Again and again, I see the same tactics used to silence those who are earnestly trying to talk about issues that they clearly feel strongly about only for others to silence them in the most insulting ways possible.
A discussion on the prevalence of inappropriate/criminal behavior towards women is often interjected with the assertion that there are also male victims. You get the picture. These sort of interjections are meant to derail and dismiss. It also carries with it, the intention to accuse, to project the feeling of being wrong onto the other. This defensiveness also means that the point of discussion has been lost on them because they were more focused on thinking of things to say to protect themselves from the perceived accusation.
However, the reality is that there doesn’t need to be an entire demographic that participates in one behavior for the behavior to be extremely damaging. The hashtag #YesAllWomen highlight just how a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. Secondly, the goal of the movement was never to accuse; rather, it was to educate and to reform. More people come forward today with their accounts and experiences because they were unable to before. God knows there are better ways to gain fame and recognition than to air your worst traumas in front of the infinite witnesses on the internet. There will always be people who take everything as a personal attack but as someone who is more self-aware, there should always be the second thought that the victims don’t have the luxury of trust and so their state of vigilance and distrust is entirely justified.
Besides, the point of these interjections isn’t to talk about men’s rights either. It’s to shut down the current discussion about women’s experiences. By saying this, it shits on the victims of both genders by using one and dismissing the other.
Then, some paint discriminatory and demeaning acts as compliments: that the overweight woman was probably flattered by unwanted sexual advances, that the accuser wasn’t hot enough for the accused to be interested in sexually assaulting her, etc.
For this next segment, let’s look at the situation of Asian Americans.
In the later half of the 1900s, the myth of the model minority was pushed into the national psyche and it’s only rooted itself more firmly since. Like a lot of the more subtle manifestations of racism, this seemingly positive attitude towards Asians is still harming the population.
For one, this myth was first started as a way to free institutions and the wider white population from any responsibility to address racism because if Asians can make it in America, then black and brown people are just not working hard enough to be successful and racism/other inequities of the system aren’t to blame. This also drives a wedge between the Asian community and other minorities who are not included in this myth. It’s like your parent comparing you to a more successful sibling or a cousin; you tend to resent the person you’re compared to rather the person trying to manipulate you. Not only does this divide the two groups but it also downplays the other factors that have affected black and brown populations for centuries like the vestiges of slavery and segregation, just to name two.
Besides, Asia is an entire continent with thousands of ethnic groups each with thousands of year of history so it is inaccurate to generalise about such a large and diverse population. This has caused authorities to overlook Asian communities and their needs due to the myth and this has since caused a lack of representation for these communities. This leaves those that don’t have as strong of a background as, say, Japanese-Americans or Korean-Americans have to fall through the net and leave them under-served in their communities.
Furthermore, this has caused it to be more difficult to report incidents when Asian-Americans are targeted as a result of racism and xenophobia. The news often skips over these stories and it is often left out of conversations when people do talk about racism and discrimination. Since the population is held as the model of a hard worker and rule-follower, civil disobedience and any attempt to break out of the mold in a way that threatened the majority is strongly discouraged and deviators are punished. This also paints the population as being subordinate, robotic members of the community whose only aspiration is high grades and a good career.
It also has real consequences on the opportunities that Asian-Americans can access. Asian-American students have to overachieve to be evaluated as equal to their peers. Their achievements are undervalued and in return, this has placed increasing pressure on students to perform to a higher and higher standard. This extends to their professional life where although they are perceived as being competent and hard-working, they are unlikely to be promoted to leadership positions as the myth paints Asians as colder, less social and less dominant. This forces Asians in the workplace to overcompensate to dispel that myth, like how African-Americans often have to be extra mindful of their behavior, voice, gesticulations etc. to appear non-threatening and polite in a society that expects them to be violent and disrespectful.
These drawbacks from seemingly positive associations with your race aren’t very well-known but personally, it has made it hard to me to speak out about racial issues when it could be interpreted as lessening other’s experiences or if I express discomfort in getting these “compliments”, it’s seen as anti-social or ungrateful. This is a very specific example of how an elaborate social phenomenon has impacted every aspect of an entire race’s life.
These are only two scenarios where methods are used to derail and delegitimise a legitimate discussion. There are a lot of people that would rather stay in their safe bubble and not have to look at the uglier side of life as long as it benefits them and will try to throw off any meaningful discussion to maintain status quo. The world as it is with all its problems right now can’t afford to be less aware. To end, these are some of the more common logical fallacies to help you the next time you get the feeling that your interlocutor’s argument doesn’t quite hold water but you don’t know the word for it.
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This is Lieutenant out.
Why We Must Talk About the Asian American Story, Too