Male Chauvinism and the Struggle for Economic Justice
After I posted a video on my Facebook page showing a woman walking down the streets of New York and being harassed by men, a white dude, who had somehow ended up in my friends list (not anymore, I should add), made this comment:
“women love to be harassed like that as long as the guy is in their financially and socially targeted market.. now let’s take a not so attractive girl from lower class neighborhood to a nice and wealthy one and have some good looking guys trying to flirt with her and watch her reaction”.
Naturally and understandably, two female friends, who were also commenting on the video, felt insulted by his comment, which incidentally, got one “like” and that was by another white man. The reason why I mention the fact that they were white is that a certain chauvinistic and egotistical mentally exists among many white men, which is not present in that same way among men of other races and that mainly has to do with the overall chauvinistic and aggrandized mentality these white men have, which cuts through both race and gender, giving them a sense of “my type of people (male and white) is the best and knows the best”. The way this mentality exhibits itself in the gender arena is not quite the same, as say, with African American or Hispanic men. The racist/sexist package these white men carry around with them, besides the foul smell it spreads around wherever they go, has a unique quality to it that you can’t find among other races. Many of these men, not surprisingly, end up going into the military or join the police force or both.
Besides the type I just described, there is also a group of these male chauvinistic men, who consider themselves progressives and even leftist! The guy, who made that comment above, justified his position – supposedly trying to sound leftist and analytical – like this:
“is it [the problem] ‘Men’ or maybe deeper underlying issues that come with poverty whether culturally, socially or financially”.
What we must understand is that using the issue of class and class conflict or class oppression or the issue of poverty or capitalism to sweep sexism and male chauvinism under the rug or to put it on the back burner or to make light of it because there are “more pressing class issues”, is neither leftist, nor Marxist, nor even progressive.
This is not a moral issue. Nor is it the fact – from pragmatic point of view – that without women no fundamental change is possible, but rather, it’s the essence of being progressive or being on the side of social justice and progress and equality. It is the prerequisite for creating a better and more just society. How would it sound if someone were to advocate socialism in the 1800’s in the South, while at the same time advocating keeping blacks as slaves? That’s how absurd the proposition that women can continue to be harassed or that they “love to be harassed”, while we try to uproot the unjust system of capitalism is. Indeed, the issue of sexism is analogous to racism: one historically privileged group enjoying superior power and benefits, but most importantly, possessing a mentality of being in fact “superior”, which makes them look down on and discriminate against another group, who is not of the same type – having the same skin color, gender, etc. This is separate from class and deserves its own struggle, no less. A social movement cannot move forward and galvanize people for social justice and progress, if its proponents have such reactionary and prejudiced mentality.