how to be an antisexist

August 3, 2020
A bit less than halfway through Ibram X. Kendi's "How to Be an Antiracist". The most important points I've absorbed so far are how "Not Racist" (e.g. the "I don't see color" and "lets not move on and get into 'reverse discrimination'" stuff) is not the opposite of "Racist", and how in the racist/not-racist camp, Kendi points out the segregationist tendency and the assimilationist.

Sometimes the line between an assimilationist mandate to deny differences and the antiracist ability to recognize differences without hierarchically judging them seems a tough row to hoe. Celebrating difference, but still holding on to a bit of a tabula rasa view - or at least a view that recognizes how the crushing majority of inequalities result from racism baked into the system level.

It's the systems that are the problem, especially tricky are ones that fancy themselves race- or sex-neutral. I've been in bands that modeled themselves in a no-real-'leader' / non-hierarchical / democratic way, but when disagreement resolution then becomes "loudest voice in the argument wins", that's likely to be sexist or racist.

Melissa mentioned a parallel inversion, she got so sick and tired of certain men at work cutting in and talking over and interrupting her. And she saw it was sexist. But then she witnessed the same guys interrupting each other guys in the same way when women weren't around. So it's still sexist, but sexism embedded in a system of interaction, not sexism that is explicitly acting like it knows "men are better than women".

I've thought about this before in the context of the term "racist". We have the one word for (as Kendi might frame it) a segregationist view, that races or sexist are unequal and should be treated that way, as well as the softer but more insidious assimilationist view that grants a superficial equality but doesn't recognize how the entry requirements are proportionally different because of the status quos of society. (Like, "we don't discriminate against poor people - anyone is free to buy this $1000 ticket!" or whatever) And anti-racists don't want to give that "softer" racism a pass, so they call it out using the term racist. But people who are assimilationist "not racist" resent being called the R-word because they know that they believe in the equality of different groups. (Kendi also argues against seeing "racist" as a slur, in the sense of letting people assume it's just 'a view I disagree with', and looks to more technical definitions.)

Back in the band, another weird bit of geeky systematic sexism snuck in, one woman had used some of her spoons to set up a particularly nice socially distanced gig and she posted it on "Gig-O-Matic", the tool we use to email blast rehearsals and gigs within the group. This gig had some parallels with a gig we had had the week before, but the location was different. Some dudes in the group grumbled about the change in venue and it got into a bit of a debate where there shouldn't have been, since it had been set. And I personally took a "lets figure out both sides of the debate" role - but part of that sprung from my never having read the Gig-O-Matic entry closely, just glanced at it at best - to the extent I hadn't even realized 'til after the whole event who had set it up.

But not realizing it was a woman in this case is not exculpatory - if a technological system is set up to be a fair, open-access thing, but then is not properly heeded, that can be a form of soft sexism or racism too.

Some tough stuff! Oh and to top it off I managed to land a non-apology ala "sorry that you were offended" - I really did mean I was sorry I had chosen poorly to both-sideser, even if it was not deliberately sexist because I wasn't even cognizant of who had made the initial post. Whoops!
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns, and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.
James Baldwin

RIP Wilford Brimley!
My Band JP Honk were part of a joint production of the Fenway Porchfest:


(video assembled by Red Shaydez who ends the video spittin' a little fire)
I love how everyone has an ideological point that isn't wrong during COVID-19: libertarians are mad at the FDA and CDC; socialists are mad at the fact that we don't have universal healthcare; liberals are mad at the Trump admin; conservatives are mad at the media.

You can take seriously the socialists' concern for the welfare of the least fortunate, the libertarians' worries about bureaucratic bloat and calcification, the nationalists' desire for robust self-sufficiency, and the conservatives' concern that the media isn't seeing a crisis situation clearly (though conservative media has arguably been even worse). In all likelihood, the stubborn people from the different groups counterbalance each other anyway. If your goal is to be a pragmatist and a pluralist, you can go ahead and, as MGMT sang, "take only what you need from [them]."