Sunday, November 27, 2011


This will probably be my last post for today (considering this is my third, plus the one I wrote late last night).  I had an interesting, though short (we were both exhausted), conversation with a friend yesterday.  As a beginning, here's the definition of racism.

1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among thevarious human races determine cultural or individualachievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. A policy, system of government, etc., based upon orfostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

My friend's argument centered around the first definition listed above.  It is racism/sexism/etc if one group has power and discriminates against those in the minority, with out power.  It is discrimination if an oppressed, minority says or does hateful, intolerant things in regard to the group in power.  It was an interesting distinction, one that I had not really considered before (Note: my summary does very little justice to my friend's argument which was but well structured and compelling.  I just did my best to summarize it as accurately as possible).

My definition of ~ism words (sexism, racism, etc) had not generally included the idea of people being in power and more reflected the third point of the definition listed above.  Thus, generally I believed that something like  "reverse sexism" (women discriminating against men) could exist.  And my friend's point wasn't that women discriminating against men would exist, it just meant that it didn't make it sexism.  I do agree in some respects, by calling a situation like that listed above sexism, we over-value an action that is less common, thus equalizing men's more prevalent oppression of women with women's less prevalent oppression of men.

I'm afraid I'm not summarizing this very well.  I think it might be a point of semantics primarily.  But I will admit that for some reason my friend's argument hadn't occurred to me previously and I found it really interesting.  I love hearing other people's points of view.  I don't generally hold my beliefs because I think they are inherently right, I believe what I do only because I have yet to encounter a better point of view.

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