The One Where We Aren’t All The Same

I wrote a little treatise on the nature of empathy awhile ago, posted elsewhere. I think I shall have to finesce that a bit more and then bring it over here, although many of my ideas on it where brought up in my last post on consent. In any case, building on these ideas, I want to talk about another of the Big Myths. The one that says we’re all alike on the inside.

This is one of those ideas which was invented to help combat bigotry and discrimination, but doesn’t actually work. In fact, it’s entirely counter productive.

It’s sort of similar to the current idea of racism as personal failure rather than systemic bias. Most of society has come to see prejudice only in single acts of cruelty, making the prejudice inherent in the system completely invisible. Even as we actively work to fight it, we’re protecting it by focusing our attack on the wrong front.

At one point, hath not a Jew eyes was an essential and revolutionary assertion, but we have reached a point when the idea that, on the inside, we’re all the same is merely a cliche. We listen to it without thought, and even if we were taking the message to heart, it would not be enough.

So, here’s a new idea: we are all different.

Even saying that we all *bleed* the same is ableist. We don’t. We all function in wildly different ways, and that’s alright. We don’t all have the same feelings about the same things, and that’s alright. W don’t all think via the same patterns or about the same topics or resulting in the same conclusion, and that’s alright.

Insisting that, regardless of outside differences, we’re all actually just alike, reinforces many damaging notions. For one, while minimizing the importance on outside appearance is important, eliminating it, particularly by ignoring it rather than dealing with it, is just as harmful. You can’t just pretend the exterior doesn’t matter; it does, it just isn’t everything.

This idea also erases neurodiversity, variety of human experience, different sexual orientations and forms of expressions, and surely a lot of other things I can’t currently recall. By focusing all our energy on eliminating prejudice based on superficial differences, which we aren’t even doing that well, we are diverting all our energy from eliminating prejudice against internal differences. By insisting that we all think and feel and love and fuck in exactly the same way, we are saying that it is wrong to think and feel and love and fuck in any other way, that people who do are not worth our acceptance.

We are going around saying that it’s fine to look however you want, but, of course, you must think and feel as homogeneously as possible. We are going around acting as though there are only a select number of ways that you ought to look, and even fewer ways that you can even consider thinking or feeling.

And furthermore, we are refusing to talk about it.

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~ by onetiddlyridley on September 11, 2011.

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