In a world of differences and misunderstandings, disparities and distance, there is a seemingly endless myriad of modes by which human beings categorize, segregate, and immobilize each other. History is filled with repeated instances of groups asserting themselves through any necessary means in order to retain dominance and power. In a rather unnerving way, the human race can prove to be quite creative in its tenacity to oppress. Obviously, racism and cultural repression have proven to be weapons of choice time and again. Being of a perhaps more primal and misunderstood nature, sex has also been employed as a tool of oppression, alongside race and culture. Writers such as James Baldwin and Lonny Kaneko explore the idea of how whites use race, culture, and sex together as a means of suppressing the cultural identities of non-whites. Baldwin’s short story “Going to Meet the Man” brings to life a white man whose entire racist ideology is based upon a link between violence, sex, and his experiences with a Southern lynch mob. His own masculinity is defined by the connection between racism and sexual violence. Kaneko’s short story “The Shoyu Kid” reaches into another instance in American history, by depicting a group of young Japanese boys whose ideas of masculinity and identity are splintered and clouded by a pedophilic internment camp guard. While the two writers draw upon quite different backgrounds and contexts, they both exemplify the way in which sex is used to devalue the cultural identities of non-whites. Through both the hypersexualization of the African American male and the emasculation of the Asian American male, Baldwin and Kaneko both explore how ethnic masculinity is attacked, white supremacy is imposed, and non-white cultural identity is eventually invalidated.
Oppression through Sexualization: The Use of Sexualization in “Going to Meet the Man” and “The Shoyu Kid”.
Undergraduate Review, 5, 119-124.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol5/iss1/24
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