I work for a minority-owned company, and it just so happens that the majority of our franchisees are also minorities and women (I love the stupid word “minorities” to mean “not white!” because, you know, you put together all of the “not white” people, and suddenly, they’re not so much a minority, but Let’s Not Think About That and then there’s that “and women” addition, like women make up 20% of the world or something. Anyway).
So one of the things I have to be aware of, even more than my “liberal” sensibilities call for, is the inclusion of women and Everybody Else in things like, say, visual representations. Because how incredibly stupid is it to whitewash the whole world, not only on the basic, you know, human decency “because it’s not right” level, but on the actual real-world holy fuck, that’s a PRETEND WORLD you’re telling people to buy into level?
I’m currently in the process of moving our ops manual into an online format, and I couldn’t *believe* (or maybe you would…) what a fucking pain in the ass it was to find clip art of black men and women, Asian men and women, or just women all together, doing something really active and powerful.
It took me several days of working through the clip art galleries before I started to realize that, yes, actually, those images are *there,* sort of. They’re just harder to find, because even though they’re there, I’m having a lot of trouble seeing them. Why am I still seeing a universe of white people?
And I realized as I was setting out images for different sections, thinking, “OK, there’s an image of a black man here, and I have a woman here, and an Asian woman here and… oh god, is that too many women? Are there too many pictures of women and minorities? Is this going to scare off white guys?”
SERIOUSLY. I thought that.
I thought, “But WHAT ABOUT THE POOR WHITE MEN???”
Here I was getting stuck in the 1/4 rule: any time women make up 1/4 of the room, you assume half the room is full of women. Same with any character who’s not slice-of-wonder-bread white. And when there’s *more* than 1/4… well, then THEY’RE TAKING OVER, OH NOOOOSSS!!!
What I find fascinating is how well we’ve all been trained to keep making sure that the fragile white male ego is protected, like it’s so incredibly impossible for white men to relate to the humanity of women and men of other races.
How condescending is that, to create an entire structure, an entire subserviant class, whose duty it is to look after the fragile white male ego? If men are really *that* fucking weak, then patriarchy is some fucking joke.
And yet here I am, thinking, “OH NOoOOoooSsss! The poor white men!”
One of the things I try and tell people is that we’re all racist. We’re all misogynist. When you live in a racist, misogynist culture, you pick these assumptions and stereotypes up as easily as breathing; you’re trained to maintain the status quo. What it means to be a decent human being is to be aware of these prejudices and to fight them, fight them, fight them. Because none of it’s true: it’s all a bunch of bullshit.
The world WILL NOT END if 3/4 of every piece of clip art shows a black woman and an Asian man and a Hispanic woman and an Indian man being powerful.
In fact, the world might look a little better for it.