Gender vs race

// 12 September 2007

zohra has a really interesting article up at Catalyst about the pressures on ethnic minority women to align over race, rather than sex, and some of the implications of that.

At an individual level, the decision is pragmatic – based on timing, situation and relative knowledge about the potential threats to herself (whether physical or reputational) or to her ethnic group. Challenging the status quo or disrupting prevailing power relations can come at a cost that is too high for any one person in isolation.

The danger, of course, is that these individual decisions can undermine ethnic minority women’s collective best interests. Remaining complacent about ‘low level’ abuse or sexual harassment, or less overtly violent sexism such as policing what a woman wears, may be the ‘easier’ path for individual women, but it undermines a broader idea of women’s freedom and rights.

Collective organisation as a subgroup can be the antidote. When women come together and share their experiences, they learn that they are not alone; that what may have seemed like an isolated unique pressure is actually the result of a pervasive sexist culture, which is also affecting others.

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