That’s Mighty Ethnically Neutral of Them

In case you were wondering what “white normativity” is. (CHT Ami.)

Flesh crayon

I’m reminded of the line in Double Crossing where the Russians practice speaking English with a British accent in case they defect to Britain, and with “no accent at all” in case they defect to America.

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25 Responses to That’s Mighty Ethnically Neutral of Them

  1. JOR August 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    That sort of thing always rang bells with me, even when I was a kid. Though most of the time, vaguely-white people-colored crayons were called “peach”, I ran across a few that were labeled “flesh”.

    • Roderick August 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      They were all called “flesh” in my childhood. But when I first encountered “flesh” crayons I didn’t know the word, and I confused it with “flash” (for which my main association, in those pre-comicbook days, was the flashbulb). Colour me “puzzled.”

      • JOR August 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

        Well, I had read about “flesh-eating dinosaurs” in some kid’s book for dinosaurs so I kind of had a vague idea of what the word meant, but when I first happened across a flesh-labeled crayon at the age of 12 or so I wondered why it wasn’t the color of raw, blood-soaked meat…

        • Roderick August 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

          No no, it just means the dinosaurs ate crayons.

  2. Roderick August 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    It occurs to me that some readers may think this post is about the “flesh” crayon. No, I just picked that image as an illustration. It’s about the story in the link.

    • JOR August 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks. Erratic sleep schedule these days, hence my sloppy language lately (“rang bells” would have been “raised flags” if I was thinking straight).

      I sometimes wonder if everyone would benefit from white people actually getting in touch with their particular ethnic heritages. At the very least, they might go back to senselessly oppressing each other and spend less time and energy messing with everyone else.

    • Anon73 August 18, 2012 at 3:17 am #

      Maybe there was some evolution in the language since you were a kid, but I can’t imagine a crayon set ever having a “flesh” crayon in it. “Flesh” tends to have the connotation of blood, sex, or gore in most uses I can think of (“temptations of the flesh”, “a fleshy, squishy sound”, “a flesh monster”).

      • Roderick August 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

        It sounds odd to me now. But I didn’t know those associations during my crayoning years.

  3. Jason August 18, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    While on the subject of white privilege, something that’s been bothering me a lot recently is the strong overlap between white privilege denialism and libertarianism. The same is true of “Men’s Rights” style gender views and libertarianism. It seems safe to say that anyone wondering why the movement is a lot less diverse than we’d like it to be should start there. ALL and C4SS have done an amazing job of working towards fixing the vulgar libertarianism problem in economics, and hopefully the same can be done for social issues as well.

    • James J. August 18, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      I think those overlaps come from the same right-conflationism as the knee-jerk anti-socialism. That said, I am somewhat sympathetic to the Men’s Rights Movement even though I don’t count myself among them because they have documented several ways in which men are hurt by the gender binary and how mainstream feminists have either failed to address those issues or even tried to cover them up (e.g. rape statistics based on legal definitions of rape that don’t count forced envelopment).

      • JOR August 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

        I don’t think feminists have any kind of obligation to specifically address the ways in which men are harmed or oppressed by gender norms. I do think they have obligations of basic justice and honesty to not silence, derail, or obstruct people who work on those issues, which they sadly sometimes do.

        In any case, the MRM is a lot like conservatism. They say something that isn’t completely ludicrous occasionally. Even then they shove their feet in their mouths and/or shoot themselves in the feet soon after. For example, the analysis of rape statistics is valuable work (though much of it was done by people who are not strictly MRAs). But the first thing a dyed-in-the-wool MRA will do after vaguely gesturing in the direction of male rape victims, is to then go on a rant about epidemics of false rape accusations by evil feminist bitches. The way they define “rape”-rape to categorize most female accusers as false would also categorize most accusers of forced envelopment as false. The MRM doesn’t care about actual men (they are, for instance, as swift to resort to misandric gender-policing as anyone), they only care about “winning” against feminists at all costs.

        • James J. August 20, 2012 at 12:39 am #

          I don’t think feminists have any kind of obligation to specifically address the ways in which men are harmed or oppressed by gender norms.

          Yes and no. Feminism as a movement has never really decided whether it is mainly an equality movement or mainly a women’s movement. So you get feminists who say we don’t need masculism because feminism already covers gender equality, and you get feminists who say they don’t need to cover men’s issues because it’s a women’s movement. And then there are the feminists who think both because men can’t possibly be victims of the patriarchy.

          Personally, I object to both movements for the points you and I have mentioned about them. I guess I’m a feminist and a masculist in terms of the ideals, but I’d prefer the term “egalitarian” or maybe “gendervidualist.”

        • Roderick August 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

          It’s certainly true that men are harmed by patriarchy. But there’s something a bit askew about men putting themselves forward demanding recognition as equal victims of patriarchy, or victims in the same sense, alongside women.

        • James J. August 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm #


          there’s something a bit askew about men putting themselves forward demanding recognition as equal victims of patriarchy, or victims in the same sense, alongside women.


          Though I think in a few contexts, men actually have it worse thanks to the side-effects or malevolent synergies with other aspects of the zeitgeist.

          For example, the assumption that women are the nurturers has lead to a skew in the outcomes of custody cases, including some cases where the child is proven to be someone else’s but the man is still stuck with child support payments.

          The belief that rapists are almost always mean (which is not true) has gotten inverted into the belief that men are “Schroedinger’s rapist” or can’t be allowed around children unless a woman is present (even their own children).

          Now, a lot of what the MRM complains about, like the draft, is really just statist institutions that adversely affect men more because that’s what’s better for the state.

        • James J. August 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

          Err, that rapists are almost always men. Of course they’re always mean.

        • JOR August 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

          On the draft, MRMers often project modern nationalism, gender norms, etc. onto historical institutions and gender norms.

          It’s a misconception, for instance, to think of ancient armies as men fighting (or being forced to fight) to protect women and children, of all things. Military commanders were often quite willing to leave these at the mercy of their enemies.

          Another thing they often project all the way back to the cavemen (in the form of evolutionary psychology) is male emotional repression. This is something that pops up in some patriarchal societies, but not all by any means. Indeed it’s far more common to see women’s emotions repressed by gender policing.

        • JOR August 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

          As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to focus on women’s issues, that’s fine. If they want to focus on men’s issues, that’s fine. If they want to focus on class issues or the effects of corporatism, that’s fine, too. If they want to focus on racial issues, that’s their prerogative. If someone wants to focus specifically on some specific intersections, that’s great. If someone wants to take a more general approach, good for them. Anyone at any time is fair game to be called out on anything stupid they might say about anyone for any reason, but nobody’s obligated to police “their own”, or anybody else for that matter.

  4. MikeP August 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Focus group members seemed motivated by liberal concerns that the notes weren’t inclusive enough or upheld stereotypes, so officials got rid of the image. Now, they are being attacked by other liberals for not using the image.

    • Roderick August 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      Even granting that, it wouldn’t excuse their use of the term “ethnically neutral” to mean “white.”

  5. Josh Williams August 25, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I love this site. It’s made me think. However, I disagree with a considerable portion of it. I believe that one of the main problems I have is that most on here seem to have a notion that everyone is equal. Do the commenters here really believe that men and women are equal? That whites, blacks, asians, etc. are equal? If so, how? Maybe I’m mistaken. Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

    To clarify, I don’t hate women, blacks, asians or anyone for that matter. But, I do not believe any of us are equal. Nor am I some kind of white supremicist. And I don’t belong to the men’s rights movement.

    • Brandon August 25, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      Thank you for your reply.

      In regards to your specific comments, I’m sorry, but we don’t allow disagreement here.

    • Roderick August 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      What do you mean by equal?

      • Anon73 August 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

        My guess is he means ‘equal’ in the sense of treating everyone without regard to their color, religion, or biological sex/gender in every conceivable situation. Historically the focus was on equal rights regardless of ethnicity or gender (as in first-wave feminism and similarly in second-wave). However there is increasingly this cultural idea of treating groups equally even when it may not make sense. For example decrying engineering programs that are not 50% women, or Hillary Clinton chastising that reporter for asking her a fashion question, or even challenging the concept of gender roles itself. It’s somewhat analogous to your conception of “thick libertarianism”, but I do not know to what extent you regard challenging gender, racial, and sexual roles to be compatible with your view of the idea.

        • Roderick August 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

          I certainly favour challenging social inequalities, not just political ones. And that concern has been around since the beginning of feminism, not just the third wave.


  1. Rad Geek People's Daily 2012-08-17 – Whiteness Studies 106: Neutrality - August 17, 2012

    […] (Via @ami_angelwings, via Roderick.) […]

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