Why I’m Probably Not as Sexist as I Am Racist

Why I'm Probably Not as Sexist as I Am RacistI think a lot more about racism than I do sexism. The reason is that I know I’m racist whereas I don’t generally think of myself as sexist. But that’s nonsense. I am sexist.

If I were given a stack of resumes, I suspect we would find some bias in my picks. (Assuming I hadn’t been primed; I bet I’d do a pretty good job right now.)

What Is Racism? Sexism?

But let me back up for a moment because I don’t want you to think that I’m just virtue-signalling here. I define “racism” and “sexism” pretty broadly: any irrational bias that one holds against a category of people. So if your heart races when you see a black man approaching you on an isolated street, that’s racism — even if you are a black man.

I don’t beat myself up about this because it is virtually impossible not to grow up in this nation and not be racist. It even affects blacks. And I’m sure the same is true of sexism.

Even though I do not believe in free will, I am not fatalistic about this. Knowing our subconscious biases allows us to be more focused on fighting our irrational subconscious tendencies.

(None of this is to say that subconscious bias is as bad as overt racism. But I don’t usually talk about overt racism because our country’s fixation on it is a big part of our racism problem. Using the n-word is racist. Seemingly nothing else short of murder is.)

Why I Like Women More Than Men

The truth is that I like women more than men — in a general sense. And I think I know why.

Until about ten years ago, I was always painfully thin. And I have always been short. And I’ve been bullied by “alpha” males from school to work and beyond. So I’ve always felt more at home with women.

(This isn’t to say that women can’t be bullies. But mostly, they are bullies in ways that I’m better able to deal with.)

On the other side of things, my knowledge of black culture comes mostly from the media and other racist white people. (I scored “slight bias toward whites” on the subconscious bias test.)

Liking Women Doesn’t Equal Non-Sexist

I’ve known a lot of other guys who prefer to be around women. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t sexist. (How much easier it is to see others’ faults than your own!)

Indeed, the attacks from the “alpha” males is part of the general process of systemic sexism in our society. Regardless what conservatives say, there is wide-scale acceptance and admiration of brutal male culture — even in romantic comedies!

So we may end up with a man who adores women but nonetheless just assumes that an executive at his firm would be a man. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any female executives at his firm. But they would be there either because they are far better than any other available man or because of some bit of luck.

Moving Forward

This, of course, is why the “there’s no racism in America because Obama was president” is such a facile argument.

But it is also why I should be even more concerned about my own sexism. And racism. And pretty much every other –ism you can name. I am a man of my time and place. And the only way forward (as individuals and society) is to fight against this.

It’s interesting that even as technology changes society at a prodigious speed, we don’t move any faster in ridding ourselves of these horrible biases. At times it seems we are going in the opposite direction.

2 thoughts on “Why I’m Probably Not as Sexist as I Am Racist

  1. Some of it’s cultural/gender bias, some just the loneliness of our times. The musician Moby once wrote in some liner notes that he knew more about celebrities than his next-door apartment neighbors. I’ve never made friends in an apartment, although I met some pleasant people. I think I’ve met maybe seven/eight six co-workers outside the job in my life, and only managed friendship with half. And that’s not uncommon in America. I have more friends in Denmark than I do here, and there’s a largish body of salt water in the way!

    Of course all the added obstacles in getting to know people outside your “group” contribute to this, unfortunately. Which helps maintain those obstacles. It’s a self-reinforcing mechanism…

    • That’s a good point. Didn’t Marx write something about how capitalism alienates people? Regardless, there is something to that. The entire system sets us against each other.

      Of course, we don’t know anything about celebrities until they fall from grace. Until then, their stories are so manufactured as to be useless. It’s like the image that most people present on Facebook.

Leave a Reply