Feminist and antifeminist positions and narratives

Ideology, just like religion, is very much about telling stories. It is a matter of creating a narrative with heroes and villains, forces of good and of evil. It is common for a True Believer (of any faction) to do what I like to call narrativism: To disregard all facts and perspectives that does not fit the narrative.

Last week, a certain narrative about feminism was shared on facebook. The basic story was that all feminists are evil, and that everything good feminism has done doesn’t count because that was a different and better kind of feminists. The author claims to not be an MRA, and we can assume that s/he honestly does not identify as MRA. Nevertheless, s/he is parroting MRA narratives as if they were gospel. Repeating the classic MRA talking points about how all feminists/women are evil and only live to hurt and harm innocent men. And for no good reason at that, since misogyny and rape culture never even existed in the first place… because we said so.

For those who are not familiar with the MRA, they are what Hannibal The Victor on Youtube has named “the male supremacy movement”. Personally, I find this term far more accurate than their own self-styled identity as “Men’s Rights Activists”, just like groups who fight for the Aryan Race are usually white supremacist movements no matter how much they prefer to call their struggle “white rights activism”.

It is generally accepted that feminism has developed in three main phases, called waves. With the “feminist sex-wars” between the second and third phase. The first wave was about winning basic rights like the right to vote, the second wave about fighting patriarchy and structural oppression of women, and the third wave about becoming wider and more inclusive.

There are many kinds of feminism. Liberal feminism developed as a part of the first wave, radical feminism as part of the second, and queer feminism as part of the third. Personally, I am in favor of queer feminism as well as liberal feminism, but like so many others I consider radical feminism to be obsolete and highly problematic.

Radical Feminism is a faith that combines a modified version of communism’s class-war with a modified version of American Conservative Christianity’s hatred of sexuality.

In the communist faith, everything revolves around the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeois. Built on a strict dichotomy between men as the oppressors and women as victims, radical feminism imported this analytical model and narrative structure – simply replacing class with gender.

In American Conservative Christianity, sex is something filthy that men does to women. Radical feminism adopted this narrative, replacing the notion that women are filthy sluts who are defiled by sexuality with the notion that women are victims who are harmed by men. Thus changing the narrative role of men from being entitled to consume and destroy women to being vicious predators who are to blame for what they according to both versions of the narrative does to women.

Radical feminism is a core part of second wave feminism, and it is unlikely that the second wave would have succeeded without it. It was a strong counter-narrative to the misogynistic narratives of conservative Christianity, and it provided a simple platform for political struggle. It was, of course, also a deeply problematic construct. Digging mental trenches, spreading bigotry against GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) and against sexuality as such.

As for bigotry against men, that has certainly been a problem for some individual men and boys trapped in situations where radical feminists have had power over them. But men as a group was never truly threatened, unlike the gender and sexual minorities. Bigotry against trans people, sadomasochists and sex workers was often disastrous for these groups. And a civilization so deeply saturated in shaming of sexuality, did it really need even more of that burden?

Thus the feminist sex-wars, with sex-positive feminists revolting against the radical feminist hegemony.

Gender identity and Sexuality was not the only problematic issues within the second wave. There was also a lot of racism, classism and so on, with a “sisterhood” that claimed to be universal but which many felt was only ever for those women who happened to be white and so on.

With the third wave, any notion of one single unified feminist movement is long gone. Feminism is a diverse field, and the sex-wars were never truly resolved. The worst kinds of sex-negative feminism is becoming marginalized, it is no longer “in” to hate GSM. “Radical Feminism” in general and “TERF” (Trans Excluding Radical Feminism) in particular are dirty words within much of contemporary feminism. Instead, intersectionality is in. This is the notion that each person belong to many categories, not just one. While white people and men are privileged categories in mainstream western society, a white man who is gay, disabled or socially marginalized is still underprivileged (or even oppressed) in those regards.

Getting gradually pushed out of academia and feminist activism, radical feminism is making an absurd comeback in the form of the so called Men’s Rights Movement. Which, as far as I am concerned, is radical feminism all over again – only gender inverted, and with a pinch of Ayn Rand style rightwing extremism thrown in to make it even more absurd. Based in the fantasy that having to pay taxes is the one true oppression and that everyone who can’t work (including those who are forbidden to work) are parasites who oppress the rich and powerful, prominent MRA activist Karen Straughan will even argue that Afghanistan under the Taliban regime is an example of how women are always the privileged gender and that men are oppressed by these women.

Several prominent MRA:s has their background in second wave radical feminism. A classic example is their chief ideologue Warren Farrell himself. His is the author of “The Myth of Male Power”, which pretty much was THE book that got the MRA movement started. And he used to be a board member of National Organization for Women back in the most radical feminist days of that organization.

While all of the above is written from my own point of view and I encourage you to research the issues for yourself, I am quite confident that my narrative is compatible with all relevant facts. The same can not be said for a narrative that try to construct second wave feminism as all good and third wave feminism as all evil. Thus we return to the text I read last week. Titled “What Is Feminism?”, the text is a complete revision of history: Taking radical feminist ideas from the second wave and claim that the third wave invented them instead – up to and including the absurd claim that the idea that our culture is misogynistic and that women has been oppressed throughout the ages (a cornerstone of the second wave) was really invented by the third wave. While also claiming that misogyny and rape culture don’t exist (and never existed?), but simply was some kid of lie perpetuated by evil third wave feminists in order to harm innocent men. As well as spreading the propaganda that the wage gap is only a lie/myth/conspiracy.

Why pretend that “everything we disagree with in the second wave didn’t really happen then, it was instead invented by the third wave”? Well, my guess is that the author is simply misinformed… Relying on information from MRA:s who build their narratives for the purpose of depicting all feminists as evil. By letting the actual historical radical feminism of the hook, they can (falsely) exonerate their own movement’s radical feminist roots, but more importantly pretend that their hatred against all feminism doesn’t put them dangerously close to attacking the accomplishments of the first two waves of feminism. (In my experience with MRA propaganda, they are mostly against the achievements of the second wave, sometimes even the first. As for actual oppression against actual men, they don’t really care beyond using it as cheap talking points. As in complaining that some men are homeless, while also arguing that the taxes that fund goods such as homeless shelters should be removed – because such taxes are good for women and other parasites.)

Feminism is a wide field, containing many contradicting ideas. Some of them are indeed problematic. The text brings up notions that exist-but-are-very-marginalized within this field, such as the idea that all men are rapists. (However, the example used for this claim is actually a fictional example of the facts that rapists exist, that a woman can’t know for sure who is a rapist and who isn’t, as well as that women are to a large extent socialized to be afraid. Which is NOT in any way any claim about men in general.)

A final note on the absurdity of the text is how it refer to the so-called elevatorgate. Short story short, a woman at a conference spends the evening in the bar after holding a lecture about sexual harassment. At 4am she announces that she’s too tired to be social anymore, and just want to sleep. She says goodnight to everyone and leaves. But one of the guys follows her into the elevator, and once they are alone he ask her to come to his hotel room instead. She refuses, and later mentions in a youtube video that she would have preferred if he hadn’t done that. In a world of somewhat reasonable people, it would have ended there.

Instead, thousands of MRA boys at the internet decided that it was their holy duty to never forgive, never forget, and never ever allow anyone else to forget either. Years has passed, and these men are still howling with hysterical rage about the horrible oppression against men this girl committed by not wanting to be cornered in an elevator at 4am directly after she made clear that she don’t want to socialize anymore. Note that she never accused the guy of anything, but merely stated her preference for people to not do that. For that, she received thousands of threats that she would be murdered and raped and so on.

Of course, this perpetual rage over her and the elevator is part of the rape culture they pretend do not exist. To ask for a date at 4am is not to promote rape. But to try to make an example of the girl for daring to say no, that definitely is. In a just society, it is okay to want sex… but it is also okay to have boundaries and to express these boundaries.

While the text “What is feminism?” ridicule women for being nervous about men not respecting their boundaries, it also participates in spreading a clear message that women are not allowed to have boundaries. A message that men as a group has not only the right to ask for sex at any time (including right after the woman has made perfectly clear that she don’t want to interact with him anymore), but also the right to hunt her forever in their eternal quest for revenge if she refuses a man’s advances or even worse dares to say that she don’t want him to hit on her in that situation.

There are many feminist narratives, some of which are deeply problematic in one way or another. The MRA narratives, on the other hand, seem to almost always be deeply problematic. The worst of radical feminism – gender inverted and mixed with traditional misogyny, social darwinism and a deep sense of entitlement.

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Are Planets Socially Constructed? Well… yes, but not physically.

There are eight planets in the social system. They used to be nine. But in 2006, one of them ceased to be a planet. So now there’s only eight planets left. To truly understand what happened, we must understand the difference between physical reality and social reality. This case of the missing planet also happens to be a perfect example for explaining the difference between these layers of reality.

You see, humanity has had a lot of impact on planet Earth. We have built cities, roads and canals all over the place. Rearranged the biosphere and changed the climate. Our physical constructions, such as buildings, are also social constructions in many ways, being products of civilization. Thus, physical reality and social reality are intertwined.

While our impact on Earth has been great, we have made only minimal impact on The Moon and on the planet Mars. A flag here, a robot there. Some footprints and tracks. So far, we have had no impact at all on any other planet or similar. Not in this solar system, and not beyond the solar system either.

Thus, the fact that Pluto used to be a planet but isn’t a planet any more… it has nothing to do with humans affecting Pluto itself. It is not Pluto that has changed, only our perception of it. The thing is this: Those things we call “planets” are not socially constructed. Not only are they a part of physical reality, but they are a part that is too far out of our reach to interact with social reality at all. However, the very concept of “planet” is a social construction. All concepts are socially constructed. They are more or less arbitrary, and they are changing over time.

When astronomers made the distinction between planets and stars, only a few planets were known. These were the largest and closest planets, because these were the ones easiest for us to observe. Pluto was the by far smallest of the planets. Later on, asteroids were discovered, but Pluto was too big to be considered an asteroid. So it remained a planet. But then it was discovered that asteroids like Ceres was actually on the same kind of size as Pluto. A choice had to be made. A choice between constantly adding new planets to our vision of the solar system, while having a hard time drawing the line between planet and asteroid. Therefore, in 2006, a new category was created: Dwarf-planets! Pluto, Ceres and three others were exiled to this category. Thus the number of planets in the solar system was reduced to eight.

When this kind of choice is made, it is not a matter of right versus wrong. Pluto is not a planet. This is true by definition, because Pluto does not fit our definition of what a planet is. Pluto used to be a planet, and this was also true by definition. Because Pluto did fit the definition we used to have of what a planet is. The question is not whether the definitions are right or wrong, but to what extent they are reasonable.

Astronomers didn’t discover that Pluto is not a planet, they decided it. But they did make this decision based on the discoveries they made, and this decision was a very reasonable decision to make.

Back in 2006, one of my friends took the decision very badly. It brought her to despair, crying because Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore. Not that she cared about Pluto, her problem was that the universe didn’t make sense to her anymore. If we can’t even trust that the number of planets in our very solar system is correct, what can we trust? She didn’t understand that there was never a truth to trust or distrust. It wasn’t the planets that had changed. Only our conceptualization of them.

Categories and other concepts do not exist in physical reality. They are social constructs: They are things that we human beings make up as we go along. We create and reinforce our categories individually in internal realities, as well collectively in social realities. If we fail to understand that concepts exist only in our minds and in our cultures, we will not be able to understand ourselves and each other. Furthermore, we won’t be able to understand physical reality either.

The universe is vast, and it exists independently of us. It is not socially constructed. Our understanding of this universe, however, is always socially constructed. How tempting it is to believe that our minds and culture shapes the universe around us. To believe that is the universe that is a small part of us, rather than we who are a small part of the universe.

The truth, however is that human perceptions of reality are always limited and subjective. They can be better or worse, especially when it comes to understanding the universe as well as understanding ourselves and each other. While constructs are ultimately arbitrary, they are NOT all equally valid. Some constructs promotes prejudices or misperceptions, while others promote more valid understanding. What we need to do is to always strive towards better perspectives and more reasonable concepts. Not delude ourselves into thinking that our current perspectives and concepts hold ultimate truth.

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.

Not only boys are socialized to sexism

I got asked what I think of the following model:

—–

“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. ”

——

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

 

***

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