Note #3: Gender Differences

venn-men-women

Nearly (but not quite) identical!

Yet another bit of flotsam washed ashore, this one from the mid-to-late 1980s I’m guessing. Another part of the same note has a file system diagram that, in part based on the “DOS” directory, confirms the era.

Back then I participated a lot in two online groups: Star Trek and Feminism. (Both were topics of avid interest to me!) This note seems to address a topic that sometimes arose as party line in the latter group, but which I thought missed the point.

It’s about examining versus ignoring differences…

There is, or at least was back then, sometimes the thought that differences between gender (or disability or race) don’t mean anything and should be minimized or ignored. The (entirely well-meaning) idea is that what matters is the person.

But completely ignoring things is rarely a good idea, and differences, whether real or perceived, do matter to people, do shape people. If we completely ignore them, we lose control of that shaping.

see-colon

See colon backslash!

It is possible (and I think desirable) to accept a person as a person while also acknowledging (even celebrating) their differences.

I have found that most people enjoy telling you who they are, like sharing what makes them different.

Inclusion is vitally important (and good — hybrids are usually superior), but that doesn’t mean we’re all identical.

I get that fear of differences being used for attack leads to wanting to ignore them, but those who would attack you will generally do so using whatever tools they can lay their hands on.

If not your gender, race, or disability, it’ll be something else. Haters hate.

[And, yes, dear reader, ranters rant. It’s what we do, but (at least in my case) it comes from love, not hate. Like a stern father, I want you all to be better so that the quality of your lives is better. (And, incidentally, so would be mine, so there is some self-interest involved.)]

Anyway, I’ve now written far more than the note deserves. I just intended to document it and move on (but Prolix is my middle name). Here it is:

Response to: Examining differences leads to oppression

Do you think “we” oppressed you just because you are different? No, it was because you were different and mysterious — unknown.

But isn’t it also often true that we lose our fear when we understand something? Flying, electricity, mathematics,… women?

Only by really opening up and talking, only by looking closely at each other can we overcome our mutual fears and see each other as members of the same family.

At least, IMO.

Again, not saying this is great prose, great thinking, or great anything. Just a note that’s been around forever and, unlike most of them, one I want to record. Really almost a “for the record” about celebrating (and discussing) differences rather than fearing or ignoring them.

Yin-Yang furnitureAs a final thought, one conundrum here involves the tension between embracing one’s gender or race versus being “just a person.” It’s a choice anyone who (in the Western world) isn’t both white and male has to make.

Does one embrace being female or black or Hispanic and celebrate that as a big part of their identity, or does one seek to minimize those differences and be perceived more as another part of the social collective?

Tough call, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to say much about it.

So I won’t.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

4 responses to “Note #3: Gender Differences

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