Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Sex Blog [The Other and Sex]

-=[ Sex, Domination & Resistance ]=-

The term miscegenation was first used in the 1860’s when American journalists invented the word in order to discredit the Abolitionist movement by stirring up debate over the prospect of white-black intermarriage. (On a tangential note, I find the parallels between miscegenation and the current gay marriage “debate” utterly fascinating.) In any case, miscegenation refers to sex or marriage between two people of different races.

Let me start right off by stating that I am of Puerto Rican descent, a people that has one of the highest rates of interracial marriage in the world (I believe only Brazil has higher rates). The funny thing is that Puerto Ricans don’t see it as “interracial.” There’s no “white” Puerto Rican as opposed to a “black” Puerto Rican. We are Puerto Ricans first. In fact, we don’t even adhere to a black/ white dichotomy. This is not to imply that racism does not exist among Puerto Ricans, it does. However, how we view and construct race is drastically different from the way Gringos conceptualize it. But that’s another subject for another day...

The idea for this post originated some months ago. I was going back and forth with a neocon goober and he submitted that because he married someone who was “half black,” that meant he was incapable of being a racist. I don’t follow that at all. I mean, there are misogynists (men who hate women) who marry women -- does that make married misogynists all of a sudden enlightened men? In fact, there’s a long and ugly history of the eroticization of people of color -- the “other.” I consider myself a feminist and someone who works against racism, but that doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from my social conditioning. I’m sure if I look close enough, I can find racial and sexist bias. I think being open to that possibility is what serves as a liberatory force. Whenever I hear someone say, “I am not a racist,” or “I am not sexist,” I am reminded of the family values conservatives who are in actuality quasi-repentant man-whores.

According to a survey done in the 1970’s, an average of one in five Americans have dated someone of a different race. Most interracial relationships are not based on difference, but in the same way other relationships are formed. However, those that deliberately and consistently select a partner of another race do so for reasons such as sexual novelty or the perceived appeal of submissive women from other cultures. In America, it is not uncommon for some white women to seek out black boyfriends as part of a larger pattern of breaking away from their parent’s values. This is especially true if the parents were controlling and/ or racially prejudiced. My personal observation is that this dynamic is widespread on the internet, where both girls and women can seek lovers from other races free from the prying eyes of their neighbors and families.

Conquerors have always used sex as both a weapon (i.e., rape) and an excuse to justify their barbaric practices. That inhabitants of the “New World” ran around practically naked served as a rationale to label them brutes and an abomination to the Christian ideal. They were not seen as human and were subjected to some of the most barbaric acts in the history of humankind. This tendency reached its low point between the 16th and 19th centuries, as wave after wave of European colonial expansion was followed by campaigns to convert the “heathens” and save them from their own ignorance.

Americans have disapproved of most types of miscegenation since its colonization. Marriage or sex with Indians, Jews, Catholics, and Asians, for example, was discouraged. But it was sex with blacks that incited the greatest violence. Blacks in the United States, in contrast to slaves of other eras, were discriminated against solely because of the color of their skin. This was in large part due to Christianity’s interpretation of Ham’s curse of his descendants being turned black and made to serve as slaves.

This misinterpretation, not surprisingly, coincided with the desperate need for new labor in the production of molasses (molasses being the first foundation of the new American economy). Later, the theory of evolution was perverted to “scientifically” place blacks to a lower developmental status. Despite these prejudices against blacks, white slave owners were very much sexually attracted to their black slaves. For hundreds of years, the legal system supported the rape, sexual harassment, and subjugation of black women, not only during slavery, but also after emancipation. One of the laws passed during the 17th and 18th centuries by the English colonists pronounced mulatto offspring between slave and freeman to be slaves. In contrast, the Spanish colonies granted children of mixed unions their freedom. One author wrote, “if he [white man] could not restrain his sexual nature, he could at least reject its fruits and thus solace himself that he had done no harm... by classifying the mulatto as a Negro he was in effect denying that intermixture had occurred at all.”

Wow! I’m sure there were many white slave owners who denied being racists because they raped or had “sexual relations” with their slaves. One area of study I would love to see done is an exploration into how the centuries-long legal sanctioning of the rape of women of color has impacted the sexual psyche of the white American male... 

The 19th century saw a continuation of the practice of black lynching. However, now instead of accusing black men of fomenting rebellion they were charged with rape. This charge was often leveled at consensual unions because it was believed a white woman would never freely succumb to a black man.

Frantz Fanon did a much better job than I could ever hope of exploration the connection between hate and the eroticization of the other, and I certainly don’t have the room or time to give it a proper treatment here. Still, it is worth noting that Western colonizers were often attracted to the people and practices they claimed to despise. Late 19th century Anglican missionaries in Papua, New Guinea, for example, complained incessantly about the low morals of the “natives.” but the Papuans themselves maintained that the worst morals were found in mission houses. In Africa, it was not unusual for men who preached chastity (likely the forebears of modern conservatives) to father children by native women. One such reverend had so many daughters that in 1874 he turned his mission into a brothel so that he could prostitute them.

 Ultimately, colonialism was in reality very sexual in nature. The New World and its inhabitants, as illustrated in the blog art above, was depicted as a woman, naked and vulnerable, before the [European] conqueror. The metaphor emphasizes how new lands were seen as virgin territory to be plundered by male explorers from “civilized” Europe.

Well, that is all for now, c-yawl when I get back...

Sexually Yours,



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