Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

I, too, am prejudiced.

May 28, 2013 7 comments

Our local freethought group has engaged in quite a bit of social justice dialogue recently.

OK, i suppose that phrase—social justice—needs a bit of contextualization itself first. Social justice spans a wide range of topics, including prison reform, food sustainability, poverty, theocracy, and so much more, and concerns wide swaths of religious, political, and other organizations. By my reckoning, most such topics are uncontentious, at least insofar as being important topics, among mainstream progressives and irreligious folk. In odd contrast, the dialogue on systemic discrimination, marginalization, privilege, and oppression is so contentious by its very existence that its proponents have been dealt what might be the most bizarre pejorative i’ve ever learned, “social justice warriors”, or SJWs. The notions that prejudices can be unconscious; that responsibility, vulnerability, and culpability can be asymmetric; that solutions may not be fair; and, generally speaking, that context matters*, so repulse various contingents within movement secularism that spaces in which these topics are discussed must be closely moderated.

Much of this resistance is rationalized in terms of the offending tone, taxonomic terminology, and pithy deontology of the online (hence readily accessible) though largely internal (among social justice advocates) dialogue, especially on Tumblr, or on the grounds that they level disproportionate criticism people like me (setting economic aside). While i empathize with the sense of alienation that comes with being singled out for chastisement on the basis of gender or race or somesuch, i beseech anyone who finds it unfair to consider mulling over the direct object in the first half of this sentence.

While eventually i want to dig into the various quips that have been cited to demonize the dialogue, i’ll need to first get past a definitional sticking point.

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misconceptions about polyamory: mononormativity

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m preparing a presentation on the misconceptions surrounding polyamory, which honestly requires some care to prevent from cascading into a series of presentations. The natural place to start is the cultural misconception that such a practice, orientation, lifestyle, or philosophy of intimate relationships does not exist at all, or exists only in relation to a monogamous baseline, for this mononormative quality of our culture is the genesis for many (and the catalyst for all) of the misconceptions that follow—including those internal to the internal poly dialogue.

The most obvious variety (strategy, if you will) of marginalization is erasure. The relative invisibility of poly people and of polyamory as a type of relationship testifies to the youth of our collective culture and identity, and certainly of our movement. For the most part, responsible non-monogamous relationships play no role in popular narratives and do not even factor into the general awareness. This exchange from “The Mask” provides a nice illustration:

Peggy: You’re Mr. Nice Guy?
Stanley: Yes!
Peggy: Oh, Stanley, do you realize how much mail we got about that letter? I mean, there are literally hundreds of women out there looking for a guy just like you.
Stanley: Really?
Peggy: Yeah. Do you know how hard it is to find a decent man in this town? Most of them think monogamy is some kind of wood.

In the (in this respect, pretty accurate) universe of the story, monogamy is so equated with ethical relationship practices that the word itself goes largely unrecognized.* Monogamy has certainly come into question in the decades since dialogue like this went essentially unchallenged, and in light of the increasing recognition of open and “monogamish” relationships it likely wouldn’t today. There remains a reticence to depart in any enduring way from dyads (and when non-dyadic relationship structures do appear they still tend to be contextualized by crime).

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