This is Steve, even though it says posted by Corwin. WordPress is screwed up.
I’ve come across this before, but only recently have I seen it so perfectly expressed: “Only women can decide what is mysogeny, only people of color can decide what is racism, only Jews can decide what is antisemitism.”
Please take a moment to think about that. Either it assumes a homogeneity of opinion among, for example, women, which is both nonsensical and offensive, or it is telling us that the very definitions of mysogeny (anyone remember when that word meant something?), racism, antisemitism (and presumably homophobia, &c) are purely subjective, are up to every member of the group in question to determine. According to this approach, to ask the question, “what is racism” must be left up to individuals, and even a subset of individuals. This is how we end up in those absurd conversations that go, “That is racist.” “I don’t think so.” “People of color say it is.” “Not all of them.” “Do you expect them all to agree on everything?” In short, the instant one hears conflicting definitions from two people in that group, anyone not in that group is effectively paralyzed.
If we cannot define it, how can we fight it? If it is individual, how can we subject it to scientific analysis? And without scientific analysis, how can we fight such immensely powerful institutions as those that benefit from these forms of systemic prejudice? To deny that there can be an objective understanding of these different forms of prejudice is to undercut the possibility of effective action against them. The result of such thinking is exactly what we have seen: efforts to “combat racism” for example become nothing but mental exercises, “calling out,” empty gestures, concentration on words without the least effort to change anything in the real world beyond increasing the privileges of certain already privileged layers of “marginalized” groups. Such an obvious and straightforward subject as police violence against minorities has been turned, in practice, into farcical calls for “better training” and to elect Democrats–even in those very cities such as Oakland, Baltimore, and Detroit in which it is Democrats who are already in overseeing the murderous thugs in blue.
Prejudice in its many forms, antisemitism, racism, sexism, homophobia, are reflections in the human mind of objective, material interests. Racism provides us the clearest example; most of us are by now familiar with its origins in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century as a justification for the African slave trade, and its resurgence in the late 19th and early 20th Century in the American South as a means of driving down the wages of both white and black workers by insuring they didn’t work together. Anti-immigrant prejudice (often flavored with an anti-Muslim tinge as it used to be flavored with an anti-Catholic tinge) is deliberately incited for much the same reason. And so on.
If you are interested in combating prejudice and injustice, and I hope you are, is not the first step to attempt to fight for an objective, scientific understanding of the forces that not only created it, but continue to exploit it? But instead of science we get magic: “Well, the powerful are white and male, therefore anyone who is white and male has a share of that power.” That isn’t science, this is the magical principle of similarity, which makes for good fantastical fiction but lousy social action.
When the workers at the River Rouge plant in 1941 defeated Henry Ford’s efforts to pit black against white and won the first Union shop in Ford’s history along with tremendous gains in wages and conditions for all of those workers, that made a positive contribution (and, incidentally, struck a blow against racial prejudice among those workers). Compare and contrast this action with Joe Superwoke “calling out” Aunt Mabel’s racist joke at Thanksgiving. The latter, it seems to me, is something one does, to give it the most charitable explanation, because one is outraged at racial injustice and sees no other way to make a contribution to the fight. I believe there are better, more powerful ways to make such a contribution: the fight for class unity that takes on all forms of backwardness as part of the struggle for our common needs, combined with a class-based fight against all forms of institutionalized systemic prejudice.
TL;dr: All forms of prejudice, in the harm they do both to those who directly suffer from their effects and to those whose conditions are hurt because they buy into them, are the result of objective social forces. To limit the very definition to the subjective mood of individuals makes them impossible to fight effectively.
See also: A Tale of Two Words