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Kellie Chauvin And The Problem With Benevolent Sexism

Benevolent sexism and racism have a long, ugly history

“Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie. He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.”

“In the 1920s and ’30s, Texan Jessie Daniel Ames was one of the first women to argue that lynching was sexist as well as racist. She exposed the idea that white women needed protection from black men as a lie, gaining the support of thousands of women and hundreds of public officials for her anti-lynching campaign. She and other women went into communities where lynchings occurred — where their lives really were at risk from angry white men — and protested the murder of black men with white women’s rape as a justification. … Ames understood that all oppression is interconnected.”

“most white people continue to conceptualize racism as isolated and individual acts of intentional meanness. This definition is convenient and comforting, in that it exempts so many white people from the system of white supremacy we live in and are shaped by. It is at the root of the most common kind of white defensiveness. If racists are intentionally and openly mean, then it follows that nice people cannot be racist. How often will a white person accused of racism gather as evidence to the contrary friends and colleagues to testify to their niceness; the charge cannot be true, the friend cannot be racist, because ‘he’s a really nice guy’ or ‘she volunteers on the board of a non-profit serving under-privileged youth.’ Not meaning to be racist also allows for absolution. If they didn’t mean it, it cannot and should not count.”

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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