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Monday, April 22, 2013

Judgmental or Observant?

With many of these so-called delicate subjects, there's a tendency for a knee-jerk response of "OMG, don't be judgmental!" But what the hell is the real difference between being observant and being judgmental anyways?

Basically people will call you judgmental if you say anything negative about someone who is a part of a "weaker" group and observant if you say something negative about a member of a "stronger" group. What's particularly strange about this is that even if the criticism of the "weaker" group is better reasoned, it still gets labeled in the same way, so it doesn't seem to relate to accuracy. And while I'm definitely not one for kicking a dog while its down, some of these conventions are counterproductive at this point in time.
"That rich, white douche is driving that fancy car because he's compensating for his small penis" 

That guy may in fact be a douche and he may be compensating, and there's even a tiny (pun intended) chance it is partly the result of his genitalia, but this is 100% speculation. And even those who wouldn't label this as observant, would also almost certainly not call this judgmental. They might think it's a dumb thing to say, but few would speak up because that guy "doesn't need anyone to defend him".
"That wafer-thin guy with a facial piercing, pink deep v-neck is definitely gay"
Again, we have an assumption based on stereotypes, but now the speaker is suddenly going to be accused of being judgmental and, perhaps ironically, of being homophobic. This is despite the fact that this isn't even technically insulting, it just descriptive and presumptive. And which of these ridiculous statements is more likely to turn out to be true? I'm going to say that the correlation between nice cars and small penises is not as strong as pink v-necks with homosexuals—but that's not the point.

If you are a walking stereotype of any sort you are going to get made fun of, and I'm OK with that. Humor is necessary. People should be themselves, not carbon copies of whatever group-identity they have latched on to.

What are you assuming about his bro? Probably a lot.

To be clear, I don't say shit like the above. My response to either statement would be the same: don't assume you know something about someone by looking at them. Not everyone who drives a nice car is a bad person, and not everyone in a v-neck is gay. In fact, just try avoid any statement that follows the format everyone who ____ is ____.  What's hilarious is that it's actually gay dudes that make the greatest and wrong-est assumptions about me. They are also often the ones slathering on the stereotypes with SPF 50—both on themselves and others. And yet I feel like I'm the only one who calls them out on it. Gee, I'm glad that my non hetero status "allows" me to say my opinion in this instance.  But wait, because I'm "masculine" then it's no longer OK to say negative things, right? But I thought masculinity didn't exist? Take some advil for your headache.

Being non hetero isn't a free ticket to say whatever you want. Everyone has freedom of speech of course, but it isn't fair for homosexuals to hold themselves to different standards than heteros, become histrionic about benign statements, but then make outrageous statements themselves.

Lastly, realize that by trying to "protect" these groups you're in actuality just reinforcing that you think they are inferior. If you think it's OK to say X about one person but not another, or even that it's less OK, then you are showing that you think one of the people is more "in need" of your protection. Joking, on the other hand, levels the playing field, relieves tension and allows for some non-stilted conversations.

Oh, and if you're interested in scientific test regarding your internal bias towards either hetero or non hetero, take this test. It takes about 5 minutes.

Here is my result:

Taste it. 

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