Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two Genders

Recently I saw images of that one annoying dude who sets up a trollish table outside with a sign on it inviting people to change his mind on things, and this time it was "There are only two genders. Change my mind."

I don't engage with people like that. He's not really asking people to change his mind, and he's "covered" all kinds of topics this way, including such classics as "male privilege is a myth, change my mind" and "hate speech isn't real, change my mind." Mmkay. Wow, what an edgelord, upholding attitudes that are already established throughout most of society. Folks like this aren't worth talking to because they think they're brave to defend these notions now that they've actually been asked to question them.

I AM happy to discuss these things with people who want to understand. I have become better and better over the years at identifying people who want to understand, say, asexuality--and those who pretend they want to have the conversation but actually just kind of want to make a spectacle of people and love to gloat if they can upset someone until they feel degraded and hopeless.

So ya know. I recognize the type easily. What surprises me sometimes is that some people who ARE that type of person don't know it. 

They're adamant that they're picking fights with others because of some perverse desire to uphold Truth or maintain Science or put these Triggered Snowflake SJW Liberals in their place. And if asked why they are initiating these conversations and creating adversarial (not invitational) spaces in which to have them, they never admit that it's based on bigotry, ignorance, or hate. It's always some amorphous thing about how Reality and Objectivity and Science needs to be defended or else the politically correct terrorists will win.

And they have all these stories of being "attacked" over it. That they're not allowed to just live their lives for a quiet peaceful moment without someone ATTACKING them, forcing beliefs on them, hijacking good decent environments and forcing politics into them. The stories they describe, though, frequently paint a picture of an unreasonable population that's fiercely intolerant, when in actuality the people who espouse these beliefs are usually voicing them in *response* to not being respected.

The "attacks" over respecting other people's gender? Tend to involve being asked to use the right pronouns for people and avoid misgendering them. That's an attack--making them feel bad for getting it wrong, and so it's important to make the person seem ridiculous for expecting respect to look a certain way. The conversations that ensue often involve the corrected person sputtering about how unreasonable it is to call a trans person by their correct pronouns because THEY personally want to think of them as a gender they don't identify as. But the trans people and their allies are the bullies here, apparently.

The "attacks" over respecting sexual orientation diversity? Tend to involve someone complaining loudly about gay media or objecting to someone shamelessly identifying as gay, claiming it's being shoved in their face or is indecent. You know, that person who's squawking about how disgusting it is for gay people to "flaunt" their gayness in public (by being as casually affectionate in public as is generally accepted for straight people, but it's usually exaggerated as to what they were doing). That person claims it's being pushed on them and their opinions and rights are being taken away because they're being asked to extend basic respect to someone else. But the gay people who have the audacity to act like people in public are the instigators here, right?

I see this a lot. An intolerant person objects to someone else's lifestyle, cries crocodile tears over their poor children and their offended morals, and demands that they be allowed to limit others' behavior or else that's bigotry against THEM. The reason they feel attacked, though, is that they're used to being preferred and privileged and not even having to think about it, so even the very act of asking them to question it (and asking them to accept that they receive undeserved, unearned advantages) sounds like ripping away their RIGHTS. 

And then I see these jackasses bleating that there are only two genders. Saying that to people who identify as something other than male or female. Saying that in direct denial of the FACT that physical sex is something of a continuum even in sexually reproducing species. Saying that in direct ignorance of gender as an experience that is necessarily subjective. Saying that with absolutely nothing to lose by being kind and respectful.

That's what really kills me about it. Who benefits if you "win" the conversation about how many genders there can be? What have you proved when you insist that it shouldn't or can't exist because you can't imagine it? What is it about someone saying "I think of myself this way" that makes you want to intensely invalidate that person because you like your gender categories in nature-denying, experience-denying dichotomies that feel right to you? It costs you nothing to say "I hear you and I'll try to understand you and make you more comfortable in this world." Your choice not to do so--and your choice to instead deliberately provoke people--is unimaginably cruel.

You don't have to personally get it, or understand what it's like, or know a lot about gender theory. All it takes is to listen to someone and take what they say about their identity to you at face value. Default to respect. 

I mean, or you can sit in public with a sign that says "I'm setting a tone of disbelief and disrespect. I am entering this interaction believing you are invalid by default. I don't understand you, and until or unless you sacrifice your time, safety, and emotional energy approaching ME to change my mind, I will go out of my way to make the world more dangerous for you. I will reinforce people's bigoted beliefs by displaying my own, and I will make people think your gender identity is hilarious and silly. I will portray my actions as provocative in a good way instead of in a hateful way, and I will praise myself for my bravery in repeating sentiments that have always endangered your life and threatened your mental health. I will imagine myself as a hero fighting an overly PC future that's out to control our minds for the worse, refusing to acknowledge that I am paving the way for violence, anti-diversity initiatives, and conformity through shame. I think this is a good thing, and I challenge you to change my mind because then it seems like I listened to you and proved my position. I am a cruel person who wants you to be cruel too."

Great message there, buddy. 

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