle and the social formations inherent to them as it is to the wider group of language users. Which is to say that while a dictionary definition is certainly a good guide to meaning of a word, it must also be seen within the context of the social, economic, and political class of its user at any given time.
What this means for the slogan that „Racism = Prejudice + Power“ is that it can’t possibly be correct because the very idea that a meaning of a complex topic can be reduced to such a simple formula is completely misguided linguistically, and in particular for words so semantically loaded with complexity and political nuance as racism, prejudice, and power.
The complex of meaning
So what does „racism“ mean? Wittgenstein would counsel that the right thing to do would be to look at how the word is used, to construct cases. Several pertinent ones follow:
1.) „That guy is a racist because he only hires whites.“
2.) „That guy is a racist because he only hires blacks.“
3.) „The killer was a racist who believed that whites are superior to blacks, and that his white superiority justified his killing of a black man.“
4.) „Saying that all white people are racist is racist.“
5.) „The Nation of Yahweh promotes racism.“
6.) „The Ku Klux Klan are a bunch of racists.“
The argument here is that all of the above uses of the word racist are meaningful and that most speakers of English have no trouble understanding what these sentences mean and would agree that they are accurate uses of the word. The reason that „Racism = Prejudice + Power“ is an incorrect definition is that if it were true, only sentences 1, 3, and 6 are correct and that the other sentences are incorrect uses of the term. This argument can then become circular as it falls back on the stipulated definition to make its case. Enter the failure of the liberal arts colleges of the world to force undergrads to learn practical reasoning skills, and voila, you have immediate nonsense taken as gospel by far too many people who have it within their power to know better.
Of course one might argue that this is an educational matter and that in the face of the fact that most people have a broader definition of racism is akin to the widespread incorrect use of many words. The problem with that argument is that it assumes that there is a prescriptive element to language that can be deployed in a non-political way. However, the use of prescriptive language has a long history as a tool of political oppression. In particular it is a weapon of the upper classes to identify and marginalize lower social classes. As such no such argument can be value neutral. It is instead an example of political maneuvering and as such collapses in its attempt to defend the indefensible marginalization of some groups in favor of others because of race. As such, the argument itself is racist. Which is another correct use of the term.
Problems of Race and Power
Which brings me to the point of all this, which is that the formulation „Racism = Prejudice + Power“ is counterproductive and even vaguely racist in and of itself and it is in this that problems listed above arise.
Again, the problems with the Racism Formula are as follows:
1.) It gives ammunition to enemies of racial reform
If you go to Google and search for the Racism formula and criticism, while you will find a few leftist critiques, by and large you’ll find a great deal of mention among critics of things like affirmative action and other anti-racist legislative programs. Given that the argument’s only real use is to defend such programs, that its patent ridiculousness is so obvious is clearly counterproductive. If a conservative like Melvyn Fein can reach for it in defense of an ultimately racist position such as the ones he takes in his book Race and Morality, then clearly the „Racism „Formula is not the help anyone on our side thinks it is, and it should therefore be jettisoned as unhelpful along with the primary problem that it’s just bad thinking.
2.) It excuses or hides racism between racial minorities;
Clearly there are blacks who don’t like latinos, asians who don’t like blacks, latinos who don’t like asians, and all kinds of different folks with a low opinion of indians. The fact that none of those groups have widespread access to institutional power does not make the racist attitudes of any of their members any less racist. Power is of course fluid, but even in the absence of it, it is clear that the problems between blacks and asian immigrants in many american cities are motivated by racist attitudes on both sides. To call them something else simply out of a desire to preserve the Racism Formula is patently ridiculous.
3.) It is divisive between working class whites and working class racial minorities
This is probably the biggest problem with the formula in that it takes groups that are natural political allies and pits them against each other. On the one hand, working class whites are resentful of the suggestion that they have some invisible power that is benefitting them all the time when from their perspective it seems like they’re always struggling to stay ahead of the poverty curve. On the other hand it makes working class blacks suspicious of white folks, and while this suspicion has good reason, it would be much better for all involved if the real enemy (the bourgeoisie who employ both groups at oppressive wages) could be identified and pursued with the combined resources of organized labor.
Indeed, racism historically has been a tool used by capital to oppress the working class by dividing them. One only has to look at the history of the Irish in America to see it in action. Working class Irish immigrants, themselves victims of xenophobia and prejudice were given the tool of racism by the political establishment in the lead up and aftermath of the civil war, and they used it in order to get a leg up in American society. The result was an entrenched racism in working class Irish communities of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and persisting in a real sense up to the present, that further hurt the chances of blacks as slavery ended and still keeps the sons and daughters of many Irish immigrants firmly in the working classes when, had the two groups worked together, their numbers gave them a good chance at upsetting the established economic order. Instead the status quo was preserved, the bourgeoisie got to keep it’s wealth, and the proletariat continued to suffer.
4.) It obfuscates the locus of power by attributing to race what can only be accumulated by class regardless of race.
Most importantly, the problem with the Racism Formula is that it misconstrues the nature of power. All power is ultimately economic. Political power, institutional power, police power, military power, all of these are a function of the underlying economic structure that supports it. Its uses and the extent to which an entity possesses power in a capitalist system is inextricably linked to its ability to manipulate and accumulate capital. The notion of power that the Racism Formula uses is somewhat different. It asserts power as being a sort of social mechanism that the dominant social group, in this case whites, wield exclusively. Put another way, the Racism Formula assumes that if one is not white one has no access to power because power is monolithic. This is a necessary corollary to the definition’s sole purpose for existing, ie, to excuse racist actions and attitudes among racial minorities.
That power is not exclusively social and is not monolithic is demonstrated quite easily. In a fair fight between two equally matched men each man has a fifty fifty chance of victory assuming a stalemate is impossible. Give one man a weapon and he has more power over the other man because all else being equal, the advantage of the weapon assures the victory of the armed man. The unarmend man must do as the armed man says or die. Call this the fundamental principle of power and it is a model of how all power works. In a capitalist economy, all power therefore becomes capital because any one with sufficient capital, meaning the members of the bourgeoisie, can leverage their economic resources to give them the advantage in any such contest, and as a result assure their victory.
It would seem then that this bears out the Racism Formula since whites, as a group, have greater access to capital than all other minority groups combined. The problem is of course that people rarely act as a group, particularly where the accumulation of capital is concerned, and in the vast majority of real world power contests, it is individual pitted against individual not group against group. As such, there are circumstances where an individual member of a minority group does in fact have much more power than a member of another group, or even many such members. Oprah Winfrey, for example, is the wealthiest black woman in America She wields a tremendous amount of power as a result. In most contests, were Oprah Winfrey to be confronted with an overtly racist organization such as the Christian Identity Church, Oprah Winfrey would mop the floor with those scumbags because she’s more powerful than they are. This mismatch of power doesn’t make the Christian Identity Church any less racist than they are, nor does it make Oprah Winfrey racist herself. It simply shows that power is much more fluid and individualized than the racism formula acknowledges.
Another example, assume a white man hates black men and thinks they should be murdered if they have intercourse with a white woman. If he acts on those feelings, hunts and kills a black man because he believes that the man slept with a white woman, that is a racist act. In the exact opposite situation, it is ridiculous to say that a black man doing the same thing for the same reasons is not a racist just because the black man has less access to institutional power.
Power simply is not that static or monolithic. Nor is race. And prejudice is simply a motivating force. Putting them together accomplishes no real goal except the pernicious one of excusing bad behavior, and it does real harm to the cause it supposedly is in service of. For that reason it needs scrapping, and the next time someone uses it in your hearing, point them to this article. It’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Hat finde ich einige schöne Argumente, insbesondere auch der Punkt, dass dann Minoritäten denknotwendig nicht rassistisch gegeneinander sein können, weil sie ja keine Macht haben, ist aus meiner Sicht auch gut in einer Diskussion zu verwenden.