Stef (firecat) wrote,

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In which firecat discusses her isms

I've studied feminism for decades and have long believed that feminists—starting long before I was born and continuing today—have discovered some really important things about what my world is like and have done things to make my world better for me as a woman and better for a lot of other people too (although not all people).

Steeping myself in feminist viewpoints for a long time has made me pretty sensitive to gender-biased behavior among people I know, and gender bias in the media. (And has spoiled my enjoyment of a few authors I used to really like.)

Nevertheless, I have lived my whole life in a culture that privileges men over women and people of other genders in a number of ways, and I have internalized the assumption that the public sphere belongs to men. So despite decades of study, if someone mentions a person involved in making public policy, and I don't know who they are, and the name I hear doesn't strike me as "obviously feminine," I tend to assume they are male.

So I just saw a news headline, "Clinton stresses two-state solution," and my first thought is that Bill Clinton said it in a talk somewhere, and it takes me reading the first few words of the article, "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton stressed a two-state Israel-Palestine solution..." to realize who the story is talking about. *DOH*.

Despite decades of being involved with feminist thought, sexism is still so deeply rooted in me that I automatically envisioned Bill Clinton when I saw the name Clinton, even though Hillary Clinton is in a more prominent position in government now.

I have made some effort to learn about race issues but I haven't worked on that nearly as much as feminism. So I'm sure I have many more automatic assumptions about race than I do about gender.

When people who I think came from more or less the same upbringing as mine say they aren't racist or sexist at all, I really wonder where they got the module installed that erases all of the conditioning they received.
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