Alan Howe of The Australian – helped me see why they don’t see - new rexism.
What do you call that super toxic blend when racism is tangled with sexism and nestled in the wire wool cocoon of free expression, vigorously defended by privileged white men? It ought to be called ‘Rexism’ but there was a fascist party in Belgium in the 1930s called Parti Rexiste. I’ll use it anyhow as the word works so well on so many levels. Rexism – is so much more than the sum of its parts as the Serena Williams cartoon and the reactions to it attest.
In the UK privileged white men reliably roll out to support our racist ex foreign secretary Boris Johnson every time he is racist (see two posts back). Many (usually older) privileged white men don’t seem to get that their views may just be informed by never ever having experienced the sorts of vile behaviour which go with not being white or male or privileged (or in positions of privilege). And when you synthesise sexism and racism the results are diabolical.
I recently wrote a two line letter concerning that racist/sexist cartoon of Serena Williams. Very surprisingly there was a bounce-back personal email response from Alan Howe of The Australian broadly informing me that racism is in the eye of the beholder…
What struck me was that he seemed to have no idea that his own perspective might have something to do with being a white male in a privileged and relatively powerful position. And – as if that point needed underlining – The Jamaica Observer published the concise letter http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/serena-cartoon-also-sexist_144108?profile=1326&template=MobileArticle
Their editor did not feel the need to contact me to tell me how/when to think.
This is all of our brief exchange -
Alan Howe - responding to the letter - 12th Sept 2018
It [the cartoon] is neither sexist nor racist. Only someone looking earnestly to be offended by something - anything - might come to such a conclusion. I am a migrant to Australia myself and like millions of others I have found it only to be a land of tolerance and acceptance. It's probably why so many people of so many colours and creeds - uncountable millions of them - wish to live here.
Thanks for your interesting response.
I doubt the Aborigines would agree with your take but we are not talking about the whole of Australia but a cartoon aimed at someone who is a sports star at a very high level. It was clearly drawn because it would draw as much attention to the cartoonist as the subject and it makes clear play of both the female and black stereotype.
If you can find an equivalent of a white male sports star at equivalent level after one major bust up I'd like to see it.
“One major bust up”? No, her bullying follows the pattern, perhaps of a lifetime. Her cheating is conceded. Her unpleasantness obvious. Her skills undeniable. The same cartoonist lethally dealt with Nick Kyrgios’s shortcomings days before, his exaggerated Greek features raising no offence anywhere on the planet. Think about it.
I get that you are a white man and I am a black woman but I don't need to be told when to think about it...
My suggestion was a person of similar rank so - not NK and also - perhaps you could read around the subject of racism and misogyny - the weight of the problem depends on the history behind the bigotry. I'm not suggesting that some Greeks haven't had it rough (Odysseus) but come on...
I founded Australia’s Immigration Museum. Next time you are in Australia you should visit it. Every country gets stuff wrong, very few get it so right. The museum is our evidence- and it is emphatic.
ER - congrats - but I think you just descended into 'some of my best friends are black' territory.
AnyHOWE this was fun but now I have to go downstairs and visit my 92 year old neighbour Betty for some good political debate.
No one I know qualifies nor quantifies their friendships by colour or creed. It is not an Australian thing. Not that I am Australian. I wish Betty well.
I’m sure Mr. Howe is a nice, if somewhat pompous sounding bloke – even if he is far from ‘woke’. However, even if you take a simple statement like ‘cheating accepted’ – the opposite is actually true. Serena Williams has been tested more than any other tennis star to the point where many regard that as racist.
The Serena Williams cartoon is absolutely rexist. I did email my own doodle (see above). Alan Howe did not respond or comment…
Q. Why do many privileged white men not see rexism?
A. Words 4, 5 and 6 of that last sentence.
Try – blog 165. The Penisic Era or 187. British Boarding Schools Breed Posh Psychopaths.
Remember to – check out my books; adult novels, dystopian sci fi novella, environmental poetry story, adventure trilogy for young readers, little reader’s picture story book and my sortofautobiography – here - https://plus.google.com/collection/UNSKRE