I was having a chat with Neo today, and it got me thinking about something. Something that’s really been bugging me. It has to do with isms.
People are really quick to label something (or someone) as ‘sexist’ or ‘racist’ or ‘misandrist’ or ‘feminist’ or whatever. The conversation came about when I thought Neo was saying that Nietzsche was sexist (he wasn’t. He was saying that the Conan books were sexist, but what follows applies). I thought that wasn’t entirely fair, since at the time of writing the books, Things Were Very Different. Plus, I was pretty sure that I’d never considered Nietzsche a sexist before, but perhaps on closer reading….but I digress.
Moving right along to figuring out he (Neo, not Nietzsche, although I would TOTALLY read a thesis Nietzsche came up with about Conan) was talking about Conan the Barbarian as penned by Robert Howard in the early thirties, I still don’t know that I would consider the books ‘sexist’. I mean, they’re fiction, and fiction is about made up stories about made up places with made up people…sure, women are little more than objects in Howard’s books, but on the other hand, if Conan rode up on his giant horse and lofted his sword above his head and shouted: “Matriarchy reigns supreme! I love and honour my mother, and grandmothers, and all the wymyn who I have been intimate with, at their own willingness and with no sexual-assaulty business at all!”, it wouldn’t be the same story.
You can say that the fictional culture Conan exists in is sexist, compared to the way we think of gender roles today, but saying the *book* is sexist? I dunno.
Consider “To Kill a Mockingbird” (I know, I know, Melistress hates it, but stay with me here for a moment): is that a racist book? Because of the way Negroes are treated in it? (Please don’t give me the lecture about the word ‘Negroes’; it’s one of the words used in the book, and it fits in this description) Or is it that there are racist attitudes present in the book, which form a large part of the story? Is racism an actual *character* in the book? A driving force?
I haven’t much patience for people who talk about how, for instance, feminists are all misandrists (an argument I read recently in a news article), or how everyone is a racist if they have a different opinion about the way FNUC should be run (something I overheard in the food court). I haven’t much patience for people who use these labels, because they tend to misuse them, or overuse them.
I am a feminist.
I am a feminist and I love men, and I don’t think men are all out to get women and suppress them and subjugate them and I don’t believe that society is “patriarchal” and misogynistic. I just don’t believe that. I do believe that women’s roles have really changed in the last 70 years, and that there’s still a way to go before we are considered and treated as equals, in the work force, at home, and in the media.
I am not a racist, and I am proud of my Canadian heritage, of my European heritage, and of the values instilled in me by my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. I would not want to be a different ethnicity, although I do rather covet Egyptian eyes….I don’t subjugate Africans or Chinese people or Aboriginals or Welshmen. I don’t think less of people because of their skin tone or their accent (except for the British Monarchy) or the places their DNA originated. For the most part, I don’t really even care about that stuff. People are people, and that’s all cool.
I think colonialism is a, as Captain Cook put said when he encountered the Polynesian people (he wasn’t actually talking about colonialism; he was talking about their religious practices, but I really like the line), “shameful waste of humanity” that has damaged generations of people all over the world. And will continue, in many cases, to harm people for generations to come. I don’t think it’s right to blame people who have nothing to do with colonial attitudes for that harm. I suspect there may be people who still have colonial attitudes, and I think they are getting to be fewer and futher between. But colonialism is nasty and insidious – look at what’s still happening in South Africa.
And another thing that pisses me off: it’s not “reverse racism” when someone of African or Puerto Rican or Aboriginal or Asian descent decides they hate white folks. It’s just racism. If you decide you don’t like someone because they are brown or Muslim or white or Christian, it’s racism. Well, technically not ‘racism’ if it’s all about religion, but I don’t think anyone’s coined the term “religionist” yet. If you’re intolerant about a group of people based on their ethnicity, you’re a racist, pure and simple. The term “reverse racism” implies you hate yourself, which is probably the case if you’re running around spouting off about how much you hate X group of people. Or it implies that you’ve actually reversed racism and you actually love everyone, which is the way it should be.
And another thing! Ayn Rand is not a fascist. Just needed to say that. It’s been on my mind ever since someone questioned me as to why I would bother to read her books because ‘she’s such a fascist’ (actually, the comment may have been “she’s such a nazi”; I don’t remember). You might not like her style, and you might not like her stories, but if you studied her at all, you’d know she was kind of at the other end of the spectrum. She wasn’t really all that keen on *any* kind of government, to be sure. Not a fascist. At all.
Okay. I feel better now. Carry on.