Of Thoughts and Swords

A blog about Science, Philosophy, Wargaming, Literature and other things, in three or more languages.

Linguistic Racism and how to spot it (sometimes)

These days I was reminded how easily discrimination, may it be racism, sexism or any other kind of it, hides among our everyday language.

The first instance was the new Wolverine comics. After a long time I bought some comic books and one of them was the new Wolverine from the Marvel now series, where he was killed (again).

wolverine-and-x-23

X-23 a.k.a. Laura Kinney takes the place of her genetic father and mentor Wolverine a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. James Howlett Masters. All nice and shiny and the mini series about her clones is well executed.

Inside the back cover there are some editorial notes about how there are now more and more female leads in the Marvelverse. Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine they all were blessed with female version. Which I find awesome because I love strong, fighting female characters. There was following sentence in the editorial:

Und es spricht Bände, dass mit Wolverine der wohl männlichste Kämpfer Marvels durch ein Mädchen ersetzt wurde.

It translates as: That Wolverine, easily Marvels´ most manly fighter, now has been replaced by a girl, speaks volumes about the progressive nature of the recent changes. (Note: The English versions includes info from surrounding German sentences to fully represent the context)

Wow, that is seriously not thought through. Why do you use the word girl instead of woman? Laura is a grown woman with a long personal history of bloodshed. By using the word girl we invoke images of innocence, cuteness and lovability. Well if you look at Laura none of these are to find in her, she is a murderer and trained to kill. She is very sexy, as trained, young women are, also she basically doesn´t age and also doesn´t retain scars due to her healing factor so win-win situation. By naming her a girl we peg her down a little bit to a small girl who maybe even needs protection. True as that might be with her emotional side, she would show you how wrong you are if you´d tell her.

It tries to keep an imposing, more important posture to the male reader. I am sure it wasn´t intended, but that is the danger of sexism, it is subtle.

wolverine-3-x-23-laura-kinney-x-men-x-force

 

The other one was during a game gathering. I have been absent from this peculiar gathering for over a year, due to time restraints. It felt good being back and I played a round of Batman. Nice game.

The racism came when we talked about the model of the black cop from one of the henchman blisters. He is an homage to Reginald VelJohnson in Die Hard, which is awesome anyway, but he is a nameless henchman.

k35bac005-gotham-police-set reginald-veljohnson

As such they started to call him Love Machine, as they didn´t wanted to say the black cop all the time and Sex Machine was to vulgar for their taste (also there regurlary are minors around there). They wanted to prevent racist language.

When we talked about how to call him one suggested:

Polizist mit erhöhtem Melaninwert.

Whicht translates as: Cop with raised melanin level.

He tried to find a non-racist description, which was very racist in the end. Because if you say raised level it assumes a baseline from which it is elevated. When black people have raised levels, white people are the baseline, which is aracist assumption.

He conceded that I was right and we both were baffled for a moment how easily that happened to us.

So what´s the morale? That we have to work hard, diligently and tireless to take care to get rid of everyday discrimination. Especially in talking, as speech is the basis for our societies. So be vigilant my friends.

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This entry was posted on October 5, 2016 by in Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , .
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