The article that this entry's title links to was something I found on Feministing, a blog I read on a daily basis. It was tucked into a weekend roundup of links.
The author describes a situation in which a neighboring airline passenger crossed her boundaries. In the process, she swore at him, which further aggravated the man. In her writing she constructs the incident, including the reactions of the flight attendants she called for assistance, through the lenses of racial and gender biases.
Here's my problem with her argument: she swore at the guy before he 'assaulted' her. I'm using quotes because she chose not to press charges. She then becomes irate with the flight attendants, who tell her she has the option to press charges but it would require her getting off the flight. The flight attendants repeat the fact that she swore at the man. The writer seems to have no consciousness of the fact that her swearing could be construed as verbal assault. Doesn't excuse the male passenger - he had, after she swore at him, grabbed her arm and threatened to slap her - but as he had already left the row before the flight attendants came, and she was not willing to go forward with pressing charges, the flight attendants have no further obligations than to get the plane ready for flight. This includes getting her to calm down and let them do the rest of their jobs. When the flight gets underway, the writer is in tears, and then she gets upset that the flight attendant comes back to check on her. Because that's maternalistic. She's also quite sure that the entire incident happened the way it did because she's Asian American, and not slender.
So... we have a writer, who won't accept responsibility for her words in causing a situation to escalate, and who you cannot possibly approach in any way if you're white because she's going to find fault with your mindset. You're either with her, or against her. Oooookay.
To me, feminism includes believing that your actions and words have consequences. She chose to swear at someone who was approaching antagonistic behavior, and it sent him further down that path. Saying her words had nothing to do with the outcome is like saying that what a woman says shouldn't matter. Which, had she decided to press charges, wouldn't do her so well in court, would it?
I read the story two days ago and it's still stuck in my craw.
In a much less agonizing story, I had a slightly odd intersection-of-race-and-gender incident of my own yesterday. I was grocery shopping, with both kids in tow, and stopped at the fish counter to get some salmon. It's a local grocery chain, not quite Whole Foods, full of hipster types that also fill my neighborhood. I'm mainly paying attention to my own kids and getting the errands done, when a black man comes by and - I wish I could describe this better - kinda waves his arms at me and then tells me he's just picking on me because I'm a white woman and it was "a white woman thing". Um.... I don't know what body language I was using before this happened, beyond putting the wrapped salmon into my cart. I'm far from being the only white woman in the store. He might be the only, if not one of the very few black men in there. He also happened to be a bit flamboyant. It wasn't antagonistic, but it was just weird. I was thrown for a loop. Mainly because there wasn't a darn thing I could do in equal response that wouldn't automatically label me as a racist or a homophobe. Later, as I was putting my items on a conveyer for checkout, he was came up to the front looking for a checkout line. My line was short, but it looked like he was trying to avoid it. I signaled him over and said I was harmless, really. He said something about 'just messing with me because I had a good smile.' I still don't quite get it - maybe he thought I was someone he knew, and then halfway through realized I wasn't, so his gesture fell flat, or maybe I looked 'safe' to play with because I was toting my two biracial kids with me. I can't do much more than chalk it up to Portland randomness at this point.