“Is your friend pretty?” #Metoo in the Context of Capitalism and Racism
By Alexander Reid Ross, Teka Lark, and Mark Naison (November 28, 2017)
Several Anarres Project regular contributors recently reflected on the uprising against sexual harassment/assault/abuse in the political and entertainment worlds. Together, they tied the issue to broader concerns about socialization under patriarchy, the imperatives of capitalism, and white supremacy.
Alexander Reid Ross:
The more celebrities exposed as inveterate pervs, the more we recognize that all men have all been implicated in this patriarchal society. The choice is to learn and work to overturn it or to remain taciturn and complicit in constant oppression.
Sexism in the workplace I know by many is viewed as a little thing. It isn’t.
I have a friend who is a man. He is originally from France, moved to LA and is now in Iowa. He can live wherever he wants. He is a translator for corporations based in Europe. He speaks three languages fluently, in addition to English. Companies fly him to NY, pay for his hotel and his drinks when they need him in person.
I have another friend in NY area. Same credentials. She lives in a basement that she rents from an 80-year-old woman who needs the money. My friend needs cheap rent. She sometimes translates for the courts.
I asked my male friend why my woman friend can’t get hired. He looked at me and said, “She is a woman.”
He said in Europe they don’t like hiring women, they are a distraction. They want to drink, cheat on their wives, and they don’t want to hear about rights. They deal in millions of dollars a day and they want to do what they want and they are going to do what they want. They want to hire WHITE men. He then said, but it isn’t so bad. If you are pretty, you can marry a rich man. Is your friend pretty?
Sexism relegates women to the “choices” of low wage jobs and/or entertainment.
Ending sexism matters.
Ending racism matters.
Ending capitalism matters.
Most men, and that includes me, were socialized from an early age to view the pursuit of fame, power and wealth as a way of eroticizing themselves, of making them more attractive to women. It is shockingly easy to go from that position to viewing sexual access to women as a perk, as a reward for professional achievement. Most men don’t act on that impulse, but virtually all have heard other men talk that way. And to be honest, when men talk that way, I have rarely heard other men say “don’t talk that shit around me. Women aren’t an extension of male power.” Maybe they will now. Time will tell. This isn’t only about men and women. It is about how men communicate with and explain themselves to other men.