A frivolous arrest

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A woman kisses her husband. This rather regular action takes place on a regular day at a regular street. They are both wearing mainstream clothes. She's dressed in t-shirt, shorts and running shoes. However, the street where the kiss happens is located in the United States of America. And the woman happens to be an Afro-American, while her husband happens to be a white American. The kiss is seen by someone who finds it objectionable enough to call the cop.

A few minutes later, while she's talking on the phone with her father, the cops show up. They accuse her of being a prostitute, demand proof of identity, and handcuff her so violently that her wrist starts bleeding. That's what happens when an interracial couple dares to kiss in public. The police does not make any official record of the event, since they release her after a while without filing any charges against her.

Since the police does not keep tracks of such events, and most victims won't report it or speak out in public, we have no way of knowing how often scenes like this takes place in for example America. As for the specific hypothetical scenario, it has been inspired by a reportedly identical real case.

So, what foci, facets and abstractions of categorism is at play here?

Foci that might be at play

  • Racism/Afrophobia: The woman is most likely targeted for (although not only for) her race. The copcaller as well as the cops are somewhat likely to have negative stereotypes about people of color in general and particularly against the non-white person in any mixed race relationship.
  • Sexism/Misogyny: The woman is most likely targeted for (although not only for) her gender. The copcaller as well as the cops are somewhat likely to have negative stereotypes about women in general.
  • Racist Sexism: The woman is most likely targeted for the combination of her race and gender. The copcaller as well as the cops are quite likely to have negative stereotypes about women of color in particular, and especially against non-white women in mixed race relationships. (If they also have negative stereotypes specifically targeting non-white or white men in mixed race relationships, these are probably different stereotypes.)
  • Whorephobia: The woman is definitely targeted for being a sex worker. While she's not actually a sex worker, she is seen as one by the people who are doing the categorism.

Facets that are at play

  • Stigmatization, on the individual and systemic level: To be arrested is shameful for the individual as well as for the category.
  • Energy Drain, on the individual level: It drains your resources of time and emotion to be arrested and have to defend yourself against accusations of having a stigmatized profession.
  • Othering: On the individual and systemic level: By arresting her, the cops publicly construct the woman (and any category she may be associated with) as something different than us normal law-abiding people.
  • Violence: On the individual against the arrested woman and on the systemic systemic level against people of color, as well as on the systemic and structural level against sex workers: The individual woman gets handcuffed harshly enough to start bleeding. This reinforces a system where sex workers and people of color live in fear of violence from the cops. A system fueled by a structure where violence against sex workers is presented as being justified.
  • Kyriarchy, on the individual and structural level: As a person who belongs to two stigmatized categories (in this case women & people of color) is accused of belonging to a third stigmatized category (in this case sex workers), she is indirectly given a chance to save her dignity by distancing herself from this third category - thus contributing to the stigmatization and othering of "those people". This chance is presented not only to her as an individual, but to everyone who want to defend the dignity of the first two categories.
  • Invisibilization, on the systemic and structural level: As interracial kisses turns out to have negative consequences, interracial couples becomes less likely to dare to show their love in public - thus contributing to the existence of interracial couples becoming less visible.
  • Tabooization, on the systemic and structural level: Especially against sex work, but also against public displays of affection.

Facets and abstractions that are likely to also be at play

  • Unchecked Aversion: A person who has an aversion towards women of color and/or interracial couples allows this aversion to take over and starts making excuses for why it would be okay to act out against this couple.
  • Categorization by Narrativism: People making up their own stories about what is actually going on and why.
  • Categorization by emotional bias: Categorizing the woman as a sex worker, not because there is valid reason to believe that she's a sex worker but because it's a convenient outlet for a personal aversion.

Facet that is relevant without being at play

  • Illegal discrimination: Why is this facet not present? Surely it would be illegal to harass and handcuff a married woman for kissing her husband? Especially if it is racially motivated, as a way of cracking down on interracial couples? Sure, but only if you can prove that this was what was going on. The cops claim that they suspected her of being a prostitute, and the law does not forbid harassment against sex workers. On the contrary, laws against sex work encourages the police to harass any couple who they feel might be suspicious. As well as encouraging random strangers to call the cops on anyone they feel might be "suspicious" in this regard. Thus, acceptance for caregorism against one category opens up for categorism against another category: Simply re-label the people you dislike into a category that it is socially acceptable to dislike.

This page is a hypothetical example of categorism.