Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Branded by a Cause

It is my strong belief that the greatest problem human rights advocates have is in branding themselves.

You shoot yourself in the foot when you advocate a particular branch of human rights - you aren't fighting for rights, you're fighting for a specific group's rights, and that makes you a member of a special interest group.  More, you start to fight with other special interest groups, undermining each others' causes.

I don't fight for men's rights, I don't fight for white people's rights, I don't fight for the rights of the middle class.  I fight for people's rights.  And everybody thinks that's the way it should be; if I fought for men's rights, most of those who fight for women's rights would brand me a chauvinist; if I fought for white people's rights, most of those who fight for minority rights would brand me a racist; and if I fought for the rights of the middle class, I'd be accused of being bourgeoisie scum.

How do I know this?  Because I -do- fight for those causes, and I am, and the fact that I'm simultaneously arguing for other rights is frequently irrelevant.  It's anti-feminist to point out that most workplace fatalities are men, really?  I'm being racist when I mention that poor white children do not get the same level of support and funding from society as poor black children in precisely similar situations?  And I'm classist scum for believing that rich people shouldn't pay disproportionate taxes?

Am I less antifeminist because I also believe in ending female circumcision, or do I lose credibility because I'm equally opposed to male circumcision?  Am I less racist if I also believe that there's a serious problem with racism in the adoption system, as nobody wants to adopt black babies?  Or is that offset by my belief that racial quotas are fundamentally unjust?  And does my opposition to a progressive tax system get balanced by my opposition to regulations targeted at suppressing competition to established interests (all regulation is this, actually), or is that just more classism in and of itself?

Feminism as a cause -is- riddled with misandrism, precisely because it sees masculinism as a threat; it isn't, they're precisely the same cause and fundamentally support each other.  Masculinism is misogynistic for precisely the opposing reason.  Feminism complains about rape, masculinism complains about innocent men being treated as rapists; both causes have precisely the same problem, they are not in opposition.  They conflict precisely because they are branded; because feminism is about helping women, and masculinism is about helping men - take away the branding, take away the sisterhood and the brotherhood, and it becomes a lot simpler to recognize the issue.  (God, for Greek perspectives on sexuality.  Everybody was a man, everybody had a penis.  Yes, even women, their penises are just inside out.  Makes thing simpler.)

Racism is similar - the fundamental problem everybody has is that they are treated as their race, and instead of resolving this problem, they perpetuate it.  Branding yourself with your race in order to make people look past your race does not work.

Classism, again, is similar.  Take class out of the equation, treat it as a problem of -people-, rather than a problem of -poor people-, or -rich people-.

Branding breeds conflict, rather than resolving them.

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