The ethical corollary of “sex is a basic human need” is that rape is justified.

(Trigger Warning: This post discusses rapist logic and rape.)

Some men argue that when women “withhold sex” from men, we are depriving men of their basic needs:

A sense of entitlement? That’s what you want to call the basic human need for love, companionship, approval, and sex? […] And then you wonder why guys perceive hostility from women. Gee, I wonder.

— unapproved comment from a Geek Feminism post

If a woman declines to have sex with a man, is she violating the man’s human rights, his alleged “right to sex”, or is the man’s experience of being deprived of his rights actually evidence of his sense of “entitlement” over women’s bodies?

Physiological - breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion. Safety - security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property. Love/belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy. Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others. Self-actualization - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This visual representation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts “sex” at the bottom base of the pyramid (falling under the category “Physiological” needs, which are the most basic needs), but “sexual intimacy” is also at the third rung from the bottom, falling under the category of “Love/belonging” needs. “Security of body” is at the at the second rung from the bottom of the pyramid, falling under the category of “Safety” needs, which is above “Physiological” needs but below “Love/belonging” needs.

If the “right to be not raped” falls under “Safety” and “security of body”, then is the alleged “right” to obtain sex a more basic need than the “right to be not raped”? Or does “Safety”/”security of body”/the “right to be not raped” have higher priority than fulfilling everyone’s alleged “need” for sex?

Of course, if one assumes that sex is a more basic need than security of body, then the ethical corollary would be that rape is justified. If you accept “rape is wrong” as an axiom, then you should agree that a person’s security of body/the right to be not raped has a higher priority than a person’s “need” for sex.

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White males blame Asians and women for attending universities intended for white males.

In When Asians enroll! (And other tales from meritocracy’s margins) Sarah Ghabrial writes:

Meritocracy forgets privilege, and the fact that folks from marginalized groups have to work a hell of a lot harder for the same reward as their more upwardly mobile counterparts. By the logic of meritocracy, the cream would rise naturally to the top, regardless of status or association, and yet generations passed wherein the “cream” remained almost consistently white and male… that is, until just recently, when the world woke up to the news that minorities were not just gratefully accepting the token slots assigned them, but slowly and surely invading campuses in force, dramatically shifting the demographic away from the white, male, middle-class face of higher education. Meritocracy was somehow, if unevenly, coming through on its promise of diversity. Calamity ensued.

Let’s start with women and the “pussification” of schools. Rant after rant, each less coherent than the last, has blamed the increasing enrollment of women in higher education for all kinds of “male afflictions” (likened by one commentator to a “plague”): a mass exodus of boys from schools at all levels, suddenly put off by title pages and hand raising; dateless young women reduced to hyper-educated spinsters at the tender age of 23; and what about “the family” (where all anti-feminist roads end), ever at the point of demise? Never mind that the education system as it exists and operates today is no more estrogen-riddled than it ever was — teaching has always been a feminized occupation — or that, historically, wherever girls have been admitted, they have outpaced boys, just not outnumbered them. Forget, as well, that the regimentation and “sit still and behave” pedagogical norm is not a recent phenomenon, but the vestige of 19th-century British education reforms by which military-and factory-drawn models of discipline and hierarchy were applied to private and semi-public schools — whose clients were then exclusively boys.


Herein lies the paradox to this whole story that is mind bending, though maybe not surprising to meritocracy’s skeptics. The excellence of individuals other than middle-class white males within an education system designed for and by the latter has aroused a mass panic and sense of social crisis — the blame for which is placed not on the system, but those excelling individuals. Meanwhile, though the ideal of meritocracy remains intact, elements of “affirmative action” are insinuated into university acceptance processes, not in the service of historically excluded groups, but rather, it seems, to soothe the self-esteem of the privileged.

Though these are separate issues, the same kind of language permeates both sets of complaints. Both women and Asians (I can only imagine the threat posed by an Asian woman) are perceived to have adapted almost too well to the disciplinary expectations of public and higher education: in classes, girls are too competent, too malleable, too disciplined, too obedient. In the Maclean’s article, Asian students are described as hyper-studious, almost machine-like in their drive and focus, sacrificing food, sleep, even booze, to maintain their GPA. Suddenly, the terms of merit that are supposed to earn individuals success are re-scripted as faults, even disadvantages (though whether to themselves or others is not always clear).

Read the whole thing.

Link: When Asians enroll! (And other tales from meritocracy’s margins) (via Racialicious)

Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” is xenophobic; Margaret Wente’s defence is obfuscation.

In Too Brazen: Maclean’s, Margaret Wente, and the Canadian media’s inarticulacy about race, Jeet Heer writes:

The problems with the Maclean’s article are many and systematic. I’ve already discussed them here and here. Briefly, the article leaves a bad aftertaste because:

1. The word “Asian” is used in a very broad way to encompass both foreign-born exchange students (who are in Canada temporarily) and Canadians who have ancestors in countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. By this usage, David Suzuki, Olivia Chow, Adrienne Clarkson, and Sook-Yin Lee are all notable Asians, rather than notable Canadians or notable Asian-Canadians. Moreover the distinct problems faced by exchange students (linguistic hurdles, social isolation) are quite different from the experiences of Asian-Canadians. How could Chinese-Canadian kids who read the article not feel like foreigners in their native land?

2. The article stereotypes both white Canadian students and “Asian” students. White Canadians students are portrayed as privileged preppies who are more interested in partying and drinking than studying. “Asian” students are portrayed as socially dysfunctional nerds who lack any sense of fun, virtual robots who are programmed by their parents to study.

As someone who has done a little teaching and spent far too much time in school, I have to say these two stereotypes are violently at odds with the real diversity of personality types that you find on Canadian campuses, among students of all different races and backgrounds. It’s notable that the Maclean’s article completely erases the existence of working class white Canadian students, many of whom face the same educational problems of balancing work and studying that often bedevil immigrant students. Also ignored is the fact that many “white” students in Canada also come from immigrant backgrounds, notably from Southern and Eastern Europe.

By highlighting race and ignoring class, Maclean’s makes it harder to see the commonalities that many students of diverse backgrounds share. Throughout the article, it is assumed that the experience of upper–middle class white kids is normative — and that every other experience (whether working class white Canadian or “Asian”) has to be defined against that norm.

3. Finally, Maclean’s frames the problem as one that is caused by the mere presence of “Asians” on campus, rather than by the social and cultural barriers that divide students. For example, in the rankings issue’s table of contents, Maclean’s has this headline: “Asian advantage?” The question mark is a typical example of Maclean’s trying to cover an inflammatory statement by qualifying it. However, if you read the article, it becomes clear that the only “advantage” that “Asians” have is that many of them study “hard,” which is what all students should do. The idea that doing homework is an “advantage” is built on the assumption that whites are entitled to university spaces whether they study or not, simply on the basis of their whiteness — or perhaps because they are real Canadians, unlike the “Asians” who happen to live here.

If the Maclean’s article is troublingly xenophobic, then Margaret Wente’s defence is a classic case of obfuscation.


Of course, the “Asian campus” is only a problem if you believe that Asian-Canadians are not real Canadians. In the United States, there are people like Sarah Palin who make a distinction between “real Americans” (i.e., animal-killing Alaskans) and Americans who are somehow less real (i.e., liberals, New Yorkers, vegetarians). The subtext of both “‘Too Asian?’” and Wente’s defence of it is a similar distinction between Canadians whose presence in universities is natural and those Canadians who, even if they were born in Canada, are seen as alien intruders.

In her column, Wente wrote that “nobody is talking about quotas.” This is flatly untrue. Maclean’s raised the issue of anti-Asian quotas in the United States and offered this slippery statement: “Canadian universities, apart from highly competitive professional programs and faculties, don’t quiz applicants the same way, and rely entirely on transcripts. Likely that is a good thing. And yet, that meritocratic process results, especially in Canada’s elite university programs, in a concentration of Asian students.”

I don’t know how this passage can be read as anything except a claim that meritocracy is a provisional (or “likely”) good thing, which might need to be abandoned since it leads to a putatively bad result — i.e., “a concentration of Asian students.” Maclean’s did not advocate quotas, but it has opened the door to the possibility that they might be needed, a likelihood that feels all the more urgent in an article full of scary stories about universities being overstuffed with “Asian” kids.

Read the whole thing. Jeet Heer also addresses the underrepresentation of other racial groups in Canadian universities.

Link: Too Brazen by Jeet Heer (via Knowing Coves)

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People of colour and “computer expert” friends are not your personal assistants.

Both people of colour and “computer expert” (a term that less computer-literate individuals use to refer to computer-literate individuals) friends and relatives are perceived as public resources whose raison d’être is to educate white people about race or provide personal technical support, respectively. While the two groups are not mutually exclusive, both people of colour and “computer experts” are perceived to have no lives or other interests, and are treated as if educating white people or providing technical support is “their job”.

This is why white people and less computer-literate people often complain loudly and indignantly during certain interactions, as if people of colour and “computer experts” are providing poor “customer service”. White people often complain that if people of colour do not present racial issues in a way that is appealing to whites, then white people will not want to learn about racism. (For some reason, they believe that promoting social awareness about a particular issue should be similar in process to a company promoting a product.) Less computer-literate individuals even speak condescendingly to or yell at “computer experts” with a similar sense of entitlement, as if their computer-literate relative/friend/acquaintance has the same social obligation to them as the paid technical support staff of, say, Dell.

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A “safe space” for Whites to talk about race is unsafe for people of colour.

Some individuals believe that a “safe space” is one in which people can talk about a sensitive topic without being criticized. When the topic is race, some white individuals expect that a “safe” anti-racist space is one that is safe for whites to talk about race. However, a safe space for whites is one that is unsafe for people of colour.

When discussing race, the greatest fear for whites is being “attacked” by being accused of racism. The greatest fear for people of colour is being attacked by racism itself. If people should be able to discuss issues of race without being criticized, in practice, the result is the silencing of people of colour, while leaving whites beyond reproach.

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