Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Monday, September 28, 2020

Executive Order Against Training Federal Employees, Contractors and Military on Racism Applies to Sexism Too

Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, White House (Sept. 22, 2020)

This executive order is an expression not only of white fragility, but also of male fragility.  It reads as a defense of the oppressors.  It embodies defensiveness in the face of illustrations of racial and gender privilege, while it reacts to perceived affronts to white men's moral character.  While titled as an order about "stereotyping," it is most concerned with what the order calls "race and sex scapegoating."

The prohibitions on addressing racism in federal employment training and contractors have been mentioned in the media and challenged by scholars. 

Less discussed have been the provisions that also prevent teaching about sexism.  The Order prohibits federal workplaces, unions, military, and federal contractors from teaching about such "divisive concepts" as sexism, male privilege, or systemic sexism. 

It decries "sex scapegoating," defined as: "assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex. It similarly encompasses any claim that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others."

The order provides an example of a training of concern: "Materials from Sandia National Laboratories, also a Federal entity, for non-minority males stated that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white male[s],” and asked those present to “acknowledge” their “privilege” to each other."  

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2020/09/executive-order-against-training-on-racism-applies-to-sexism-too.html

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