As a part of last weeks Comedy Week on YouTube, David Neptune and Ken Tanaka took on the aspect of racism in which Asians and Asian Americans are exotified, no matter their birthplace: “no, really — where are you from?“ The disbelief that one’s English is “so good,” that one can be a US-born Asian. This kind of exchange, and some of my own experiences as a multiracial person, point to 1) the obsession with categorizing people by race and ethnicity, and 2) the angry emotional reaction that arises when one’s background doesn’t fit the inquirer’s stereotypes or racial schema. Check out the video; it’s funny because it’s not.
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: America, Asian Americans, Asians, bias, comedy, culture, English, Ethnicity, exotification, identity, immigration, language, minorities, prejudice, Race, Racism, stereotypes, whites, Xenophobia, YouTube
Categories : Asians and Asian Americans, Bias, Difference, Discrimination, Humor, Identity, Immigration, Oppression, People of Color, Race, Racial Identity, Racism, Stereotypes, White People, Women of Color
Virginia aims to become yet another state that will require women seeking abortion services to view an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. Lawmakers in the state will decide this week whether it, like states like Texas, wishes to further make women’s bodies sites for political battles. One senator, Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), has caught some media attention in her proposal to make men’s bodies political battlegrounds, as well:
To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.
“We need some gender equity here,” she told HuffPost. “The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we’re going to do that to women, why not do that to men?”
Though proponents of this bill claim that it gives women the ability to make “informed” consent in seeking abortion services, its opponents note:
[T]he bill compels physicians to perform an unnecessary and costly medical procedure and is a thinly-veiled attempt to shame and intimidate women from having an abortion.
Unfortunately, the mandatory ultrasound bill passed in a voice vote yesterday, and the senate will formally vote at some point today. Sen. Howell’s bill was not passed, however.
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: abortion, abortion services, Bodies, Equality, erectile dysfunction, Gender, Health, laws, Men, policies, Politics, reproductive rights, Sexual Health, viagra, Virgina, Women
Categories : Abortion, Difference, Equality, Gender, Health, Men, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Sexism, The Body, Women
Let’s start with the dictionary’s definition:
Di-ver-si-ty [dih-vur-si-tee, dahy-]: 1) the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness. 2) variety; multiformity; 3) a point of difference.
On The Language Of Diversity
First, shame on the dictionary for defining the word with (a variation of) the word itself [definition 1]. Second, maybe these definitions trump everything I say in this post. But, to state my point up front, I cringe when I hear the term diversity, used in one breath to refer to the inclusion of groups that have been historically excluded from important institutions, processes, and events, used again in another to refer to food selections at a potluck or literary genres. These seem like silly examples that I have chosen, but they are based on real events in which the term diversity was used to refer to a variety rather than inclusivity.
My immediate assessment is that these instances occur among people who do not fully appreciate the political significance of diversity, not just as a word, but as a value and practice. To liken the inclusion of women and people of color in the arts to the inclusion of poetry and fiction in mainstream literature is to trivialize the significance of challenging historical practices of exclusion and discrimination. It seems to be a subtle thing, simply a matter of word choice. But, to view this act as such proves my point that the term diversity is being used in a way that alters its meaning when we are speaking politically.
On The Political Meaning Of Diversity
In addition to my frustration with what I see trivializing the concept of diversity, I often cringe when I realize that presumably like-minded people use the term diversity in a narrow way that reinforces the exclusion of certain groups. For some, diversity means the inclusion of the two main groups, Black people and women, at least with respect to Affirmative Action policies and debates. Some speak narrowly of racial inclusivity, and some even more narrow to mean whether Black people are included. Given the continuance of the exclusion of Black people and people of color more generally, I do not deny that racial inclusivity is a core component of efforts to diversify important social institutions and so forth. My critique, however, is of the failure to acknowledge that the concept of diversity is defined by some in way that still excludes others, namely lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT), religious minorities, people with disabilities, working-class people, older adults, and others, whether we acknowledge it or not, who have been time and again excluded from important parts of society. Ironically, in my quick Google.com search for “diversity,” the Wikipedia.org entry about “Diversity (politics)” extends even farther in inclusion than the list I just provided.
Say What You Mean
While I think it would be impossible to push a singular definition of diversity, and I acknowledge the irony of pushing for unison in a discussion of diversity, I simply encourage reflection when discussing diversity. Beyond using the term diversity in a narrow way, or worse in a way that trivializes its political significance, the worst use of term is when it is articulated out of obligation. In a society partially obsessed with political correctness rather than actually promoting tolerance, understanding, and inclusivity, lip-service is often paid to diversity as an important value with little action to back it up. This, above all, is to be of our biggest concern. At least with honesty and transparency, we are aware when some person, group, or institution is not interested in inclusivity; rather, with lip-service, we are falsely led to believe that social justice is live in action. Indeed, this inaction, whether veiled by obligatory references to diversity or not, complements efforts to actively exclude historically marginalized groups. (You know the saying, “if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem!”)
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: discrimination, diversity, History, inclusion, language, LGBT, older adults, People of Color, people with disabilities, Politics, religious minorities, Women
Categories : Activism, Affirmative Action, Age, Asians and Asian Americans, Black People, Civil Rights, Difference, Equality, Gender, Latina/o People, LGBT People, Men, People of Color, Politics, Prejudice, Race, Sexual Identity, Transgender, Values, White People, Women
This was originally posted at Kinsey Confidential.
We know well from research and news stories that individuals are treated differently and afforded different opportunities because of their sexual orientation. In particular, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people often face unfair treatment, prejudice, and discrimination because of their minority sexual identity, while heterosexual people do not face such disadvantage.
Evaluations Based On Sexual Orientation
In a recent post, I wrote about how people evaluate others differently on the basis of sexual orientation. Increasingly, we know that LGBT people are evaluated more harshly than are heterosexuals. We know from countless studies that these evaluations depend upon gender, so researchers typically use separate measures to assess attitudes toward lesbians and attitudes toward gay men. Some even use separate measures for bisexuals. But, what we have yet to learn is whether evaluations based on sexual orientation vary by race and ethnicity.
Do Those Evaluations Vary By Race?
In a two-part study, a team of psychologists at the University of Toronto tested undergraduate students’ response times and favorability toward a set of pictures of black and white men. The pictures were 104 headshots of men taken from internet dating sites. In the first study, 31 college students (mostly women) were asked how likeable these men seemed in their opinion. In the second study, 50 college students (mostly women) were instructed to push or pull a joystick when a black or white face appeared on a computer screen; this was a test of how quickly the participants responded. Also, in Study 2, participants were asked to rate how likeable the men pictured are in their opinion.
The respondents were asked to take note of whether the men pictured were white or black. However, the respondents were not told that half of each group of men identify as heterosexual and the other half as gay. Interestingly, among white men, gay men were rated as less likeable, yet among black men, gay men were rated as more likeable than heterosexual men. So, the authors argue that these findings demonstrate that the effect of sexual orientation on the participants’ evaluations depends on race; black gay men are rated as more favorable than black heterosexual men, but the opposite pattern was found among white men.
But, How Do We Know That This Is About Sexual Orientation?
The researchers in this study did not provide any information about the sexual orientation of the 104 men pictured. And, at the end of the studies, no respondent noted that they processed such information in their evaluations — rather, they paid attention to the men’s racial identity as instructed by the researchers. But, if the participants did not consciously consider whether the men were heterosexual or gay in these experiments, how do we know the differences found are truly the effect of sexual orientation? The researchers argue that the participants unconsciously processed information about the men’s sexual orientations.
Outside of announcing our sexual orientation or wearing clothing that indicates our sexual identity (e.g., a rainbow t-shirt), how do others know whether we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual? Many in research, the media, and popular culture have discussed the existence of gaydar, which is the ability to determine whether a person is not heterosexual. Many point to gender non-conformity as the most obvious indicator that a person is bisexual, lesbian, or gay. While lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults were more likely than heterosexual adults to be gender non-conforming in childhood, by no means is gender non-conformity limited to LGB people.
Beyond behavior, many scientists have attempted to determine if their are biological differences between heterosexuals and lesbian/gay/bisexual people: finger length, swirl of one’s hair, hormones, brain size and structure, finger print, facial features, and so forth. Others have focused on linguistic or speech pattern differences by sexual orientation, and even the Facebook friends you have. But little conclusive evidence has been found, and much of these are characteristics that we cannot actually see on a person’s body. Indeed, there are no agreed upon markers on the body that indicate that a person is heterosexual or not.
But, Sexuality Is Complex!
To argue that gay men have larger hypothalamuses than heterosexual men misses a lot of complexity in sexual orientation. Are we referring here only to gay-identified men who are exclusively attracted to men and have only had sexual and romantic relations with men? What about bisexual men? What about heterosexual-identified people who are attracted to both women and men, or those who have had any sexual encounters with their same gender? The way that the multiple dimensions of sexuality sometimes do not neatly align — namely attraction, behavior, and identity — complicates theories and research on sexuality that simply state that gay and heterosexual people differ. And, what does this complexity mean for how sexual orientation affects our evaluations of others?
What We Can Learn From This
I have noted in many of my posts that, to better understand sexuality, we must understand how it intersects with other aspects of society and our lives: race and ethnicity, gender, age, social class, nationality, religion, body size, and so forth. These studies provide even greater weight for moving to a more complex, inclusive view of sexuality.
In past studies of evaluations, black people are typically rated as less likeable than white people, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are rated as less likeable than heterosexual people. But, how do race and sexual orientation operate simultaneously? Should we assume that those who are a minority on both accounts — black lesbian, gay, and bisexual people — are liked the least? And, that those who are in the dominant group for both are liked the most — white heterosexuals? The studies’ findings suggest it is not as obvious as one might think.
Clearly, we need to continue to attend to the way that race and sexuality intersect, as well as the ways it intersects with gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, and so forth. For example, under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military policy that discharged service members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, most of the recent discharges were women and racial and ethnic minorities. This is an example of the way that gender intersects with sexual orientation and race intersects with sexual orientation. In particular, a policy that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation intersected with discrimination on the basis of race and on the basis of gender. More recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that black gay men are being disproportionately affected by HIV. That is, we can see how a group that is disadvantaged in terms of race and sexual orientation are being hardest hit by the epidemic.
We can take from this that sexuality, in its own right, is complex and multidimensional. But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg once we consider the way sexuality intersects with other important dimensions of difference and inequality.
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: bisexual, discrimination, Ethnicity, evaluations, gay, gaydar, heterosexual, Intersectionality, lesbian, prejudice, Race, research, Sexual Orientation, Transgender
Categories : Black People, Difference, Discrimination, Homophobia, Kinsey Confidential, LGBT People, Popular Culture, Queer, Queer People of Color, Race, Racial Identity, Racism, Sex Research, Sexual Identity, Sexual Orientation, Sexual Prejudice, Sexuality, White People
This past Christmas day, a young Nigerian man failed to set off a bomb on Northwest Airlines flight 253, traveling from Amsterdam to Detriot. In response, President Barack Obama has criticized the break down of communication, as there were warnings about the young man’s increasing radical views, and security (how did he get on the plane with a bomb?). Also, a new set of stringent security guidelines have been set by the Transportation Security Administration. I want to first note that if it is terrorists’ goal to create terror and fear, then that failed bomb was actually a success, considering the chaos that has now been caused in the US. This chaos includes thorough and invasive screenings of travelers to the US from 14 different countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This guide of profiling by nation of origin is a thin veil for profiling by perceived religion, race, and ethnicity, though some conservative politicians don’t even bother with the veil:
Well, it seems I’m not tech savvy enough to figure out how to embed this video, so you can see it at Colbert Nation.
Is profiling at airport security checkpoints new? No. Is racial profiling in the US new? No. In this case, racists and xenophobes and other bigots are capitalizing on this failed attack to freely broadcast their racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Middle East views. The stereotypes of these groups as terrorists and anti-American did not emerge out of recent terrorist attacks – they already existed, but now they are spoken openly as though the Christmas day failed bombing justifies such prejudice and discrimination. Here’s a hypothetical: if a white man from Ireland attempted to bomb a US-bound plane, would all Irish people receive the scrutiny Muslims and other Arabs are now receiving? Would the attention on the Irish spread to 13 other predominantly/majority-white countries? Though the Colbert video is funny, he raises a good point: must we sacrifice freedom from prejudice and discrimination in the name of national security? Remember when we placed thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps during WWII?
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: conservatives, President Barack Obama, Racism, republicans, security, terrorism, Xenophobia
Categories : Civil Rights, Difference, Ethnicity, Government, Law, Nationality, People of Color, Politics, Race, Racism, Religion, Society, Xenophobia
Originally posted at Kinsey Confidential.
When we talk about sexuality, specifically our own sexualities, we sometimes fail to consider other forms of differences (and similarities) among humans. We need to be sure to consider how our race, ethnicity, sex and gender, social class, age, ability, religion, and nationality shape and influence our sexual identities, desires, preferences, and community memberships.
The Tendency To View One Form Of Difference At A Time
Often, when we talk about difference and, more specifically, inequality, we tend to talk about one form of difference and inequality at a time. That is, we talk about race, racism, and racial inequality. Or, we talk about gender, sexism, and gender inequality. It is rare, however, that we talk about how these forms of difference coexist and shape one another.
In gender studies, sociology, psychology, and the humanities, we use the term intersectionality to describe how forms of difference operate simultaneously and intersect and interact with one another.
So, for example, rather than simply looking at the experiences of bisexuals (i.e., sexual orientation), we could look at the experiences of Latino bisexuals (i.e., ethnicity and sexual orientation), or bisexual teenagers (i.e., sexual orientation and age), or Catholic bisexual immigrants (i.e., religion, sexual orientation, and nationality).
Why Is This More Inclusive View Important?
Although we can get a good sense of someone’s life experiences and sense of self just by looking at their sexual orientation or self-reported sexual identity (e.g., lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, gay, queer), we may be overlooking how other forms of difference shape one’s life.
We are not simply sexual beings; we also have a particular race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, ability, and nationality. For example, if we were only to look at the gap in income between women and men, we would fail to see that Black, Latina, and American Indian women are at an even further disadvantage in pay relative to white men.
Simply considering one form of difference fails to paint a complete picture of individuals’ lives.
A Clear Example
As a Kinsey Confidential site visitor pointed out in a comment to the April 30th blog post, “Dine Out for Life – HIV/AIDS Fundraiser” by Natalie Ingraham, one glaring oversight in research on HIV/AIDS rates among Black men who have sex with men (MSM), who may or may not identify as gay or bisexual, is the consideration of race, or, more specifically, racism.
Two researchers found that the higher HIV infection rate among Black MSMs is not due to riskier or less safe sexual practices (i.e., not using condoms regularly and effectively), but is due largely to a smaller pool of potential sexual partners.
The researchers found that among a sample of Black, white, Latino, and Asian-American MSMs, Black men were rated the least preferred sexual partners and perceived to be the most likely to be HIV-positive.
Thus, because Black men are considered least desired and most dangerous in terms of HIV/AIDS, they have a harder time finding partnerships with non-Black men, which severely minimizes their pool of potential partners and increases their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. By simply considering sexual orientation, we’d see that men who have sex with men have higher rates of HIV/AIDS relative to men who have sex with women (MSW), but we would miss the racial and ethnic differences among MSMs and MSWs.
It might be a neat exercise, and certainly helpful in a self-reflective sense, to consider how your own race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, ability, age, and nationality shape and influence your sexual orientation, identity, desires, relationships, preferences, and community memberships. And, making things a bit more complicated, think about how your sexuality shapes and influences these forms of difference in turn.
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: age ability, Difference, Ethnicity, Intersectionality, MSM, MSW, Nationality, Race, relationshops, Religion, Sex, sexual community memberships, sexual desire, Sexual Health, Sexual Identity, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality
Categories : Ability, Age, Class, Dating, Difference, Ethnicity, HIV & AIDS, Interracial, Intersectionality, Kinsey Confidential, Nationality, Race, Religion, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality
Our work on sexuality, as researchers, educators, therapists, and advocates, has everything to do with race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, age, spirituality, and nationality. If NSRC’s most recent summer institute, Race, Gender, and Sexuality, wasn’t evidence enough, the continued inequalities in sexual and reproductive health should be. See, for example, Michelle Chen’s recent post on RaceWire:
For those who are hip to black feminism, womanism, third world feminism, and/or other strands of feminism that emerged to challenge the exclusive, narrow focus of white, middle-class, heterosexual feminists of the West, I am not suggesting anything new. Audre Lorde and other feminist scholars have argued that all forms of oppression intersect, and thus efforts to eradicate one form of oppression must seek to eradicate them all. Sexuality, certainly, is included in this; homophobia, heterosexism, sexual violence, human trafficking, and sexual inequality generally all intersect with racism, xenophobia, nationalism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, ageism, religious intolerance, and classism.
Throughout the year I served as the chair of the Campus Coalition for Sexual Literacy at Indiana University, my understanding of sexual literacy evolved. I admit, from the start, I had a shaky idea of what sexual literacy is – often having to refer to a scripted definition when asked to explain. Toward the end of my term, I began to think more politically about the concept. Thinking about literacy as knowledge and access, and seeing knowledge as a form of power, I have come to think of sexual literacy as a form of empowerment. And, alternatively, I have come to think about sexual illiteracy as a form of disempowerment. We have plenty of research that highlights the way that sexual illiteracy is not randomly distributed; sexual illiteracy is clearly distributed along gender, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, spirituality, ability, and age lines. Sexual illiteracy, as a form of disempowerment, intersects with these other forms of oppression and disempowerment.
It’s a bit exciting to think about the political implications our work has, particularly with respect to empowerment of forms other than sexual. But, this is no given. We, as researchers, educators, advocates, and therapists, must continue to be sure that we consider these other axes of domination in our work. We cannot realize genuine sexual equality without simultaneously working for other forms of equality.
Comments : Comments Off
Tags: black feminism, Feminism, Intersectionality, oppression, Race, Racism
Categories : Class, Classism, Difference, Feminism, Gender, Gender Identity & Expression, Homophobia, Intersectionality, NSRC Dialogues, People of Color, Race, Racism, Sexual Violence, Sexuality