CW: bigotry and isms
There seems to be a great deal of confusion over what is and isn’t bigotry, and even more angst over how to defend ourselves when our biases are pointed out. Discussions about bias, prejudice, privilege, bigotry, normativity etc end up being counterproductive, with everyone being emotional, defensive, and determined to be “right”.
So first, let’s get some terminology out of the way.
a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and prejudices; especially :one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
An opinion is something that is not about facts, but about our own feelings. It is my opinion that the best writer of Fantasy is Laurel K. Hamilton. You probably have a different favorite author. Neither of us is wrong. Neither of us is right, because “best” is not verifiable. There is no measure that can determine best. Is it because she made billions? Because she writes poly/kink into her storyline? Because she uses bigger words? Because her books are in x many languages? What makes her best?
A fact is a piece of information that is accurate. Laurel K. Hamilton wrote a series of books about a fictional character Anita Blake. This is a fact. You can verify that this is accurate information, to a reasonable certainty (scientifically speaking).
These can be used in two ways. If we are talking about accurate vs inaccurate, then we have to verify if the information is true or false. IF by right/wrong we are making a moral judgement things get complicated quickly.
Most people agree that it is morally ‘right’ to view all life as precious. That we all have the right to life, and to being treated with dignity. That murder and rape are ‘wrong’. These are moral judgements. Moral judgements are subjective, meaning that our own life experiences (good and bad), our upbringing, culture, beliefs etc all influence our view of moral right and wrong.
This is a fact, not my opinion.: Privilege is defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
This is my opinion, based on years of research: Having privilege is not a person’s fault, just as it is not something they earned. This is not about blaming individuals, but about recognizing that society creates a stratification of oppression and privilege.
This is a fact: You can be both marginalized by one trait while privileged by another (I am a cisgendered (privilege) white (privilege) pansexual (oppressed) woman (oppressed compared to men, privilege compared to gender queer).
This is a fact, not my opinion: Racism are beliefs that individual of a specific race have certain traits, based on their race. This is true even if those beliefs are positive (example: All people of the purpleogian race are good at art).
Homophobia, trans-phobia, xenophobia:
Fact: This is an irrational fear, disgust, dislike, loathing, anxiety and negative beliefs etc regarding individuals who are gay, trans or whom you perceive to be not from this country. Fact: phobias are formed without us consciously deciding to form them. Being phobic is not about being a bad person. it can be about not being aware of the negative stereotype we store subconsciously, which then influence our thoughts and actions.
FACT: Because of how our country was founded, privilege and oppression are built into virtually every system that is part of our society Therefore we grow up with ideas we are often not even aware of that are bigoted. Ideas as to why women should dress a certain way (to be treated respectfully, to not be raped), why people should behave a certain way based on their genitalia, the idea that this race is more criminal, and that race is lazy, and that race is good at math and tech.
This is not my opinion, but the academic, fact based findings of social scientists based on their research findings. Literally hundreds of thousands of researchers who made it their life goal to look at culture and what forms our ideas about other people have been able to agree that this is so.
Here is my point:
When we are confronted with information that challenges us, it is not unusual to end up feeling defensive, to cling to what we want to believe is our righteous (morally) held opinion about the world around us. I mean, who the fuck wants to be a bigot? How many of us wake up going, “Yeah!!! I have privilege and its great and I am going to spend my day making sure I have it forever, even if it is undeserved and hurts people who do not have it!!” Who makes a conscious decision to hate an entire group of people based on false stereotypes? “You know, I realize that the idea that bisexual people are just too greedy to limit themselves to one type of genitals, and that they are cheating bastards/bastardettes is silly, but fuck it. I am going to pretend it is fact and hate them anyway!”
And while we quickly shut down any dissenting voice by asserting that we have a right to our opinion, it is NOT ACTUALLY OUR OPINION.
First, when you say or do something that is bigoted, such as “I only date people from (insert group here), or I will not date anyone who is (insert group type here), those decisions are often based on prejudice that we hold deep in our subconscious. We are socialized to view some groups of people as better than others, and some as lesser.
What about preference?
A preference merely refers to what we would rather have. I prefer my coffee with cream, but I can drink it black too. I prefer sex when it is with someone I feel connected to, but I can enjoy casual sexual contact too. I prefer to texting to phone calls, but I still use my phone to make and receive calls.
But while I prefer to be with people who area larger than I am, height and girth, I do not meet someone, find out they are no taller, and immediately they are written off as a potential partner. If I fell in love with someone who was an inch shorter than I, I would not write them out of my life because of their height.
Wanting to only date people who are Asian is not a sexual orientation, nor is it a preference. It is based on racist stereotyping, and objectifies the person as if their entire being is merely “Asian” and does not include being an individual with personality traits, wants, desires, feelings and thoughts. Refusing to date someone who is a person of colour is a decision made based on prejudiced (racist) subconsciously held stereotypes that support us being nervous, afraid or even hostile about that group of persons, viewing them as incompatible with us based solely on their identification as part of that group, not on them as a person.
The argument I have been seeing on a lot of boards is regarding being gay and refusing to date trans, being lesbian and refusing to date trans, being straight and refusing to date trains. The argument seems to be that as my sexual orientation is (gay, lesbian, straight), I only date people who are (male / female).
Transmen, however, are men.
Transwomen, however, are women.
So if you only date (insert preferred gender here), and you are thinking that you would NEVER date someone who is trans, you are saying that regardless of what they are like as a person you would not date them, based solely on their being transgender.
That is transphobic. To be clear, this is not a judgement about the character of people who have transphobia (see comments about the socialization of our beliefs).
IF you are saying that you are not comfortable with interacting with (name the genitals here), and due to that would not choose to date someone if they have a (insert genitals here) that is not the same thing as saying that all trans people are excluded from your dating pool.
The other argument is that we are attracted to who/what we are attracted to.
Which is partially true. There are some studies that show a genetic difference between heterosexual people and queer people. There are also studies that show we are socialized to be attracted to certain traits, and that sexual attraction is equally (or more so) driven by this socialization than by biology.
I would argue (my opinion) that if you find you are not attracted to trans persons, that you consider the following:
1. Do you always know for certain if the person you are attracted to is CIS or Trans?
2. When you are attracted to someone, if you found out they were trans, how would you feel?
3. If your answer to the second question is negative, can you just sit with that for a minute?
Yes, we have the right to love who we love, and fuck who we fuck (#loveislove) but if you have judgements, thoguhts, ideas, etc that are bigoted, don’t you want to look at those? To move past them? I ask, because we cannot grow and be self ware without being able to look at the dark, not so nice parts of ourselves, to adjust as needed, have compassion as needed. And that means being able to understand that we are all biased, but we absolutely can become aware of those biases, and do the self work to grow.