A favorite question for people resistant to criticism of their acceptance of privilege and how it contributes to a less-equal world is “What about reverse racism? Why is it okay for people to make jokes about white men?” In answer to this I have the following to say: In a perfect world it wouldn’t be okay, but in our world – yeah, it kind of is okay. Why do I think that’s true? Because of privilege. (No wonder anti-feminists and racists hate that word, it keeps coming up!)

Noted anti-racist writer (and decidedly white white-guy) Tim Wise has an excellent piece about the myth of “reverse racism”, and I encourage you to read the whole thing. My favorite paragraph, though, is this one:

As a white person, I always saw the terms honky or cracker as proof of how much more potent white racism was than any variation practiced by the black or brown. When a group of people has little or no power over you, they don’t get to define the terms of your existence, they can’t limit your opportunities, and you needn’t worry much about the use of a slur to describe you, since, in all likelihood, the slur is as far as it’s going to go. What are they going to do next: deny you a bank loan? Yeah, right. So whereas “nigger” is a term used by whites to dehumanize blacks, to “put them in their place” if you will, the same cannot be said of honky; after all, you can’t put white people in their place when they own the place to begin with.

I don’t care about reverse racism, jokes at the expense of the straight, the male, and the able-bodied because right now, in our world it has no power. None. It might make some guy feel bad for a minute, but it doesn’t contribute to a vile systemic problem the same way that attacks and slurs against women and minorities do. It simply doesn’t.

Does making fun of anyone, ever, make you a great person? No. (And I don’t claim to be a great person. Comedy often hurts someone’s feelings.) But making fun of men, white people, able-bodied people, straight people, etc is simply not the same as someone from those groups making fun of a minority. It really isn’t.

– Sasha Pixlee

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