Here is one of my favorite philosophers on something dear to my heart, which is quite important, especially since I do stand up (comedian) work. The one thing you constantly hear is that being PC protects people from hurting others. But it doesnt, because it doesnt deal with the issues intrinsic to indifference.
There is this stimulating interview that the Hollywood Reporter has done with female comedic actors, such as: Lena Dunham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Amy Schumer and many others. The content in the conversation between these prominent female voices is an ongoing conversation that still needs to be had. Lest we become too naive to think we have actually made large strides in our progress as the human project.
It is no secret that critique is emerging from the halls of Hollywood about how these issues have caused a lot of unnecessary issues throughout history to current day. The news is rife with examples of why these conversations need to move from talking to societal change. People are dying because of their skin color. We can’t be okay with this. Women have been marginalized for years, the mothers of children who have been abused just because of their gender. Religious bigotry has been the justified impetus for holocausts. We can’t afford not to change.
(1) Illusion of Fear. The actor Morgan Freeman once said: I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole. There are some medically proven fears: fear of spiders, fear of the number 13, fear of going outside and the list goes on. Oh, come to think of it, they aren’t ‘medically’ proven. What is fear? According to the Oxford dictionary, fear is: “An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” It seems the greatest fear we have been conditioned to accept in society, is the fear of difference and the blind defense of normalcy (what is corporately agreed upon as acceptable and normal).
Notice the operative word here being ‘threat’, not something that has happened, but only something that could happen. This is not to minimize fear on a cognitive scale, or to minimize the dangers associated with some real-time fears, but rather to see how these ideas have been imposed on another human based on a lifestyle choice; based on loving another human. That just doesn’t make sense, does it? I mean, to be afraid of someone else loving someone else? I thought love was a positive thing? So in the context of religious bigotry, we simply have an example of idiocy, which in the Athenian sense means to be against the corporate good. Because fear is first and foremost the preservation of the self over anything else.
In Sexism, the role of the women is the object of fear for men (not all), but those that represent patriarchy. Feminist author Jessica Valenti states the following: <blockquote>”What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, b*tch, c*nt (I told you not to hold back!), skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, b*tch, p*ssy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally f*cked up.” This gynophobic reaction exists to simply control the place of women in society. Equality is nowhere to be found, its not even on the table. We live in a society that is trying to change, but its not changing fast enough.
In Racism, the object of fear are those from a different ethnic background or skin color. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, Crayons never explicitly threatened me, I used them to create some of the most beautiful works of art a 4 year old could muster up. Yet, we live in a society that has a fear of another human based on melanin? Fox News is the largest exporter of Xenophobic rants that helps perpetuate hateful ideologies, in philosophy, this can also be called: Othering. The process of taking what makes someone different to the mainstream and marginalizing this. We see this explicitly in Donald Trumps policies on immigrants and David Cameron’s policies toward the immigration crisis in Europe.
(2) Tokenism. This is where many choose either a minority gender or race in the name of inclusion, but never actually respond to the issues that existed before the need to include, thereby not really changing anything. Ultimately, tokenism allows exceptions to the rule without ever challenging the very system that created the illusion of the divide within society. This occurs a lot within Leftist contexts. It happened most recently in Matt Damon’s Project Greenlight, although unintentional, it demonstrates how deeply embedded it is within our social psyche.
In context of sexism, women are invited to speak at conferences, run for political offices, act in typical male roles and etc. In context of racism, it means that those typically marginalized races are brought to the center, as if they are on display (Example: “oh, look at my ‘black friend’ ” and etc.) in a case, as if to imply that now the structural issue of institutional sexism has disappeared. Which, deep down we know has not.
In the context of Religious Bigotry, the inverse occurs, society becomes an experiment whereby the paranoid detect something is wrong with human race and pinpoint/scapegoat a certain group and create a similar gesture to Tokenism, but only in reverse. The group or individual then becomes the justified victim of a barrage of spiritual abuse in the name of some higher power, so still in the center of the room, but now, demonized.
So how do we disrupt these pernicious ghosts that keep haunting us? Well, in the spirit of the upcoming split-gendered Ghostbusters movie, we exorcise our demons. We own our past demons against women, against marginalized ethnicities, and don’t become so dogmatic about our religious alliances. Easy to say, hard to do. Yes. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Equality doesn’t have to be a dream, it can be a reality.