Putting the “Judge” in “Prejudice:” Neutralizing Anti-discrimination Efforts Through Mischaracterizing the Motives for Prejudice
In 2018, Kate Manne argued that framing misogyny as hatred of women had the effect of neutralizing efforts to organize against it. She held that criteria for “hating women” were so rarely met that virtually no one could be said to have done so. Taking for granted that the situation against women was unfair, she argued that those who sought to correct the situation should reconceptualize what misogyny means: not as hatred, but rather understood by its perpetrators as righteous punishment for violating a perceived moral code. I argue here that every point she made against “misogyny as hatred of women” is at least applicable to “transphobia as hatred of transgender people.” I say instead that this character of righteous punishment is also well-evidenced in negative responses to the civil advances of transgender people, and invite the reader to consider what this would mean from a policymaking perspective.
Read the rest in (PDF download link) Volume 9 Issue 1 of compos mentis: Undergraduate Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics online at no cost.
Hamilton, E. C. 2021. “Putting the “Judge” in “Prejudice:” Neutralizing Anti-discrimination Efforts Through Mischaracterizing the Motives for Prejudice” compos mentis: Undergraduate Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 9 (1): 105–117.
Pierce R. Butler says
Eh? Transphobes often claim that transsexuals do not or should not exist.
Few if any misogynists (gynophobes?) say that about women.
I’m arguing that the structure of prejudice described by Manne is applicable in cissexism. Differences between cissexism and sexism are elaborated on in the actual paper.
The parallel between sexism and transphobia is obvious. I also see the point of having a more functionally driven word for describing oppression, it makes things much easier to describe, measure and track. I still don’t like it. I would much rather a new word be invented for describing this.
Inventing a new definition for an existing word that is functionally very different from the common usage creates problems. Racism went through much the same thing with moving from hatred based on race to privilege and abuse of power based on race. This has made it even harder to talk about racial problems because the word means different things to different people. It’s compounded by it being a word with a lot of moral baggage that needs to change and scale as the definition changes.
For the word racism it has been a political disaster, being pumped by the right for money and votes. The same thing would probably happen with sexism and trans phobia if the definitions are changed.
There is also a functional problem with the definition purely on action. There are situations where the intent behind the action matters. Under this definition a Jewish mother upset at her daughter for not having a proper Jewish wedding is guilty of misandry even if she would have the same reaction for her son not having a proper Jewish wedding.
It’s not evident to me that inventing a new word would actually avoid the problem you describe, though. Any extended study that enters popularity finds its vocabulary simplified – with nuance lost – when popular communicators attempt to translate it for general consumption. This is an article making an argument for a specific use case: People who recognise the injustice of cissexism should make this distinction because of the benefits described. Whether or not the public catches on is a concern of communication strategy for individual activists.
I’ll simply note that I am apprehensive to make comparisons to racism as I am not a target of it and I am not currently aware of black scholars or activists who have written on Manne’s framework. As for racism meaning different things, it could be another example of the epistemic vandalism of which I spoke.
The right will pump whatever it wants for money and votes, as long as it works. I’m not convinced this is a meaningful argument. Liars lie.
My article is quite clear that the obsession with motives may itself be a manifestation of prejudice by drawing energy away from solutions and towards debating unwinnable debates.
Great American Satan says
I’ve given your article and your responses here as thorough of a read as I can manage at the moment between obligations elsewhere, and it’s enough to say Hell yeah, glad to see you put in an appearance, proud to be in your company, comrade. You remind me of another writer on these subjects I respect, who unfortunately seems to have reduced her online profile &/or disappeared, but you’re much better than her at concision.
Inventing a new word isn’t going to stop the right from complaining and making things up. But the better the political framing and more easily comprehensible the point the harder it is for the right and less effective their arguments. When the right is forced into ranting non-sense arguments and phrases like “cultural Marxism” find their way into the right’s arguments it doesn’t influence people nearly as much.
My article explains that it can’t be interpreted as trying to persuade people for whom the goal is to sabotage critical discussion that may implicate them because their goal is to prevent the conversation to begin with. I’d encourage you to actually read it before commenting. Generally good advice. Because to me it sounds like what you want is a communications strategy, and that is not what I have written, so if it’s that important to you, go write one.
@7 Siobhan: I did read your article.
With the persuasion argument we are misunderstanding each other someplace. You are entirely correct that no fact based argument will significantly influence the right and arguments they bring are often intended to derail rational discussion. My point was that the ability of the right wing to influence the public at large is hampered when they are reduced to silly irrational ranting.
I’m not about to try and write a communication strategy for trans rights. I’m a lot more willing then you to get involved in casual discussions about groups that I’m not part of but I’m not so foolish as to try and formally tell them how they should represent themselves.