Escaping categories

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Damned binaries, Education, Kyriarchy
Tags: ,

One key function of privilege is that the actions of the privileged will not be taken as representative of their group. They will be seen as abhorrences, as lone figures, as individuals. The marginalised, meanwhile, are generalised, the actions of one taken as representative. It is the difference between, say, ‘You can’t play football’ and ‘[group you belong to] can’t play football.’

This is, rather obviously, not good. No group is homogenous, since they are made up of people often grouped together by a particular trait and people are infinitely varied. The kyriarchy’s view of all who are the Other as an amorphous Other, a great beast of one mind with many bodies who are indisinguishable, is inherently oppressive. It’s fairly obvious why. People are individuals, and what one person does should not reflect on others. That particular manifestation of kyriarchy allows people to be dehumanised, reduced and held responsible for other people’s actions.

Why is it that when members of the dominant groups commit crime, it’s seen as an individual problem but when members of less dominant groups do so, it is painted as a cultural problem (with the spectre of terrorism often added, in many cases.)? It’s because of the kyriarchy, generalising groups and demonising them while normalising those it privileges.

It can be hard to fight this, because we are taught to think in words, to label things instinctively, and if the only previous information we can use to process new information is kyriarchal it means that we will tend to think of people in words and ways that are oppressive. However, there’s many ways of getting around that. As always, education is key. Since we tend to think in terms of our previous knowledge and experience, adding to that with more non-oppressive stuff will mean we have more open minds that can process more things in non-oppressive ways. We can also try to stop ourselves categorising so easily, taking people as they come and accepting what they present of themselves without adding our own ideas on.

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