Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ain't My Fault, is it?

Over here at Pandagon, and over here at Strange Horizons we've got two posts on different subjects that kind of make me think the same thing.

The first is about bloggers at the DNCC -- the Democrats asked certain bloggers to come blog and LO! they turn out to be all white folk. Oops. Sorry. Not our fault, the Democrats say, we're not racists, you know. Just so happens we don't look at people and see color; we look at people and see talent, skill with writing, we see their blogs. We live in a post-racist world! Isn't that what you want?

Over there on Strange Horizons it's a whole article full of graphs and math, even, and sundry other chunky details, explaining why SF magazines and journals mainly publish men, and why SF awards mainly go to men, and why SF is mainly dominated by the penis-people and -- I bet this will surprise you -- it's nothing to do with the patriarchy at all. It turns out it is simply because women do not submit as many stories as men do, for whatever reason! Why, the editors would love to buy more stories from women, if only they existed. And they would love to give women more awards, and include more stories from women in those Best of Lists, too -- nothing to do with bias, mind you. They just look at the stories. Just happens the men's stories are better stories, that's not their fault.

The essay, if you read it, is careful to note that this pattern holds true -- more men being published than women -- even at magazines where women are editors. The writer seems to think this scores some point. Why, I'm not certain. Does she imagine that women don't live in the patriarchal world?

Here's my point: going around saying hey, I don't judge people by their sex, I don't judge people by their color, I don't care what class you are, it's nothing to me what accent you have or where you went to school, when you, in fact, are a member of the power structure, the dominant class, the patriarchy, the privileged class, is fucking stupid. You know why you can say you don't care what color some one is, or what sex they are? You don't have to care.

Also: in shit you don't. Let that woman or that person of color or that lower-class bint or that gay guy talk back one time, step out of line one time, then tell me how much you don't care.

And here's what I want to say: if we actually care about equality, and redressing the imbalances in the world, then we need to be more than blind to the differences, we need to address them. In a world where more white guys get hired than people of color, hire a person of color next time -- at least try to. Look for one among the applicants. In a classroom where you mainly let the women speak, ask the guy what he thinks -- try to. Find a guy, point to him. Say, "You. What's your opinion?" In a school that is mainly hiring only young eager men, hire some women -- don't tell me you can't find any women to hire. You start hiring them, they'll start applying. It's amazing how that happens.

It's called power for a reason. Use it.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Well said!

Something about your words--put together so well--made me think of a time when a neighbor of ours was at our house and the subject of Whitney Houston came up. She had made some type of negative comment about America, and our neighbor said "What does she have to complain about? Look at all the money she's made under our system?"

I asked him what system he was talking about, and he just kept ranting. I asked him again and he didn't answer. Then my husband said "Hey--my wife asked you a question," and he said "You know our system." I told him it certainly wasn't my system--it was a system for privileged straight white males. His eyes got big and he looked to my husband for help. My husband said "Not my system, either--it's one for privileged straight white males and I can't be part of that."

The neighbors left. (The oddest thing about this incident is that I was defending Whitney Houston!)