Feminism | Posted by Alli B on 04/5/2011

Racism and Sexism: Are Both Still Problems?

we need to get rid of ALL prejudice

we need to get rid of ALL prejudice

I recently heard some of  my classmates talking about how sexism really isn’t as big a problem today as racism is. They said that racism is on a different level and that all the feminists need to shut their mouths and just get over it. On Women’s Day,  one student stated that the day shouldn’t be a big deal because women’s struggles are not the same, or as serious, as racial ones. I didn’t say anything, but I was upset by what he said. I do not agree with this, and it hurts me that people feel that way.

I feel that sexism and racism are both equally horrible in their own right, and to separate or rank them doesn’t do anybody any good.  I really do believe that we have a long way to go before women and men are considered equals, and by saying racism is worse and deserves more attention, we are putting women’s rights on the side burner. For example, the statistics for violence against women are insane:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

Not to mention that people still blame women for getting raped. How is that fair and equal? How is our work done?

Women are more likely to be passed over for certain positions, such as police officers and firefighters all because they are dainty little women. Women fought hard to get equal rights, and we are still fighting hard to get them. Women have fought for the right to vote, some were beaten by cops others institutionalized just because they wanted equality. Women fought for reproductive rights, the right to choose her own birth control without her husband’s permission (something some women are still fighting for, especially in bible belt south). I could go on and on and on about other things but I’m sure you already know those by now.

Clearly, sexism is still a big problem, and the next time somebody says it’s not maybe you should stand up and correct them. But really, the bottom line is that sexism and racism both still exist and are both still problems. Rather than trying to say one problem is “worse” than the other, we need to join forces to stop prejudice of all kinds, not just race and gender inequality. That’s the only way the world will ever be fair and equal.

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  • O'Phylia @ at 12:36 pm, April 5th, 2011

    Yes, and look for the stats of women of color.

    When you separate racism and sexism, you are saying that women of color do not exist.
    I know this is not the intent, but that’s what it does.

  • allie @ at 1:21 pm, April 5th, 2011

    I wasn’t trying to separate them, I was trying to point out that both are equally horrible and problems in our society. If you feel that way then I’m sorry.

  • allie @ at 1:22 pm, April 5th, 2011

    I did not mean for it to come across that way.

  • allie @ at 1:33 pm, April 5th, 2011

    @ o’phylia
    scratch that, got a little dyslexic when i read your post, sorry about that!

  • Kristen A @ at 1:53 pm, April 5th, 2011

    Allie, I completely agree with you that dismissing one huge social issue as “not as bad” is wrong. All social injustices are horrible and should be intolerable regardless of the demographic a person fits into.

    However, one correction. From my understanding, the Bible Belt is actually considered to be in the midwest region of the country, extending as far north as lower Ohio and Illinois and does not typically include the deep South such as Florida. However I would agree that there needs to be a large paradigm shift in the area of the country that still essentially promote social injustice.

  • allie @ at 4:11 pm, April 5th, 2011

    @ Kristen A
    hate to break it to you but the south is the bible belt, or at least part of it; trust me, i’m from Texas! to say Christianity is not a big thing here is not true at all. there’s a church on every single street corner, i am not kidding. they are not tolerant of other people’s religion, or at least weren’t when i was in high school. 95% of the kids in my school went to church every Sunday, i had few friends that were Muslim or really anything else. i knew one Jewish kid in high school and two Muslim kids as well that was it, no Budhist or anything else. so to say that the south really isn’t the bible belt is incorrect. you also have the crazy guy who burned all those qurans in Florida.

  • allie @ at 4:12 pm, April 5th, 2011

    also my school was big like 3000 people big, and the majority was christian!

  • Miriam @ at 7:21 pm, April 5th, 2011

    I wish we’d stop playing this game of “who’s more discriminated against.” The fact is that all of these “isms” stem from the same human flaws–a tendency to reject those who are different, the desire to seek power at the expense of others, and so on–so it’s these flaws we should address.

  • Katherine C. @ at 8:23 pm, April 5th, 2011

    Anyone who honestly thinks that sexism or racism is “no longer a problem” is a sheltered asshole who needs to fucking get real.

    Sorry, but any suggestion that we live in a “post-racist/sexist society” gets me mad as hell. People are fucking suffering because wealthy white men and those who support them (hi, Sarah Palin) refuse to acknowledge their existence, let alone their circumstances. And any poor fool who thinks they can tell me to “shut my mouth and get over it” is going to get quite an earful.

  • Zoe @ at 9:04 pm, April 5th, 2011

    bell hooks does a great job at covering the intersectionality of sexism and racism. To try and separate them and pit them against each other really devalues the importance of both. Oppression often comes in multiple forms for people, including gender, race, class, disability, sexual orientation, etc. Anyhow, if you haven’t read bell hook’s Feminist Theory, I highly suggest it.

  • Juliana @ at 3:59 am, April 6th, 2011

    I agree with Zoe, it’s really important to look at the two not as separate (though equally existent) entities, but as systems that support each other. As third-wave feminists this is one of our biggest fights: to remember and remind others that racism, sexism and most other “isms” are all intertwined. To fight one is to commit to fight another. Not to mention the fact that there are plenty of women out there who deal with both on a daily basis, and don’t have the luxury of choosing one struggle over the other.

    I recently got into a conversation about this with someone. I was arguing a point about white privilege, and he kept shutting me down and patronizing me. The argument was about race, but all I could think about was the sexist dynamic he was perpetuating within the discussion. We ended up talking about such bigger issues than we started with!

  • Kristen A @ at 5:12 am, April 6th, 2011

    Allie, being Christian doesn’t mean you are a sexist or a racist, that’s kind of an unfair judgement you’re making, even if you’re doing it unintentionally. If my stats are still correct Christianity is still the religion with the largest following in the US, so your reasoning doesn’t really make sense, I mean I live all the way up in the northern part of western PA and there are still churches-a-plenty.

    I’m just pointing out that while yes, religion and social injustices do tend to go hand-in-hand as they have throughout history, making the generalization that a lot of Christians = Bible Belt isn’t exactly a factual statement. Yes, the south has a reputation for more social injustices, but I would say they’re more due to being ingrained in the culture (unfortunately) than of religious cause.

  • Steve @ at 3:16 pm, April 7th, 2011

    Hi, certainly today in our more civilized parts of the world sexism is much worse than it was in 80′s/90′s with reards to entertainment industry. If you look at hollywood movies in the 80′s for example there was a lot of rascism. It was almost as if it were considered ok or even “the thing to do” to make a tongue in cheek seriously rascist joke.

    Look at the late 80′s children’s movie short circuit 2 where johnny 5 is in the bookshop and to end the scene, at the counter he calls the dark girl(indian or pakistani perhaps, no idea..forgive my ignorance) “crap-head”. Or take “Cobra” with sylvester stallone from 86, where not long after starting, he is heading home to his flat when some hispanics stop him. He responds by squaring up to one of them, telling him he ain’t nothing (or something like that) and then aggressively tearing off his white vest in a quick swipe before walking off chewing his matchstick.
    Anyway i’d bore you with examples but really i can think of endless ones in the 80′s (as if, like i say it was still very much in fashion almost). Thesedays however you rarely see such rascism in movies. What you do get though, practically 50% of the time you go to the cinemas today (almost irregardless of genre)…is the word “sl*t” or “wh*re”, “bit*h” thrown about like nobody’s business within 5 minutes of the flick starting or at least in instances where it has hardly any reason to be there anyway. Basically it’s usually in a way that you just say to yourself “jeez, is this just scripted to give girls in the audience a hard time”? or “is every f’ing film maker today, a hater of women). You may indeed hear such words in 70′s/80′s films of course but usually only in scenes where you’d not be surprized to hear it because it was what you were expecting due to story, something happening etc). It seems now it’s acceptable, or again almost “the thing to do” to bash on women. Look at music. You now have retro alt rock bands and white pop singer guys saying bitch etc in their lyrics. Tell me in the 80′s did you ever hear that? Rascism in entertainment at least, has greatly decreased since the start of the 90′s or roundabouts then. It’s now misogyny that rules. And no offence to all black musicians/rappers etc, i know that not all are bitch this bitch that lyrics. In fact 2pac shakur, the famous now deceased rapper even did songs that were very much a rage against such crap (Keep Your Head Up 1993). All the best.

  • allie @ at 8:57 pm, April 7th, 2011

    @ steve
    thank you its nice to hear that from a man. again i believe racism is still a problem but so is sexism and to say both are on separate levels is wrong;not saying you said this but others have. but you have a point, you do see a lot of sexism in films and media than anywhere else. take reality tv, all the women on there bring each other down, hello real housewives and the bachelor! this is not a good thing to portray women, because then we start to believe it and act that way. i have a few friends who watch those shows religiously and are the cattiest people you will ever meet! well any way, good for you for recognizing it, most men are afraid of doing so for fear of being less of a man.

  • allie @ at 9:01 pm, April 7th, 2011

    @ Kristen A
    i am a christian but i stopped going to church because i saw a lot of things i did not agree with, and majority of people feel that way in the south. my college does not have a women or gender studies because it feels there is no need, and there is a pro lifers club which hands out pamphlets that miss informs women on their own rights. one of which was telling women not to kill their child even if her life was in danger or if she was raped, “that everything happens for a reason.” i have no problem with pro-lifers, hell i was one once upon a time, but i do have a problem with making women feel guilty for having a choice! not all are like this in the south i know but sometimes i feel like a minority for women’s rights and that is hard to deal with.

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