Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 19, 2013

If Even Community Colleges Can Do It…

A while back, I posted about gender inclusivity in rituals and generally speaking, and how actually relatively easy it is to go from being gender-binary in one’s focus to being inclusive of gender diversity. The folks at Polytheism Without Borders liked it enough to have it as a post on their blog, and I’m happy to have contributed it to their efforts there.

This is a variety of work that I’m involved with not just because it is a good, important, and just thing to do, it’s very specifically because I have devotions to the Tetrad++, and to do less would be to offend them and toss all of their blessings in my life into the mud, which I am absolutely loathe to do, needless to say…

However, it appears that some pagans elsewhere consider this to be “PC” run rampant, and they don’t want to comply with it or allow it–no doubt because they actually don’t take the existence of other-than-male-or-female persons seriously, and certainly don’t respect them.

I understand that there are many allies of full gender inclusivity and there are people who fully acknowledge that such non-binary diversity exists, but they might not have made the shift in all aspects of their language to reflect that viewpoint. Mistakes and omissions happen, and I don’t hold these against them; but, when such mistakes occur, they do need to be corrected, and most people who are of the viewpoint that other genders exist and should be accepted are happy to do so.

But as I said, it appears that some who praise respect as a polytheist value but don’t want to actually extend it to everyone don’t agree. Someone called Tannim Wolfkin, in a comment on a recent post by Galina Krasskova, wrote the following:

First off let me say that this is one of the better posts on Polytheist values that I have read recently. Values 3 4 and 5 are clearly lacking in most of the community and not really being taught regardless of what religion we are talking about. I would add respect (both for others and ones self), curtsey, compassion, the search for knowledge, both internally and externally and last but not least the development of being truly secure about who and what you are.

Might I just add that there are those of us who read your posts who know that when you use words like man, woman, male female you are most definitely not being ignorant of the gender spectrum. While I fully understand being inclusive must we always and in every post include EVERY gender and sexual variation? Honestly when will people grow up and understand that the use of words like male and female are NOT a personal slight against them, they are commonly accepted terms for gender. Again I fully support inclusion (within reason) regardless of the type. What I don’t support is the rampant and rabid disease referred to as PC.

There’s a much more rampant and rabid disease that I’m worried about, i.e. transphobia, gender-diversity-phobia, homophobia, and so forth, and that particular group of diseases does result in actual deaths, as well as untold incidents of harassment, abuse, and other such things that are far more destructive than asking people in a polite manner, who already agree on the importance of these matters, to change their linguistic usages. To argue otherwise is to very definitely be outside of what is factually undeniable; and what motive would lead one to argue otherwise is entirely beyond me, unless it is an actual resentment toward the acknowledged existence of other-than-male-or-female genders.

I think most modern pagans and polytheists (the latter of which, I think, implies pluralism and the notion that diversity always tends towards “more” rather than “less”) would consider themselves to be more advanced, inclusive, and pluralistic than many of the conventions in mainstream society are at present. Well, in this particular category, polytheists worthy of the name are going to have to either get with the program, or realize that there are community colleges that are doing a better job of recognizing gender and sexual orientation diversities than they are, and I’m happy to be affiliated with one that is doing so, as will be the case for all Washington state community colleges in the immediate future. Have a look at this page, and what it says in terms of the options it gives for gender and sexual orientation–which, I’d note, is more diverse in the options it gives than both the Human Rights Campaign, the Right to Marry campaign, and a variety of other supposedly LGBTQ-affirmative national organizations.

And here’s a video that they produced as well.

So, I’d invite anyone who thinks that shifting one’s linguistic usage to be more inclusive of gender-diversity as being part of the “disease” known as “PC” to not only reconsider their opinion, and to realize that they’re less-inclusive than community college admission forms in some parts of the country at present, but to also ask themselves if they may be infected with a more serious and dangerous disease, and one that is incredibly easy to have cured.


Responses

  1. I think a good approach to the anti-PC folks is to replace ‘PC’ with ‘respecting other people’.

    I’m also incredibly bothered that the ‘it’s all about political correctness’ arguments always imply or outright state that other-than-female-or-male gendered folks are, by their very existence, ‘too difficult’ or ‘too PC’. So, so gross.

  2. I’m hesitant to comment, if only because I know the written word can be read differently than intended if were spoken. But I though maybe to throw this out there and see where your thoughts lie on the subject.

    I am a “heterosexual” female who has been married to the same man for the last 20 years. I try to show respect to all, and in fact do not see the sexuality of a person as a way to categorize or differentiate. To me, to accept myself is to accept others and vice versa. I have those I consider as family who are both hetero and homo, friends as well, of course, and have came across a few people in the online world who consider themselves asexual. I’m not sure where to include transgendered in that because it can go either way in my eyes. Again this is of the very few I have personally known and from conversations I have had with them. Of course a person’s sex and sexuality is two different things so I’m already not making sense perhaps.

    What I can find confusing, being someone who tries to respect others but sees everyone as the same species, is that I could take 5 of my friends from the community and make some respectful comment towards a commemorative moment on the correct day and I would get as many different responses. “Thank you.” “What are you talking about?” Amusement. Laughter. Anger. Dismissal. Some feel great because I acknowledge and others have said that as a “straight girl” I shouldn’t say anything because it’s disrespectful. Which is confusing as hell.

    So even though I’m a “we are who we are” kind of person that acknowledges differences but doesn’t see that makes us different and who thinks equal rights should be a given. It can get confusing when on the one hand you have people you’ve known for years saying one thing, a newer friend saying something else, and then of course you read a handful of other opinions that vary from degree. It’s like other issues where people vary on the degree of their response and it becomes impossible to please everyone so you just do the best you can with positive intention and hope you don’t offend anyone.

    I apologize if I shouldn’t have wrote this. I totally understand the need to be acknowledged, and perhaps I am just ignorant on the subject. I take that back, I know I’m ignorant on the subject if it is in reference to what I’ve read verses what I’ve experienced. Maybe part of my view comes from having been a female in a service where we are definitely the minority and have struggles existing in a man’s world, but also wish to be seen as equal. That we are not male, female, other, black, white, purple, we’re the same. It’s not to say words always equal actions or vice versa. The mixed signals on that alone are amusing and nowhere near as large or important as identity in itself. It’s just, I think, always going to be impossible to please everyone in wording alone. Especially if we are constantly trying to categorize and differentiate. Is it the same to say that we are all alike but with differences as it is to say we are all different but alike?

    Does adding a category make one seen? Does not having one make one less seen? I don’t know. Is it sometimes just used to be pc and not to make a difference or even be inclusive? Absolutely yes. Clearly there are those who hate and wish to keep blinders on, but for the rest of us it can be a confusing set of waters to navigate.

    I have never filled out a questionnaire, when in college, or otherwise that asked for my sexual orientation except perhaps on certain papers at a doctor’s office. Is this something new that is being asked? I am just trying to understand.

    • I see what you’re saying; but, I don’t think it should be quite as fraught as that, and while I know that many feel like they’re in a similar position to you and may not know what is the best thing to do, it need not be so difficult.

      While I’m not saying that this is the position you’re in, as an example of “making it harder than it is,” and doing so in an obviously negative way: a few months ago, I was in the 4th of July parade with the college group I advise that is LGBTQIA-specific. We had a little blurb about our group that was supposed to be read at the reviewing stands of the parade. The parade announcer didn’t read the list of identifiers that we had–Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered/Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, Asexual–and not only was that a big let-down, but it was also the SECOND time it had happened to us, as we’d been in another parade in town a few months earlier and the same thing happened (even though it was two different announcers). We paid money to be in the parade, and were never informed that our statement would be edited, nor were we told that it was in any fashion “inappropriate.” And yet, on a whim at the reviewing stand, both announcers read our first sentence, and then paused, didn’t read our second sentence, and continued with the last sentence. When I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper about this, I got verbally abused by a whole pile of insecure heterosexual men saying all kinds of things I won’t repeat here (and which the editors of the newspaper allowed, even though there was a note about “being civil” in responses, etc.). One of the commenters said something along the lines of “First we’re not supposed to call you things; and now you want us to? Make up your mind!” (Not quite that nicely, but anyway.) I wasn’t able to respond due to various technical matters, but the obvious response is that everyone should know well enough when it is all right to say certain things. “Oscar Wilde was gay” is a perfectly accurate and non-offensive thing to say; “My sister-in-law is a lesbian” is also perfectly fine; “The Baltimore Ravens are so gay” is not all right; and “I wish you damn gays would shut the fuck up” is also not all right. (Much less using things like dyke, faggot, and so forth–which should not be used by anyone unless they’ve been called those terms in anger with potential for being hurt or killed.) It tends to be pretty clear what is a descriptive usage and what is an offensive one, and what the intent is behind such usages, and as long as that is clear, I don’t think there’s any problem (though of course people shouldn’t be using these–or any other–terms intentionally to demean others, I don’t think!).

      Of course, “you can’t please everyone” goes without saying in pretty much everything that we say, do, or write; if one wanted to try and please everyone with everything one said or wrote, we’d be here all day, and no one would ever actually express an opinion on anything due to having to take account of every other viewpoint at all times and give them equal weight and time, etc. That’s simply not tenable. However, it is still possible to be inclusive in one’s discussions of certain things with relative ease and not a lot of effort. If you are intending for whatever you say to apply to everyone, then you can say “This applies to everyone,” rather than what is often done that puts a specific gender spin on it, i.e. “Every man and woman,” or (as I still sometimes hear in college), when referring to students generally, “he or she should,” etc. There’s no need to make something that is supposed to apply to everyone an issue of gender, and by doing so along binary lines therefore ending up excluding some people.

      My advice would be to keep in mind whatever preferences people have, and try to abide by them. I have not met many (if any) queer people who have been offended by their straight or cisgendered friends including them in general statements, or in their straight or cisgendered friends speaking up for their inclusion. It’s only going to “get better” truly when more straight and cisgendered people get the idea on this and start doing it as a matter of course that things will really change for queer people on a society-wide level, and we won’t have to keep speaking up for ourselves–we’re the only ones doing it now (for the most part–and in some circles more so than others), and are the ones who take the heat for doing it and are told we’re being selfish or self-interested or what-have-you, when in reality doing this makes things better for everyone. Just as women’s rights are human rights, so too are LGBTQIA rights human rights, and being respectful of them makes things nicer for everyone.

      On the matter of “we’re all the same”: no, I would never suggest that, and I think by the examples you’ve cited, you know that to be true. Yes, absolutely, no matter who or what we are, we’re equal, but that’s not the same thing as saying we’re all “the same.” Some of the most brutal and disrespectful things that have ever been done to humans in history have been done because it was assumed that we are all the same and everyone wants/needs the same things, even in the face of blatant and important differences being obvious. The way that LGBTQIA people have been treated is one such example; the ways in which white European Christians, despite excoriating the Native Americans for their “barbarity,” assumed that their Christian religion and European culture was what “everyone wanted/deserved” and it was thus forced on the Natives, etc. The ways in which people have essentially concluded, “We’re all the same, but you’re different in these ways, therefore you’re wrong and should be the same as I am,” is what has lead to almost every human rights abuse the world has ever known. While I know that your own viewpoint doesn’t extend to those same conclusions, the lack of recognizing how different peoples’ needs and desires are in reality leads in all sorts of potentially difficult directions. It gets done with disability as well, as I’m very aware of…but, it gets done with all sorts of things. The “sameness” we have might be real on the level of genetic species, true; but in almost every other way, that sameness is theoretical and idealistic at best, and not all things that are idealistic are necessarily ideal, sadly.

      • Such a thoughtful and quick comment! I forgot to pay my near due internet bill, so was just checking my mail trying to find it and found this first. Thank you for your response. I see what you are saying, and certainly understand how you would be upset concerning the announcers at the parades. The responses to the newspaper shouldn’t have been wrote and are unacceptable altogether in their offensiveness. I do wonder if the announcers perhaps misunderstood it as a typo? I only say this because, I have never seen the total “LGBTQIA” other than on your blog. It’s not an excuse, by any means, but even when we’re all together trying to decide what we might want to participate in, everyone says “LGBT”. You can bet I will be pointing your blog out and bringing up some of the points I have read because I do think almost all of my friends will find something to learn from your words and consider.

        I also see where my “We’re all the same.” statement is idealistic. I meant it more as “we’re all human” because I’m extremely unlike most people that I meet, and also having become disabled as an adult can see where that too creates the problems that you speak of. I do still have the hopes that one day a “live and let live” mindframe will exist as a whole, but with humans reacting as we do, I recognize it’s an idealistic hope.

        It’s always beneficially to get the viewpoint of others since we all have individual experiences, and to remember those experiences color our world. Which is another reason I thank you for the in depth response you gave. I’ve seen some horribly ugly, unthinkable actions condoned by entire communities that I would not consider possible in today’s time did I not try to understand cultural differences and beliefs. Which maybe wouldn’t be so had they been educated. And the atrocities you pointed out yourself are certainly awful. An understatement, really.

        I did go and read the link, after I had responded to your post, that you wrote at the beginning of it. Ironically, I have often said, “Gentlepersons”, “folks”, or other more colorful wordings when dressing crowds just because it’s what felt right at the time and I tend to listen to that voice. After reading what you have said, it will be a permanent change out of purposeful respect.

        One quick question for you, and I apologize if it is well known and I just do not realize it myself. Why is “LGBTQIA” not the more well known term? I read the post where you spoke of problems even amongst lesbian/gay/transgendered of acknowledging sexualities other than their own or hetero. Is that the reason? I will be looking up what you mean by “queer”, for I am embarrassed to say that I’ve always thought it either means an oddball like me or a gay male.

        Thank you kindly.

      • A clarification: It didn’t say “LGBTQIA” in our statement, though; it said “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,” etc., all spelled out in full words in a full sentence, which the announcers then chose to not read out and skip over. The thought, obviously, is that those words “aren’t fit to be spoken in public,” and that even uttering them would in some way demean or embarrass the announcer. If non-queer people can’t even say these words without fear of being made fun of, how on Gaia’s green earth are queer people ever going to have a sense of self-worth?

      • That’s just awful. I can imagine the jab to the heart that would have been felt. We’re fortunate to be able to believe in and accept ourselves without others doing the same, though rarely (if ever) is it as easy to do as it is to say. Fear is such a powerful thing whose grasp has grown quite strong.

        May you be ever persistent. :)

  3. Didn’t check the “notify” box. Haha!


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