Why we don’t say X is the new Y

13 04 2009

Another 101 refresher: Some people are declaring that Fatism is the New Racism.  Huh?  Really?   Comparisons like these (X is the new Y: gay is the new black, fatism is the new racism) are incorrect and useless because:

– They falsely assume that X and Y are completely separate and mutually exclusive.

– They falsely assume that there is an objective benchmark or factor that determines what is relevant and significant and what isn’t.

– They falsely rank issues into a hierarchy in which the “most important” ones are supposed to be talked about first.

When people assert that “X is the new Y” they are implying that Y is outdated and no longer important.  So saying things like “gay is the new black” assumes that gay people cannot be black, and black people cannot be gay, that they are two mutually exclusive categories with none overlap whatsoever.  Saying “fatism is the new racism” assumes and suggests that racism is over (certainly not, even/especially right here at Tufts!), irrelevant, and no longer “important” enough to talk about.  It assumes that fatism is the most important form of oppression.  It ignores the fact that all forms of oppression are intersectional and they function in conjunction to maintain the status quo. You cannot give a thorough analysis of a certain type of oppression without considering and mentioning other forms of oppression.  Fatism and racism are indeed two kinds of oppression that manifest differently , but saying that fatism is the new racism eclipses the existence of people of color who experience both fatism and racism.

So when talking about various forms of oppression, it is ignorant to say that X is the new Y.  X and Y are powerful and institutionalized because they feed into and feed off of each other.  They reinforce and perpetuate each other.  Therefore, X cannot disappear unless Y disappears, so there can be no “new Y” unless all forms of oppression have been eradicated.


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3 responses

14 04 2009
femme

good points. as with “fatism is the new racism,” – “gay is the new black” implies that the movement for equality for black and other minorities has completed its work; definitely not true.

17 04 2009
Ryan

What happened to this? Why are we now having an “Is Fey the New Gay?” event at the Women’s Center?

I I don’t know what to think about it.

22 04 2009
TJ

good post.

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