In Johnson’s chapter 8 titled Getting off the Hook: Denial and Resistance he talks about the ways that people of privilege try to disconnect themselves with the cause of someone else’s misery. Johnson states that we are all on the hook because there is no way of avoiding being part of the problem (108). Johnson states eight different ways in which people try to get themselves off the hook. Johnson’s thesis statement is that our first response when it comes to causing someone else’s pain is to try to get off the hook and that there are many ways in which people do it today.
The first way that Johnson brings to our attention is to deny and minimize. He states that one of the easiest ways to get off the hook is to deny that it even exists in the first place. People claim that the American Dream is readily available and equally easy to achieve for everyone no matter what their race, gender, or sexual preference. Also he says people like to minimize the problem by saying that is does exist but it ultimately doesn’t lead to anything. The next way to get off the hook is to blame the victim. Whites can see that there are problems surrounding blacks in society but they blame their problems on the blacks. They say that they should work harder and get an education and then they would be able to be just as successful as whites. Another example of blaming the victim is that men claim that women who have been sexually harassed were asking for it, or they wanted it. Putting the blame on the victim takes the privileged party off the hook. The next way of getting of the hook is to call it something else. Instead of calling it gender inequality, they call it the battle of the sexes, which makes it seem more like a game. Gender inequality is one problem that we often laugh about because it is so deep in our lives that we must go to great lengths to make it appear normal (112). Another way that Johnson talks about is saying that it is better this way. This means saying that everyone actually prefers it to be that way, that women actually prefer to be dominated by males and blacks prefer to live in an all black neighborhood rather than live around whites. This is a way of thinking that there is nothing unpleasant or unfair to think about, and just think that everyone is happy this way when in fact that is not the case. Another way of getting off the hook is by saying that it doesn’t count if you didn’t mean it. By saying “I didn’t mean it” it can avoid getting into a conversation or an argument that may end up being very serious and many feelings being hurt and many buttons getting pushed. So by acting as though you were not aware of the effects of your actions helps to get you off the hook. Johnson uses the example of men opening doors for women and women finding it as a way of showing that the women is helpless and can’t open her own door. This shows male dominance, however many men said they were doing it simply because it was polite and that they didn’t mean to offend the women at all. Also another example Johnson uses is saying that I’m one of the good ones. By stating that they aren’t racist and don’t support any racist groups, this makes it seem as they are just an innocent observer. However, by being a silent observer of those who do participate in wrong doings shows that their passive acceptance goes a long with the group and makes them just as much of the problem since they didn’t do anything to stop it. Another way to get off the hook is saying that they are sick and tired of hearing about it. When you are annoyed by something it seems as though it is everywhere (121). Privileged groups don’t want to here about the oppression of their counter parts at all because it makes them no longer oblivious to the fact that they are actually privileged. And finally the last way of getting of the hook is by getting on. Being on the hook, Johnson points out, is what distinguished adults from children. By being on the hook you are aware that you are able to do something about it and move in a forward motion to fix it.
So do people really try and get off the hook by using these ways that Johnson has named? The answer is yes, these methods are used so often in our daily lives that we sometimes fail to even realize it. Male superiority is so prevalent in our society that we don’t even think to criticize them. The gender inequality is one of the most prevalent inequalities that is has become a joke in our society. There is evidence in our television sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond and the King of Queens which both portray the wife as doing all of the work around the house and the male working his day job and being able to come home and sit on the couch the rest of the night.
I liked this chapter of Johnson because everything was very clear and spelled out. He laid out the chapter nicely in the beginning by letting us know exactly what to expect out of the rest of the chapter. Also, once again Johnson did an incredible job of including very useful examples of how these things occur in today’s world. The use of his examples helps to better understand how this affects us and others in society.