"We tend not to recognize the value of minority identity."
January 31, 2017 4:57 AM   Subscribe

The term "horizontal hostility" was coined in 1970 by Florynce Kennedy, a renowned Black intersectionalist feminist and civil rights organizer, to describe infighting and aggression in groups of marginalized people. Judith B. White and Ellen J. Langer applied the concept to psychology in their paper "Horizontal Hostility: Relations Between Similar Minority Groups" (1999) [PDF], looking at Jewish congregations and varsity soccer teams, and finding prejudice aimed at "more mainstream" groups. In 2006, they went on the study the same phenomenon among vegetarians and vegans [PDF]. The concept has also been used to explain prejudice against bisexuals and light-skinned people of color and even the 2016 US primary race, among other divisions.
posted by thetortoise (17 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good post. Saw an article on this as relating to the women's March as well.
posted by Karaage at 5:21 AM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeha, this is a huge thing, especially today. Been a big deal for a long time. I'm told that the 70s were really bad for this.
posted by edheil at 5:34 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers", Thomas Pynchon.
posted by lalochezia at 5:44 AM on January 31, 2017 [14 favorites]


and yet, we ve just as long a 1970 s history of recognizing the need to Organize your own"

respect for movement of many nations in one country

and "rainbow coalitions "
posted by eustatic at 5:44 AM on January 31, 2017


[One deleted. I'm sorry, but we just Cannot. Deal. with more fighting about Sanders and Clinton. We spent months doing it, and we just can't do it any more. This thread can't be the place for everyone to fight about that again. Sorry.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:02 AM on January 31, 2017 [52 favorites]


Same old story since time immemorial:

REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.
FRANCIS: Wankers.
BRIAN: Can I... join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.
BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
REG: Schtum.
JUDITH: Are you sure?
BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
REG: Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you'd have to really hate the Romans.
BRIAN: I do!
REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
BRIAN: A lot!
REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah...
JUDITH: Splitters.
P.F.J.: Splitters...
FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea.
P.F.J.:Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
REG: What?
LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.
REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
REG: People's Front! C-huh.
FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
REG: He's over there.
P.F.J.: Splitter!
posted by domo at 6:14 AM on January 31, 2017 [22 favorites]


The narcissism of minor differences.
posted by acb at 6:27 AM on January 31, 2017 [12 favorites]


All those oldster pre-Nov18 posters are still out to get us newbies. Yes yes, I paid, but my posts still count for something.
posted by sammyo at 7:00 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm a little uncomfortable lumping all these things together. I think there are some differences where the animus exists between minority groups where one group enjoys greater privilege from the majority than the other and where it's, you know, vegetarians and vegans. That's not to say the resulting dynamics aren't similar, but it feels dangerous and disingenuous in an erasure sort of way to ignore social context like that.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:41 AM on January 31, 2017 [12 favorites]


It starts with Us vs. Them, becomes recursive and terminates with Me vs. Everyone Else.
posted by tommasz at 8:20 AM on January 31, 2017 [9 favorites]


I think this is really important to those who are working on ways to oppose our current President. It's not news that the Democrats and the Left more generally tend to eat their own, but it's useful to have a reminder of the dynamic at work, and to be conscious of it. Otherwise, we'll never get anywhere.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:58 AM on January 31, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm a little uncomfortable lumping all these things together. I think there are some differences where the animus exists between minority groups where one group enjoys greater privilege from the majority than the other and where it's, you know, vegetarians and vegans. That's not to say the resulting dynamics aren't similar, but it feels dangerous and disingenuous in an erasure sort of way to ignore social context like that.

Some of these differences are more trivial than others (I felt funny lumping them together for this post too) and I think you are totally right that privilege is a major factor in these divisions for groups that are oppressed and not just politically distinct. What I find compelling in White's research is her finding that the animosity is always directed at those with the closest-but-slightly-more-mainstream identity, not at those with the most privilege altogether.
posted by thetortoise at 12:00 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]


What I find compelling in White's research is her finding that the animosity is always directed at those with the closest-but-slightly-more-mainstream identity, not at those with the most privilege altogether.

I'm thinking this is because of thinking of those slightly-mores as being traitors in a sense. The same thing that makes it very hard to go from say a line worker to management and have any respect from other line workers.
posted by Pembquist at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Group definitions are informed as much by what they are not as they are by what they are. In my bad days, hate seems the stronger of the two forces. On my good days, there's some balance.

This stuff is why your choices of friends matter so much.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


"I'm a little uncomfortable lumping all these things together. I think there are some differences where the animus exists between minority groups where one group enjoys greater privilege from the majority than the other and where it's, you know, vegetarians and vegans. That's not to say the resulting dynamics aren't similar, but it feels dangerous and disingenuous in an erasure sort of way to ignore social context like that."

Being able to eat whatever you want, wherever you want, is a privilege.

And now I got Del stuck in my head.
posted by klangklangston at 4:45 PM on January 31, 2017


I'm a little uncomfortable lumping all these things together. I think there are some differences where the animus exists between minority groups where one group enjoys greater privilege from the majority than the other and where it's, you know, vegetarians and vegans. That's not to say the resulting dynamics aren't similar, but it feels dangerous and disingenuous in an erasure sort of way to ignore social context like that.

I suppose you can say the framing of the FPP juxtaposes those things, but the links within do not. From the first link:

"In each of these instances of horizontal hostility, the targets -- a black person who is light-skinned, a deaf person who uses oral language, bisexuals -- are willing to be identified with the more distinctive minority group, who may view the targets of horizontal hostility as "wannabes." In this sense, horizontal hostility is not truly horizontal. On close examination it is shown only by members of minority groups toward mainstream targets. We formally define horizontal hostility as prejudice shown by members of a minority group toward members of a similar minority group that is perceived to be more mainstream."

Within the context of the 2016 election and subsequent women's marches, I've seen a tendency on the left to completely dismiss the need for the empowerment of women, as women. To be clear, I'm not talking about the very welcome and necessary calls for intersectionality (which is of course central to any kind of feminism. As one of the more popular slogans puts it -- "if it's not intersectional, it's not feminism.") But what I have seen is an attitude toward the women's marches, and toward the idea of feminism itself, as the selfish concern of vapid white women. In fact you can take the characterization of white women found in any men's rights group -- shallow, clueless, self-absorbed, entitled -- and overlay it on top of any number of leftist characterizations of the women's march and have it fit exactly.

This is not an accident. This is a lot of people -- women as well as men -- subconsciously absorbing and regurgitating sexist ideas of white women. White women in particular because historically feminism has been just as racist as Marxism or any other movement, but white women also because white women are still roughly 65% of women in this country, so they are, in fact, a majority of feminists and women's marchers (hispanic, black, asian and indigenous women are roughly 17%, 13%, 5%, and 1% US women respectively -- varying by region).

Women of other races get their own sexist stereotypes, of course -- the sexist stereotype of black women is outspoken, "strong," "sassy," -- never introverted, never sensitive, never creative or scientific. Black men can be anyone from Colin Powell to George Washington Carver to Miles Davis but our sexist ideas of black womanhood are much narrower. The sexist idea of Asian women is "demure" and "docile" -- quiet, giggly, introverted. They're not Ai WeiWei and they're not Bruce Lee.

But those aren't the stereotypes we're dealing with when we talk about feminism or the women's march. When we, on the left, talk about those things we're talking about white women -- partly because the left, just like everyone else, continues to erase people of color everywhere we can. But partly it's because we're as brainwashed by patriarchy as we are by white supremacy and we want to ridicule and trivialize anything that threatens it. After all the world runs on the selflessness of women in service of men and children. To speak out for ourselves, to demand better is "unfeminine," unladylike and deeply threatening.

None of which is to say that we should pretend that white women don't have more privilege than women of color (and ditto every spectrum of privilige -- economic, gender conformity, sexual orientation, disability and so forth) and that we shouldn't continue to make awareness of that at the forefront of our consciousness.

But let's also not lose sight of the fact that even the most privileged white women in the country are still less than 20% of congress, less than 13% of movie protagonists, less than 10% of governors, less than 5% of CEOS, and fucking 0% of presidents. That people are actively trying to take away our bodily autonomy. That domestically men harm us and kill us, often with legal impunity. That if you're a woman with kids and a job outside the house, you are very likely wearing yourself to the bone in a way a man in an equivalent position is much less likely to be doing.

So when we fight to change these things, we need to criticize ourselves, we need to do better, we can't let ourselves off the hook with regard to intersectionality -- but also let's not perpetuate the sexist idea that unless we're talking about the Dakota Pipeline or Immigration or BLM, what we're talking about in't really all that important, and "feminism" is just a blonde sorority-girl fad. Because dismissing the whole enterprise that way is exactly the way the patriarchy wants us and has trained us to do.
posted by mrmurbles at 7:07 PM on January 31, 2017 [22 favorites]


I missed your comment earlier, but the dismissive portrayal of the Women's Marches, feminism in general, and Clinton in specific, by some of my friends and friends-of-friends on Facebook follows almost exactly that script, and it's been extra frustrating to see it as a straight white dude, since many of the people firing it off are young women of color.
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on February 9, 2017


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