The double whammy of sexism and racism

// 26 July 2015

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P. Kaur notices an increase in sexually explicit racist hate speech and asks whether women be sexually available to qualify for a place in the UK

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“Go home!” is an expression often used by racists and fascists. I have heard it shouted at me whilst walking down my street and going shopping in my local superstore. Several times it has also been coupled with “She has to go back to India”.

Although of Indian origin, I was born here and the inaccuracy of this line is always as annoying to me as much as the intended aggression behind it. Of course, being born and brought up here in the UK, this is not the first time I have heard these lines. Recently however I’ve noticed a twist on the classic of the fascist/sexist hate movement’s slogan: “She has to fuck someone to stay in the country!”

The slogan “She has to fuck someone to stay in the country” appears to illustrate the convergence of an ingrained societal sexism and the rise of racism due, in part, to the economic situation and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The idea that women must be sexually active – to be worthy of living somewhere – in this case England, but also presumably anywhere – does seem preposterous. This particular comment when addressed to me was also couched explicitly in nationalistic terms i.e. I had to fuck an English man to stay in the country or “go back” to India. What colour this English man has to be was not stated – so the racist youths did and do presumably know the difference between non-white British citizens and white and non-white immigrants? But do they know the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex? And do they know that having sex with someone does not change a person’s nationality?

What is implied by the statement that non-white women need to be “serving” men sexually is that women exist primarily for this purpose, and can be “allowed to stay” if they are in some way “useful”, and “attached” (or belong to- sic a possession of) a white man.
Are racists always also sexists? There is little evidence at present to answer this question – and I would be very interested to hear readers ideas on this – dehumanization and aggression based on colour often cannot be contained by bullies – be they those on the street or those working behind desks.

The idea of a South or East Asian woman as object – either sexual object or slave (as in domestic servant) has been fuelled by popular media particularly film and television where South or East Asian female characters are usually portrayed as “meek, mild, submissive” wives or domestic servants/nymphomaniacs.

It also blows up the myth of the ‘multicultural’ society that celebrates differences. Actually this multicultural society is not something I’ve heard of since I was in a child in school – and maybe this illustrates the fact that politicians have long given up on the idea of the different parts of English society living and working together and instead of showing leadership in how England should be tackling its current challenges together have again – unfortunately – fallen back on that old hateful strategy of divide and rule, and decided to attack immigrants and immigrant communities, failing to distinguish between legal and illegal migrants – instead of admitting to their own catastrophic economic mismanagement.

This is a very worrying development and in the ongoing struggle against racism and sexism it would be interesting to hear other women’s experiences from around the country. Yet however much we discuss and analyse the societal, economic and cultural factors that produce this type of behaviour, it cannot remove the emotional shock that one feels when experiencing this type of abuse.

P. Kaur is a published author and artist based in the Black Country.

The image featured depicts a banner on an English Defence League march which reads “Born in England, Live in England, Die in England” and is used by permission of Gavin Lynn under the Creative Commons License.

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