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Postby Xocrates » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:46 pm

@cooper

I'm not sure I follow you. Are you arguing for the removal of a political distinction or the overall cessation of the acknowledgement of a distinction?

There are very clear biological distinctions between man/woman and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/asexual/whatever, distinctions that we as a society can't simply ignore, but (critically) shouldn't really discriminate against. I agree however that if someone is, say, running for a job then the distinction is essentially moot (save some very specific cases).

However, trying to pretend there isn't a difference just sounds of political correctness gone mad. We shouldn't strive to eliminate the distinctions, we should strive for the overall public to understand the differences and why it does or does not matter.
Clumping all those people together under a single moniker sounds bad, but it's a more or less inevitable step. People need to be aware of those groups so they can eventually accept them. The only other real alternative is to close our eyes and pretend nothing is happening.
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Postby Cooper42 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:51 am

There are important biological / physiological differences between tall and short people, underweight and overweight people, etc.

But there are also VAST differntiations between one tall person and another, one fat person and another fat person. So much so that it rarely is useful, socially or scientifically (except, maybe, for medicine), to make much distinction between height and weight (or any other physiological category).


What makes sex so important that this distinction is somehow more meaningful, more pertinent and more distinctive that it should be so important, and determine so much, socially and culturally?

And that, despite the same level of -vast- differences between people of the same sex, why is it that there is the assumption all people with a certain set of genetalia share some special level of commonalities that it makes sense to lump them together?
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Postby Shwart!! » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:30 am

Really? Make an educated guess. :P

Ah. Of course. As my brother indirectly pointed out, I'm kinda daft... :roll:

Feud wrote:I'm not sure, I've never tried to feel about those people, but I would think that some music and perhaps candles would make the experience more classy for all involved. Hi-oh!

Depends on the music, but typically it helps if you fix them with a dazzling, disarming gaze. ;) Although that does make it more painful if they mace you instead.

Cooper24: I don't think the differences between straight and not are important, myself, but as Xocrates points out, they do exist, and make enough of a difference that they can't really be ignored.

The thing I don't understand is why people have a problem with non-straight alignments. I can understand being a little uncomfortable if, say, someone gay likes you and you're not yourself gay (that's happened to me, actually), but as long as it doesn't really affect someone, I can't see why they'd mind if someone's "different"...
Wait, yes I can. Religion does funny things like that... but what (besides Christianity) would cause such intolerance?

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Postby Feud » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:27 am

Shwart!! wrote:The thing I don't understand is why people have a problem with non-straight alignments. I can understand being a little uncomfortable if, say, someone gay likes you and you're not yourself gay (that's happened to me, actually), but as long as it doesn't really affect someone, I can't see why they'd mind if someone's "different"...
Wait, yes I can. Religion does funny things like that... but what (besides Christianity) would cause such intolerance?


Everybody draws the line of acceptable behavior somewhere. Whether it's between genders, between arbitrary ages, between species, between races, between religions, or between sides of the rail road track, everyone has a sense of "this is ok but this is not".

The argument about "equality" makes for great headlines, and is wonderful for motivating college kids who aren't going to put much critical thought into joining their generation's "cool" social movement, but it's not what it's about. Unless a person is arguing for complete abolition of marriage or the unlimited expansion of it, they draw the line somewhere, it's just a question of whether they like where the line has been drawn.

All laws discriminate, all laws are "intolerant" towards those who want to do a given thing. If they didn't there wouldn't be a need for them, because no one would be doing the things that the law prohibits. Anytime a law is made, there is a select group of people who are told that no matter how much they might like or desire to do "x", such actions are now prohibited. They might think such is harmless, natural, normal, or "equal" to some other action that is allowed, but the law still stands against them because those holding power (whether an individual or group) disagrees.

The call for "equality" is therefore, in my opinion, silly. It's not a case of them being denied a natural right, rather it's a matter of them disliking where the line of legal protection was drawn and wanting it moved to allow them to do what they want to do, while still excluding the things that they themselves dislike.
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Postby Shwart!! » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:01 am

That's... a very good point. Equality alone doesn't extend beyond the group that's willing to speak up. What about calling for acceptance and tolerance, though? Rather than trying to redraw the line, erase it entirely.
And I know some laws (such as those against murder and jaywalking) are needed, but as far as I can tell, a stance of "If it doesn't adversely affect me or others, I have no right to disallow it" would be ideal for promoting acceptance. Has this been tried?
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Postby Montyphy » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:25 am

Jaywalking laws are needed? Really? :/
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Postby elexis » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:34 am

<ignore="my ignorance of previous posts">

Apparently so, they had a Jaywalking fining spree in the CBD the other day.
Even though its almost exclusively trams that use that road anyway, not to mention that the government is planning to block vehicle traffic on that road anyway.

</ignore>
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Postby Xocrates » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:29 pm

Cooper42 wrote:What makes sex so important that this distinction is somehow more meaningful, more pertinent and more distinctive that it should be so important, and determine so much, socially and culturally?

Sex is extremely important in our society, even if we treat it as a tabu. Sex and sexual drive are not only responsible for a non-insignificant part of our actions, but it's an important way for re-enforcing social bonds (namely the one between couples). The fact that it is a biological need helps.

Also, the biological distinctions between tall/short fat/thin are important in a medical context, not in a social one (generally).

Cooper42 wrote:And that, despite the same level of -vast- differences between people of the same sex, why is it that there is the assumption all people with a certain set of genetalia share some special level of commonalities that it makes sense to lump them together?
Frankly, the only reason it makes "sense" lumping them together is so they have a common platform from which to fight for the same rights. You could have different "lumps", but if they are all fighting for the same thing why separate them?
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Postby Cooper42 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:57 pm

Xocrates wrote:
Cooper42 wrote:What makes sex so important that this distinction is somehow more meaningful, more pertinent and more distinctive that it should be so important, and determine so much, socially and culturally?

Sex is extremely important in our society, even if we treat it as a tabu. Sex and sexual drive are not only responsible for a non-insignificant part of our actions, but it's an important way for re-enforcing social bonds (namely the one between couples). The fact that it is a biological need helps.
I meant sex as in biological sex; genetalia, gender etc. Not as in intercourse. I fail to see why we as a society place so much importance in gender, when people differ in a myriad of other biological and physiological ways.

Xocrates wrote:Frankly, the only reason it makes "sense" lumping them together is so they have a common platform from which to fight for the same rights. You could have different "lumps", but if they are all fighting for the same thing why separate them?
Exactly It -only- makes sense to lump these people together to fight for rights. Yet, the only reason they are denied those rights are because they have already been lumped together by those more predjudiced and ignorant. To formulate political identities around the identitiy that oppressors have used to disadvantage you is always going to be problematic. Which was my main point beofre.

@Feud: I understand your point about equality. However, whilst I understand that 'a line must be drawn somewhere' that is coming far too close to the 'If we let gay people marry we might as well let people marry their pets' stance. Surely there's a valid political project in pushing that line? Laws are always subject to revision and modification, no one's asking for a wholescale scrappage of the 'line' for marriage.

In anycase the 'equality' issue around marriage would be oh so easily solved if marriage remained the purview of churches and religious organisation and otherwise named civil arrangements were made available to those who did not wish to be under that purview.
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Postby Xocrates » Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:19 pm

Cooper42 wrote: I meant sex as in biological sex; genetalia, gender etc. Not as in intercourse. I fail to see why we as a society place so much importance in gender, when people differ in a myriad of other biological and physiological ways.
Now you confused me. When did the discussion become about the difference between men and women, especially since women are generally accepted as equals to men nowadays?

And by the way, the reason society places so much importance in the difference between sexes isn't complicated. It's an historical matter dating back to the times when there needed to be a difference in roles that simply remained due to what can essentially be called tradition.


Cooper42 wrote:
Xocrates wrote:Frankly, the only reason it makes "sense" lumping them together is so they have a common platform from which to fight for the same rights. You could have different "lumps", but if they are all fighting for the same thing why separate them?
Exactly It -only- makes sense to lump these people together to fight for rights. Yet, the only reason they are denied those rights are because they have already been lumped together by those more predjudiced and ignorant. To formulate political identities around the identitiy that oppressors have used to disadvantage you is always going to be problematic. Which was my main point beofre.

I disagree that they're being denied those rights because they were given a label. They were denied the rights because people felt they were different, the label is an identifier that came afterwards. "Gay" as referring to homosexual came much later (as in centuries later) than homosexuals being discriminated against.

My point is that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of cases of people turning slurs into badges of honor. Even aside of that it gives a common platform and identity not only from which to fight but which people already know. So instead of forming a new "label", so to speak, that people would need to be able to recognize they can convince people to accept them under the label people already know.

Frankly, your point stinks of "calling black people African American". Not only it feels of political correctness gone mad, it ends up creating situations that make no sense.
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Postby Shwart!! » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:01 pm

Xocrates wrote:Now you confused me. When did the discussion become about the difference between men and women, especially since women are generally accepted as equals to men nowadays?

The discussion's not about that, exactly. But there are really two seperate issues to the LGBT 'movement' (is that the right word?); sexual preference (straight, gay, etc.) and gender identity (male, female, whatever else), and I think Cooper's discussing both. I can't say I understand why the two are grouped together, given how different they are, but I guess it makes sense if they're all fighting for acceptance..

Frankly, your point stinks of "calling black people African American". Not only it feels of political correctness gone mad, it ends up creating situations that make no sense.

Situations like what? It doesn't seem anywhere near that severe... Are you both talking about the same lumps/groups? Cause, trying to follow this, I'm just getting confused.

Cooper42 wrote:In anycase the 'equality' issue around marriage would be oh so easily solved if marriage remained the purview of churches and religious organisation and otherwise named civil arrangements were made available to those who did not wish to be under that purview.

I'm not really sure how much that would solve. Legally, rights might be available, but it perpetuates the ideal that "marriage" is reserved for heterosexuals, which could easily be found offensive to others. (I certainly would mind it.)
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Postby jelco » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:06 pm

I don't have a problem with any LGBT people (within my circle of friends I can name at least one of each of those groups) as long as they're not overly taking pride in their "being different" and pretending to be empancipating themselves. This is basically the same stance I have on any such group, from teen subcultures to religion. If being different and trying to make everyone else just as different as you are makes you happy, you lead a sad life based on an inherently flawed argument. Look at myself: I dress in black only, have hair long enough to reach my lower back and listen to some various kinds of heavy music, but I live this way because I like the music, the style and having long hair. Aside from occasionally joking about cutting myself and being scared of sunlight, I don't try to desperately convince others what kind of things I like, wear and do just to get a sense of confirmation. The people who can just admit that they're gay because it makes them happier than being straight, without trying to prove to everyone around them 'how gay they are', are the ones I get along with just fine.

I find gay marriage an extremely tricky subject. Not because there's so many people you can make angry by taking either side (that's not unusual in any debate and personally I tend to have a "don't bother me with the problem you make out of it yourself" mentality) but because I really have difficulty deciding what my stance even is. That being said, I think recently I'm leaning towards the protesting side.

I have difficulty seeing why (for example) a gay couple should be legally equal to a straight couple, including the right to marry. At the core, they are two very different things, and lead to very different situations. I'm very much aware that I don't know a lot about the details, so feel free to correct me, but I've always gotten the idea that marriage and all the legality surrounding it is in the end (for the most part) aimed at the stability and sustainability of a family including kids, hence not applying to gay couples. I also think that gay couples adopting kids is wrong. It's not like I would deny them any happiness it would give, but a kid's environment is so important to how it is raised that I think it can have too big an influence on a kid's life, no matter how well-intending the parents are or how hard they may even try to keep their sexual preference out of the kid's life in order not to pressure the kid.

My opinion comes down to this: why would you want to be able to do everything as if you were a straight couple? I know the basic arguments ("we want to be accepted", "it's also about the symbolicism of having equal rights", etc. etc. etc.) but I don't agree with them. You don't need marriage to be accepted by society and (as individuals) you have exactly the same rights as others (here in the Netherlands at least). You don't need a piece of paper telling you that you're a couple to be happy. In fact, my parents never got married and have been together happily for roughly 30 years now.

In the end I believe that (relatively speaking) this concerns such a minor part of the people that I feel it's somewhat inappropriate to put equal laws in place. Plus, I don't actually feel it's such a huge concession to make. I've had an occasional discussion with some of my LGBT friends about these things and although we definitely disagree on some things, all of them seem to agree with the point that there's enough equal treatment by law already and that (among other things) gay marriage isn't really necessary.

Jelco

PS: Here in the Netherlands both gay marriage and gay couples adopting kids have been possible for years and I don't believe retraction of any of those laws has ever been seriously considered since their introduction.

PPS: Xocrates, what you describe is basically the very definition of a reappropriated name.
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Postby Xocrates » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:39 pm

Shwart!! wrote:
Frankly, your point stinks of "calling black people African American". Not only it feels of political correctness gone mad, it ends up creating situations that make no sense.

Situations like what? It doesn't seem anywhere near that severe... Are you both talking about the same lumps/groups? Cause, trying to follow this, I'm just getting confused.

Well, that was mostly an aside, but I'll try to clarify.

My point is that the LGBT community need labels, not because I think they're so different that it matters, but because we need to be able to acknowledge that there are differences. Cooper seems to be arguing that we should do away with labels altogether (which I consider equivalent to ignoring the issue) or not call them by a label he appears to consider offensive.

The "calling black people African American" comparison is a response to the latter, mostly because I don't consider the LGBT (or each label individually) offensive and rarely if ever seen them being used as intending offence (exception made to calling something stupid or silly "gay", which quite frankly I'm under the impression is rarely made as a reference to homosexual people although that's clearly the origin).
This brings to mind the black/African American debate because it's essentially substituting one label that people can easily identify and comprehend but which some people (often a minority that may not even belong to said group) find offensive (black) by one that has essentially the same function but makes less sense (what if the person's family has been living in America since its discovery? What if it's a white African person living in America? What if the person isn't American at all?).
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Postby Cooper42 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:53 pm

I'm getting confused by Xocrates arguments. At one point he argues that there is no differentiation. That men and women are equal and that the grouping is historical.

I in no way disagree with this sentiment.

But, obviously, men and women are not yet equal, they certainly are not treated so. As such, those historical cultural attitudes to gender perpetuate, with changes, into contemporary society.

This leaves those of us with a political motive to act with a paradox.

On the one hand, we believe men and women are equal, and we want to acknowledge and reinforce this this. part of this is to deny that there are some kind of fundamental, inherent differences that set all women apart from all men. Men and women are different, but so are women and women, and men and men.

In order to 'do' feminism it still, in many arenas, requires one to fight from the position of 'women.' As if there is one voice that can speak for all women. This is, given the above sentiments, a difficult position to take. Ideally the fight is for gender equality, but even this fight still needs to be positioned.

The clear problem with this stems from the late Second Wave book "Ain't I a woman?", riffing off of a late 20th Century speech. It basically argues that feminism has claimed a certain conception and understanding of women that is grounded in white, middle class attitudes and values. Her argument is that the 'fight' for gender equality was being made from a position she, as a woman, felt excluded from.

This is the paradox of having to fight from a positon that is in fact, multiple, differentiated and speaks with many voices.


So, my contention which moves beyond gender to LGBT and potentially race is that in order to fight politically, one must be coming from a position. That position is often labelled 'gay', 'woman', 'black' etc. etc.

The problem is, is to do so suggests that one position can stand for the massive myriad multiplicity that it is to be LGBT, black etc.

(I don't like the 'African American' thing. (as if race is synonymous with nationality. Nonsense.) I don't like it at all/ But what I also hate is when 'black' gets used to suggest that all black people hold something in common (often a form of inferiority) this is nonsense.)


Which is why I don't understand Xocrates later argument. He then argues, with regards to LGBT, that there is a need to hold onto identificatory groupings as they allow political arguments to be made. And differences to be noted.

They do allow political stands to be made. But this is always problematic. As we have seen.

(I've been using the gender example as this is an argument I am more familiar with. It applies, albeit with importance differences and nuances to sexuality and arguably also race)

Put it this way: The LGBT community may need labels. This I do not disagree with, we exist in a political system where identificatory systems are imbedded in this way. But this does not reflect how things should be. And It leaves us with the same paradox as fmenists find themselves in.

It again comes down to differences. Much like with gender. One LGBT person differs from another LGBT person as much as, if not more than, a straight person.

As such, to hold onto these 'differences' is to suggest that all LGBT people differ from all straight people in the same way. As I have said, the lives of LGBT people can be wonderfull banal and ordinary, and differ very little from 'ordinary' straight people.

Also, when 'making a stand' for LGBT people, what happens if that stand is an exclusionary one. What happens if the 'LGBT voice' is one some LGBT people feel excluded from?



What I am suggesting overall:
People differ from one another. Those differences may be due to gender, amybe sexuality, maybe race, maybe nationality, maybe religion, maybe height, maybe hair colour, maybe class. Etc. etc.

NOTHING about those groupings suggests that everyone within each group shares commonalities. Nor that every member of one group necessarily differs in any meanignful way from a member of the other group (man/woman, gay/straight, black/white) Nor that the differences between gay/straight, men/women (etc.) are somehow universal and that all gay people differ from all straight people in the same way.

Which is, yes, to suggest that these labels and groupings are, essentially, useless. This is not to deny difference. This is a very important point. This is where the "African American" problematic comes in. The African American thing suggests, no, there are no differences. See. They are American too. Which is just awful.

To suggest there are no differences between people means that the hegemonic identity supercedes all else.

What I am looking for is an acceptance of, a celebration even, of differences. But an understanding that these differences are very multiple, and that we all differ in different ways.
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Postby Xocrates » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:26 pm

Cooper42 wrote:What I am looking for is an acceptance of, a celebration even, of differences. But an understanding that these differences are very multiple, and that we all differ in different ways.

Which is essentially my point. It seems our disagreement is the context we're talking about, which I believe can be summed in my first post on the matter:

Xocrates wrote:Are you arguing for the removal of a political distinction or the overall cessation of the acknowledgement of a distinction?

There are very clear biological distinctions between man/woman and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/asexual/whatever, distinctions that we as a society can't simply ignore, but (critically) shouldn't really discriminate against


Ultimately, my point is very simple: there are un-ignorable differences between the various groups and that are part of what defines each person, but they are essentially irrelevant in the grand scheme.



Cooper42 wrote:Also, when 'making a stand' for LGBT people, what happens if that stand is an exclusionary one. What happens if the 'LGBT voice' is one some LGBT people feel excluded from?
People will always belong to groups whose causes they may not always agree with. So long as the person "making the stand" is talking for the vast majority of the group, or the issue is harmless for the ones excluded, this usually isn't a problem. If a large enough subgroup is in conflict it is often wise to specify who exactly you're talking about.

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