Thursday, April 6, 2017

I am a humanist...

Frankly, I'm not particularly fond of or attached to labels.  Not that I don't use them, and even on occasions - such as this one - apply them to myself.  But as I've gone further along in the journey of life, I've discovered that labels actually often do the opposite of what they try to do.  At least as far as people are concerned.

In theory, a label is useful because it can identify certain things about the person to whom the label is applied.  Certain consistent knowns.  Like "that person is an asshole" actually tells you a lot.  (And actually despite some frequent provocation, I don't often use that label towards others.  Unless they're driving like idiots, but that's another post for another day that I hopefully will never actually write).

Red state. Blue state.  Canadian. British. Conservative. Liberal. Professional.

It would be nice if we all fit neatly into tight little easily definable packages.

Or would it?  (And there's a side road into the potential up-sides to assimilation by the Borg...)

There certainly seems to be this pressing desire by a portion of the human population (I don't pretend to measure whether it's large or small) to categorize.  To find neat little categories, or systems by which to group people.  And these types of people (of which I probably am one, since I've often found that people pointing out features about folks they think are "other" are usually features they, too, share... after all - we are human) like distinct measurable systems.

The latest "battle" I've been having - not intentionally - has been about biological classifications.  To be clear, binary biological classifications.  Which, frankly, if I knew more about biology and the history of species with interchangeable parts, I could probably make some really snappy arguments.

But I find myself enjoying - perhaps - picking battles with people who are very certain about their views.  The more certain, stuck perhaps even, they are, the more I seem to be enjoying poking fun at them.

I'm not intentionally trying to poke fun.  Mostly I'm just trying to poke and make them think about some of the inconsistencies in what they espouse.  But it also seems to be a little fun. I'm sure that means I'm an evil person (since we like labels) or perhaps just human.

One of my friends introduced me to the work of Ivan Coyote now - oh - about five or six years ago.  My wife has recently discovered Ivan through this same friend.  And we've recently gone to see the Tomboy Survival Guide.  My wife has been generally apolitical in the world of queer politics and has been surprised and confused by some of the hateful posts others have made in response to Ivan.

One of the first ones had to do with pronouns.  I do snicker a little when others joining the conversation a month or so later have poor grammar anyway.  I'm not usually a grammar snob, but sometimes.  And usually in response to someone who's asked for it.

I stumbled into a label I hadn't heard of before  - TERFS - and that's a whole other ball of wax I won't even start back on today.  But the post essentially was a request to use the pronoun to describe the person that they preferred.  Innocent (in my eyes) enough.  But apparently not.  First, the word "label" TERFS has a little bit of explosive material attached to it.  A little like a land-mine, but different.  I had to detonate it to find out cuz on the surface it looked fairly harmless.

So, someone had written "I don't care - your aversion to your female body shouldn't dictate my perception of reality.  You are a she".  And then the Borg slips down the rabbit hole.

"Gender fantasies" being "imposed on others"

Oh, and I've been given a lot of information about biology and mental illness, and mutilation and feminism and.. oh binary biological boxes.

I was told that I believe that women aren't human beings.  No, I believe that rectangles aren't necessarily squares, but....

Anyway, let's not add math into it.

But mostly I am amused - and saddened - by the logic people profess.

I am amused by a woman who both describes herself as a radical feminist and who clearly describes her behavior towards me as "patronizing".  Uh, do you know the roots of the word "patronizing"? Do you - oh radical feminist - understand that I'd think one of the root "causes" for a radical feminist would be to eliminate "patronizing" behavior, i.e., patriarchy... i.e., well.. anyway.. never mind.

I love someone who describes themselves as a radical feminist and yet feels it's their place to tell other people what to do or not to do with their bodies.

Or a "radical feminist" who might very well have used the word "herstory" in her lifetime but thinks OTHERS shouldn't be able to use or adjust language to match their own world view.

Which is why I started this post about how labels clearly don't accurately identify anyone.  Or qualify anyone for any particular opinion.

What gives us power to have an opinion is our human-ness.

But clearly sound basic principles of what I thought would be beliefs by "feminists" let alone radical "feminists" - things I might have been led to believe through my upper education and degree in women's studies (oh, and English) are not clearly sound basic principles.

One person in sparring with me made some sort of comment about trans people only being white heterosexual men.  Which even if you accept that argument.. (big IF) still doesn't validate or invalidate general human principles about, well, anything.  I'm guessing the point was that we could dismiss it because it was a movement by privileged people.  Perhaps an indulgence...  ? I'm still not sure.

I was amused, though, and didn't bother to point out and drag poor Ivan back into it, that the conversation began by / about someone who was not born into the body of a white heterosexual male.

But at least the point made to me by that comment explains why everyone is so afraid of gender neutral bathrooms.  They think it's a prank by white heterosexual male rapists.  Sorry, I added that last word because later in the conversation the person did disclose that they had been raped (suggesting repeated molestation) and so it isn't an entirely unreasonable conclusion to draw that this must be the fear.

I've rambled in posts before.  But I am flabbergasted by some of the logic of people.  Mastectomy for a transgender person would be mutilation, but it`s okay for someone who has breast cancer or fears the potential for breast cancer because they might have a gene.  "Mutiliation" is wrong, but tattooing and piercing "don`t hurt anyone" (even thirty five years later, I do remember that my ears hurt when they were pierced, and I don't even want to think about what I would consider "less" traditional places to pierce that are becoming frankly more traditional..).  Giving oneself hormones is wrong.. but, wait, no, not for birth control.  Who is the one to draw the line - particularly for others - as to when a particular behavior is "okay" and when it is a horrific act?

And what do these people think about circumcision?

Now, to be clear, I'm not particularly advocating (intentionally) a belief system - but I do believe (which is completely contrary to my belief in humanism) in a belief system that is consistent.  If you're going to say the world is black and white, then your logic and beliefs should be that clearly consistent.

And it's okay - I do agree that there are inconsistencies in life.  I know I can be contrary.  I often admit I'm contrary, and that I'm wrong, and a whole other mess of imperfections.  But the harder you fight in your clear rigid lines that are anything but clear and rigid, the more I'm going to poke.

I may not be able to - or want to - put you into a little box as you clearly seem to want to put others and yourselves with your own labels of yourselves, but at least be consistent or recognize your own infallibility.  Cuz trust me, we're all wrong at some point.

But it's how we handle each other and treat each other in the end - regardless of label - that matters to me.

Not my first semi-disorganized post, and probably won't be as popular as Married Women Love Breasts but probably consistent with my old post about Isn't "Dyke" derogatory? What is in a name after all?

But perhaps I should listen to my other old post (self publicizing anyone?) and Step Away From the Keyboard....

Good night everyone....