A lot of people seem to implicitly think that racism, misogyny, and homophobia are fairly rare things in our society. The corollary to this is that racist beliefs are only held by racists, and racists are the sort of extreme aberrations from mainstream society who burn crosses on people’s lawns. So when you say that what person X said is offensive, they think “No way! Person X wouldn’t burn a cross.” I think this is where “it wasn’t intended to be offensive, so it must not be offensive” comes from.

This worldview presents a double whammy, because even if you can convince them something is technically problematic, it’s not related to any systematic problems in our society, so it’s still no big deal.

A comment by Autumn Harvest on No Cookies For Me: Blatant Sexism *Isn’t* Benign, Thank You…

I’ve experienced some of this from friends recently—not that what they say can’t be offensive, but they don’t understand that sexist, racist, heterocentrist, ciscentrist, ableist, etc. beliefs are actually widely held, by people who may or may not be otherwise fairly decent human beings (although how decent one can be while supporting the continued disenfranchisement of an already oppressed class is debatable.)

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