Monday, June 25, 2012

Sexism (or any other form of bigotry) should not be given a free pass, even on the Internet

IllDoc does another great video:

I don't even know why this would be a controversial topic. Makes sense to me, but apparently not to many men. Yeah, yeah, I know that there are lots of men out there who don't support the actions of misogynists, anti-feminist trolls, etc.. However, tacit disagreement with such a stance isn't actually helping out, either.

When I see the types of negative, bigoted statements referenced in the video, they generally make me angry.

Statements like, "Hey, it was a joke!" just piss me off all the more. You know it wasn't a joke, when you said it. I know that it wasn't a joke when you said it. The only reason that you are now back-pedaling now is that you've been called out on something that was obviously a bigoted comment, but you don't want to admit that you were wrong, so you try to play it off as a joke. It's transparent. It stretches credulity. It mocks my intelligence. It does nothing other than continue to offend.

Furthermore, stating things like, "I don't really think that way; it's just funny to do," isn't any better than the more general, "It was a joke" excuse. Making bigoted comments against someone because of who they are - and thinking this humorous - carries about as much humor as a knock knock joke: none. Furthermore, it shows everyone that you don't actually think of the other person as a human being, which means that potentially anyone could be treated as less than human, merely because of how you choose to classify them. Why would I - or anyone - would want to associate with that sort of deep-seated sociopathically inclined person is beyond me.

Finally, it doesn't prove to anyone that your strong, witty, courageous, or possess any other sort of socially redeeming characteristic. It merely proves that you can string together sentences that are replete with bigotry. Sadly, too, it often doesn't even show that you're imaginative; most bigoted insults are so well-trodden that anyone can likely rattle off a dozen or two in their mind with little prompting.

What to do about it? Well, fighting fire with fire is one option, but it is one that quickly cedes the high ground. Some might, however, contend that there is little concept of a "high ground" on the Internet. I don't think that it's necessary to opt for a bigoted response to bigotry, though. However, such responses - like Anderson Cooper's responses to hater-tweets - generally do require a sense of wit and imagination that is often lacking in the heat of the moment. I tend - when I see them (and I don't often, since I rarely am involved in fora that witness outright bigotry) - to merely point out that the person is being a bigot. Others can then agree with my simply stated point; but it takes the initial statement of calling out.

True, some people might not even consider themselves to be bigoted when it comes to a particular topic. In their (often privileged) world view, such statements are normal and have never been critically examined (from any viewpoint, let alone from the viewpoint of the group being discriminated against). To these people, the simple statement of, "You are making a very bigoted statement," is the height of insult. You might actually have to have a reasoned conversation (which is always difficult online, especially once you have said something that the other person has taken as offensive) about how their statement was actually quite bigoted. There's no promise that you'll succeed in convincing the other person in a single conversation that their point was, indeed, bigoted. However, it's unlikely that anyone could change someone's worldview in just one conversation, regardless of how well-reasoned the argument and how amicable the conversation; changing someone's mind requires time and constant follow-up, so don't worry if the other person still doesn't agree with your position at the end of the conversation (provided you can even have a conversation).

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