October 26th, 2006
The same person who went on about fairy tales and the apparent chauvinist agenda just posted something interesting about the use of "gay" as a pejorative. Even more interesting is that like Chris Rock and "nigger", some gay people use the term.
I'm not really one to believe that a person is special based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual preference -- I prefer to think we're all rather misguided monkeys with very quirky behavior. Even those of us who would appear to be normal (in that they happen to most closely fit the perceived majority characteristics) are odd. Consider that most people in America believe in a guy from a long time ago who died and supposedly rose from the dead, never mind that they spare their skepticism for his claim of being the son of an unobservable being who supposedly created the universe.
Over the course of this discussion, someone claiming to be gay suggested that they have a right to say that something's gay because they are oppressed for being gay (or, in their words, they have to put up with the dirty looks and hatred associated with that).
This has the interesting consequence of accepting that using gay as a pejorative can be done in a nonoffensive context. If that's the case, then why do you assume that when certain other people use it in an offensive context? Is it merely because the observer assumes that the speaker is straight (and therefore, a part of the majority)? Doesn't that sound dangerously close to the very thing that they purport to speak out against -- specific recognition of a person's characteristic?
It occurs to me that this is really a case of people who are too well off looking for something to demonize. The initiator of the conversation is Caucasian and from a family that's decently well off. She goes to college in an extremely liberal town and grew up in what is arguably the finest country to grow up in. It's quite likely that many of these complainants have never faced real oppression -- they've only read about it. The things that they're calling oppression would only truly oppress those with the weakest of spirits. These are like children playing revolutionaries, recyclers and Prius drivers trying to save the environment, and Terry Nichols' brother discussing resistance against authority despite his apparent ignorance of Gandhi.
(I'll add that may very well have been a product of Michael Moore's editing, but the truth of that doesn't harm the point I'm making).
I've heard an argument made that according to the law, women are weaker than men. Consider that most sexual discrimination cases involve a female complainant who believe that a particular environment is hostile and that the courts in question see fit to protect them from things which bother them.
It's my impression that many things we were told on the schoolyard still haven't really sunk in with people. "Majority rules" isn't democracy. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words really oughtn't hurt you.
If you can't bear the weight of an insult and if reading things which can be interpreted as insulting oppresses you, then I submit that you're a rather pathetic excuse for a human being. It is the height of tragedy that millions of years of evolution could be so trivially defeated by someone pointing out your skin color, sexual preference, or otherwise in less-than-politically-correct terms.
I have been having similar complaints with other feminists recently. If you talked to some white feminists, you might suppose that all women were oppressed by all men, and further, that no other form of oppression than gender oppression has ever existed. They talk as if they speak universally for "woman" as such, as if womanhood were some intrinsic property in common to all those labeled "women", as if there were only a single, universal female subject. With this logic in mind, it seems never to occur to them that others may experience oppression at a more profound level than they, or that, comparatively, whatever oppression they may or may not experience may be trivially surmountable. I think the cause of this is thinking of oppression purely in the abstract.
as if womanhood were some intrinsic property in common to all those labeled "women", as if there were only a single, universal female subject.
There's a sort of irony I detect there in that most of them probably celebrate other cultures as unique and having their own merits, yet they fail to detect the differences of attitudes towards women between the cultures (or in my view, when they do, they do so in some attempt to show what's wrong with our culture).With this logic in mind, it seems never to occur to them that others may experience oppression at a more profound level than they, or that, comparatively, whatever oppression they may or may not experience may be trivially surmountable.
As I've been pointing out, a famous woman who has been labelled a feminist of late once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. That famous woman was Eleanor Roosevelt.
A famous man once wrote that angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly. It's one of a few quotes that I carry with me through life and try to aspire to. That man was G.K. Chesterton. I really deeply wish that more people would take themselves lightly -- they'd be far happier if they did, I think.
It occurs to me that framed differently, the famed "testing4l
test" may very well be that -- how lightly you take yourself.
As an aside, I think that I'm very nearly at the point with feminism that I once was with veganism. I may yet just go to some feminist meeting or some such and point out how fat, ugly, small-breasted, unintelligent, and so on they all are. Alternatively, I might sit quietly in the front, belching, drinking a beer, reading a Playboy (for the articles, of course!), and the like. Perhaps the opportunity will present itself.
I think it would be a mistake to lump all feminism in one category. I have a serious disagreement with probably 90-95% of the feminist philosophies in circulation, but I don't think the subject is completely barren by any means.
Further, you might not want to do what you describe because you might meet people in these situations who really have been oppressed, whether because of rape, or because of the sexist policies of their country of origin, or whatever. I think it might be insensitive to trivialize their personal pain. This is not to say you can't disagree with them, of course.
With vegans on the other hand, I'm not sure there was necessarily any personal trauma they experienced that made them turn to veganism, unless you include the personal shock of finding out where meat comes from. It's self-righteousness more than anything that makes people become vegan, I think (or morality, as they might say). With feminism, that is not always the case.
Lastly, you never really know what it's like to be someone else until you've walked a mile in their shoes. And even then, we can't really know what it's like to be stuck in those shoes, having to walk in them mile after mile, without possibility of ever taking them off...
Surely they believe that some men in normal society are like that. If their premise is correct, then acting like one oughtn't be a shock for them. It certainly shouldn't any more of a trauma to them then living their usual every day lives.
Also, there's lots of vegans who'll claim they were traumatized at some point.
I actually meant this advice for your own sake, not theirs. I've not known you to be the sort of person who dismisses the pain of others as purely imagined or unjustified, and I would assume you don't have any desire to do so. They might be used to men who behave that way and to people trivializing their pain, but I'm not sure that means the indifference of others hurts any less. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't. But if you try to send the message that you think they're "not really oppressed" it might come off as a slap in the face because some of them have really experienced severe oppression. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
And I'm curious now, how have these vegan converts suffered personal trauma because of meat? I mean, actually suffering, not "suffering on behalf of the animals" etc.
Two specific instances come to mind. One in the case of a friend who was sitting around the thanksgiving table and told (to her shock and dismay) that the thing they were eating used to be a bird.
The other one was a friend who was watching a nature show. She mentioned to her father that the way that lions eat is gruesome. Her father said "So? We do the same thing when we eat meat."
There is no doubt that the people in question were very impressionable.
I'm...strange about the pain of others. I can't say categorically that I don't dismiss the pain of others in that way. In this very post, I have a comment below suggesting that someone ought to develop a tougher hide. In part because I feel that the reasons for her pain are inconsequential and that it's illogical to suffer as a result.
I certainly trivialize it whenever I watch MXC -- that weird Japanese game show.
In our part of the world at least, we're taught that racism is a bad thing. If a Vietnam vet burns down a Vietnamese man's business, we don't accept that act as a good thing. Rather, we shuffle the perpetrator off to a little padded room and demand reparations for his act. If we don't accept the act of racism from one traumatized by that race, then why should we think any more highly of an act of sexism from one traumatized by that sex?
If a feminist was raped by a man, one can expect men in this part of the world to think poorly of that act and of the perpetrator. Why on earth should they be the target of such a hatred? Should I accept that pain because she suffered a traumatic experience and has difficulty distinguishing friend from foe?
My belief is that I oughtn't.
Thus my tag, "aside from the trauma of finding out where meat comes from."
I certainly don't condone man-hating feminism, and I would agree with you that hating all men on the basis of the acts of one or a few men is as unjustifiable as racism. Not all feminists hate men or think that man-hating is acceptable. My mother is a feminist who has been the victim of gender-based discrimination and oppression, but I think she realizes that hating men is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Also, I'm pretty sure that women who cut off men's penises and other women engaged in such gender-type warfare generally go to prison. But if the form of the hatred you are describing is merely verbal jabs and man-hating fare, then is there really an issue? That is really quite insignificant compared to the trauma of being raped, for example. As you said, words really oughtn't hurt you. Of course, you probably don't feel personally harmed by these words, but it might make you feel like they have no right to demand your sympathy if they seem to ration to you part of the blame for acts you would condemn. I understand your frustration at what you perceive to be an insulting and grossly unfair judgment, and certainly you shouldn't have to put up with that. But I think the appropriate way to act in this situation, in order to end enmity and alienation, is to defend yourself from this wrong while acknowledging that others have been wronged, rather than ignoring their suffering out of spite, which is what they expect you to do, and which only perpetuates the sexism they are peddling.
I have indeed been blessed to grow up in this country and in my city. There are many forms of oppression that I have never experienced, being white and middle-class. I live in a state where I can get access to many of birth control, and I am grateful for that.
But never faced oppression? I don't think so. I'm been sexually harassed so many times I've lost count, sexually assaulted, I've been discriminated against by my school for being disabled, fired from my job for being disabled, been lectured for being disabled and letting my disability affect me by a manager, and been told that it's my fault I'm sick.
then I submit that you're a rather pathetic excuse for a human being.
You saying that about me makes me feel pretty bad.
The reason I don't like using "gay" as an insult is because it reinforces the view that gay people are inhuman and don't deserve rights.
I don't want to argue this point with you because there's no reason to, I think it's just a case of agreeing to disagree. But please don't post about how worthless I am in your journal. That just makes me sad.
If you can't bear the weight of an insult and if reading things which can be interpreted as insulting oppresses you, then I submit that you're a rather pathetic excuse for a human being.
You saying that about me makes me feel pretty bad.
First off, I didn't address this to you. I also didn't have an interest in pointing you out as the poster.
You're a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent human being that I'm proud to call a friend. You have the power to do great things and I'm confident that you will in time.
Someone once said of you that of the group in high school, you were by far the most ambitious and most capable. I'm not interested in defending or attacking that statement, but instead pointing out that someone felt strongly enough to say that to me despite the fact that I'm dating relsqui
. To me, that speaks volumes as to the strength of your character and being.
If someone so wonderful can be dragged down by others around her calling bad things gay and oppressed by what writers wrote in different times and different contexts, then I submit that you're doing yourself a great disservice. You're better than that. Petty words from petty people
A great feminist once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. I say this with love, my dear beethatbumbles
: stop consenting
Things like words don't really affect me that much--it's just something that really annoys me. It's not like I go home and cry about it. It's annoying, that's all. Trust me, I have much bigger things to worry about.
It's kind of hard not to consent in certain situations--and there are, also, situations where you're incapable of consenting. About a month ago I had this bad experience with a clerk at L&S office. I think I posted about it? Anyways, he totally bitched me out and told me my disability must be stupidity and I was a terrible person and stuff, and I was vulnerable at the time, and I didn't WANT to let his words hurt me, but they did. Not consenting to be affected by things is a lot harder than it seems.
It's kind of hard not to consent in certain situations--and there are, also, situations where you're incapable of consenting.
As much as I wish I could, I can't help you find those situations less difficult. I can offer you the words of great men which, if you remember them, may help you:
"As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery. No Lincolnian emancipation proclamation or Johnsonian civil rights bill can totally bring this kind of freedom. The negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation." - M.L.K. Jr.
"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves." - Mahatma Gandhi
"Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." - Malcolm X
"Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly." - G.K. Chesterton.
Then Soma thought, "Who is this speaking, human or nonhuman?
Surely it is evil Mara desiring to interrupt my focused meditation."
Knowing that it was Mara, she said,
"What does gender matter with regard to a well-composed mind,
which experiences insight in the light of the dharma?"
"Soma and Mara"
It is my greatest wish for you -- beyond overcoming your health conditions -- that you learn to wield that sort of strength. In engraving these words upon your being, you'll conquer all manner of inequity.