Friday, July 17, 2009

Yeah, because this sounds fair

I'm reading an excellent piece by Ellen Goodman in today's Boston Globe about the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Here's something that Goodman points out:
The would-be first Latina justice faced a committee with only two women members in order to get confirmed by a Senate with only 17 women for a seat on a court with only one other woman. And yet Sotomayor had to prove that she wasn’t biased: “Men and women (are) equally capable of being wise and fair judges.’’
Uh, yeah. For those of you who think that sexism and patriarchy are a thing of the past? If that were the case, how do you explain these numbers? ("Men are obviously better suited to politics than women are," by the way, is not an acceptable explanation because it's ridiculously, obscenely sexist. Duh.)

Goodman also reports on and writes about this whole bullshit "AAAAH!" that's going on with the "wise Latina woman" comment that Sotomayor had made previously.
Also at stake - or at bat, if you prefer - were the judge’s earlier musings about the importance of different life experiences: “I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on gender and my Latina heritage.’’ She also said: “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.’’ A horrified Sessions called this “philosophically incompatible with the American system.’’ (emphasis mine)
(The "at bat" thing is Goodman making fun of all of the baseball references that have been used in the hearings.)

What Sotomayor says about color/sex blindness being harmful, not helpful, is inherently and blatantly feminist (and also blatantly anti-racist). The problem with ignoring difference is that we don't live in a culture or society where people are treated equally regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, class, etc. Because these inequalities exist, being color-blind, or sex-blind, etc., allows the dominant groups to pretend that these issues aren't a problem, and it allows for victim-blaming and invalidation. So, if a black woman says, "I was discriminated against in this context because of my skin color and/or my sex," the general consensus will be that she was not discriminated against because we're all color- or sex-blind. What?

I'd like to restate the last line of the last paragraph I just quoted: "A horrified Sessions called this 'philosophically incompatible with the American system.'"

So, basically, Sessions believes that refusing to ignore sexism and racism (and by association any other type of discrimination) is how the American system works.


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