One thing I’ve noticed repeatedly when people talk about social issues that are important to them, is that people who disagree with them are either brainwashed, ignorant, have some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, or are just plain wrong and self-hating. They’re not often considered to be simply different. This is hypocritical when the same people will talk about how others don’t embrace diversity by not accepting them or treating them as equals.
Here’s the thing: people have differing values, and as long as they’re not actively causing harm to anyone, then that’s okay.
When it comes to gender issues, I’ve had discussions, sometimes heated, with women all across the spectrum. Some are radical man-haters, some are traditional housewives, and many across the gradient in-between. Unfortunately, those who are the loudest are often also the least tolerant even of other women who disagree with them. They don’t see these other women as simply different, but almost as an enemy. The truth is, there is no truth. There is subjective opinion. There is also one major difference: those who perceive themselves to be victims, and those who perceive themselves to be equals. And, frankly, you can’t effectively be both.
Some women think that depicting scantily clad women in advertisements, films, video games, etc. is dis-empowering and reduces them to a sexual object. Some women find empowerment and joy in displaying their bodies and see it as sexy and natural. Many women like looking at these women themselves. Who’s right?
Some women see men as the source of all their problems as at fault for everything bad in the world. Some women see men as being just as flawed and human as themselves and as having different, rather than inferior or less valid problems. Who’s right?
Some women see porn as degrading and exploitative. Some women love porn and watch it with their partners or even make some themselves. Who’s right?
Some women constantly take to the internet to bemoan their victim-hood at the hands of patriarchy and use all kinds of made up words to denigrate their perceived oppressors. Some women are men’s rights advocates. Some women live their lives not worrying about it, treat everyone as equal until given a reason not to, and do their best not to judge others en masse. Who’s right?
Some women saw 50 Shades of Gray as abusive, dangerous and something to be banned. Some women found it sexually arousing and saw a relationship where a woman selflessly, if unconventionally, heals a much damaged man. Some saw it as a book and movie they simply had no interest in. Who’s right?
Some women have fetishes of being a submissive, a slave, a baby girl. Some women have fetishes of being dominant, masters, and into sadism. Some women like to be tied up, whipped, and even pissed on or into rape simulations. Some women like to do the same to others. Some women are into some frilly lingerie and a glass of wine. Who’s right?
Some women find rape jokes to be the most offensive things a person could say. Some women laugh at those jokes. Some women even tell these jokes. Who’s right?
Who is to say who is right or wrong? People are allowed to differ, and they should. What needs to be remembered is that there is no such thing as one right way for everyone. That’s the whole point of diversity. If you’re proclaiming that you’re absolutely right and that those who disagree are somehow messed up, then perhaps some self-examination is in order. Maybe you’re not as progressive and open-minded as you think. Maybe you’re acting just like those you judge.
Personally, I often take issue with religious people and rich people. But I’ve also met a lot of both who are wonderful people. I have friends with whom I disagree vehemently about all kinds of issues. But I don’t love them less. We should treat those we don’t know well with the same respect. There was once a time where people often said “I may disagree with your opinion, but I’ll defend your right to have and express it.”
There are facts and statistics, some thorough and well-supported, and some are pure fabrication. There are also some systemic problems where some groups are more negatively affected than others, most especially with regards to race. Those things can be debated. But when it comes to values, those are personal and subjective. There is no right or wrong. It boils down to this: as long as one does not harm the person or property of a non-consenting other, then how is what they think, say or do your business?
© 2015 William Suphan
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