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March 8th, 2006

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09:39 am - some thoughts
It's Blog Against Sexism day, today.

I wish I had something sanguine to say. Things seem both better and worse than they were in the days of my childhood; I think in some ways sexism has moved underground, the way racism has. In other words, overt sexism has been reduced, but I don't know that what people think in their heart of hearts has changed. Maybe in another ten or twenty years, when the people running things will be children who have grown up with idea of equality between the sexes at least being paid lip service.

Here's the gist of what I believe, the abstract that I try to use to guide my actions: Difference does not preclude respect.

I recently was part of a discussion where it was suggested that in addition to our Bill of Rights, we should have a Bill of Responsibilities. We were invited to speculate on what sorts of things should be a part of this document. I immediately thought that Article 1 should be Respect each other. Anything beyond that falls into the category of commentary, to me - you can derive appropriate behavior in any situation from respect as a first principle. Respect of boundaries, respect of people and objects, respect for oneself - it's utterly simple. I'm not sure why the issue so rarely is framed in these terms, but I think it is the root of the matter - of any matter of discrimination, really.

If you respect women as people, you treat them civilly and equally, as a matter of course. This is not a complicated prospect, but it continues to elude some folks.

What is unfortunate is that respect for other people in general has been suffering under the partisan atmosphere of late. I don't mean so much politically partisan (though that is part of it), but the prevailing attitude that if someone outside of your group doesn't agree with you, it is ok to discount them as a person, to dismiss their worth entirely. To deny people with differences rights and protections that are afforded the general populace is just a few steps further down that train of thought.

It's a basic human behavior to divide the universe into Us and Them - that thought pattern is ubiquitous to some degree in human culture. However, how you treat someone depending on their membership in one group or another is a choice, whether conscious or no.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 8th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
well said.
[User Picture]
Date:March 8th, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC)
It really does come down to that, though. Respecting each other as people. It's certainly not "the solution" but it seems to be the very basic starting point that so many movements or ideologies for or against something seem to forget.
Mutual respect as human beings.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
I found you though vegankid's link. I think this is very well stated.

Anything beyond that falls into the category of commentary

Absolutely. I think that respect for others is what fuels us to educate ourselves about other cultures, other experiences, and that education in turn generates more respect. Who was that dead guy, the Greek one, who said, "If we could see each other's battle scars we would have no enemies - only heroes"? Because that's it, isn't it?

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