Author Topic: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....  (Read 18395 times)

Chelagoras The Boulder

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So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« on: July 10, 2015, 08:16:57 am »
...i mean really? When you get right down to it?

Recently Nigel and I had a discussion about the racial issues surrounding the recent Rachel Dolezal story, which brought up some good points we wanted to share with you guys, which were thus:
Quote
I guess my initial reaction was a kneejerk, "screw this crazy white lady" which i will admit was probably couched in my general dislike for Tumblr identity politics, and a feeling that this would result less in a nuanced discussion of how race is a socially defined construct and more in a bunch of tumblr spags going "see, see! transethnic IS a thing! I was right all along! I AM black even though i've lived my whole life in the suburbs!"

 But my other response, the one that made this so difficult to dismiss, was Why can i dismiss transethnics and not transgenders?" and I'll admit i dont really have a clear defining line for that except that I'm more used to one idea than the other. But then again, even transgenderism used to not really be so accepted, so who knows? Maybe if i just dismissed it like i wanted to i'd end up one of those bitter old men on the wrong side of history.

So i thought about race and gender and how those two are just social constructs, but then i had the thought of "well, what else would you construct a society out of if not social constructs?" Hell, language is a social construct, but we'd all be fucked if it disappeared tomorrow and had to make do with points and grunts. We're all stuck playing this game called society, and social constructs like race and gender help to define the rules; give us quick and easy categories to fit each other in so we can flow through our day to day interactions. So it seemed to me, that the problem wasn't that this game we're playing has rules, but rather that the rules are decidedly unfair to large groups of players.

To which she replied:
Quote
I really think that a lot of this digs into an underlying question, which is "why can't people live and identify as they want to, and not as their happenstance of biology dictates"?

which led to:
Quote
Yea, and i feel like the end goal of social justice should be to create a society where people can do whatever they like as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. Like a more benevolent Hammurabi's code of law, i guess. tho that also leads me to another interesting question. If, in this hypothetical social justice utopia i am positing, almost no discrimination based on race gender, sexual orientation, creed etc. happens, would we not have to reach a point where all those things stop mattering, to a degree? Like, not that we stop having them somehow, but that they become extraneous details that people don't necessarily focus on, like the color of you hair or your middle name. Like, not only do people NOT decide whether you should have a job based on your race, but that your race is seen as such a nonfactor that people are infinitely more interested in the fact that you enjoy nude bungee jumping or whatever.

Followed by:
Quote
Yes, I think they could continue to matter, but in a much less relevant way; more as "oh, your grandmother went to school in Budapest? How interesting!" kind of way, rather than the current "your skin color makes you Other" kind of way. A person's cultural heritage is an important part of who they are, but not necessarily particularly relevant to other people in  most settings; it is highly personally relevant to my friend that she is Jewish, but that fact doesn't significantly shape our friendship or her job or the way she interacts with most people.

and finally:
Quote
I think that will happen slowly as people become more connected and the sharing of details like that becomes more and more common. Perhaps as more and more peoples experiences become shared, whether it be the experiences of different races, homosexuals, intersexuals, etc. become commonplace, things like race and gender will become like white noise amongst all of the formerly "weird" things that now everyone will grow up knowing about.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2015, 08:46:53 am »
:mittens:
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2015, 08:51:50 am »
I think you have to be very careful talking about what 'everyone' will do.

60% of the world is still without flushing toilets. Progress really shouldn't be taken for granted. Whilst it is true that equality and tolerance regarding sexuality and race has become more mainstream and accepted in the more economically developed countries, I'm willing to bet that the majority of human beings are still racist, sexist and intolerant.

I sometimes get too caught up in the definitions of words myself. I found the discussion around race as cultural heritage very interesting, but what it 'is' for most people?

Race and gender are significant components in what people use to judge you at first sight - for this purpose, the 'cultural' element of race is (mostly) irrelevant. Instead, people will judge other people based on skin colour, physical attributes etc.

How you look - in every way, from how fit you are to how attractive to what you're wearing and how you're holding yourself - feeds into this first impression, the initial judgement people make before you've even opened your mouth. Right now, skin colour and gender come with a whole bunch of expectations attached regarding social and cultural roles. When you open your mouth and get to know people, that's when those expectations can be challenged and changed - but they'll still exist, and a lot of people won't react kindly to the undermined expectations.

I don't expect that to change any time soon. In a hypothetical utopia where all of these things are entirely in your control and you can choose to change your outward appearance to match what you think of yourself to be? That's going to become even more relevant - because it becomes a shorthand language used to tell others who you consider yourself to be.

As it is, the 'sex' component of gender and the 'physical' component of race are almost entirely outside the control of most people in the world - but they are still used to judge, because our appearance is one of the most solid identifiers people use to tell who we 'are'.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2015, 09:04:34 am »
The alternative is to say transgenderism is cultural appropriation that is only available to the privileged.

Your way builds tolerance, the alternative encourages intolerance. I wonder what tumblr would make of it.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2015, 05:34:39 pm »
At this point in time, the idea of a society in which race and gender are mere background information about a person, and not a massively significant part of their personal identity and how people treat them, is just a pope dream. But it's still a conversation worth having, IMO. What would a society like that look like, and what would be necessary to achieve it? I think that the starting point is eliminating hunger and poverty, which is a pretty lofty goal.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2015, 06:09:55 pm »
At this point in time, the idea of a society in which race and gender are mere background information about a person, and not a massively significant part of their personal identity and how people treat them, is just a pope dream. But it's still a conversation worth having, IMO. What would a society like that look like, and what would be necessary to achieve it? I think that the starting point is eliminating hunger and poverty, which is a pretty lofty goal.

I think you're right; you'd need to eliminate hunger and poverty first.

You'd also probably need to eliminate nation states as they exist today. Nations are essentially in competition with one another, and part of the reason race is so entrenched is because of that. There's a vested interest in keeping segments of the world divided along racial lines. You may also have to eliminate the idea of inheriting property from your ancestors and leaving it to your progeny for similar reasons; you want to get rid of any potential material inequality which might be inherited, in order to prevent origin from causing jealousy.

Then you'd need to radically restructure the role or message of religion, as most major organized religions perpetuate certain gender roles. There's some progress being made on that front, but I think you'd also need to break the 'organized' part and have religion seen broadly as one more fluid aspect of identity, rather than being prescribed by an authority, or you risk that authority bringing in the old 'mark of Caine' or 'natural role of women' arguments back to the fore.

Once you've eliminated the main reasons that people judge others - socio-economic status, religious grounds and nationalism - then race starts to be far less important. Presumably there'll still be sexual preferences, though, and people will still be prejudiced towards one another to some extent by the particular features they find attractive or undesirable. Gender, therefore, is still an issue.

I'm not sure how you go about removing the fact that people treat people of the gender they find attractive (or unattractive) differently to other people. I think removing a lot of the taboo around sex is a start - so you probably have to eliminate all sexually transmitted diseases, and make birth control trivially easy to obtain. You ultimately need to eradicate the idea that sex is a significant motivating factor, so that the possibility of sex is no longer able to colour decisions - and therefore what gender someone chooses to present themselves as can't significantly alter how they are treated by the people around them. Such a culture probably winds up looking pretty hedonistic from our standpoint. Or, alternatively, has completely eradicated sex in favour of a means of reproduction that involves as few biological parts as possible.

Transhumanist sci-fi ala 'The Culture' series or Eclipse Phase can provide some useful inspiration here. The basic idea is that when you can have everything you want and can spend your time how you want, the only thing that matters about you as a person is what you achieve with that time.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2015, 07:02:47 pm »
The alternative is to say transgenderism is cultural appropriation that is only available to the privileged.

Your way builds tolerance, the alternative encourages intolerance. I wonder what tumblr would make of it.

3/4s of them would shit a cinder block.

I agree with whichever method is most likely to make my youngest kid's life easier.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2015, 01:23:57 am »

So i thought about race and gender and how those two are just social constructs, but then i had the thought of "well, what else would you construct a society out of if not social constructs?" Hell, language is a social construct, but we'd all be fucked if it disappeared tomorrow and had to make do with points and grunts. We're all stuck playing this game called society, and social constructs like race and gender help to define the rules; give us quick and easy categories to fit each other in so we can flow through our day to day interactions. So it seemed to me, that the problem wasn't that this game we're playing has rules, but rather that the rules are decidedly unfair to large groups of players.

To which she replied:
Quote
I really think that a lot of this digs into an underlying question, which is "why can't people live and identify as they want to, and not as their happenstance of biology dictates"?

which led to:
Quote
Yea, and i feel like the end goal of social justice should be to create a society where people can do whatever they like as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. Like a more benevolent Hammurabi's code of law, i guess. tho that also leads me to another interesting question. If, in this hypothetical social justice utopia i am positing, almost no discrimination based on race gender, sexual orientation, creed etc. happens, would we not have to reach a point where all those things stop mattering, to a degree? Like, not that we stop having them somehow, but that they become extraneous details that people don't necessarily focus on, like the color of you hair or your middle name. Like, not only do people NOT decide whether you should have a job based on your race, but that your race is seen as such a nonfactor that people are infinitely more interested in the fact that you enjoy nude bungee jumping or whatever.

Followed by:
Quote
Yes, I think they could continue to matter, but in a much less relevant way; more as "oh, your grandmother went to school in Budapest? How interesting!" kind of way, rather than the current "your skin color makes you Other" kind of way. A person's cultural heritage is an important part of who they are, but not necessarily particularly relevant to other people in  most settings; it is highly personally relevant to my friend that she is Jewish, but that fact doesn't significantly shape our friendship or her job or the way she interacts with most people.

and finally:
Quote
I think that will happen slowly as people become more connected and the sharing of details like that becomes more and more common. Perhaps as more and more peoples experiences become shared, whether it be the experiences of different races, homosexuals, intersexuals, etc. become commonplace, things like race and gender will become like white noise amongst all of the formerly "weird" things that now everyone will grow up knowing about.
[/quote]

Id like to argue that the building blocks of "social constructs" is language, and whatever is built from those blocks is the real problem, id say that your argument is conflating the wrong use of a tool with an argument of origin and causality.

Then to what the Mezosoic answered of why cant we just identify regardless of biology, is that each purist definition of identity (read: uniform) has privileges, groupality and/or power politics involved.

Then start talking of "social justice" and i personally thats a weak way to frame the debate... ive been working on a 25 page article and this has vague resonances with it... like, id rather personally argue for and thru the perspective of human rights, because social justice seems like much more polisemic and ambiguous, and its a subset of sticking to human rights anyways. Right?

And whats the primary obstacle to human rights? The dehumanization and treatment of groups as second class citizens.

Does this make sense?
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2015, 01:29:05 am »
Just for reference ill copy paste the synthetized version of HRs:

Article 1   Right to Equality
Article 2   Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3   Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Article 4   Freedom from Slavery
Article 5   Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Article 6   Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7   Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8   Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9   Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
Article 10   Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11   Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
Article 12   Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Article 13   Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Article 14   Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15   Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
Article 16   Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17   Right to Own Property
Article 18   Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19   Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20   Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21   Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22   Right to Social Security
Article 23   Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
Article 24   Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25   Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26   Right to Education
Article 27   Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
Article 28   Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
Article 29   Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30   Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2015, 01:32:42 am »
Ever notice that in Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the prince is making out with some drugged chick?

Is that wrong, or what?
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2015, 01:42:39 am »
Ever notice that in Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the prince is making out with some drugged chick?

Is that wrong, or what?

 :?
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2015, 03:14:13 am »
WTF?   I posted this in open bar.  I swear.
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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2015, 09:11:43 pm »
 :lulz:
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Chelagoras The Boulder

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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2015, 03:30:02 am »
I will admit, i spent far more time than i should have trying to glean what you meant by that statement, Dok. :P
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Reginald Ret

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Re: So what's this whole Race and Gender thing all about....
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2015, 08:09:58 am »
WTF?   I posted this in open bar.  I swear.
I knew I saw it before you posted it here!
I though I was going mad.

Did it accidentally get moved here?
Lord Byron: "Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves."

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