Why is racism worse that sexism?

(116 Posts)
BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 12-Dec-13 13:23:53

Just that really. Prompted by the first of what I imagine will be several Christmas cards addressed to Mr & Mrs DH initial surname.

It would be unacceptable to use a "traditional" form of address that reminded a non-white person of their historical status as lesser, wouldn't it? So why is this still OK?

ellipsis Thu 12-Dec-13 13:27:21

I don't know, but I got my first of the year yesterday. I don't even have DH's surname. Harrumph.

Ullapull Thu 12-Dec-13 13:34:12

Why is racism worse than sexism is such a white person's question. Let's not play discrimination olympics eh.

Keepithidden Thu 12-Dec-13 14:07:50

Any discrimination should be viewed as abhorent and incompatible with a civilised world, so in that sense neither are worse.

However, sexism does seem to be more culturally and socially acceptable than racisim. I suppose there's also the overarching sexism element. That is, it occurs globally and in parallel to racism.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 12-Dec-13 14:26:26

I don't think racism is worse than sexism. Or vice versa. I also think that white people (myself included) are probably repeatedly guilty of the thing often complained about on here about men and sexism- not seeing the continuing problems and thinking that racism is mostly something from the past.

I do think that neither should be culturally acceptable and it should be equally valid to challenge either and not get brushed off with 'it's just traditional'.

ellipsis Thu 12-Dec-13 14:37:41

OP isn't saying racism is worse than sexism. She is using the question to highlight the ludicrous 'tradition' of dismissing a woman's identity in formal address, by proposing an equivalent for a different group of people.

Nobody is suggesting that racism is a thing of the past, just pointing out the insidious nature of a particular form of sexism. And there are many insidious aspects of racism as well, but this is about the question of 'Mr and Mrs DH initial surname'.

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 12-Dec-13 14:43:16

No attempt to play discrimination olympics here. It's possible that my perception that racism is more socially unacceptable than sexism is due to the fact that I am a white women. That's why I wanted to discuss it.

using the question to highlight the ludicrous 'tradition' of dismissing a woman's identity in formal address

I know I have white privilege and try to be aware of it (recognising that I can't and won't recognise every instance of it's manifestation but being keen to listen and learn).

I am simply wondering whether a form of address that would remind a non-white person of their historical status as lesser (as chattel) would be dismissed with "calm down dear, it's just tradition".

Maybe it would? If so Ullapull please enlighten me.

BasilCranberrySauceEater Thu 12-Dec-13 14:43:41

"Oppression Olympics" is a silencing term.

My take is that the reason racism is considered worse than sexism, is because it attacks men, not "just the women".

I think it's long and complex and I'm busy trying to clean my house, but my take is that sexism is a much older hatred than racism and has been around more or less since the invention of property. Whereas racism has shallower roots - it was invented in order to justify the cruellest slave system in all of recorded history (there is simply no record of it existing before then, it's well known that Africans had commanding positions in Roman armies and lived as noblemen in Roman Britain etc. Even during the crusades, there was no concept of Arabs etc, being somehow inferior to Europeans - the Chanson de Roland, Willehalm etc., show Muslim Arabs as being equal foes with the same honour codes etc. as the Christians). Seeing as how the capitalist system no longer has that form of slavery as an intrinsic part of its functioning, it no longer needs the ideology that underpinned and justified it. So racism can be dumped, at least theoretically (of course it hasn't been dumped in practice).

Whereas sexism was invented long before capitalism, feudalism etc. and will probably endure long after it, simply because to some extent nearly every single socio-economic system has depended on women being considered lesser beings than men, as an intrinsic, essential part of the system and women's free or cheap labour is essential to keep the system going. So sexism still serves a useful purpose in keeping our social, political and economic system going. Sorry off to do vacuuming. smile

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 12-Dec-13 14:50:53

Buffy, I am not sure about forms of address. But the point I was trying to make (possibly rather badly as it seems to have been misunderstood by the following post, unless we cross posted) is that there probably are lots of points in life where, as a white person I don't 'see' an issue, but someone of another race would perceive one because of their deeper perspective on the issue.

Just as a man would often just perceive the surface irritation of someone continually getting your name wrong, not the inherent sexism in that.

I am not sure I can think of an easy equivalent to this type of sexism to compare how much more or less socially acceptable it would be. The only naff thing I can come up with was that recent thread where lots of people defended golly toys because they were just a harmless tradition and had nothing to do with black people.

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 12-Dec-13 15:46:37

Sorry Penguins I sort of ignored you fblush. I read your post and agreed with it, but was keen to respond to the accusation of oppression olympics.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 12-Dec-13 15:49:20

Sorry Buffy, I didn't mean you'd misunderstood me. I meant the immediate next post after mine. or we might just have cross posted with similar language. Am never sure when I just making my point really badlygrin

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 12-Dec-13 16:04:21

I have been thinking about this on the school run. I think one of the issues with sexism is that so much of it is to do with our most intimate relationships and the choice we make about how we live our lives.

So with sexism you get a lot of people who are in a very 'traditional' set up who defend that arrangement as working for them and don't see that what is being attacked is the assumptions and the cultural pressures and not the arrangement. In this situation, for example, any discussion on names always has some people popping up saying "well I like being Mrs Smith". Missing the point that it isn't about whether someone has chosen to change their name or not, but respecting their choice. (I'm actually Mrs Stollen, or Ms Stollen, not Ms Maidenname, in the interests of full disclosure).

This tends to side track discussions on issues of 'minor' sexism (as opposed to systemic stuff like equal pay) into discussions about choice and personal freedom. That means that there is far less of a coherent voice from women saying "This is not ok" than there is from certain racial groups on racism.

That cuts both ways. I have heard Muslim friends furious about the fact that the press expects 'the Muslim community' to comment on something as if they were a homogenous group with one set of views.

Am I making any sense at all, that's all a bit half formed....

JoTheHot Thu 12-Dec-13 18:13:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

grimbletart Thu 12-Dec-13 18:38:40

Mr & Mrs DH initial surname is not a form of address that reminds women of their historical status as lesser

OK Jo. So what is it then? And why is not Mrs and Mr DW initial surname?

I say that as someone who personally couldn't give a flying wotsit how I am addressed by the way - but I am interested in why we do what we do.

Backonthefence Thu 12-Dec-13 19:18:58

Probably because the gap between men and women both historically and now has not been a straight divide in comparison to racism.

AskBasil Thu 12-Dec-13 19:30:12

Arf. If you want me to explain things to you JoTheHot, you only need to ask.


AskBasil Thu 12-Dec-13 19:31:47

You didn't actually understand my answer did you?

To be clear, I was making the point that it attacks men as well as women. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 12-Dec-13 19:39:31

Mr & Mrs DH initial surname is not a form of address that reminds women of their historical status as lessors.

Is that so? Because you say so?

Pepperandhotmilk Thu 12-Dec-13 21:14:21

Basil is right. Racism affects men and that is one important reason why it is a bigger deal.

Men do not want to give up their privilege, therefore many of them minimalise sexism, often to the extent of protesting that THEY indeed have it worse and are the TRUE victims of sexism (arf). And because men hold much of the power, they often succeed in convincing people.

My DF always sends cards to Mr & Mrs Husband's first name and surname.
I have told him repeatedly that I am Ms Sunshine SuperNova and he ignores it every time. He has a 'traditional' view of marriage, i.e. whereby I would ditch my name and take my husband's.

Every Xmas I grind my teeth a little. Because it reminds me that, as far as people like my dad are concerned, I am owned by my husband, and that he occupies a higher status than I do socially. Otherwise, why change my name and not his?

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Thu 12-Dec-13 21:41:32

"Mr & Mrs DH initial surname is not a form of address that reminds women of their historical status as lessors."
What an absurd statement. Of course it is. What other meaning could it possibly have?
I think it is pretty clear that sexism has a level of social acceptability that racism now thankfully does not. Look at the rape "jokes" told by mainstream comedians - we do not hear equivalent attempts at humour in relation to violent acts carried out against ethnic minorities. or look at the way the mainstream media rushes to embrace stories about dubious research which supposedly proves neurological/intellectual differences between men and women - they would run a mile from supportive remarks about studies that purported to establish such differences between racial groups (though such studies do exist).

SconeRhymesWithGone Thu 12-Dec-13 21:45:10

Because it reminds me that, as far as people like my dad are concerned, I am owned by my husband

Yes, indeed. The societal expectation that a woman will change her name is a vestige of the common law doctrine of coverture, whereby a woman's legal existence was entirely subsumed in her husband's when she married. I support women making their own choices in this regard, but for me that particular fact makes the symbolism pretty powerful. It also makes me correct people (DH's family mostly) who do not honor my wishes, in spite of the fact that we have been married for 30 years and I have never used his name.

Norudeshitrequired Thu 12-Dec-13 21:47:35

If you don't want the cards addressed to mr and mrs surname then surely you shouldn't take your husbands name when you get married - he had the name first so he comes first on the card.
Children usually come last on the card because they came along last; the order is usually husband (had name first) wife (had name next) children (had name last).
When my friends (not mutual friends) send Xmas cards they usually write them : no rude shit, no rude shits husband and family. Nothing sexist about Xmas card rules, just common sense ordering.

Racism on the other hand is more significant due to slavery, the holocaust, apartheid etc etc.

Norudeshitrequired Thu 12-Dec-13 21:52:12

On another point though - do the majority of people still write mr and mrs surname on Xmas cards?
My friends tend to write first names; my friends write me, husband and family, husband friends write husband, me and family.
Poor children don't even get a mention by name quite often.
Perhaps society is childrenist rather than sexist grin, please give the children a name.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 12-Dec-13 21:52:54

Yes, they can see black men as human beings and be outraged on their behalf when they experience discrimination.

And importantly, they would never consciously, deliberately, actively discriminate against black men (or black women) themselves. They believe it to be morally wrong, unethical, low-level scum behaviour. Because to discriminate against someone on the basis of their race is not only immoral, it's stupid too, the idea that there is something essentially, biologically different about people with black skin and people with white skin (as they used to claim), is well and truly finished among sane people.

Whereas sexism is something for which even scientists still try and desperately find justification. Note the continuing neuro-sexism that distorts research into the brain because of the biases introduced by sexist assumptions; note the eager seizing by journalists on another bit of dodgy "proof" that male and female brains are different and therefore that means naycher and it's OK that the glass ceiling's still there, not immoral like only mad feminists tell us it is.

In their personal lives, (work life is different) most reasonable decent men, don't have a motive to draw upon the privilege that being white gives them, against black men and women. But they have a massive motive to delve into the privilege that being a man gives them against women. They can come back home and if they do 30% of the housework they'll be estimated to do 40% of it and be considered a pretty good husband, they can do 25% of the childcare and be deemed an outstandingly fantastic father while she is only a bog standard mother when she does 75% of it, when Christmas comes along he can play mine host while she does most of the work, and he'll receive the same amount of praise and credit that she will, etc. It's hard to give up that level of comfort. Especially when society is telling you that there's no reason why you should, because you're entitled to it, because naycher.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 12-Dec-13 21:56:19

Oops sorry that cross posted with about 6 other posts, was responding to Pepperandhotmilk.

Norudeshit, if I don't write the kids' names on the cards, it's because I don't remember them. Have just got a card with the names of three kids and I can't work out what one of them is called (haven't seen her since her second one was born) so I'm going to have to write it exactly the way she did and hope my bluff works. grin

MJxJones Thu 12-Dec-13 21:56:39

The idea that racism didnt exist before slavery makes me laugh. That euro centric view of world history is ridiculous. Also the idea that its not acceptable to use a term of address that reminds people of the prejudice wrecked upon them. Do you understand why so many black people have traditionaly English sounding surnames ? Do you understand why so many polynesian people have surnames which are from the Bible Do you understand why asking why being addressed by your husbands surname isnt as bad as racism is offensive to women who have suffered racism. I agree that all types of prejudice are offensive but the example you are using is hilarious

TheXxed Thu 12-Dec-13 21:58:46

EVERYTHING About this post screams white privilege.

I am going to walk away before I lose my temper.

Norudeshitrequired Thu 12-Dec-13 21:59:49

Where did anyone say that racism didn't exist before slavery? Slavery is one huge incident of terrible racism that will be remembered forever, but that doesn't mean that people don't realise that racism existed before that. Likewise, the holocaust and apartheid are significant events, but not the start of racism confused

Norudeshitrequired Thu 12-Dec-13 22:03:45

See basil society is childrenist, people just can't even remember the poor little children. Forget sexism and racism, I'm now overly concerned about all these little children being the victims of a childrenist society wink.
BTW - I am claiming full copyright over the new phrase 'childrenist'

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 12-Dec-13 22:16:14

The racism as we know it, didn't exist.

There has always been xenophobia. There has always been hostility to the "other" and fear of the outsider. But there was not the concept of one group of people being biologically, essentially inferior to white people. That came with the growth of Capitalism and the establishment of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Africans were not considered automatically inferior before that. Given that racism on the basis of skin colour (which is what I'm presuming we're discussing) was a European concept, invented by Europeans in order to justify their exploitation of Africa and later Asia, of course it's Euro-centric. I don't know about any forms of racism based on skin colour which didn't originate in Europe, if people want to discuss that, of course I'm happy to learn. smile

FloraFox Thu 12-Dec-13 22:23:01

I agree with Basil that it's about the fact that men are also affected by racism whereas only women are affected by sexism. Even without looking into how long racism has been an issue, it is quite clear to me that this is the case today, not just among traditional people but also (or even more) among "lefties".

Norudeshitrequired Thu 12-Dec-13 22:27:54

Basil - I think that racism as we know it today did indeed begin with capitalism and the transatlantic slave trade, but the true origins of racism go beyond that. Before capitalism and the African slave trade people were ousted from tribes due to not being of the same appearance of the other tribe members. Part of the reason that there was a lot of inbreeding was to create members of clans that were similar in appearance.
Even today we often (not we as in you and I, but the wider sense) think of racism as being about people of different colours having ideas of superiority, but there is much racism within cultures, similar to that seen before the slave trade.
Different shades of black = a reason to have ideas about superiority / inferiority.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 12-Dec-13 22:32:15

I realise a big gap in my argument (among others I'm sure) is the existence of anti-Semitism and the hatred of gypsies in Europe. (And yes, still being Euro-centric.)

But I don't think anti-Semitism was based on racial hatred, it was based on religious fanaticism and the hostility to Jewish people keeping a distinct, different culture and religion in the face of extreme hostility.

With gypsies, I don't know whether the hatred was based on race or again, the fact that they lived in a different way to the majority populations.

I'm just throwing ideas out here, I'm not saying this is the way it is, so if I'm pissing you off with Eurocentric ideas and lack of historical knowledge, I apologise, I just think it's worth exploring this topic and would welcome being put right by anyone who has better knowledge of this than me.

EBearhug Thu 12-Dec-13 22:33:02

do the majority of people still write mr and mrs surname on Xmas cards?

I usually put "Smith family" or "J & S Smith" And in one case, "Dr & Dr Smith"*. I rarely use titles, as I don't want to use one myself. I just want post that comes to E Bearhug, not Miss/Mrs/Ms Bearhug.

* Not actually Smith.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 12-Dec-13 22:42:38

LOL and yes at childrenist.

I feel really bad not being able to remember the children's names, but sometimes people actually put on their cards "from xxx, yyy and kids" which is highly unhelpful. The least they could do is tell me what the kids are called, dammit.

I saw this great meme on FB today which said "Honey, when you grow up I want you to be assertive, independent and strong willed. But while you're a child, I want you to be pliable, obedient and passive." Or something like that. grin

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 08:58:16

MJxJones and TheXxed if I've offended you I apologise. Clearly I have, so I do apologise smile

Rather than trying to come up with some kind of global scale for different forms of oppression (which would be pointless and offensive) I was interested in discussing what, in my realm of experience as a white European, seems true: that it's regarded as monstrously socially unacceptable to be even a tiny bit racist, whereas symbols that are really very sexist when you think only a little bit about what they mean are broadly OK.

I know there are worse things in the world than a form of address. But that's what I wanted to discuss: the different symbolisms and their acceptability in the society and culture in which I live. This was a personal musing.

I am however aware of the issues with representation and white, male, Euro-centric understandings of race etc. Because the academics that studied and published on these issues were white, Christian, European men. I do understand the scale and gravity of this problem in epistemological terms: what we know about the social world is mostly racist and sexist and homophobic. Some argue. I think they've got a point.

But again, I'm just talking about me. How these issues affect me and women like me. That should be OK to discuss.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 09:02:08

Just to be clear, I'm not dismissing the fact that many black women feel that feminism as it stands is a white middle class movement. This is a big problem. Just explaining that this thread, which I started in rather a temper because DH rolled his eyes when I suggested he tell his sister that I hate being addressed this way, has no ambition to change the world, merely to discuss a small issue.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 09:14:01

OTOH (and following some coffee) maybe I'm being a twat. blush

DoctorTwoTurtleDoves Fri 13-Dec-13 09:49:00

OTOH (and following some coffee) maybe I'm being a twat.

Sorry Buffy, but grin grin grin

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 10:18:49

If you don't want the cards addressed to mr and mrs surname then surely you shouldn't take your husbands name when you get married

I didn't. They still do.

-he had the name first so he comes first on the card.

Who has "the name" first when DH and I form a family?


ChunkyPickle Fri 13-Dec-13 10:35:18

Uptoapoint - I've never heard of this time-based rule for naming cards - I think that's a retro-fit explanation that makes no sense when you actually think about it.

I can't imagine how it would work - especially since if I got married and took DP's name I'd be the last in the family to do so so I should be last on the envelope. Luckily all my friends are far too lazy to send cards, and our families just use our names rather than titles.

Buffy - I don't think you're being a twat, but you have just been possibly silenced by someone being angry because their problems are bigger than yours (and after it was you being accused of oppression olympics).

I think it does need to be talked about that racist bullying in a school is stamped on, but sexist isn't (boys will be boys after all, the girls just have to learn to deal with it). I do think that it matters that women are consistently downgraded once they're married.

I don't think that isms are mutually exclusive, and that just because you're of a privileged group for one ism that means you can't be disadvantaged by another ism.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 10:38:31

I agree, the 'had the name first' thing makes no sense.

If that was the case, why do people routinely address a card to, for example Mr Smith & Ms Jones if the couple aren't married? Men come first because, well because men come first. That is the convention, and it dates back to a time when a woman was a man's possession.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 10:48:15

I have not read very widely about racism (being non-white and non-European hmm) but have seen it operate here there and everywhere. I agree that in general, at least in the UK, it is unacceptable. In some other countries it is a fact of daily life. You are defined by your race first - you are entitled to certain things if you are of a certain race, you are deemed to have certain characteristics because you are of a certain race. It does your head in.

A bit like sexism, really.

John Stuart Mill (my favourite philosopher the only philosopher I have ever read) said it's hard to eradicate sexism because every man has a wife he wants to lord over. wink

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 10:58:47

I am a silenced twat then grin

I really didn't intend to set up sexism and racism in competition, I wanted to discuss the relative social acceptability of symbols of sexism and racism in my own culture. My perspective as a white European woman is that symbols of a racist past in the UK = big no no, symbols of a sexist past = it's just tradition, init.

Two exceptions to this that I know of are probably Whiteladies Rd and Black Boy Hill in Bristol. Both named during the slave trade. While I'd support these names being changed if people felt they were an offensive reminder of a racist past, I suspect many would object on the grounds that they're just names now. There are probably many more, and so I am probably wrong in my assumptions thus far.

So perhaps I've disproven my own point and highlighted in myself the privilege of not worrying about racist naming conventions that have become 'just tradition'. Always happy to indulge in some self-reflection and admit fallibility fsmile

Mrs DH initial surname still gives me the collywobbles though

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 11:05:20

Do you have links to Bristol then Buffy? I'm from there (don't live there now) and remember being shock when the penny dropped what the names meant. I suspect a lot of people would say that they are just names, but even as a white european I find them offensive. I am always amazed how many businesses operate from those roads. If I was a business sending a letter to, I don't know, somewhere the other end of the country, Hull let's say, I would be embarrassed because it must slap you in the face when you haven't grown up with those names as background noise.

I'd be interested if others can think of examples like that, where racism has just passed into being 'ok' and 'tradition', because from my background I suspect I just don't spot them.

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:13:11

Racism isn't worse than sexism. But it's regarded societally as worse, because it happens to men. And sexism doesn't.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 11:17:04

But there was not the concept of one group of people being biologically, essentially inferior to white people. That came with the growth of Capitalism and the establishment of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Africans were not considered automatically inferior before that.

I disagree. There is a statute of Elizabeth I, for example, requiring repatriation of black Africans because there are too many in London for her liking. The language of the preamble is very unpleasant. Shakespeare is derogatory about the 'tawny Ethiope'. The ideology underpinning the transatlantic slave trade is building on matters that went before.

I would not care about Whiteladies Road and Black Boy Hill. Not that I like them, especially, but I am not in favour of airbrushing history. The reminder of what went before, and of what the wealth of Bristol was built on, is far more important that a momentary unease or annoyance at the names.

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:25:12

We have a blackboy road where I live now. sad And I grew up fairly near Gypsy Hill (I have Gypsy heritage). And there are numbers references in today's culture to 'tinkers'. sad Of course in this very thread, the assumption that racism is something only experienced by non white non European people is incredibly hmm

My heritage is one which it is still societally acceptable to be racist about, in the UK and in much of Europe. But I still think it's valid to discuss why sexism is more accepted than racism - because it just is, in many many (although obviously not all) areas of life in the UK now.

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:26:37

numerous not numbers. I'd like to blame autocorrect but it might have been my shoddy typing skills.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 11:31:30

Very fair point Metebelis.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 11:32:04

To me it isn't about airbrushing history, you could argue that about many offensive behaviours/names/objects. It's more that I don't think, in this day and age, it's ok to have names celebrating slavery in common use.

You make a good point Mete. I didn't mean to imply that only non-white, non-europeans experience racism, more that in my own country I was part of a privileged class with regard to race. The acceptability of racism towards travellers, gypsies, etc (I am really sorry, but I am sometimes unsure which terminology I should use, which says something in itself) is a very obvious example of racism being 'ok' in UK popular culture.

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:45:27

Penguins it's OK, you don't have to apologise to me! smile My mum's mum settled so I wouldn't be considered (and don't consider myself) part of the community, I'm clearly not, very far removed in fact - and my grandmother and her sister were cut off completely when they settled. But I remember when I was young my mum telling me about the racism her mum and her aunt suffered, and which she was also subjected to, and I also remember how upset the ongoing attitudes towards gypsies in the 70s made her - even though her own relationship with her heritage was complex (as mine is) because, you know, her mum turned her back, and was outcast, so that doesn't make you feel kindly towards people...difficult. But there are plenty worse things can happen to a person, so, you know- it was A Thing for them and sometimes it can be A Thing for me, on their behalf, but that's it really. Except that sometimes when people 'find out' (and like my mum, it's not something I shout about IRL) they look at me a bit hmm. Or at least, I imagine they do. sad

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:46:59

But even after all that, I think there is at least an argument to be heard that sexism may be more pervasive, and more accepted, in many societies including the UK, than racism.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 12:11:18

I belong to a race that is subjected to casual racism, but it's OK because currently the nation most associated with this race is doing quite well. hmm (And maybe it's because in English the word for that nation and the word for the ethnicity is the same so people can't quite be very specific which one they are contemptuous about. hmm hmm) (Can you guess yet? grin)

But I agree with metebelis3 that there is still a case to be heard about sexism being more pervasive and somehow "acceptable".

If I have to be simplistic and pick only one group to blame I'd pick the bloody so-called neuroscientists bent on proving that men and women are different, you know. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 12:11:57

And can you guess I've got some rather unpleasant tasks to do at work, which is why I'm here?

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 12:40:56

I have no idea what ethnicity you are LordC. Does this make me more or less of a silenced twat grin

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 13:00:35

grin Buffy.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 13:02:27

Yep penguins I live near Bristol and work there. And was born there.

I typed a response earlier, but it never appeared…

<music to indicate mystery>

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 13-Dec-13 14:04:02

It's more that I don't think, in this day and age, it's ok to have names celebrating slavery in common use.

I agree wholeheartedly with this. I grew up and still live in the US Deep South, where there are still many issues about names that remain from a racist and slaveholding past. In one community, there is a high school that was named many years ago for one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. This school now has a high percentage of African American students.

No child, of any race, should have to go to a school named for the founder of an organization like the KKK. There is a move in progress to change the name of the school, which I fervently hope succeeds. But sad to say, there is some opposition.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 14:08:01

Oh my god Scones. How could anyone in their right mind oppose that?

I mean, dear god, there are just no words....

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 14:08:48

Ah, a fellow Bristolian Buffy <tries to think of something 'local' to say and fails>

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 14:18:31

Cheers drive?

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 14:25:43


takingthathometomomma Fri 13-Dec-13 14:41:42

Is it really about "what's worse"? Injustice is injustice, no?

This is a real example of white feminism. The reason I cringe slightly every time I refer to myself as a feminist.

scallopsrgreat Fri 13-Dec-13 14:52:48

Gurt lush Buffy and Penguins wink

I was shocked too when I moved to Bristol with Whiteladies Rd and Black Boy Hill. Bristol was founded on slavery you'd think they'd be a bit more sensitive and aware hmm

I think part if the problem with sexism still being socially acceptable is that people sometimes don't even see it. Take the bloody adverts about cleaning products and how some of them may put men in a less than favourable light in terms of housework. How many times do we hear how sexist they are against men (because lets face it reverse sexism is always noticed) whilst completely ignoring how it still frames women as being naturally better at housework and allows men to devolve responsibility onto women.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 14:52:52

Comparison is useful, analytically. I often find that when people just don't 'see' that a situation is sexist, switching it around so that the problem relates to race instead enables better reflection.

Not a case of trying to score different types of injustice, as has been explained above.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 14:53:58

X-post scallops. Maybe we should organise a Bristol feminist meet up smile

stooshe Fri 13-Dec-13 15:07:41

No, I don't (maybe because I am black and a woman) think that racism is worse than sexist. I do think that the Western Feminist movement is racist against women of colour though. When white women acknowledge their ancestors (female) part in the whole transatlantic Slavery thing and Western Imperialism then I'll let my guard down.
By "white women", no I do NOT mean every or individual white women. I mean those who are usually the known "leaders" of feminist thought, etc. In the meantime I'll acknowledge with a slight side eye my caucasian feminist sistren and take on board a lot of what they have to say as it means a lot to me. Bell Hooks, I'll listen to more.....she breaks it down in a way that resonates more with me (and not because she is black and so am I. She just knows that she has no "privilege") When you are at the bottom of the bottom , you can see (or should be able to if one looks instead of waiting to see) EVERYTHING above you and how it works. A lot of (dare i say it) WHITE, Western feminism refuses to see how EVERYTHING works, or has done.

takingthathometomomma Fri 13-Dec-13 15:18:07

stooshe, I couldn't agree more. It would be nice for white feminists to consider how things must be for a black woman sometimes. While some are worrying about people buying their daughter's pink clothes, black women are still battling with being told that their daughters will never be attractive enough for Western society. While white feminists battle with the name that their Christmas cards are addressed to, black women are turned down from job applications because their name is simply too black.

I see this kind of thing on MN on a daily basis and usually ignore it. But quite frankly I am sick to death of the white-middle-class exclusivity of threads on here. Offended OP's question? Yes, highly.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 15:25:53

Great post stooshe.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Fri 13-Dec-13 15:28:53

Angela - the trade of enslaved Africans predates Elizabeth the 1st by about 100 years. Prior to that we had very good trade relations (which is how they were immune to enough to be enslaved and how the arguments of their skills which were needed were based upon when arguing against enslaving American Indigenous) and there was a time where making art to celebrate African merchants and rulers was very popular, many of these were later destroyed and we still have experts cropping them out of portraits and claiming dark skin is paint discolouration. Racism as we know it now was built into the system by elite Whites, forced on others by multiple systems of science, education, media, law and so on. Xenophobia existed, hatred by nationality and tongue existed, but hatred by skin colour is fairly new. There was far more hatred for fellow Europeans than there was for trade partners in Africa and Asia until fairly recently.

And I find this 'because it involves men' thing bollocks. The only group that White women earn less than consistently is White men (and Indian British men only pipped in the latest survey due to self employment, for employed it's still quite below White women). White women earn more and have more senior ranks and are far more likely to be employeed than every other group of men other than White men and have historical powers over every group of men other than White men. The ethnic pay divide is growing. The fight for equality has been against White men for centuries, all other groups are put up as barriers are false ones put up by them and seem to have succeeded in many places it seems, rather than trying to built an intersectional fight against the system.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 15:36:04

stooshe taking Angela Your posts make for uncomfortable reading. Thanks for taking the time to write them. I actually feel really stupid now and need to rethink a lot of my assumptions. sad

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 15:36:24

& Spork

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 15:40:25

Taking Another person who thinks that only non white people can suffer racism? sad

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 16:22:49

the trade of enslaved Africans predates Elizabeth the 1st by about 100 years

Well, I didn't know that. I mean, I know that slavery was widespread, but not specifically that the enslavement of (West) Africans by Britons was happening in any numbers as early as that.

And I think accusing Taking of being another person who thinks that only non white people can suffer racism is unfair. Maybe she is just posting from her own perspective.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 16:25:06

OP was phrased perhaps insensitively. I take it to mean why in UK/european society (since I assume, perhaps wrongly, that OP is British/European, and the post is prompted by all this Christmas card malarkey) sexism is deemed less unacceptable than racism. Which seems a perfectly valid question to ask.

So what do white middle class women (not me!) do about the gender stereotyping that happens to their sons and daughters?

You can't say anything about anything unless you address the entire world's problem?

If not for these white middle class women writing about feminism I'd probably be fuming alone thinking something is wrong with me ...

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 16:33:46

Angela It's not unfair at all, based on the post I was responding to.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 16:38:21

Thanks LordC I did indeed mean why in UK/european society sexism is deemed less unacceptable than racism.

I didn't intend to suggest that I thought either sexism or racism, separately or combined, was more or less worthy of attention and activism. Which is perhaps how it came across.

takingthathometomomma Fri 13-Dec-13 16:38:26

LordCopper of course I have no issue with white middle class women making valid points about sexism. Feminism addresses sexism, that's the premise of it. When feminism is so blatantly made a separate battle from racism, however, there is an issue. And Metebelis, that is a debate for another day. Right now, I really do not have the energy.

Buffy, I appreciate that you have taken the time to rethink your point, and can understand that your general thought may have came across differently to the way that you intended.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 16:41:04

To post a personal response to the question in the OP, I do find the racism I experience worse than the sexism I experience. (Though actually, what I tend to get is either racism+sexism, or just sexism on its own, but less often racism on its own).

In my direct experience, racism has been more frightening, more likely to lead to violence, more insidious, more enraging, more dehumanising, more dispiriting.

Sexism occurs more on a spectrum, with extreme misogyny at one end and some fairly shallow, unthinking and far less malign social conditioning at the other.

Speaking again just from my personal experience, the spectrum of racism is much shorter, from vicious and violent prejudice barely recognising you as a human at one end to silent hostility at the other. People on MN are always, in my judgment, minimising elderly relatives' racism as just what people of their generation were taught to think. I rarely post to argue, but from what I've seen in my life I'd say there is almost always real hate underpinning that.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 16:48:06

I still think that the Mrs DH initial surname convention is sexist. But my notion that the acceptability of this tradition shows that racism is more socially unacceptable in UK culture than sexism is a load of rubbish. fsmile

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 16:51:15

taking I agree that if feminism makes a separate battle from racism then there is an issue. I don't know if that happens or not, but I don't think it is what OP means.

I think my experience of racism and sexism broadly agrees with Angela's. But sometimes it's difficult to tell whether I'm scared/angry because I'm targeted as a woman or as a person of a different race. But I lead a sheltered life and I don't think I've ever really been threatened with violence. So I shall shut up about that.

Lots of people on MN also minimises casual sexism of the older generation. In fact I find myself doing that the other day. Great Aunt so-and-so addresses us as Mr and Mrs HisInitial HisSurname. Am I going to do anything about it? hmm

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 13-Dec-13 16:52:24

Why is racism worse that sexism?

I think society treats racism more seriously than sexism because you can have race riots but not sexism riots. men don't react in the same way women do to being discriminated against. because of patriarchy.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 16:52:45

Sorry Buffy if you mean to close the discussion, but I have in my head an absurd thing about the Let Toys be Toys campaign, campaigning against toys targeted at different races ...

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 16:57:46

Racism's crimes are more visible than sexism's, also perhaps?

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 17:00:24

taking And no energy for an apology either? hmm

Angela I know what you mean - the minimising thing. It's evident when people ignore racism towards Gypsies, Jewish people, Non-gypsy or Jewish Eastern Europeans, asians, Chinese people ...... there are so many people who are targets of racism on a daily basis. And people can only talk with authenticity about their own or their very close relatives' experience. But that just doesn't, and shouldn't ever, invalidate the right or the necessity of a woman, even if she is white and middle class (my skin is practically translucent (typical ginge colouring) but I certainly wasn't born middle class) from talking about sexism and identifying the worrying fact that in some societies, and the UK is one of them, racism in general is recognised as being bad and undesirable in a way that sexism is not, even though specific racism (e.g. against gypsies) is given a pass and actions do not always tie in with the general society 'rules' (so, people may pay lip service to racism being a bad thing but their attitudes do not chime in with that).

Would I make a big old fuss about addresses on envelopes? No, I wouldn't. Do I have a big old problem with the fact that structural sexism is still on display in almost all our institutions (at a time when structural racism is being actively dismantled, although working at a very slow pace)? Yes I do. Not because one ism matters more to me than another but because one ism is slowly being eradicated and the other one isn't, and certain people seem over invested in claiming that sexism isn't an issue, certainly not as big as this MUCH more issue over here....and so, we continue to see structural sexism thrive. Partly because many women won't challenge it.

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 17:03:48

I don't mind if the discussion continues as long as I don't make myself look more foolish than I already do grin. I bet some lurkers are well happy

If a campaign to make toy marketing more inclusive for race as well as gender were felt necessary, I'd support it. I was really happy to see the other day that in dd's colouring she had one blonde haired peach skinned mermaid and one with brown skin and black hair. Maybe there's hope for society once our kids grow up? I hope so.

Metebelis3 Fri 13-Dec-13 17:04:35

To clarify - I don't think it's worrying that (some) racism is regarded as bad (I do think it;s worrying that not all racism is regarded as bad, of course) - I DO think it's worrying that sexism is regarded as less bad and that when certain women write or speak about sexism they are told to check their privilege because they are not subject to racism (and as I have pointed out several times in this thread, they may very WELL be subject to racism too, perhaps more so than the person trying to shut them up).and therefore they have no right to say anything. That, to me, is worrying. And that, to me, is how some of the posts in this thread came across.

In the school where I work, any incidents involving racist language have to be recorded and placed on the perpetrator's file. It is an extremely serious matter that always requires staff to meet with the children's parents.

Sexism is rarely challenged.
I have heard staff use phrases such as 'scream like a girl'.
Children tease girls who like to play football, or the boy who wants to be an angel in the Nativity.

It's absolutely more socially acceptable.
We must keep challenging this wherever we see it.

takingthathometomomma Fri 13-Dec-13 17:07:50

metebelis I have plenty of energy to accept your apology, thank you. grin

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 13-Dec-13 17:08:28

Buffy, stop apologising! No one's even angry with you.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 13-Dec-13 17:16:47

more crack has it spot on.

equal levels of discrimination (e.g. verbal, no threat of violence) are not dealt with equally across race/sex/disability/homosexuality

BuffytheElfSquisher Fri 13-Dec-13 17:22:46

Am I still apologising? Sorry! wink

(ho ho ho)

PenguinsDontEatStollen Fri 13-Dec-13 17:23:36

I would agree with that. When I was an employment lawyer, I would say that racist comments were pretty much game over on a discrimination case. However 'mild' the comment. Similarly 'mild' (and I am using the term in inverted commas intentionally because I am really not sure what to call it. I mean off-the-cuff, no violence, no direct threat) sexist comments could often easily be explained away as 'slightly old fashioned language' or 'nothing meant by it'. It wasn't a disaster to the defence the way a racist comment would be. Not good, but not a disaster.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 13-Dec-13 17:51:36

Agree with Metebelis3 post at 17:04:35.

And with accusations of sexism dismissed casually.

As for envelops, I have to bury them deep in the recycling bin and stop myself thinking about it. If I think about it at all I get seriously pissed off and angry, more so because I know I'm not going to do anything about it, IYKWIM. I'm mind-controlling myself. hmm
And it makes me angry.

FloraFox Fri 13-Dec-13 22:17:04

spork as I recall, the last time you raised this survey in a thread it turned out to not be quite as you presented it. Can you point to the survey that proves that white women earn more than all men except white men? Why is it okay to dismiss that white women earn less than Asian men because of self-employment?

googlyeyes Sat 14-Dec-13 00:09:55

I'm grateful to OP for raising this question. One I read as asking more why sexism is not taken as seriously as racism in society rather than is sexism 'worse'.

I think it's a very valid question, and it's puzzled me for a long time. For example why can a man shout 'bitch' at a woman and it not be seen as a hate crime?

I can't see that examining this issue takes anything at all from those who experience racism.

StickEmUpSideways Sat 14-Dec-13 07:52:41

I haven't rtft but as for names, you do take on your DH initial as well

That's what happens when you get married, I am mrs his initial his surname.

I can only think the best thing if you don't like it is to not get married, if you don't like it.

Because it's the norm, it is the assumption.

PenguinsDontEatStollen Sat 14-Dec-13 08:04:48

Where is the official proof you take on an initial? On my passport I am Penguins DontEat Stollen. Nothing in there with my husband's initial or forenames. Nor can I think of a single piece of official documentation where my husband's initial replaces mine.

Nor do you have to not get married if you don't like it. You can just, er, not change your name. That isn't automatic either. It isn't 'what happens when you get married'. You have to actively change your name. If you don't, what actually happens when you get married is....nothing.

Adding the man's initial is just an outmoded tradition of address. I wouldn't say it's the norm. It's not how my bank write to me (that's Mrs P and Mr X Stollen), it's not how nearly any official channels write to me. I can't think of a single instance where a letter to me alone would be Mrs X Stollen and not Mrs P Stollen. It's not how most of my friends address cards (they tend to write to 'The Stollen family'). I think, increasingly, it is becoming the norm only for an older generation.

I changed my surname when I married as I wanted my future family to all share a single family surname. But the older I get, the less easy I am about Mrs , and I've always objected to the idea that it is 'his' name.

CaptChaosGlitteryBaubles Sat 14-Dec-13 15:19:00

That's what happens when you get married, I am mrs his initial his surname.

Oh no it isn't! I am Mrs, my initial, my surname, the fact that DH and I share the same surname is because I chose to do so, he had a nice one, so it's now mine. I certainly don't want to have his first name as well, no one can spell it and it really wouldn't suit a woman! I might detest my first name, but that doesn't mean I'm going to use DH's instead! Ridiculous concept!

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Sun 15-Dec-13 09:55:42

For example why can a man shout 'bitch' at a woman and it not be seen as a hate crime? exactly. legally, can there even be a hate crime against a woman?

CaptChaosGlitteryBaubles Sun 15-Dec-13 10:09:22

legally, can there even be a hate crime against a woman?

No. Hate crimes can be committed against people because of race or perceived race, religion or lack of faith, a person's sexual orientation, transgender, transsexual or transvestism, or disability, be that mental illness, physical disability or learning disability. Being a woman is not a protected characteristic.

According to this

Mary2010xx Sun 15-Dec-13 10:54:06

For many it is just as bad. The comparison was used in the segregated seating issue. If I said at one of my talks blacks at the back, whites at the front I'd get shouted down, whereas if I had men at the front and women at the back many more people think that's okay.

takingthathometomomma Sun 15-Dec-13 11:02:49

Mary, can I ask what topic you give talks on? I wouldn't have thought that either would be acceptable, as the backlash from the suggestion for gender segregated university lectures has shown.

googlyeyes Sun 15-Dec-13 12:34:09

Seems quite bizarre that sexist abuse is not seen as a hate crime.

I can't help the fact that I am female, and so to receive abuse specifically based on my gender should be treated in the same way as any other prejudice-based crime. It would be a strong signal to those who throw terms like 'bitch' and 'slut' around if the law was changed, telling them that society had 'officially' deemed such behaviour unacceptable.

Mary2010xx Sun 15-Dec-13 12:50:13

Just my work area, nothing gender related or religious. I give about 50 talks a year. I certainly would never tell anyone where to sit in my own case of course on any grounds at all. In fact I like to wach people taking seats and work out why they sit where and what makes them choose their position. There's a lot of interesting psychology about it. Some want to be at the back so they can be on their phones all day or sleep. Others choose friends they know. Some want to be in the front row appearing keen intending to ask a lot of questions (wanting to be teachers pet etc).

I do wish more women speakers put themselves out there in their areas of business.

EvilRingahBitch Sun 15-Dec-13 13:15:32

I was just thinking about this yesterday. There is a strong case for saying that racism is "worse" than sexism and homophobia because it combines disadvantage for the individual trying to make their way in society with the inherited disadvantage from their parents. Women and homosexuals from the most privileged racial group only face half of this disadvantage, whereas women from a discriminated racial group get it in the neck three ways. This is particularly applicable to African Americans where the legacy from their ancestors involves unimaginable crimes, as opposed to "simple" economic and social disadvantage.

Doesn't make sexism or homophobia OK of course, and I would agree that, eg, sexist bullying in schools should be taken much more seriously.

BillyBanter Sun 15-Dec-13 13:18:03

The history of both the isms and the battle against the isms have been organic and taken different journeys and so look different.

takingthathometomomma Sun 15-Dec-13 13:21:04

Evil, you have worded what I was initially trying to say perfectly.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Sun 15-Dec-13 13:51:40

evil the individual trying to make their way in society with the inherited disadvantage from their parents

i can see what you are saying, but what about daughters growing up with single parent mother? or in a household where women are second class citizens in their own home? treated as such by their own family? subject to d violence etc.?

personally i think that every type of discrimination has its different features when compared with another, i do note that repeatedly discrimination against women is seen as lesser than other types.

googlyeyes Sun 15-Dec-13 14:53:44

Do ethnic minority women who come from privilege not also fare better in terms of prejudice than those from less privileged backgrounds?

Why is it only white western women who benefit from being wealthy and privileged? And conversely why can rich western women not face sexism? For example, historically aristocratic women in this country were treated as little more than chattels, who were told who to marry and then treated as little more than brood mares (reference Princess Di and her mother!)

takingthathometomomma Sun 15-Dec-13 15:02:58

googlyeyes no one is claiming that any woman can't face sexism. or that sexism isn't an issue. As I've said many time in this thread, my issue with feminism is that, for many "women of colour", it feels like a white-women-only movement and fails to take the perspective of other cultures and races. By making sexism and racism into separate things that need to compete with each other, this thread has highlighted that issue exactly. Of course the OP has already stated many times that that wasn't her intention and her general point could have been worded differently, however the thread has now led to a discussion which shows the issues within "feminism".

Chunderella Thu 19-Dec-13 21:47:53

Stick that's bollocks.

The thing I don't like about the whole racism v sexism thing is that sometimes it seems to suggest that women are white and black people are men. I'm not suggesting OP is doing that, but that's how the discussion often gets framed. Whereas actually you have a great big massive number of people who get to enjoy the full delights of both, and when the issue of discrimination crops up they're expected to choose between their race and their sex too.

StickEmUpSideways Fri 20-Dec-13 16:59:39

Well that's what I thought. Bollocks it may be. Not bovved really, I got married and took 'is name, it 'appens. Was a bit off topic anyway.

youretoastmildred Thu 02-Jan-14 00:10:40

I have been wondering a thing about racism and sexism and I would like to talk it through. I am white btw and apologies in advance if this is clueless about race. happy to hear about it if so, if you have time or energy for this.

I have a feeling that sexism in this country (UK) is more similar to racism in the US than racism in the UK. Racist rhetoric here is often built around a notion of "go away"; the "problem" (I do not suggest there is a problem, I mean the implied problem), as implicitly or explicitly framed, is that a bunch of people moved to here when they belong there. I know this is rubbish; and in fact disingenuous for a million reasons; but this is the language that is used.
I think this is to do with the fact that the work that people of colour have done for the UK, under exploitative conditions, has to many people here been out of sight. The UK grew rich on black labour without the inconvenience of having to see it. People here who are used to having servants are used to having mostly white servants. And most people have forgotten servants as a way of life; however most men are still pretty used to male privilege and the comfort and convenience that is accorded to them of having free access to women's labour.

On the other hand, in the US, if you are white and of a certain age, having people of colour in your house, doing your dirty work, whether as slaves or a different sort of underclass, has been part of folk memory for generations. There is a rage therefore against "displaced" people of colour not as being in the "wrong" country, but in the "wrong" social position - as a judge, or doctor, or sitting on your commuter train in a suit - and this rage is partly about "who is going to do my shit work?" It's not "I don't want them here," it's about, "they'd better be here, in my house, wearing overalls or an apron. If they are doctors now, who is going to cut my grass and clean my bathroom? Not ME?"

this to me is what sexism is. Men are used to sharing their houses with women, they are not alien in that sense; but they must be constrained to very particular roles, not just because they "don't belong" in the "wrong" place, but very very sharply and particularly because if they are there they can't be here, doing my shit.

Notes, criticisms, other thoughts, from people who know more than me about race or the US or anything else?

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