Sexism and Capitalism as Terrorism
As one studies the history and literature of the making of America, one cannot help but be appalled by the terrorist tactics used to maintain the white supremacist classist ideals brought to this country by white Europeans. Classism is the belief that people from certain social or economic classes are superior to others and has been responsible for the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce fellow Americans through racism, sexism, and capitalism. The elite used these forms of terrorism to create fear and justify the violence they used to subordinate and oppress any threats to their financial success and political power.
Support for the maintenance of America’s classist society at the expense of all non-white Americans through the terror of racism is supported by the writings and experiences of Edith Maud Eaton(Sui Sin Far) in “Leaves From the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian,” Gerturde Bonnin’s (Zitkala-Sa) Days of an Indian School Girl, and Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel Four Spirits. Sexism and manipulation of women through socially established gender roles will be demonstrated through the characters created by Henry James in “Daisy Miller: A Study,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-Paper,” and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “The Revolt of Mother.” The effects of capitalism as a maintainer of classist society will be supported through the writings of Anna Petry’s The Street, Michael Gold’s Jews Without Money, and Meridel LeSuer’s “Women on the Breadlines.” Fact or fiction, these pieces give a realistic view of the tyrannical social climate that kept certain ethnic groups, races, and women subservient to the power of the male-dominated white supremacist society driving the capitalist machine.
Racism is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement; usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.1” The European-American white male embraced this ideal and used money and power to enact laws to keep themselves in position to discriminate and rule over others by creating fear. Racism is taught to Sui Sin Far at a very young age because of the fact that she is of mixed dissent, English and Chinese. She grew up in America during a time of hatred and fear of the Chinese, which brought about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. What is amazing about her story is that even though her parents had money, she is still scorned, ridiculed and subjected to violence because of her mixed heritage. “I am only six years of age, but have attended a private school for over a year, and have already learned that China is a heathen country, being civilized by England,” (Heath 777). Sui Sin Far was courageous enough to become a voice for Americans of Chinese ancestry in “Leaves From the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasia,” where she uses her pen to show herself and her fellow Chinese Americans as “human, like everyone else, but victimized by the laws of the land,” (Heath 776).
Another strong voice speaking out against the terror of racism at the turn of the century was Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa) in Days of an Indian School Girl. As the mixed daughter of a full-blooded Sioux mother and a European-American white man that little is known about, Zitkala-Sa lived a traditional lifestyle until the age of eight. Under the illusion of the “Land of Red Apples,” Zitkala-Sa leaves the reservation happily to pursue an education at the Whites Manual Labor Institute. “We had been very impatient to start our journey to the Red Apple Country…under a sky of rosy apples we dreamt of roaming as freely and happily as we had chased the clouds on the Dakota plains, (Heath 811).
What she didn’t know was that the Institute was a Quaker mission school “charged with the task of processing the "Indian" out of Indians.2” The Dawes Act of 1887 offered the