>Out from the gloomy past


Well, who would thought John Mayer was such a…hmmm…Neanderthal?

Personally, it’s no real loss on my part as I never cared for anything of his in the first place. Is it that shocking that the man whose first big hit was an ode to sex is a womanising pig? Not particularly, in fact, given that Mayer was downing malt liquor (oh, the irony!) I have to wonder whether his real purpose was to kill off the John Mayer image in a blaze of glory…while still maintaining his career.

I didn’t really come to this conclusion until I read Brendan Shanahan’s opinion piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Entitled “Take heart, Cupid’s not a racist,” Shanahan argues that finding people of certain races unattractive does not make one racist, because of the “illogical nature of sexual attraction itself.”

Yes, because sexual attraction makes no sense at all, it is totally possible to rule out entire ethnicities composed of people you have never met or never seen.

Hilariously, Shanahan seems to think that in these modern times we don’t live with the cultural stereotypes of the past, which is why he thinks we should be horrified by the song Brown Sugar, which talks about slave women being raped by their master in New Orleans. Yes, we’re horrified, but it also is portraying a period in time, documented not only by narrative but by people. (Hi Brendan, I’m one of them. Black Americans didn’t magically appear from anywhere.)

Shanahan does appear to be onto something when he talks about bigoted Australian men being horrified by Asian immigration, but sexually obsessed with submissive Asian women, and gleefully going to brothels to live out their erotic fantasies. He also mentions the classic Mandingo stereotype that black men have.

What he fails mention is that these stereotypes are created by centuries of cultural programming ranging from the Greek myths of the Amazons to Othello to Madame Butterfly and to, yes, Mandingo. (Have you ever heard of Edouard Said, Brendan?)

Shanahan’s assertion that it’s not wrong to prefer one race over another would make sense if we all lived in a bubble devoid of interaction or influences from the outside world as well as classic and popular culture. Yet we don’t.

In his closing paragraph, Shanahan paradoxically advocates miscegenation while still defending the right to unilaterally find people of other races unattractive. Seemingly winking to the reader, Shanahan says not sharing an attraction might make one “unworldly, but doesn’t make [one], or John Mayer, a racist.”

In this sense, not sharing an attraction does not make one racist, but advocating, tolerating, and even mere acceptance of someone’s right to discriminate against entire ethnicities due to skin colour is well…racist.


One comment

  1. Anonymous · February 13, 2010

    >i think the whole "you're racist because you're not sexually attracted to people of other races" argument results from faulty logic.people seem to rely on the syllogism "all members of the klu klux klan are uninterested in having sex with a black person; therefore, all people who are unintereste are members of the klu klux klan." but clearly this is argument is as wrong as it is to say that "all dogs are animals with four legs; therefore, all animals with four legs are dogs."but even if we assume that there is some merit to the idea that a lack of sexual interest somehow indicates racism (latent or otherwise), where does it end? what if we applied the same argument to gender as well as to race? if we did, then it would seem that a gay man who says he will never have sex with a woman must be a misogynist.

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