Reverse Racism and Reverse Sexism: A Closer Look

Throughout history through to present day, we’ve seen the systematic and institutionalised oppression of racial and ethnic minorities, women, indigenous peoples as well as many other vulnerable groups. From the dark history of Western colonialism or invasion of foreign lands. To black slavery. To the White Australia Policy. To the Stolen Generation. To the lack of women’s suffrage. To the gender pay gap. Most minority groups and women know full well of the harmful realities of ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’

In recent times, the phenomenon of ‘reverse racism’ and ‘reverse sexism’ has emerged where some members of the historically dominant group typically being white, Anglo-Saxon, cis-males claim to feel discriminated against by minority groups, or other genders . Members of the historically dominant group claim to feel discriminated against when minority groups undermine their struggles because they are supposedly the ‘privileged’ ones. The historically dominant group feels discriminated against by affirmative action policies, and a range of supposed double-standards in society including the permissibility of women to establish safe-spaces and groups but the ‘impermissibility’ of the reverse – because if the roles were reversed it would be ‘racist’ if white people or ‘sexist’ if males did the same.

Individuals who claim that reverse racism and sexism exist, argue that they shouldn’t, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr be ‘judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,’ just because they are members of a ‘privileged’ group in society.

Racism and sexism are more complex concepts than just mere prejudice against someone who is or who happens to be of a certain race or sex/gender. Racism can be direct or indirect, explicit or implicit, individual or institutional.  Racism or sexism can also result from things that are done or said, even though the racist/sexist outcome wasn’t intended or even foreseen.

Racism or sexism is being prejudiced towards someone because of their race or sex/gender AND that race or sex/gender has experienced systematic and institutionalised oppression in society by the hands of the dominant group. With the historically dominant group typically being white, Anglo-Saxon cis-males.

To sum it up: prejudice + power = sexism/racism.

While members of the historically dominant groups may feel discriminated against or prejudiced by minority groups, they have never and do not face any systematic or institutionalised oppression. Unsurprisingly, it was only until minority groups and women actually began winning the fight against oppression and seeking redress for the wrongs committed against them, did we ever hear about the dominant group having these ‘feelings of being discriminated against’ by minorities.

Members of the dominant group have argued that they are given way too much flack for past atrocities. They say, ‘but many of these wrongs occurred in the past, we had nothing to do with them.’ While it’s true that we cannot hold past wrongdoings of systematic and institutionalised oppression against members of dominant groups who simply did not partake in past atrocities and oppression; however, members of dominant groups, particularly white cis-males – whether knowingly or not,  whether they like it or not, whether they want to admit it or not – have benefited from a system in which they were and are the ‘privileged’ in society. Because with privilege comes self determination and advantage, comes fundamental, basic civil liberties and freedoms that have predominantly remained unchanged and intact throughout time.  White, cis-men are the beneficiaries of a system that puts them in a position of advantage. It’s true what they say:

“privilege conceals itself from those who have it.”

But this does NOT mean dominant groups can’t face discrimination

Of course members of this privileged group can and have faced discrimination and prejudice. Nobody can deny that. In fact many minority groups recognise it exists. It’s completely wrong and society needs to be expanding its discourse on the issue. However, it’s not reverse racism or reverse sexism – its prejudice and discrimination. It’s more – reverse discrimination.  This is an important distinction and no, it’s not just mere semantics.

For anyone in society that has ever fallen victim to racism or sexism, it is a very real, highly sensitive and deep-rooted issue. For members of the dominant group to use racism or sexism interchangeably with prejudice is to undermine the gravity of the hurt and damage caused by the systematic and institutionalised oppression of minorities – a system that has benefited members of the dominant group.

As such:

Prejudice ≠ Racism/Sexism. Prejudice + Power = Sexism/Racism.  Reverse racism and sexism do not exist but discrimination and prejudice against members of the historically dominant group can exist.

 

Featured Image: Zac Quitzau Facebook: Zac’s Doodles

Note: A preliminary, draft version of this article was previously been published in Macquarie Street. Updated and Modified for ‘contemporarywomen.org’.

 

6 thoughts on “Reverse Racism and Reverse Sexism: A Closer Look

  1. I was all for this post until the end. I do not agree with the term “reverse discrimination.” When you say that one way is “backwards” it almost implies that the other way is “correct” which sort of goes against the entire post

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    • I definitely see your point. However, the use of ‘reverse discrimination’ here wasn’t intended as whether one way of discrimination is right or wrong. My intention was that it is a term showing the way the discrimination is going. Direction as opposed to right/wrong. There’s a lot of discourse out there about reverse discrimination, I guess it’s really just discrimination. But it’s also a little bit of a play on words.

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  2. Excellent post. The whole debate regarding reverse racism/sexism is ludicrous in my opinion, as clearly white males have most of the power and it is hard to take the slight erosion of that power as wholesale discrimination (I speak as a white male myself and I certainly do not consider myself a race or gender traitor). Well argued and balanced without the shrillness of some of the more crazed and or annoying PC brigade.

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  3. Hi Noelle. I should really not post a comment here, because I could run circles around you. But I’m bored these days. To clarify the most obvious part of your post, you are not Webster’s dictionary. So your group of people are not free to redefine words at your discretion. Racism always has been defined as the belief and behavior that another race is inferior to one’s own. And sexism always has been the belief and behavior that the other gender is inferior to one’s own. Your group can not just add things mid- stream, in order to further power- trip in your fight against Caucasian males. Your group have made serious accusations of racism and sexism against Caucasian males, and have not given evidence of the accused having more overall power in the world than the other races and of the other gender. That’s what we Caucasian males are waiting for. In the U.S. we do have more power, of course. And you must get it through your head that it is not racism or sexism. You either don’t know or don’t care about the foundation of this nation. The Founding Fathers established it as both a fundamentally Christian, and a fundamentally Caucasian, nation. So while you’re free to have a different opinion, you are not free to actually try to change that. Your group has not made the accusations of racism and sexism against Negroids, Asians and Latin Americans in their own nations. But your group have done such only against Caucasians in their own nations. And it has been a well- known fact for centuries that it is Jews, not Caucasians, who have had more power than any other race. Jews are not Caucasian or ‘white’. Also, if women had less power than men, then I never would’ve had anything to talk about during my 4 years as an Anti- feminist activist. I grew up in a feminist household. So what would I have to gain by being an Anti- feminist activist, if women had not been power- tripping on men in such an extreme way? For example, our society has allowed 95% of women to abandoned their traditional role in the home. But it has not allowed more than 10% of men to abandoned their traditional role outside of the home. The most frequently used accusation by your group against men for that, essentially, is that men have had more power outside of the home than women have had inside of it. Yet, that accusation has not been proven, either. The bottom line is that the most severe form of sexism, by far, has been against men. The numbers don’t lie. Anyway, thanks for the funny post. That was about the only type of entertainment that we Caucasian males get these days. Unfortunately, we won’t get that anymore when President Trump puts an end to you all.

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    • I kind of feel like you’re playing the victim here? And when you say Websters dictionary defined it, it was defined by white males like you who have had no experience with racism whatsoever. White peoples shouldn’t get to define what racism is, people of colour should. What I’m trying to say is, whilst people of colour cannot be racist towards white people, they can be prejudiced or bigoted towards them, end of story

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