firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
I made this post on a mailing list, but it got rejected for being off topic (which was reasonable) so I thought I would recycle it here for the benefit of the choir. :)

Context: Someone announced a dating event. Some people criticizing the event because it was open only to people looking for opposite sex dating partners (plus the original announcer didn't mention this). Then other people called the criticizers PC. One of them complained that many people these days go out and look for things to be offended about, and they don't pay attention to intent, and intent is what really matters.

So I said,

Intent isn't as important as you think it is. And neither is offense. You are confusing "assuming malicious intent and taking offense" -- an individual response to an individual behavior -- with the broader situation of trying to change societal norms that are wrong and harmful.

If something is normal but harmful, then a person don't need to feel malicious in order to cause harm. They just have to go about their business, unaware of the harm they are causing. In order for society to change, people have to be made aware of harm they are causing and bepersuaded to change. That's uncomfortable because no one wants to change unless it was their idea. But if you believe that a fairer society is a good thing, then it is necessary.

Also, a person who calls out a pattern of harm isn't necessarily offended. They might just be trying to do their part to make society fairer.

Just to make it crystal clear: It is no big deal that this particular event excludes queer people. But it is part of a larger pattern where queer people are excluded from other things that matter a lot, such as marriage rights. It's a good thing for people to stand up and say "Hey, look at the pattern," when they see it. Because otherwise a lot of people won't realize it's even there.


Date: 6 Jun 2013 08:18 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
It is a problem that queer people are
often excluded from events.

However, there is another aspect that people often overlook: practicality. In this case, which is rarely so, there is a valid reason to narrow the eligible attendees: trying to create an environment conducive to matches. If you know everyone has the same sexual orientation, whatever it is, then it's easier to find mates than if you have to guess as in ordinary life.

This is why there are queer singles events too, where heterosexuals are not admitted. In a few rare instances, segregation actually works better. And if you really don't like it? You can mate-search in an unfiltered everyday context.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 09:22 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Because bisexuals have a wider pool of
acceptance than most other people. For
whatever reasons, many people of many other
orientations don't want a bi partner. Most
hets want another het and most homos want
another homo. It's when you get into the
bi/omni/pan and genderfluid subset that
you find the ones who are more attracted
to people than to meat. Go figure.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 01:50 pm (UTC)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_siobhan
more attracted
to people than to meat.

That's... pretty insulting towards monosexuals.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 02:50 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
So, do we have a wider pool of acceptance, or a narrower one?

Also, without more context, I wonder what other groups of monosexual people are being filtered out by that group. If I can't be trusted to disclose that I'm bi, can someone else be trusted to disclose that they have herpes, or a past DUI conviction, or children they are paying child support for? (Race is a larger issue, but people with those biases do their own sorting, mostly just by looking at people.)

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 03:02 pm (UTC)
selki: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selki
To me the biggest issue with the OP on the list was that it appeared to be a *stealth* exclusion of bisexuals (intentional or not). But this (and Firecat's post) have very good points about the OP even if it had been clearly announced as strictly het from the get-go.
Edited Date: 6 Jun 2013 03:03 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_siobhan
You know, when I see that an event is geared towards heterosexuals, I tend to assume that includes me because I have relationships with people who self-identify as men. It wouldn't occur to me that it means no bisexuals. I think probably in part because bisexuals tend to be invisible and partly that bisexual women aren't seen as undesirable or "dangerous" in the same way that bisexual men are.

That's a perspective I hadn't thought of before. Interesting.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 6 Jun 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well put. I would have the same response, and I agree with your hypotheses about bisexual women. I'd extend that to any non-lesbian sexual orientation held by a person who is perceived by others as a woman.

I'm a cis woman who used to identify as bisexual and now identify as pansexual. I'm married to a straight cis man. So if people don't know me, they assume I'm het.

Graymalkin (posting anonymously because dw is objecting to my password)

Date: 6 Jun 2013 12:13 pm (UTC)
ironed_orchid: watercolour and pen style sketch of a brown tabby cat curl up with her head looking up at the viewer and her front paw stretched out on the left (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
On a tangentially related note, I once attended a pansexual speed dating event which was part of the university's queer pride week, and some of the monosexuals (mostly gay men and a couple of lesbians) at the table were uncomfortable when a person who was not presenting their preferred gender sat down opposite.

This valentine I attended a performance and interactive art show themed around love and loss, and a lot of the mostly heterosexual attendees were commenting on the high ratio of women to men.
Edited Date: 6 Jun 2013 12:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 6 Jun 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
hobbitbabe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hobbitbabe
Oh, well SAID. Thank you for pasting your reply.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
That sounds like the sort of smart Stef post I used to enjoy reading. :)


Date: 7 Jun 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
ljgeoff: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ljgeoff
Me toooo! Oh, usenet!

Date: 6 Jun 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_siobhan
I like the way you present these things. I often borrow your words when I'm trying to put ideas across to other people without getting their backs up.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 06:18 pm (UTC)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_siobhan
I think so. You find you frequently have a way of framing things that doesn't come across as critical of people who make mistakes or who don't understand why something is important.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] outlier_lynn
I shall be so bold as to say intent isn't important at all. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. People almost never talk about their intentions unless those intentions were not met.

When someone has the good intentions of providing a space in which people might find some version of love, but decides, on purpose or by default, that some love is better than some other love, their intention is perfectly clear to other people if not to themselves.

Everyone has a point of view through which the world appears as real. For them, it is just that way. The world is how they see it at least in the default when we aren't paying mindful attention. It is part of us. We shape the world around us while earnestly believing that the world is shaping us.

I'm just never interested in someone's intentions. I am also not interested in someone's offense. People are routinely offended by my very existence and often by my opinions. The offense, however, is theirs to have. I wouldn't deprive them of their reactions for the world.

Just as you can't make someone happy, you can't keep them from being offended. It's like teaching a pig to sing.

About the event that excludes queer folk: I don't want to be a member of a club that would have me. (paraphrased Groucho Marx.) I wouldn't attend, but it would not stop me from pointing out their bias. Whoops, there I go again (oh god, quoting Reagan) causing offense.

Well, it's my job. :) Just about the only activism I still engage in.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 06:41 pm (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] outlier_lynn
I think that intention can be a useful data point in deciding just how the failing can be best addressed. But the person who didn't intent to run down my mailbox still ran down my mailbox. The result is the same. If we think something more than complete restoration of my mailbox is needed, then intention is important. In the criminal justice system, this matters much more in retributive justice than in restorative justice.

I think there are two main drivers for why some people are easily and often offended and express it. 1. They feel a need to be right about something and make someone else wrong.
2. They want their community to validate their positions. I've noticed that folks who express offense in a group not offended by event are usually unhappy that they seem to be standing alone.

They aspect of being offended that I find the most interesting in the insistence of the offended party that I change to accommodate them.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] outlier_lynn
Good points about emotional damage. Still, I have to agree than I am damaged in emotional damage. I can just look at the mail box.

I think it is entirely human to believe that some of our opinions aren't opinions but represent fundamental truths. Some people will even acknowledge that what they expose is opinion and in the same breath insist that everyone should hold that opinion. And many will look at a solidly proven fact and call it opinion because it disagrees with some cherished belief of theirs.

I like watching people go through the whipsaw of realization when they get that some truth of theirs isn't really the truth. I like watching "Ah ha!" moments almost as much as I like having them.

For instance, right now the US (and a lot of other places in the world) is struggling with same-sex relationship issues. Some folks on both sides of the issues are absolutely convinced that their side has the one true and correct view. In reality, though, there is no correct view. "Same-sex marriage rights" assumes the rightness of marriage. And we say we practice marriage in the US, that assumes the rightness of life-long pair bonding. And, that leaves many of us on the other side, mostly invisible and occasionally harmed. It is a social conversation that is being challenged and folks are having a very hard time coming to grips with a differing point of view.

It is all social construct. I find the whole of the social web interesting and I am fascinated by the unexamined lives that many people insist on leading. An ownership, if you will, in Thoreau's "lives of quiet desperation."

"Check your privilege"

Date: 6 Jun 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flarenut
I've been reading a lot of stuff that I think is related lately, and one of the things I see playing out here is the 64-gig question about what happens next.

After someone has said "this is exclusionary" or "that's offensive to people of X" or whatever, does the original actor start their response with "I'm sorry" or "I didn't realize that", or do they start with "No it's not" of F--- you!"?

Because it is indeed easy for "normal" people (along whatever axis, from gender presentation/preference to carbon footprint) to go about their daily lives completely messing up the lives of others. Without intending to or noticing that they are. The moral/ethical choice comes once the effect of their lifestyle is brought to their attention.

(One of the pieces I saw takes it all the way back to William Lloyd Garrison, who was fulminating against other men's "what about our delicate hurt feelings at being mentioned in the same breath with misogynists" a century and a half ago.)

Re: "Check your privilege"

Date: 8 Jun 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
selki: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selki
... what happens next.

I'm interested in this, too. I think it partly depends on morality/ethics, and partly on perspective and communication. I think being dismissive of others' being offended or sticking with sweeping generalizations/stereotypes in the face of counterexamples/facts is much less defensible than just not getting it. For instance, in the more attracted to people than to meat slur against monosexuals above, my outrage quotient is rather weak*. I get how it's a stereotype, but I'd be much more bothered if someone called me a breeder (different insult axis, I know), possibly b/c I think for many (not all, and I place no bets on "most", either) monosexuals, it *is* about the body. For others, it may be that they're attracted to people who've been socially conditioned as stereotypical members-of-the-opposite-sex.

* maybe my offensensitivity here is n/a, though, since I have had occasional flashes of attraction to people of my own gender, so I may not count as strictly monosexual. Sometimes I use "heteroflexible" to describe myself, but even that's more in theory than in practice.

Re: "Check your privilege"

Date: 19 Jun 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
selki: (thoughtful)
From: [personal profile] selki
Yes, and some people seem to work actively not to get it (so as not to be inconvenienced, or whatever). I do think we should all at least try to understand the impacts of our words/assumptions/actions. Part of privilege is being able to shrug off attempts to engage in these kinds of discussions.

Re: "Check your privilege"

Date: 9 Jun 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flarenut
(I agree with this, and at the same time I think that sometimes being dismissive of others' being offended may be exactly the right response, depending on what they're being offended about. False symmetry is the progenitor of so many dislikable things I can't even begin to count them.)

Re: "Check your privilege"

Date: 19 Jun 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
selki: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selki
Yeah, that too. I love my dad but I (internally) am pretty dismissive of concerns that he may be offended by some anti-gender-policing stuff I post on FB, for instance.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
A very intelligent analysis.


Date: 6 Jun 2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Could I quote you on this? If so, do you have a preference for attribution?

Date: 7 Jun 2013 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! I've shared it over on my FB with attribution to Stef.

Date: 6 Jun 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is so well written and wise that I wonder at the person who didn't want it on the mailing list, OT or not.


firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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