Sexism, Patriarchy and Homophobia
[42:39 to 1:01:32]
The conjunction of class, race, gender, and sexuality has placed
wealthy, white, heterosexual men at the top of the American social
hierarchy. In the face of white male privilege, many black men
have demanded the same kind of power and respect. Power based
only on male gender is called patriarchy, the rule of the father;
discrimination against women because they are women is sexism;
fear of - and discrimination against - gays and lesbians is
- In the film, bell hooks recalls the confusion and anger she
felt when she witnessed her father throw her mother out of their
home. How did you react when you heard this story? How
widespared is the notion that a man's home is his castle?
- Barbara Smith wonders if just because she is female was she
"supposed somehow to get stupid?." If you are a woman, have you
ever felt uncomfortable exhibiting intelligence or leadership
around men? If a man, do you ever feel threatened by smart women?
- Where does sexism show itself most frequently among your peer
- Louis Farrakhan blames women for boxer Mike Tyson's rape
conviction. Do men here on campus behave as if "no" means "no"?
Why is Mike Tyson considered a hero by many despite his
- The Bible and ancient Africa are both invoked to justify
sexism and patriarchy. What do you think of these explanations of
the "natural" order of humankind? Can you think of other examples
where "nature" or "God" has been used to justify discrimination?
- Riggs and Barbara Smith decry the notion that to be black is
to be heterosexual. Essex Hemphill doesn't believe that "somehow
my blackness is diminished because I love a man." Can you recount
instances where people have been made to feel unwelcome in black
institutions because of their sexual orientation? What is the
greatest concern that your peer group has about gays and lesbians?
What can you and your community do to end the exclusion of black
gays and lesbians?
- Riggs is particularly pained by the black church. He
acknowledges the critical role the church has played in the
freedom movement over the centuries. But he wants the black
church to embrace gays and lesbians and acknowledge their
contributions. He shows us a gay, black congregation singing
gospel music which offers a safe and loving sanctuary for all
black people regardless of sexual orientation. Do you think the
church can be a site for reconciliation?
- For several reasons, not just sexual orientation, many people
feel that "I cannot go home as who I am." What does this line
mean to you? Have you ever felt it awkward or difficult to "go