If you kill a person, you’re a murderer. If you steal, no one would hesitate to call you a thief. But in America, when you force yourself on someone sexually, some people will jump through flaming hoops not to call you a rapist.
As reported by Al Jazeera America, colleges across the country are replacing the word “rape” in their sexual assault policies with “non-consensual sex” because schools don’t want label students “rapists”.
Here’s some excellent archival research by NPR’s Code Switch team (with help from NPR librarian Katie Daugert on blacks passing as East Indian or using “exotica” to navigate the Jim Crow South. This perspective complicates the conversations trending on the Internet about cultural appropriation.
"I was Jim Crowed here, Jim Crowed there, Jim Crowed all over the place. And I didn’t like being Jim Crowed." —- Jesse Routté, who pulled off what historian Paul Kramer calls the “turban trick.”
At the time, ideas of race in America were quite literally black and white. But a few meters of cloth changed the way some people of color were treated.
The main problem I have with Men’s Rights Activists is that their name really doesn’t do them justice. They’re Straight Cis White Men’s Rights Activists. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign for the inclusion of trans* men in their spaces.
I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign to end the social stigma around black fatherhood. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign for better pay and equal career mobility for men of colour. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists actively campaign for more gay men’s rights. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists advise others in their group on how using f*ggot to emasculate men who aren’t part of their cause is alienating and marginalising other MEN.
I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign, raise awareness of, or support victims of male rape unless it’s in order to derail a discussion around female victims of rape. I have NEVER seen Men’s Rights Activists campaign, raise awareness of, or support male victims of domestic abuse unless it’s in order to derail a discussion around female victims of domestic abuse. Men’s Rights Activists are hypocrites and frauds.
They’re bitter privileged white men who don’t want to campaign for the rights of men — they want to campaign to keep their privilege unchecked and their ability to discriminate against others. If you want to be a real Men’s Rights Activist — be a fucking (intersectional) Feminist. Peace out.
the reason male comic book fans work themselves into a frenzied rage over “fake geek girls" is because they think they can’t get a girlfriend because of their love for comic books (a.k.a nerdiness). if they accept that geek girls genuinely love comic books, then they’re left with the cold harsh reality that it’s not their nerdiness that makes them unattractive to women, but the fact that they are misogynistic condescending dickbags who need to be avoided AT ALL COSTS
If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:
OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!
In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry. For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic. (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos. Consider yourselves warned.) In no particular order:
Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar. Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals. This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world. Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious—fine. But blood…just don’t go there. Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
Don’t use crucifixion imagery. Another huge, driving motivation behind anti-Semitism historically has been the belief that the Jews, rather than the Romans, crucified Jesus. As in #1, this belief still persists. There are plenty of other ways to depict suffering that don’t call back to ancient libels.
Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists. People who make this demand are assuming that Jews are terrible people or undeserving of being heard out unless they “prove” themselves acceptable by non-Jews’ standards. (It’s not okay to demand Palestinians publicly repudiate the actions of Hamas in order to be accepted/trusted, either.)
Don’t say “the Jews” when you mean Israel. I think this should be pretty clear. The people in power in Israel are Jews, but not all Jews are Israelis (let alone Israeli leaders).
Don’t say “Zionists” when you mean Israel. Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism. It is simply the belief that the Jews should have a country in part of their ancestral homeland where they can take refuge from the anti-Semitism and persecution they face everywhere else. It does not mean a belief that Jews have a right to grab land from others, a belief that Jews are superior to non-Jews, or any other such tripe, any more than feminism means hating men. Unless you believe that Israel should entirely cease to exist, you are yourself Zionist. Furthermore, using “Zionists” in place of “Israelis” is inaccurate and harmful. The word “Zionists” includes Diasporan Jews as well (most of whom support a two-state solution and pretty much none of whom have any influence on Israel’s policies) and is used to justify anti-Semitic attacks outside Israel (i.e., they brought it on themselves by being Zionists). And many of the Jews IN Israel who are most violent against Palestinians are actually anti-Zionist—they believe that the modern state of Israel is an offense against God because it isn’t governed by halakha (traditional Jewish religious law). Be careful with the labels you use.
Don’t call Jews you agree with “the good Jews.” Imposing your values on another group is not okay. Tokenizing is not okay. Appointing yourself the judge of what other groups can or should believe is not okay.
Don’t use your Jewish friends or Jews who agree with you as shields. (AKA, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends!” or “Well, Jew X agrees with me, so you’re wrong.”) Again, this behavior is tokenizing and essentially amounts to you as a non-Jew appointing yourself arbiter over what Jews can/should feel or believe. You don’t get to do that.
Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European. Jews come in many colors—white is only one. Besides, the fact that many of us have some genetic mixing with the peoples who tried to force us to assimilate (be they German, Indian, Ethiopian, Italian…) doesn’t change the fact that all our common ancestral roots go back to Israel.
Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the TRUE/REAL Jews.” Enough said.
Don’t claim that Jews have no real historical connection to Israel/the Temple Mount. Archaeology and the historical record both establish that this is false.
Don’t accuse Diasporan Jews of dual loyalties or treason. This is another charge that historically has been used to justify persecution and murder of Jews. Having a connection to our ancestral homeland is natural. Having a connection to our co-religionists who live there is natural. It is no more treasonous for a Jew to consider the well-being of Israel when casting a vote than for a Muslim to consider the well-being of Islamic countries when voting. (Tangent: fuck drone strikes. End tangent.)
Don’t claim that the Jews control the media/banks/country that isn’t Israel. Yet another historical anti-Semitic claim is that Jews as a group intend to control the world and try to achieve this aim through shadowy, sinister channels. There are many prominent Jews in the media and in the banking industry, yes, but they aren’t engaged in any kind of organized conspiracy to take over those industries, they simply work in those industries. The phrase “the Jews control” should never be heard in a debate/discussion of Israel.
Don’t depict the Magen David (Star of David) as an equivalent to the Nazi swastika. The Magen David represents all Jews—not just Israelis, not just people who are violent against Palestinians, ALL JEWS. When you do this, you are painting all Jews as violent, genocidal racists. DON’T.
Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop. The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies. It is wrong and appropriative to try to use their deaths to score political points. Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination—go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.
In visual depictions (i.e., political cartoons and such), don’t depict Israel/Israelis as Jewish stereotypes. Don’t show them in Chassidic, black-hat garb. Don’t show them with exaggerated noses or frizzled red hair or payus (earlocks). Don’t show them with horns or depict them as the Devil. Don’t show them cackling over/hoarding money. Don’t show them drinking blood or eating children (see #1). Don’t show them raping non-Jewish women. The Nazis didn’t invent the tropes they used in their propaganda—all of these have been anti-Semitic tropes going back centuries. (The red hair trope, for instance, goes back to early depictions of Judas Iscariot as a redhead, and the horns trope stems from the belief that Jews are the Devil’s children, sent to destroy the world as best we can for our “father.”)
Don’t use the phrase “the chosen people” to deride or as proof of Jewish racism. When Jews say we are the chosen people, we don’t mean that we are biologically superior to others or that God loves us more than other groups. Judaism in fact teaches that everyone is capable of being a righteous, Godly person, that Jews have obligations to be ethical and decent to “the stranger in our midst,” and that non-Jews don’t get sent to some kind of damnation for believing in another faith. When we say we’re the chosen people, we mean that, according to our faith, God gave us extra responsibilities and codes of behavior that other groups aren’t burdened with, in the form of the Torah. That’s all it means.
Don’t claim that anti-Semitism is eradicated or negligible. It isn’t. In fact, according to international watchdog groups, it’s sharply on the rise. (Which sadly isn’t surprising—anti-Semitism historically surges during economic downturns, thanks to the belief that Jews control the banks.) This sort of statement is extremely dismissive and accuses us of lying about our own experiences.
Don’t say that since Palestinians are Semites, Jews/Israelis are anti-Semitic, too. You do not get to redefine the oppressions of others, nor do you get to police how they refer to that oppression. This also often ties into #8. Don’t do it. Anti-Semitism has exclusively meant anti-Jewish bigotry for a good century plus now. Coin your own word for anti-Palestinian oppression, or just call it what it is: racism mixed with Islamophobia.
Don’t blow off Jews telling you that what you’re saying is anti-Semitic with some variant of the statement at the top of this post. Not all anti-Israel speech is anti-Semitic (a lot of it is valid, much-deserved criticism), but some certainly is. Actually give the accusation your consideration and hear the accuser out. If they fail to convince you, that’s fine. But at least hear them out (without talking over them) before you decide that.
I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it covers all the hard-and-fast rules I can think of. (I welcome input for improving it.)
But wait! Why should I care about any of this? I’m standing up for people who are suffering!
You should care because nonsense like the above makes Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian plight wary and afraid of joining your cause. You should care because, unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has correlated to an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, attacks on Jews who have no say in Israeli politics, and this kind of behavior merely aggravates that, whether you intend it to or not.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real minefield in that it’s a clash between oppressed people of color and an ethnoreligious group that is dominant in Israel but marginalized and brutalized elsewhere (often nowadays on the exact grounds that they share ethnoreligious ties with the people of Israel), so it’s damned hard to toe the line of being socially aware and sensitive to both groups. I get that. But I think it is possible to toe that line, and I hope this post helps with that. (And if a Palestinian makes a similar list of problematic arguments they hear targeted at them, I’d be happy to reblog it, too.)
So, TL;DR version:
Do go ahead and criticize Israel.
Don’t use anti-Semitic stereotypes or tropes.
Don’t use overly expansive language that covers Jews as a whole and not just Israel.
Don’t use lies to boost your claims.
Do engage Jews in conversation on the issues of Israel and of anti-Semitism, rather than simply shutting them down for disagreeing.
Do try to be sensitive to the fact that, fair or not, many people take verbal or violent revenge for the actions of Israelis on Diasporan Jews, and Diasporan Jews are understandably frightened and upset by this.
“You keep these kids ignorant and then suddenly they’re in a situation that they don’t even have the words for and they have no idea what to do,” she says. “They’re not taught how to ask for consent, how to give consent, how to revoke consent and stop mid-way through. They don’t know to use protection or to demand it if it’s absent, they don’t know this will spread STIs and pregnancy. They don’t know it’s not supposed to hurt. Can you believe that? So, so, so many people think that sex is supposed to hurt the partner with a vagina when they have sex for the first time. They think that’s just the way it is, that’s just how it goes. *That* is obscene to me. Enforced ignorance that inevitably results in physical and emotional damage, *that’s* obscenity.”—Rich Goldstein asked me what I consider to be obscene in his article on my work, ‘Oh Joy Sex Toy’: The Internet’s Most Radical Sex-Fueled Comic Strip (via erikamoen)
Men interrupt women, speak over them, and discount their contributions to a discussion with surprising regularity. Here’s how women should respond. “Stop interrupting me.” “I just said that.” “No explanation needed.” In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won for being polite. My brother, on the other hand, was …
“It’s funny, the stereotypes we given. Lazy, as if we ain’t build an entire country on our backs. Thieves, as if we wasn’t stolen from our home. Hateful, as if we was the ones that murder for dark skin. Selfish, as if we took over another people’s country and claimed they land as our own. Funny, how them stereotypes so perfectly describe the ones who done doomed us all.”—My grandmother, talking to my brother who was recently called, “nothing but a black thug” for daring to wear a hoodie in the rain. (via asiaraymonet)
You are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. There is a clear line between appreciation and appropriation
A (white, gay, male) friend of mine posted this on Facebook with “so I guess this means I can’t do anything because of my race! isn’t this racism too?!” which typically makes me think it’s an article that needs to be spread far and wide.
The tl;dr version: Everyone who isn’t a black woman—and especially white gay men, since many of them are guilty of this—stop using your “ghetto voice,” stop calling yourself Bon Qui Qui or Shanequa for laughs, stop saying you need to “pat your weave,” stop saying you are a Strong Black Woman Who Don’t Need No Man. Just. Stop.
I love this quote from the end of the article:
“All of this being said, you should not have to stop liking the things you like. This is not an attempt to try to suck the fun out of your life. Appreciating a culture and appropriating one are very, very different things, with a much thicker line than some people think, if you use all of the three seconds it takes to be considerate before you open your mouth. If you love some of the same things that some black women love, by all means, you and your black girlfriends go ahead and rock the hell out. Regardless of what our privileges and lack of privileges are, regardless of the laws and rhetoric that have attempted to divide us, we are equal, even though we aren’t the same, and that is okay. Claiming our identity for what’s sweet without ever having to taste its sour is not. Breathing fire behind ugly stereotypes that reduce black females to loud caricatures for you to emulate isn’t, either.”
The magical realism squirmed, desperate to get away but was eventually held fast by the sigils etched into the four walls of the small wooden room. He contained it inside of a porcelain sugar bowl, the lid sealed with wax.
“The Equal Rights Center has found — perhaps unsurprisingly, but nonetheless, depressingly — that people who indicate that they have worked for LGBT causes on their resumes are 23% less likely to land a job interview than people who don’t.”
Just because anti-discrimination is on the books at any given institution doesn’t mean that the opposite is not ingrained in all of us. People need to face the fact that modern discrimination is mental rather than legal.