Lets all just agree to kill each other?

There are two videos I would like you to watch. Especially the first one. It is a brilliant summary of certain traditional ideals of patriotism, faith and masculinity. See this chorus of brave and faithful men singing their hearts out about how they will fight for their land, their families, their religion and their nation, tribe, empire or ethnic group.

Rid yourself of the narrative structure where one side is the heroic protagonists and the other is the villainous antagonists. Realize instead that all of these men are completely honest. That they all mean well and try their best to be good, in their limited understanding of what goodness means.

The other video partially touches on the same core issue, and highlights the core issue: The delusion that truth and morality revolves around one’s own group. In this case ethnic and religious group, but the same principle exemplified in this video applies to ANY categorization of people.

The basic truth that each of us need to understand is this: “The world does not revolve around me or any particular group of people I identify with. My point of view is subjective, our common point of view is also subjective, and other people are people too. What matters is not whether one is religious or not, but HOW one relates to ones beliefs – whether these beliefs are religious, political and/or otherwise.

There are three layers of reality: Physical, internal and social.

The physical world exists independently of us humans. The internal realities ARE humans, each of us having our own subjective realities where the subjective experience is the objective truth: However connected or disconnected in relation to physical reality, it is objectively true that we do experience it. Social realities exist between humans. We need to learn to coexist in peace. To let our social realities mesh and mingle peacefully, rather than invade each other by force. While we need to recognize that all points of view have the same inherent value, we also need to recognize that there are facts and universal truths out there. Such as the fact that other human beings are just as human as you are, and that any system of morality that fails to empathize with them is a deeply flawed system. When people agree that morality is about providing for one’s own ethnic or religious or blood-line group at other people’s expense, they merely agree to all kill each other. Such a position is inherently destructive on a level that a civilization capable of mass destruction cannot afford to have. We, as a species, need to grow up. For this, we need universal human rights.

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Not only boys are socialized to sexism

I got asked what I think of the following model:

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“Men’s path of understanding sexism by Jess Zimmerman:

Stage 1: Sexism is a fake idea invented by feminists.
Stage 2: Sexism happens, but the effect of “reverse sexism” on men is as bad or worse.
Stage 3: Sexism happens, but the important part is that I personally am not sexist.
Stage 4: Sexism happens, and I benefit from that whether or not I personally am sexist.
Stage 5: Sexism happens, I benefit from it, I am unavoidably sexist sometimes because I was socialized that way, and if I want to be anti-sexist I have to be actively working against that socialization. ”

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This model has two main points. I agree with one, and disagree with the other.

I agree that the five stages is a development that many have to go through. Not only regarding sexism, but also regarding racism and other foci of categorism.

I disagree with the idea that the stages are specific to men, or the privileged group in any dichotomy.

Society is neither sexist nor non-sexist or anti-sexist.
Society is neither racist nor non-racist or anti-racist.

Society is complex.
It includes sexism, non-sexism and anti-sexism, as well as racism, non-racism and anti-racism.

Kids of all genders and colors are socialized in all sorts of ways, including some really bad ones.
As they grow up, they need to overcome prejudices and bigotries they have been socialized with.

A lot of people, of all genders, look down on women. As they look at a random woman, they will call her a slut if she’s sexual and a prude if she’s not. They will scold her for having or not having a career, and for having or not having kids. Either way, they will assume that she’s incompetent in all things compared to a random man. All things, except for boring menial tasks.

The first three stages applies equally to people of all genders, trying to overcome the bad parts of their socialization.

It should also be noted that women gain some benefits, although these benefits are far smaller than the losses, from traditional gender roles. And that sexism against men, while a smaller thing than sexism against women, is also a thing. For these two reasons, the fourth and fifth stage does apply to women as well.

The thing about white heterosexual men: Kyriarchy

It is now 2014. Over the last couple of years, you might have heard more and more people ranting about “White heterosexual men”. They used to rant only about “men”. This was based on patriarchy theory, which is basically the idea that men have all power and that this sucks.

Patriarchy theory is somewhat outdated. It is getting replaced with intersectionality and kyriarchy theory. Intersectionality is that we need to think not only about gender OR race, but about both and about other factors as well. How they intersect with each other. Kyriarchy is about the power of dominant groups, whatever those groups may be. In other words, kyriarchy is patriarchy – except that it is not limited to gender.

To understand kyriarchy, you must understand what a social structure is. A social structure is a pattern, not a group of people. Thus, a reasonable understanding of kyriarchy is not about what categories people belong to. Instead, it is about how people get treated in society based on categorization.

For example, people tend to have opinions. And they do tend to consider their own opinions to be right. This is universal, having nothing to do with categorizations such as race, sexual orientation or gender.

However, a random person who happens to be white, heterosexual, male or all of the above tends to get taken more seriously and be treated better than a random person who is not any or all of these things. This difference in treatment is likely to have happened to them both many times in the past. Therefore, this other person also may also tend to have worse self-esteem and self-confidence than they deserve. These differences are unfair, and thus immoral. The systematic prejudice, bigotry and discrimination against certain categories of people is absurd, and silly in a way that isn’t funny at all. We are all human. We human beings need to treat each other well, regardless of categorizations such as race or gender. Each of us need to take each of our fellow human beings as seriously as they deserve, based on their own merit and on giving everyone a fair chance.

Kyriarchy is expressed not by a person having an opinion about something, even if this person happens to be white and male and so on. Kyriarchy is expressed by people of all genders and so on who takes his opinion more seriously than they would take the same opinion when expressed by a person of equal merit who happens to be not entirely white, not entirely male, or both.

Hating people for their race or gender is bullshit. It is categorism, which is prejudice, bigotry and/or discrimination based on a categorization of people. While this includes hating people because they happen to be white heterosexual men, it does NOT include hating the unfair privileges people these people get.

Personally, I hate the unfair structures in the world. This has nothing to do with what categories I belong or doesn’t belong to, it has nothing to do with hating myself or others. It is irrelevant that I happened to be born in a way that make me easy to categorize as white, heterosexual and male. This is not something for me to be proud or ashamed of. It is simply the way I happened to be born, and there is no such thing as original sin. I want people to listen to me and take me seriously for what I have to say, not for the color or hairiness of the skin that surrounds my mouth. And I have very little patience with people who want to validate me, or dismiss me, on such shallow basis.

So please, everyone. Treat each other as human beings, not as categories. To be able to truly see your fellow human beings as individuals, you need to see that they live in social contexts. Fight against the power structures, fight against the prejudices and bigotries that fuel them.

Let your children go… gradually

ImageToday I saw an awesome t-shirt. At first, I felt it was “awesome, period”. Then I had to settle for feeling that it is only awesome with some huge reservations. The basic message of the t-shirt was that the wearer thinks his daughter’s sex-life is her own business. Cool message, if the daughter is either adult or approaching adulthood. Not so cool off the daughter is closer to still being a little child. The problem here is when the concept of “child” or “teenager” is treated with dichotomism. That is, the bad habit of seeing categories as if they are absolutes, rather than as the sliding scales they usually actually are.

Children and teenagers mature gradually. As they mature, their parents need to gradually step back. Let the kids run more and more of their own lives, one step at a time.

The concept of “child” usually includes every person in the age between birth and the 18:th birthday, while the concept of “teenagers” includes every person in the age between the 13:th and the 20:th birthday.

One really creepy & destructive form of dichotomism here is to decide something along the line of “A child is a child: I will treat my 17-years-old as if she was 5”. Another dichotomism that is *also* creepy & destructive is to decide that “a teenager is a teenager: I will treat my 13-years-old as if she was 19”.

The concepts of freedom and responsibility need to be intertwined. The older children grow, the more they get ready to take their own chances, fend for themselves, and if necessary make their own mistakes.

Also… Parents setting rules for their children and for the child’s interaction with others should NEVER come from the parents having a sense of “owning” their children. It should always be only about protecting the child’s integrity. Age of Consent laws exist for good reason. And I don’t mean only sexual consent here, but also age restrictions for the labor market and the financial market and so on. We adults are free to freely take sexual lovers, finance partners such as employers or employees, and so on. This is not only about us owning our own bodies and so on, but it is also about each of us having the responsibility to care for our own lives, without any parent-figures to decide on a case-by-case basis what we can and cannot handle. Children have the same right to their own bodies and minds as adults do, but NOT the same responsibility to “make the right decisions, or take the consequences”.

Categories exist only in your heads

Do you believe that those human beings who you see as being part of a certain category, such as those who have a gender or a certain religion, are in a certain way?
Oh, you probably do. Because that’s how the human brain works: It desperately needs to categorize. Without categories, it would never be able to get an overview of anything, and thus not able to understand anything. Categorization is a necessary tool.

However, please understand that this is all in your head. Categories exists only in minds, they do not have any existence that is independent of minds.

When you think that men, women, Christians, Muslims or Atheists are in a certain way… what you really do is that you create or reinforce a stereotype. This stereotype may or may not have a bit of statistical correlation to reality, but it can never BE reality.

When you create or reinforce a stereotype, you need to be aware of the fact that this is something you are doing. And you need to be aware that these stereotypes can be destructive. When you label certain human qualities as male or female, masculine or feminine, you might be limiting people’s possibilities. Limiting them by encouraging those humans labeled as “male” to distance themselves from the qualities labeled as “female”, and vice versa. You are basically telling them how they must limit themselves in order to be a REAL man or a REAL woman.

In reality, humanity is a really diverse lot. If you divide it into two halves by gender, each half is still just as diverse. And the same is true for any major religions. While a local religious congregation might have a consensus on what it means to belong to their religion, a world religion such as Christianity or Islam does not have any such consensus. Sure, there are many preachers who claim to know exactly who is or isn’t a REAL Christian or Muslim. However, this knowledge typically includes denouncing each other as being heretics and blasphemers and what have you.

Be it gender or religion or any other categorization, these visions of the real has nothing to do with objective reality. It is a purely subjective reality in your own head. Which doesn’t mean you made it up. In most cases, you got it from your local culture or subculture. You think it’s “real”, because people around you like you when you adhere to it and dislike you when you deviate from it. But that’s a group of people being subjective together and imposing arbitrary social norms on each other. It still exists only in your heads, although “heads” is in the plural rather than the singular.

Be careful with what you impose on others, and with what you impose on yourself.

Furthermore, please be careful with who you enter a discursive alliance with. What I mean with this is that if you emotionally dislike a certain category of people, you will be inclined to seek out the creepiest preachers of this category and agree with them on what it really means to belong to this category.

If you hate men, you will be tempted to seek out the most destructive ideal of masculinity you can find, and say “yup, that is what it means to be a man”. If you hate women or feminists, you will be tempted seek out the least reasonable version of radical feminism you can find, and put that on the very same pedestal. In both cases, you are actually a part of the problem here. By claiming that this is how men, women or feminists really are, you are actively participating in this destructive discourse. Because there are MANY men and women who are not like that, and feminism is a very wide and diverse field of study and activism.

Likewise, if you happen to hate Christians or Muslims or Atheists, you may be tempted to enter the same kind of discursive alliance with the worst representatives you can find. Thus actually fighting for them, fighting to give them power over those who have much better worldviews under the same labels.

Please understand that there is no such thing as one true masculinity, one true femininity, one true Islam, one true Christianity or one true Atheism. These words are labels, and they mean different things to different people. Which is as it should be: Human beings deserve freedom of religion and freedom of gender identity. Which includes the freedom for each human being to decide what meanings, if any, these labels have for them.

There is no need to fight for or against gender categories, and there is no need to fight for or against categories for religion or lack thereof. What we need to fight against is totalitarian and oppressive usage of these categories. Don’t tell people that they need to conform or else you will disqualify their identities. Don’t do that to people you feel are your friends, and don’t do it to people you feel are your enemies. Thanks.

Do not fear the troll itself

 

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Hey everyone, lets talk about trolls.

An internet troll is a person who assumes a fake opinion, or even a fake identity, simply to make you react. He may argue points that he know is bullshit, yet pretend to be honest simply of the pleasure of pissing you off.

Such trolls may sometimes derail discussions, making these discussions far less interesting than they otherwise would be. Some of them may even hurt people’s feelings, and shit like that.

You have all heard this before, and it is certainly true. You may also have heard that trolls are a huge problem. That part is rarely true, however. In many cases, paranoid false accusations of trollhood does far more damage than the trolls themselves.

When is it that you think of someone as a troll? Whether you say it outright or not?
This varies from person to person, of course. But chances are good that you are tempted to see people as trolls whenever they disagree with you, whenever they use arguments that doesn’t suit you, or whenever they have backgrounds and lived experiences that doesn’t fit what you are used to.

When you have an opinion or belief, you are inclined to see this opinion or belief as being THE TRUTH. Yet, people will contradict you? Surely they actually agree with you, but pretend to believe otherwise simply to spite you! People who deny your truths are raining on your parade – surely they must be trolls! Even more so if they think differently than you do.

Furthermore, you know what life is like. You know this, because you live your own life and have heard about lives of others. When a life is different from what you are used to, it looks as if your preconceptions are really prejudices rather than wisdom. And we can’t have that, can we? Surely those who are different from you are trolls, too.

With “you”, I mean each person in the world. Whether they actually read this post or not.

On the whole, seeing people as trolls do far more damage that actual trolls does. Best option is usually to listen to people and take for granted that what they say may indeed be honest. It may be wise to have some reservations that people might be trolls, but be very careful with using such reservations to dismiss people.

 

Does respect have to be earned? Or should we all respect each other?

You might have heard the meme that “respect has to be earned”. Whether this is true or not depends on what you man by “respect”. There are different kinds of respect, and the problem with the meme is that it doesn’t make any such distinction.

Lets start with differentiating between three forms of respect, which we can call “general respect”, “personal respect” and “basic respect”.

With general respect, I mean the kind of respect where we don’t treat anyone badly unless there’s a valid reason for that, and give everyone a reasonable level of the benefit of the doubt.

With personal respect, I mean the kind of respect where we hold someone in high esteem for their virtues or accomplishments. This is the kind of respect that needs to be earned, and earned fairly. It is not okay to demand this kind of respect without earning it, and it is ESPECIALLY not okay to demand it through coercion, extortion or bullying.

With basic respect, I mean that even IF we have reason to treat a certain person in a negative way, and no matter how strong and valid those reasons are, we should STILL acknowledge that this person is a person – and thus entitled to universal human rights.

The meme can easily be interpreted as a way of dismissing general respect as well as basic respect, which is extremely bad.

Linkage third of November

Sharing & presenting some links that I found interesting. 🙂
Most of them came to me through twitter over the last few days.

Atheism on the rise in Egypt
Far from all disbelievers are part of any urban elite.
http://www.salon.com/2013/10/27/a_christopher_hitchens_dream_atheism_on_the_rise_in_egypt/singleton/

Seven countries that still kills “witches”
Until I read this article, I only knew there was two such countries. Turned out to be five more. 😦
http://www.care2.com/causes/7-countries-that-still-kill-witches.html

Evolution – What Darwin Never Knew – NOVA PBS Documentary
A documentary about how genes affect each other and what role that plays in the execution of natural selection.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYBRbCLI4zU

The Psychological Power of Satan
As it turns out, the belief that some people are “absolute evil” does indeed contribute to mistreating people. Up to and including large scale “preemptive” military attacks.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=psychological-power-satan

Experiment shows English people are eager to support female genital mutilation as long as they get a cue that it is the socially appropriate position to take.
And, one might add, as long as the victims are not white. That’s when the phrase “it’s only mutilation” sounds reasonable to these people.
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/what-happened-when-antifgm-campaigner-asked-people-in-the-street-to-sign-a-petition-in-favour-of-mutilating-girls-8908877.html

Is it “islamophobia” to oppose forced gender segregation and the parctice of stoning “adulterers” to death”?
Sadly, some would argue that it is: Conservative Muslims and political Islamists claim to speak for all Muslims, and argue that it is “islamophobia” to not see their barbaric version of Islam as the one true Islam. Meanwhile, people who are bigoted against Muslims are all too eager to agree on this. Both sides of this argument strengthens my conviction that the inherently corrupt word “islamophobia” needs to be replaced with the more neutral term “antimuslimism”: It is people (in this case Muslims) who deserve respect and rights, not religions and ideologies (in this case Islam).

Furthermore, it is bigotry and discrimination to accept that people (for example people who happens to be Muslims) get oppressed, tortured and even murdered (for example in the name of Islam) as if they didn’t deserve better.
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/islam-or-islamophobia2

Interview about persecution against ex-Muslims and non-dogmatic Muslims
Includes some excellent advice, such as not perceiving any religion as a monolith.
http://nothingismere.com/2013/10/28/listen-and-judge-an-interview-with-marwa-berro/

London street thugs attacks tourists, appointing themselves Sharia “police”
This kind of behavior is despicable no matter what political or religious belief it is done in the name of. And regardless of what ideology or religion they do it for, these creeps are always convincing themselves that they are The One And Only Truth.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/25/american-student-slashed-in-london-police-eye-muslims-patrols.html

Splitting xzenu.wordpress.com into language versions

Hi!

My blog is currently located at http://xzenu.wordpress.com

However, that blog is in two languages: English and Swedish.

The last few posts are in Swedish, and I intend to keep it that way. The first posts were in Swedish as well, but I switched to English when I lived in Indonesia.

Inn the future, my English posts will go on this blog, while the Swedish posts go on the Xzenu blog.