Monday, May 22, 2006

Life is Not Binary

I find it extremely disappointing that one of the leaders of the progressive movement in the blogosphere has chosen to be so willfully shut off from a legitimate discussion about the use of a phrase that is offensive to many of his readers—and that, once again, addressing sexism in progressive blogging is being viewed as an either-or proposition. Either we can talk about Pat Roberts’ opinion of our civil liberties, or we can talk about sexism, but not both.
- from a recent post by Shakespeare's Sister, who spends a lot of time talking about both.

You know what, I'm sick of it too.

I'm sick of the idea that by talking about the little things we are somehow saying that the big ones aren't important. The fact is they both are.

I'm sick of the idea that by criticizing offensive language we are somehow automatically saying that the original argument is unimportant or has no merit.

I'm sick of the idea that complaining about certain pervasive portrayals of certain types of people is somehow arguing that one must never have individual characters of that particular type.

When legitimate complaints are brushed aside as not being "important shit" - or not being important enough shit - WE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO ARE STIFLING DEBATE. When you toss around words like "civil liberties" in order to defend your idiotic use of language that assumes different classes of people based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or the like, we are not the one's who can't "keep our eye on the ball."

This isn't about you and what the government is taking away from you. This is about us and what the government is taking away from us. You'd think a group of people that are concerned about the government interfering in the private lives of it's citizens would do their upmost to refrain from relying on the same stereotypes that are often used to justify such transgressions. Apparently not. You'd think people that spend most of their time talking about such transgressions would realize that the government is chipping away at our rights by going after the people on the fringes first. Apparently not. Apparently that's just too damn much to ask for.

Apparently, there are 10 kinds of people in this world....

...those who understand that binary is for computers, and those who don't.

You know maybe, just maybe if I didn't have to deal with even allies using my gender as an insult all the time, I'd read and blog more about the "big stuff." 'Cause maybe, just maybe, I'd believe that my "allies" actually give a shit about sex toys (but not porn) being banned or that women still make less than men for equal work and equal time. But when it's just too damn much trouble for them to even bother to refrain from using me as an insult, I rather doubt they actually care beyond giving it lip service for political gain. When I can't even get them to use respectful language, why should I have any faith that I can get them to do jack shit about all the women whose pharmacists refuse to fill their birth control prescription?

I know I still need to try - I'm just saying that's what I'm doing. I have to factor in not only what is more "important" but what I think I can actually have an affect on. If I can't even convince certain people that being respectful of others is important, I don't see how I'm going to be able to get them to care about things that don't directly affect them. If I can't even convince parents that their infant does not need a "boy" or a "girl" book, I don't see how I'm going to get them to stop acting as if their teen boys are independent minded sex fiends and their teen girls are social butterflies who have no sexual desires of their own. And if I can't do that, how am I supposed to change anyone's minds about "date rape" or abortion rights?

I do think that we have to approach it from both directions. But that's just it, we need to approach it from both directions.

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