xenologer: (arggghh)
So a white lesbian couple was able and willing to spend a helluva lot of money through a sperm bank to create an infant that'd look like its parents. So they tried to do that. Only, and here's where the audience gasps, the baby came out black!

So naturally the sperm bank did screw up. Obviously! And this perfect baby is just what got people asking the right questions about the care this medical establishment was taking with patient autonomy and care. So okay. As long as the parents aren't really gross and racist about the fact that their daughter is Surprise Black, this should be the kind of thing that can end okay.

Except HAHAHA OF COURSE they are gonna be super racist.
In the suit, Cramblett lists some of the difficulties she faces in raising a mixed-race child, saying she's unwelcome in the "black neighborhood" she visits to have Payton's hair done, fears her intolerant and homophobic parents will not accept her daughter, and that it would be a hardship to relocate to a racially diverse community as therapists have suggested.


BOO FUCKING HOO holy crap.

The sperm bank made an appalling screwup that they should be penalized for. The fact that the parents already got a very expensive set of procedures refunded and the sperm bank effectively did them for free? That's a penalty. If they want to sue the sperm bank QUIETLY for the trauma and suffering of raising a mixed baby, I guess that's cool if they're gonna put it in the little girl's scholarship fund so that she at least gets some benefit out of it.

This whole "I am going to make a nationally-publicized stink about my Black Mistake Baby" thing? Hell no. The only thing here that they're going to be hard-pressed to keep from wounding this child is this thing right here they voluntarily did. They told the whole nation that their baby was made wrong, and that the girl's race is an integral part of her not being the child they wanted.

I don't get the vibe that the parents are making some kind of thoughtful argument about transracial parenting and its potentially-painful effects on a child whose parents aren't qualified to teach her how to survive as a different race than they are. They absolutely look like white people who had a knee-jerk freakout at having been given damaged goods.

I'd feel a lot better about these two if they'd refused to have anything to do with any press coverage that might imply this baby they so desperately wanted is a problem because she's not white enough. Give the finger to the press who want pictures or interviews and focus on the fact that the sperm bank was being negligent and this perfect baby was only the reason people started asking questions.

And hell, I say this as someone who is just overall uncomfortable and frankly disapproving of the "spend fifty grand to create genetic offspring because if we adopt it won't be Our Real Child" norm that this is a part of. The clinic screwed up and the people who do this hella fucked up thing I hate (going out of their way to create their own personal infant rather than doing for one of the kids who needs a home already) deserve to have a better expectation that their reproductive autonomy will be respected and they'll be able to control whose baby they actually end up giving birth to. I say this as someone who--if these women were me and a partner of mine--would not have created this child at all. If it were me, this baby girl wouldn't exist. And STILL. I am worried about her. Because she does exist now.

This couple absolutely are victims of serious negligence. They're just ALSO extremely frigging contaminated by white supremacy and they are actually SO RACIST that they're still prioritizing themselves and their comfort in their racist-ass white neighborhood with their racist-ass family over this unacceptably-blackened little baby who's gonna grow up and learn how her parents celebrated her existence.

They can be victims and still be showing their racist asses in how they respond to the situation and the degree to which they (fail to) protect their baby girl. Those things can both be true.

More commentary here at TheGrio. The comments on the entry are pretty good as well, just in case anybody was thinking that this is some kind of white guilt inflation that no people of color actually see a problem with. Ay Lovelace also has great commentary on FB (with a similarly great comment thread).

I'm just really appalled. This poor kid. I wouldn't have created that kid in the first place, but she damn well exists now and she deserves better than this kind of public spectacle from her parents and even I can see it. I'm glad they've "bonded with" their little girl, but I hope someday they give her a fucking apology.
xenologer: (Ravenna)
Okay, this is too long to reproduce it all here, but if you want a linkdump for all the clusterfuckery going down as a result of Ron Lindsay (apparently) being deeply ambivalent about the reason we all came together and expressing that in his introduction, here is what I have.
xenologer: (vagina)
A Guide for Men with Good Intentions

As the title indicates, this is not a post for men who don't care whether their sexual advances frighten women. This is not a post for men who think that a woman can ever do anything to deserve being raped. This is not a post for men who just have a serious problem with women in general because their big sister never shared the Nintendo controller or whatever. This is a post for the men who really do respect women and either are being confused with the assholes or are simply afraid they might be.

This is for men with good intentions. I am creating this in the hopes that it will be linkable to men in multiple situations whose good intentions may not always be coming across. Given that, if you have been linked this, it is not necessarily because someone thought every single one of these headers was about you. If you have been linked this, it is because someone absolutely does think you care about them and the other people around you and because they believe that you have the empathy and self-awareness to be both willing and able to consider how your actions affect others.

Basically, if you got linked this, someone thinks you're a good person.

If they didn't think that, they probably wouldn't be talking to you at all, let alone going to the trouble of reading, collecting, and linking resources that will help you have as many positive relationships as possible. If they didn't think you deserved to have the people around you be comfortable with you and be intimate with you, they would be spending their energy to mess with you instead.

So please take this in that spirit. I am not trying to talk down to you, but if you have not ever lived as anything other than a man then I am going to be talking about experiences you have not had. That makes you not the expert on them, and that doesn't mean you're bad. It just means that we're talking about stuff you probably won't understand unless you consider the accounts of people who have experienced it.

As an aside, women are not the only people who could explain this to you. A trans man, for example, is a man, but has probably been erroneously treated like a woman at some point in his life and can therefore probably give you some perspective on what it is like to live without male privilege. Even if he is currently identifying and identified by others as male, this is probably stuff he has seen. Ditto for genderqueer individuals who are or have been misidentified by others as female. Odds are that they also know things.

Despite that, I am going to use "woman" as shorthand for "someone who lives without male privilege" despite the fact that that is not even close to covering absolutely all such people, just because "woman" is far more concise than "someone who lives without male privilege."

This all means there are plenty of people who can and often will give you a picture of what's going on in the world for people with a different set of pressures than your own, and odds are if they are sharing their experiences with you it's not because they think you suck; it's because they are operating under the assumption that you care, and if they're right, this entry is for you.



Read more... )

As is typical, the entry to link (should you desire to do so) is here at DoaW.
xenologer: (vagina)
Great quote from my corner of the internet today! Kyle Brodzky has been dropping some truth about the Chick-Fil-A crap which is generalizable to far more than that. Someone brought it to the discussion table that we ought to just never be angry and never dislike anybody so that we can all get along because the alternative is to be EXTREMISTS and extremists are all equally destructive and wrong.

I've always just been raised believing that moderation is where true justice lies, free from bias or anger. I'm annoyed that sitting on poles is so popular, and even moreso by the fact that those wronged by zealotry, ignorance, and bigotry tend toward the same extreme black-and-white mentality. And maybe it is the fault of those who wronged them, but that doesn't make it any less tragic.


Also he called us extremists, because the Golden Mean fallacy is never out of style.

Brodzky was not having it.

I totally get that (name redacted), that you see that people who are wronged can easily fall into the same polarized thinking. It's sort of offensive that you'd have that prejudice, and use it to try to throw cold water on a very cut and dried social justice issue.

But I think that by stating outright that you automatically think that the wronged party here are already caught up in that is sort of offensive. No one's dragging fry cooks behind their trucks on gravel roads. No one's saying their marriages are invalid. No one's saying fry cooks are literally causing a god to make earthquakes happen and kill people for their sins.

When there is a situation where it is clear who is wrong, and who is right, being 'moderate' is indefensible.

There's no honor or valor or ethical highground or medal or trophy for 'not getting involved' when there's very real, abject, and ugly human suffering going on. Sometimes the conscious, willful act of not choosing a side actually makes you a bad person. Not as evil as the people perpetrating heinous acts against your fellow people, but apathy, well, apathy means you're not opposed to the violation of people's lives. It means you don't have the desire to do what a good person would do. It means you are content to rationalize a total disregard for people around you who are in pain, and rationalize it as a virtue.

And when you do that, when you make that apathy a virtue, you are making it harder for people who do care to make progress.

It's literally unethical to go through life acting as if every issue is as important as "Chunky or Smooth." There are times when you are actively hindering the creation of a better, more sane world, when you act as if these issues don't affect you, or they aren't worth getting upset about, or feeling anger or hatred about. If you view something as absolutely important as human rights, in the here and now, as a peanut butter issue not worth thinking about, or getting mad about, or really even spending any time on at all, then you are absolutely dragging down those around you.

If you think the world's problems are dissolvable down to peanut butter issues you can feel smug about ignoring, then I really don't know what to say. This is in part, truly, because you're simply not a person worth talking to.


Yep.

This is definitely linkable, but share this link instead, please and thank you!
xenologer: (objection!)
Okay, so the Harry Potter universe? I hate the wizarding world. Hate hate hate. I would go absolutely barmy there because I actually give a damn about anybody but myself and people exactly like me. Maybe I'm not always going to do a great job of getting past the various privileges accorded to me because of my race, level of ability, or the fact that my gender and orientation are generally able to pass cultural muster. That's fair. However. I am at the point in my basic humanity where I understand that I am not the only real person in the world and that other people's experiences matter even if I am not having them.

I would probably be a Gryffindor because I am probably too RARRRRRRRRRRRRR INJUSTICE I WILL FIGHT IT, but here's the thing. Even Gryffindor falls dismally short by my standards. Even people who aren't overtly whitewizard supremacists still don't really see muggles as anything but an exotic non-magical Other who must be prevented from having access to magic at all costs, because... apparently they thought that without any real witches or wizards, religious fanatics would stop killing each other over accusations of witchcraft (hahahahahaha yeah okay) and, no shit, because then wizards might have to help muggles.

No, I am not kidding. That's why there is a Wizarding Masquerade. Those are the reasons. The first one pretty much just means they don't know how religion works, which... y'know, whatever. I can excuse that, because I actually wouldn't mind living in a world where I didn't need to know about religion as a survival skill. So I won't hate on them for that. But the latter? Muggles will make them cast magic "for their own ends."

Well, yes, you assholes. Because you have all this magical shit and muggles have actual real world problems that you could be helping with given your superior access to magical resources and training. Yes, actually, muggles might expect you to use your privilege for anybody's benefit but your own. DAMN UPPITY MUGGLES AMIRITE?

*siiiiiigh*

Philanthropic Wizards and What They Could Really Do If They Didn't Suck

Sadly, muggles cannot actually mix potions, but a lot of powerful potions in the Harry Potter universe are literally stuff children can make. Some will require more precision and a more-educated intuition about them, but the amount of raw power required seems fairly minimal. Nonetheless, a wizard who graduates toward the bottom of his class is still a wizard, and you wouldn't have to be much of one to make potions provided you had the skill to compensate for a lack of raw power.

Muggle studies teachers need to be doing fieldwork, or else they need to get actual muggles to teach the course. Before you tell me there aren't muggles who know what magic is, where exactly do you think Hermione Granger's parents think she's going to school? And yes, her mother and father both know what witches are and think it's keen that their daughter is one.

Considering that it was apparently standard procedure to tell the parents what is really going on, consider how many wizards are not pure-blood wizards and then consider how many muggles that means they have in the hiring pool. In fact, if it were important to people in the setting to keep this secret, they'd have a huge problem.

Let's get right into what wizards can actually do, what they choose not to do, and why that means they are useless assholes that I hate.

Either the girding potion or strengthening solution would be literally a performance-enhancing drug. You think that shows up in drug tests? I bet it doesn't. And even if it does, I can think of plenty of legit uses for it besides cheating at sports. Then again, the most important accomplishment in the Wizarding world seems to be Quidditch, so perhaps by wizard priorities cheating at muggle sports is an absolutely brilliant way to make yourself significant to history through magic.

Personally, though, I would be more likely to try any number of these goddamn antidotes for things.

Look at that list. Look at that list. If you can find a cure for malaria or this miracle drug for amputees or people with serious skeletal injuries or a memory potion that you could at least offer to people with Alzheimer's or any number of the stuff that phoenix tears could save you from provided there's any phoenix in the world that considers muggles worth the trouble of shedding a single tear--something that I'd like to point out they can do voluntarily and without anybody needing to torture them for or anything--or any of the things which are clearly magical psych meds and not think, "I can actually make the world a better place for millions of people," you are an asshole and I seriously would hate you if this were actually the Harry Potter universe.

If you as a muggle--which I know you are because this is real life--look at this list and don't immediately think of helping muggles as a valid use for all this magic, what makes you think that if you were surrounded by wizard supremacists who only ever hear about muggles in a high school elective course you'd give a single damn about how many muggle children die of malaria every year?

And this isn't even getting into the bullshit about luck potions that allow you to succeed at anything (Such as actually going and killing Voldemort since even a small dose is clearly enough to protect you from insta-death curses? Or maybe researching a vaccine for HIV? Or for brewing more luck potions?). Keep in mind that potions that never wear off or never run out of doses are a canonical certainty and read those options I listed again.

No, they're fiercely preoccupied with Quidditch (and other ways of establishing and defending Wizard Cred among other wizards) and magical date rape.

And don't tell me wizards aren't smart enough to think of these things. They have potions to make themselves smarter, too.

Wizards are just assholes, that's all. They're assholes who clearly just don't consider "muggle problems" to be worthy of their attention, never mind all the wizards who are themselves related to muggles or dependent on the good graces of muggles willing to help wizards maintain The Wizarding Masquerade.

But! But!

I mean, maybe you're thinking, "But there aren't actually enough wizards in the world to meaningfully participate in solving the problems that plague the human race!" Okay, maybe you're thinking that. Maybe there are just so many utterly-unsolveable-by-muggles problems and not enough wizards to impact those problems even slightly. At that rate, is it really their fault that millions and possibly billions of innocent muggles have suffered and died for lack of access to things like magical medicine? How can we blame wizards for not being able to be everywhere at once? Is that fair or reasonable?

Yes.

I'm just gonna leave this here.

It's not like those are literally given to children so they can take more classes or anything.

I mean maybe magic is inexplicably and inexcusably useless with NO IN-SETTING JUSTIFICATION, or maybe... just maybe... wizards are simply assholes who can't see past their goddamn wizarding privilege to the fact that real human people are suffering and dying completely needlessly because wizards have the worst priorities ever.

A Game I'd Run

I was talking to my husband earlier tonight about what I would do if I ever ran a game in the Harry Potter universe. I would play a muggle-born potions or muggle studies instructor who sends students out on philanthropic adventures. Their first mission would be something super simple and innocuous and easy to cover up, like finding people's lost pets. This would also serve to give an enormous emotional reward to the students for helping a ten year old muggle child get their puppy back. We'd scale this up in their final years at school to disaster relief using apparition to get food and medical supplies into afflicted areas and get survivors out with minimal risk to a skilled user or to the people they're helping.

Why? Because wizards are citizens of the whole world, not just the wizarding world. I don't care what the classist wizard supremacist assholes in Slytherin are telling kids, and I don't care that apparently nobody else at Hogwarts is telling them to quit being so goddamn racist all the time. They're wrong, and muggles matter.

That's what I would use for adventure plot hooks. Go help people, kids. Understand that great power doesn't just come with great responsibility in comic books. If you're a witch or a wizard, you are a superhero, so get out and goddamn act like it.

Naturally, this teacher would probably get in trouble with the wizard supremacists. So here is what would happen. Wizard supremacists teleport to the outside of this teacher's house and decide that they're going to have a duel, because I guess in the wizarding world if you don't want to get thrown in Azkaban, you settle all disputes by seeing who can toss the other's wand into a corner, and the one who has to go pick up their wand loses at everything now and... I guess is forced to stop what they're doing to piss people off by... the honor system, I guess?

That's what the wizard supremacists expect. Unfortunately, this is a muggle studies professor who actually has done fieldwork among muggles and done shit like watch television or movies and guess what. Professor Not-A-Dick owns a gun and tells them to get the fuck offa her lawn or she's going to defend herself and her property.

Even if the wizard supremacists start throwing around killing curses, they can get what? One person at a time? What if this professor and her students have... I don't know... guns? One person on the side of good will definitely die--probably the teacher for dramatic effect--but then the students can retaliate by gunning down an entire crowd of people who expected to be able to win a war by killing a single person every round, because they didn't take their don't be a dumbass potion that day, or apparently pay attention in muggle studies.

So now the students are fugitives who have to continue their teacher's legacy of actually doing anything significant at all with magic. Quite probably I would have them eventually break out Carlotta Pinkstone from Azkaban because until 1996 she was seriously being subjected to Dementors as punishment for civil disobedience founded in her opinion that muggles shouldn't be denied access to magic, and that is not okay. But hey. It's 2012. No Dementors to contend with now, so go get her and let the revolution begin.

Meanwhile the wizard supremacists are wanking off to their obvious natural supremacy while accomplishing absolutely nothing with their magic except to own people (I swear if more wizards were farmers they'd have Field Elves, too) and pass those people on to their children who will also pretty much just sit around circle-jerking about how pure their lineage is and how significant they mistakenly believe they are.

I mean, they've done everything but set in place a system of squib plaçage.

So fuck Harry Potter wizards.

Except you, Carlotta. You're okay; I'm not mad at you.

Everybody else, you need to GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

Edit: If you want to share this, please share the public version over at Dissent of a Woman.

Being Human

Jun. 4th, 2012 11:22 pm
xenologer: (vagina)
Skip This Portion if You've Read About Privilege Before

We all have privileges in our lives. We all have things that make things just a little easier for us, or nearly all of us do. Nearly all of us also have ways in which we've got it harder, obstacles that aren't always even going to be seen by those who aren't facing them. Privileged and marginalized are not mutually exclusive categories--most of us are in both, and we shift from one column to the other depending on our position relative to specific individual problems, systems, organizations, whatever.

So basically, what I am trying to say is that nobody is the bad guy and nobody is nothing but a victim. There are very few people who could ever be pointed at and accused of benefiting from oppression without being oppressed in any way themselves, which means that even if we were trying to make someone feel guilty, it'd be pretty fuckin' hard to figure out who that should be, don't you think?

For people who haven't had these discussions a whole lot, here is a breakdown on some of the basic theories banging around in my head that not everybody has banging around in theirs. The other thing worth mentioning before I get into this is that people who are--in the context of a particular conversation--the person speaking from privilege? Nobody is saying you've got nothing to say.

What is important for you to be aware of, though, is that being the one in a position of privilege means that in the broader culture it's easier for your voice to get heard as a rule. Consequently, it is a really nice thing for you to do to say, "You never get to talk, and we all know it. So... why don't you go first? Let's hear from you and I'll chime in later." Here is some information on how to make your good intentions clear, so that you don't blend in with the assholes. It doesn't require you to approach these conversations any differently than any other interaction, but a lot of people think that discussing marginalization and privilege is different.

I think these people are wrong.

Some of these people are dear allies in the interconnected fights against prejudice and marginalization, and even though I value their contributions and still have all kinds of love for them and would certainly not want them to shut up, I think they are explaining these issues incorrectly. Even I have been failing to make what might be the most important point of all when it comes to treating people who are speaking from marginalization with decency.

Being Decent About Privilege is Exactly Like Being Decent Everywhere Else

I am going to argue that speaking from a position of privilege--both in avoiding being a jerk and dealing with the consequences of inevitable jerkery--is exactly like every other social situation. The rules are the same. I can see you side-eyeing me through your screen, thinking, No way these are really sensitive hot-button issues that are very different from all other topics of conversation.

Wrong.

No Exceptions

I get really emotional in conversations about privilege, particularly if there is a person involved who is not taking seriously the other people around who are saying, "This thing you did/said is not cool because of (name your marginalization)." I get angry when people don't extend the same social courtesies that we are taught are necessary to basic interaction and being a good friend to experiences of marginalization. To me, hearing "this thing you are doing hurts me" should be treated exactly the same whether I said or did some non-privileged nasty thing as with a privileged thing, and I get really really angry when people treat areas where they have privilege like they get a different and relaxed standard that means they can call people friends without caring how much they hurt them.

One thing that people like to bring up as a reason to treat conversations of privilege and marginalization like they're a separate breed from all others is that people speaking from privilege typically cannot really fully comprehend in a deep and personal way what it's like to live without that privilege, which means they just can't understand. I think this is a bullshit excuse and here is why.

I shouldn't have to be able to identify with a friend's hurt in order to give it significance in my life just because they are my friend, or even if they're not just because they are human.

I shouldn't need to fully grok their pain. What I need to know is that someone I have a social connection with is hurting because of an action I took or didn't take, and that makes it my business because of our connection and/or because their hurt is due to a thing I did.

I feel like a great definition of privilege is that having a particular privilege means that when it comes to people who don't have that privilege, the normal rules of personal responsibility for one's own behavior no longer apply because hurt from that source is invalid. Even in the odd case where we have to say it's valid, the person with the privilege is never ever responsible for their part in that pain, because the normal rules of basic human decency have been suspended.

Just makes me angry. It doesn't require new skills to be reasonable about one's own privilege. It just requires that you not draw a line around certain people and say, "I can be a worse friend to you and you don't get to complain. Be grateful for what little you get, and I'll stand over here and be smug over my generosity."

If you're even capable of that, you are an asshole. You really are.

I mean, someone who even has the capacity to do that... nobody else should be friends with them, either, because apparently just because they're a good friend to someone else doesn't mean they see the consistent application of that standard as having anything to do with their own integrity, which means I don't think anyone should trust them.

Privileged Friends: Not an Oxymoron

I'm not saying that privileged people make bad friends. Almost everyone has privilege and privilege makes people do and say dumb and hurtful shit. Law of the universe! But part of being a person among people is accepting that you will hurt people sometimes, and deciding that you have a standard for yourself for what is a good enough response to having hurt someone. Everybody's gonna fuck up with someone in some kind of way. Everyone. What divides the assholes from the trustworthy is how they respond to the awareness of having done so.

And people who make exceptions to their own standards of human decency? That says something about them, about their integrity. I get angry at the implication that this is normal and expected and I am asking too much of them to simply expect that they not decide some people are unworthy of decent integrity, because fuck that forever.

If you can be a good friend to people who aren't bringing their marginalization-flavored hurt to you, you can be a good friend to the people who are. If you can't be a good friend to people bringing their marginalization-flavored hurt to you, though, you might want to think about what kind of friend that really makes you overall.

Sharing this is welcome, but if you do, please share the public version hosted here. I have anonymity concerns, but I also want to be useful. Your consideration allows me to be both safe and helpful, which is super great.
xenologer: (Default)
Cis is Not a Slur, Grues.

I am baffled by the existence of people who are outraged that they are being called cisgendered instead of "normal." I guess maybe they consider every label to be inherently derogatory because it points out that a thing needs to be linguistically marked and I guess that is inherently degrading? Calls into question THEIR intentions when they refer to LGBT people, doesn't it?

Maybe I just know too many chemistry geeks, but everybody I know immediately got that "cis" is just the companion term to "trans." That's it.

I suppose this is more from the files of people who don't mind equality as long as by "equal" we mean "everybody is okay but I am obviously more so and please don't imply that you are good as my kind." As long as we can define "equality" so that it preserves their sense of natural supremacy and superior "rightness," they're okay with it.

Never mind that this makes no goddamn sense at all even linguistically. If these people were better at thinking about words and what they mean, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

For people who are confused that I am annoyed, here is your crash course on what folk sound like when they object to the idea that they can't just refer to themselves as "normal" and define everybody else in opposition. "Other people are either failing or succeeding to be like me and should be classified accordingly and any implication that I am an asshole for classifying them this way is ZOMG CISPHOBIC OPPRESSION."

This is what it looks like applied anywhere else. Thinking of people like this is... honestly kind of hard to avoid because it is taught and enforced in a lot of cultures, but you turn the corner into Asshole Town when you start defending this like it is acceptable or even desirable. Here are ways that you should not be classifying people:

Normal people and gay or trans people.

Regular people and women.

Americans and Black Americans.

Get it?

tl;dr: You can't call yourself normal without calling someone else deviant. If that isn't your intention, then accept that gracefully allowing yourself to be linguistically marked just like everyone else is the decent thing to do. If it is your intention, you are horrible and as I have seen threatened elsewhere I will literally change you into an animal using my magic powers.




(Disclaimer: This blogger does not have magic powers, nor was she processed in a facility that also processes magic powers.)

If you want to link this anywhere, that is fantastic, but I do ask that you link to my "public" blog. Here is the link you want for that.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
So Elisabeth Cornwell spoke at the Reason Rally. The video is behind this link. My commentary is reproduced on that page, but I wanted it here as well to boost the signal on this, because it is not okay. It is not.

Trigger warning: mention of sexual assault.

The systematic degradation of women's control over their own bodies and lives is not just bad, it is monstrous. It is an act of war, as rape is an act of war. There are even a lot of parallels to how female slaves were treated, because they were considered always-accessible subhuman incubators for the valuable property of their masters, much as a disposable class of unsupported children is valuable for rich white dudes today who benefit from trapping other communities in generational poverty. There are a lot of parallels, and even if it was a little hyperbolic... I expect hyperbole at a rally.

There is a problem, though. I was there at the rally and I listened to Cornwell talking about how women in America are being enslaved then invoke the alleged ideals and opinions of Thomas Jefferson, to convey how appalled he would be by this kind of inroad toward theocracy. I realize that this is a thing easily forgotten by white people in this country, but Jefferson actually personally himself enslaved women. You know who made their reproductive choices? Jefferson did after he bought them. Sure, he'd potentially stand with the white women in the audience in their struggle for reproductive freedom, but if you think he'd stand with the women of color, I don't know where you got your history education. More likely you just didn't consider that what he did to black women reflects as strongly on his character as what the theocrats are trying to do to you now.

This is a problem.

How much more strongly can someone imply that black women aren't real women, their enslavement not pressing until it is shared by white women? I can think of no other reason why Jefferson's status as a famed enslaver and rapist of slave women should be overlooked so that he can be called upon as an ideological ally to modern women, except that to some people his serial rapes and violations of the reproductive autonomy of *black* women were less important as a measure of his character than his excellent insights about religion.

We did a good job on diversity of speakers and guests at the accompanying convention this year, but if you want to be mindful of not seeming like a movement run by white people for white people, please be mindful of whom you're asking your audience to idolize. We're talking about a guy whose reputation for raping slaves and forcing them to bear his children is so legendary that there are entire geneology projects dedicated to tracing just his descendants among people of color.

Jefferson's political theory was a good place to start (particularly when it comes to his views on religion), but it's a terrible place to finish and we sure as heck shouldn't retreat back to it to stop the enslavement of women. So let's keep that in mind before we canonize the man and ask the women of color in the audience to look up to the guy who raped so many of their great-great-grandmothers and forced them to carry and bear his "property" against their will. Maybe some of his nasty personal/"business" habits are overlookable by a financially secure white activist, but the fact that you can overlook it doesn't mean other people are going to be able to handwave it so easily.

I appreciated the rally and had a lovely time both there and at the convention. The sense of community was beautiful and necessary. It's just sad that it had to be undermined by something like this at a time when we are all clearly making an effort toward including the full range of atheists in all our diversity.
xenologer: (I have arrived)
I have become sort of well-known for my walls of text in conversations of privilege and marginalization, and one of the reasons I post them is because simply telling people to educate themselves doesn't work. I mean, realistically, we are all grown adults who know how to use The Google. Given sufficient interest in not hurting each other's feelings, a person so motivated could just... go find one of the many many places on the internet where this has been explained and just learn how on their own.

Realistically, though, people are kinda lazy... particularly when the only thing at stake is someone else's feelings.

Consequently, while these insufficiently-motivated people are not entitled to any more expended energy on behalf of others than they're willing to give, I actually happen to care about what's going to happen the next time they run and act a fool and hurt somebody, and right now I have the spoons to... well, spoonfeed some people.

Read more... )
xenologer: (objection!)
Clinical Trials and the Cultural Mania for Torture

I am against clinical trials.

Rather, I am against clinical trials as they are now conceived and implemented.

I am against the mass “treatment” of the desperately ill via the marketing of hope (and often one of “only hope”).

I have no stats and I’ll certainly update this next contention should someone share some valid and pertinent data with me: Surely most clinical trials offer zero benefit to any subjects in terms of quality of life and likely not even in quantity of life. (...)

With that as backdrop I’d go further and argue that “applied science” in the service of the consumption economy is intensely evil at its core as it becomes realized in this very way. We are subjects in one very long experiment. It is in utter dismay that I confront the fact that we honor, or at least offer deference to, by calling “science” and “research” and the noble character trait of man, the mania for discovery (exploration).

Harlow and Suomi, as vile as they are, are no exception. The “mad” scientist is the norm, fellow subjects, and the mad patient is his collaborator.


Douglas Storm doesn’t seem to know anything about experimental research after the sixties. I did my bachelor’s thesis for my anthropology degree on the use of authority and power in online communities, and I had to get IRB approval to interview people. To /talk to people/ under circumstances in which they were free to just not answer questions, and in which they were free to choose how I’d refer to them later if I did so. Why? Because that counts as human experimentation.

Now, the author undoubtedly wasn’t intending to discuss research like mine. I am fully confident that ethnographic fieldwork like mine isn’t even on the author’s radar, because it looks a lot like Storm doesn’t actually realize the full breadth of what he’s condemning. That’d require him to do more than read the Wikipedia article on Harlow’s research (and there are so many similarly awful old studies that the fact that he only mentioned Harlow suggests to me that he didn’t spend very long researching his opinion) and get really upset at everybody who so much as sorta seems like a scientist.

So to more directly address Storm’s apparently narrow area of exposure to research… Storm’s opposed to clinical testing, but is he opposed to marketing and selling /untested/ products? At that point, we’d all know they’re still being tested. They’d just be tested on people who didn’t consent and don’t know what they’re getting into, whereas contrary to what reading about one of the many nasty studies from decades ago might have indicated to Storm, there are standards for clinical trials or any kind of experimentation on living creatures (particularly creatures that can feel pain).

However, Storm’s against clinical testing. What does he propose happen to products intended for animals or people before they’re sold, then? I guarantee you we’d have a lot of the same medications and other consumables, but they’d be coming without that package insert that tells you what you’re getting into. I don’t know about you, but I like that package insert. It’s how I accomplish a little thing that researchers call “informed consent.” What Storm is suggesting is wildly irresponsible and would result in danger and harm to a lot of people.

How do I know this? Because that’s how it used to be before clinical trials were A Thing. That’s how snake oil salesmen worked. That’s how antifreeze ended up getting used as a sweetener in children’s medicine. Nobody did trials or studies because nobody had to, and you know what? People died. As someone whose loved ones /must/ take a whole host of medications for serious chronic ailments, I’m a little bothered that Storm is suggesting that “applied science” is an “intensely evil” force in our consumption economy.

I think Storm is blinded by his own able-bodied privilege in that he can just decide that science is bad and he doesn’t want any, and he can just decide that all of its effects are evil despite how many of them keep other people alive. Frankly, if Storm or his students have received vaccinations for lethal or disabling illnesses, “applied science” is keeping him alive, too. He’s just obviously able-bodied enough to ignore it.

Scientists need regulation. They need rules and ethical standards and accountability and consequences when those standards aren’t met. Why? Because, contrary to Storm’s narrowly-researched and ill-considered opinion, we need them.

A lot of people need them just to function day to day, and if Storm cares more about some bizarre notion of ideological orthodoxy ("applied science" is categorically "intensely evil" and no benefit to anyone can be admitted) than he cares about keeping chronically ill or disabled people alive and healthy, then Storm can seriously climb a wall of cocks.
xenologer: (prophet)
Okay. It looks like I'm going to be writing an entry on privilege. Thought I was gonna be able to avoid it, but it doesn't look like that'll be happening.

I am going to preface this with something. I don't like the word "privilege" to refer to things like "male privilege" or "white privilege" or "Christian privilege." It implies that white people and men and Christians (or whatever) all have things they shouldn't have, that no one should have. Personally I feel that being able to walk home past sunset without worrying you're going to get kidnapped and killed is not a case of anybody's privilege. Everyone should have it, and it's a damn shame that they don't.

Right now it feels every time the term "privilege" gets used we're talking about things like "seeing people your own race or sex in public office" or "being able to get a job based on your qualifications and not your face" or "being able to control people's sexual access to you." I feel that treating these as privileges treats people who've got them like they have more than they should instead of treating the people who don't as though they've got less than they should. It's why I prefer to talk about people who're disadvantaged over talking about people who're privileged (unless I'm using it to mean precisely what I just mentioned: people who've got more than they should).

It doesn't seem like it makes much of a difference, but feminist scholarship and analysis as I've seen it is often about just this kind of thing: linguistic subtleties. What message are people getting by the words we use? It seems when "male privilege" comes up that we're not talking about women dealing with shit they shouldn't have to, but men enjoying autonomy and security they shouldn't get. Even if that isn't what's meant, I'll be happier the day we find another term.

That said, we don't have other terms. So please understand what I mean when I use the word "privilege," and that I feel icky because I have no other options.

This entry is not about male privilege. This entry is not about white privilege. This entry is about Christian privilege. Keep in mind what I said earlier about privilege. I'm not saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things they don't deserve. I'm saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things that not all religions have, but all religions do deserve.

Cut for a list of Christian privileges in America, some obviously being more pressing or relevant than others. )

Much of this is unavoidable, because Christians are a majority in America. That's why Christians have national holidays and Hindus (to my knowledge) do not. That's why Christians can fill every town and city in America with their places of worship. That's why Christians can support their own television channels, and their own private schools (at least to a greater degree than Wiccans or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists). I say this because I want you to understand that I understand that this is not a concerted effort on the part of most Christians to make other religions feel marginalized in a nation that is only tolerating them. Sometimes it is largely because Christians have numbers on their side in this country.

For a more thorough explanation of what "Christian privilege" is for the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer you to Understanding Christian Privilege: Managing the Tensions of Spiritual Plurality, by Tricia Seifert. Tricia Seifert is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Iowa. She studies the impact of educational programs and policies on student learning. This article mainly discusses Christian privilege on college campuses, but the general ideas apply well enough that I'll probably refer back to this a good bit.

Adapting Peggy McIntosh’s white privilege and male privilege framework, Christine Clark, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Lewis Schlosser, and Craig Alimo developed several examples of Christian privilege. In an article in Multicultural Education, Clark and her colleagues define privilege as the manifestation of unearned and unacknowledged advantages that those in the dominant social or cultural group (in this case, Christians) experience in their everyday lives.

See? It's not always the fault of Christians, and I'm not asking Christians to feel guilty for being the dominant group. I don't know a single Christian who is powerful enough to be to blame for the marginalization of non-Christians in America. What I'm trying to get across is that because Christians are a privileged group in America, non-Christians commonly and easily feel marginalized and merely tolerated in a country that is supposed to belong just as much to them as to their Christian neighbors.

Lewis Schlosser and William Sedlacek, in a 2003 issue of About Campus, note that the timing of the term break at Christmas—which often goes unquestioned— privileges Christian students, who do not have to choose between their schoolwork and attending religious ceremonies, while it marginalizes non-Christian students, who must negotiate conflicts between their studies and their spiritual observances. For example, in some years, Ramadan—one of the key religious observances of Islam—may coincide with many campuses’ midterm exams.The perceived secularization of Christmas has helped to reinforce its position as central to the college and university calendar.The suggestion that Santa Claus and a Christmas tree are devoid of religious connotations and are “just part of the culture” (p. 124), as Douglas Hicks notes in Religion and the Workplace: Pluralism, Spirituality, and Leadership, cements Christian privilege.As Christian symbols are placed at the center of our institutions’ cultural fabric, non-Christians are pushed further to the margins.

Again, this is not something Christians necessarily need to feel guilty about. Christians who truly believe that their religion deserves special treatment above all other faiths and at the expense of all outsiders are few and far between. But they do exist, and they are the reason that I'm writing this.

Christians often claim that it is difficult to be Christian in America. They say that liberals are "waging war" against Christians on sites like this one, dedicated to exposing the introduction of Islam into our culture (and an alleged accompanying undermining of Christianity). Because students are encouraged to learn how Muslims pray (since American culture already teaches them how Christians pray), Christian groups view this as a threat to their supremacy, a threat to their privilege. If children learn as much from outside their homes about Islam as they learn about Christianity, the perceived "right" of Christianity to be vastly overrepresented is undermined.

So the reduction of Christian privilege gets painted by many Christian groups as persecution. When the symbol of their faith is held up above all others as a symbol for America and patriotism, they cheer. When they learn that they must share religious displays on government property with other faiths, or not post them at all, they claim persecution.

What Christians are losing in these cases (and in most I can think of) is not the right to practice their religion on an equal footing with Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or whatever other faith you can mention that has migrated to America. What they are losing is supremacy. Their privilege is being eroded, and rather than claim they should not have had such an overwhelming advantage in the first place (or at the very least that other groups should not have been so proportionally disadvantaged), they cry foul and play the victim.

So here's a warning for my journal. You may post whatever comments you please. I haven't deleted a single comment to date, and I don't intend to start. But if you post on my journal with the pose that Christians in America are somehow in dire peril of being marginalized, persecuted, or even just maligned widely in the arena of public opinion, I ask you to remember this.

If you are Christian, you have power that no other religion in America has. I find it hard to believe that anything can happen to Christians in America to bring them down to the level of every other religion in this country anytime soon. Fret all you like that Christianity is under siege, but the rest of us are well aware you aren't going anywhere. You make it kind of hard to forget. Whether you mean to remind us who's boss or not, non-Christians in America face that reality every day.

For more information on how Christians can forget they have privilege, check out Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo by Lewis Z. Schlosser.

One possible explanation for the existence of Christian privilege is the notion of a “nonconscious ideology” (Bem & Bem, 970, p. 89). Bem and Bem first defined the concept of a nonconscious ideology to describe how implicit beliefs and attitudes are used to maintain the status quo in terms of gender inequality. They used the analogy of a fish and its environment to illustrate their concept of nonconscious ideology. A fish does not know its environment is wet, because that is all it knows and all it has ever experienced. The fish has no idea that anything else exists besides water because it has never had to think about any other possibilities.

(snip)

In a similar fashion, Christians are not likely to know (or believe) that the environment is oppressive, because that environment has never been oppressive to them for being Christian. Thus, Christian privilege is likely to be a result of Christianity being the nonconscious ideology (in terms of religious group membership) of the United States. Even if this is a valid explanation for the existence of Christian privilege, because Christians are the dominant religious group in the United States, it is their responsibility to recognize their power and the accompanying privileges.

Maybe you can afford to forget who's in charge, but we cannot.

Christians reading this don't have to feel like I blame you for the myriad awkward conversations, occupational difficulties, educational barriers, and glaring injustices non-Christians in America can face. You are personally not to blame. That's not what acknowledgment of Christian privilege needs to mean.

What it does mean is that every time you get the urge to bemoan the sad state of Christianity in America today, remember where you are in relation to the rest of us. Remember what non-Christians in America go through because of Christian supremacy before you complain about the persecution of American Christians. Remember that when you claim Christians are a maligned and hated group in America, you may be talking to someone who really knows what that's like.
xenologer: (prophet)
Okay. It looks like I'm going to be writing an entry on privilege. Thought I was gonna be able to avoid it, but it doesn't look like that'll be happening.

I am going to preface this with something. I don't like the word "privilege" to refer to things like "male privilege" or "white privilege" or "Christian privilege." It implies that white people and men and Christians (or whatever) all have things they shouldn't have, that no one should have. Personally I feel that being able to walk home past sunset without worrying you're going to get kidnapped and killed is not a case of anybody's privilege. Everyone should have it, and it's a damn shame that they don't.

Right now it feels every time the term "privilege" gets used we're talking about things like "seeing people your own race or sex in public office" or "being able to get a job based on your qualifications and not your face" or "being able to control people's sexual access to you." I feel that treating these as privileges treats people who've got them like they have more than they should instead of treating the people who don't as though they've got less than they should. It's why I prefer to talk about people who're disadvantaged over talking about people who're privileged (unless I'm using it to mean precisely what I just mentioned: people who've got more than they should).

It doesn't seem like it makes much of a difference, but feminist scholarship and analysis as I've seen it is often about just this kind of thing: linguistic subtleties. What message are people getting by the words we use? It seems when "male privilege" comes up that we're not talking about women dealing with shit they shouldn't have to, but men enjoying autonomy and security they shouldn't get. Even if that isn't what's meant, I'll be happier the day we find another term.

That said, we don't have other terms. So please understand what I mean when I use the word "privilege," and that I feel icky because I have no other options.

This entry is not about male privilege. This entry is not about white privilege. This entry is about Christian privilege. Keep in mind what I said earlier about privilege. I'm not saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things they don't deserve. I'm saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things that not all religions have, but all religions do deserve.

Cut for a list of Christian privileges in America, some obviously being more pressing or relevant than others. )

Much of this is unavoidable, because Christians are a majority in America. That's why Christians have national holidays and Hindus (to my knowledge) do not. That's why Christians can fill every town and city in America with their places of worship. That's why Christians can support their own television channels, and their own private schools (at least to a greater degree than Wiccans or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists). I say this because I want you to understand that I understand that this is not a concerted effort on the part of most Christians to make other religions feel marginalized in a nation that is only tolerating them. Sometimes it is largely because Christians have numbers on their side in this country.

For a more thorough explanation of what "Christian privilege" is for the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer you to Understanding Christian Privilege: Managing the Tensions of Spiritual Plurality, by Tricia Seifert. Tricia Seifert is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Iowa. She studies the impact of educational programs and policies on student learning. This article mainly discusses Christian privilege on college campuses, but the general ideas apply well enough that I'll probably refer back to this a good bit.

Adapting Peggy McIntosh’s white privilege and male privilege framework, Christine Clark, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Lewis Schlosser, and Craig Alimo developed several examples of Christian privilege. In an article in Multicultural Education, Clark and her colleagues define privilege as the manifestation of unearned and unacknowledged advantages that those in the dominant social or cultural group (in this case, Christians) experience in their everyday lives.

See? It's not always the fault of Christians, and I'm not asking Christians to feel guilty for being the dominant group. I don't know a single Christian who is powerful enough to be to blame for the marginalization of non-Christians in America. What I'm trying to get across is that because Christians are a privileged group in America, non-Christians commonly and easily feel marginalized and merely tolerated in a country that is supposed to belong just as much to them as to their Christian neighbors.

Lewis Schlosser and William Sedlacek, in a 2003 issue of About Campus, note that the timing of the term break at Christmas—which often goes unquestioned— privileges Christian students, who do not have to choose between their schoolwork and attending religious ceremonies, while it marginalizes non-Christian students, who must negotiate conflicts between their studies and their spiritual observances. For example, in some years, Ramadan—one of the key religious observances of Islam—may coincide with many campuses’ midterm exams.The perceived secularization of Christmas has helped to reinforce its position as central to the college and university calendar.The suggestion that Santa Claus and a Christmas tree are devoid of religious connotations and are “just part of the culture” (p. 124), as Douglas Hicks notes in Religion and the Workplace: Pluralism, Spirituality, and Leadership, cements Christian privilege.As Christian symbols are placed at the center of our institutions’ cultural fabric, non-Christians are pushed further to the margins.

Again, this is not something Christians necessarily need to feel guilty about. Christians who truly believe that their religion deserves special treatment above all other faiths and at the expense of all outsiders are few and far between. But they do exist, and they are the reason that I'm writing this.

Christians often claim that it is difficult to be Christian in America. They say that liberals are "waging war" against Christians on sites like this one, dedicated to exposing the introduction of Islam into our culture (and an alleged accompanying undermining of Christianity). Because students are encouraged to learn how Muslims pray (since American culture already teaches them how Christians pray), Christian groups view this as a threat to their supremacy, a threat to their privilege. If children learn as much from outside their homes about Islam as they learn about Christianity, the perceived "right" of Christianity to be vastly overrepresented is undermined.

So the reduction of Christian privilege gets painted by many Christian groups as persecution. When the symbol of their faith is held up above all others as a symbol for America and patriotism, they cheer. When they learn that they must share religious displays on government property with other faiths, or not post them at all, they claim persecution.

What Christians are losing in these cases (and in most I can think of) is not the right to practice their religion on an equal footing with Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or whatever other faith you can mention that has migrated to America. What they are losing is supremacy. Their privilege is being eroded, and rather than claim they should not have had such an overwhelming advantage in the first place (or at the very least that other groups should not have been so proportionally disadvantaged), they cry foul and play the victim.

So here's a warning for my journal. You may post whatever comments you please. I haven't deleted a single comment to date, and I don't intend to start. But if you post on my journal with the pose that Christians in America are somehow in dire peril of being marginalized, persecuted, or even just maligned widely in the arena of public opinion, I ask you to remember this.

If you are Christian, you have power that no other religion in America has. I find it hard to believe that anything can happen to Christians in America to bring them down to the level of every other religion in this country anytime soon. Fret all you like that Christianity is under siege, but the rest of us are well aware you aren't going anywhere. You make it kind of hard to forget. Whether you mean to remind us who's boss or not, non-Christians in America face that reality every day.

For more information on how Christians can forget they have privilege, check out Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo by Lewis Z. Schlosser.

One possible explanation for the existence of Christian privilege is the notion of a “nonconscious ideology” (Bem & Bem, 970, p. 89). Bem and Bem first defined the concept of a nonconscious ideology to describe how implicit beliefs and attitudes are used to maintain the status quo in terms of gender inequality. They used the analogy of a fish and its environment to illustrate their concept of nonconscious ideology. A fish does not know its environment is wet, because that is all it knows and all it has ever experienced. The fish has no idea that anything else exists besides water because it has never had to think about any other possibilities.

(snip)

In a similar fashion, Christians are not likely to know (or believe) that the environment is oppressive, because that environment has never been oppressive to them for being Christian. Thus, Christian privilege is likely to be a result of Christianity being the nonconscious ideology (in terms of religious group membership) of the United States. Even if this is a valid explanation for the existence of Christian privilege, because Christians are the dominant religious group in the United States, it is their responsibility to recognize their power and the accompanying privileges.

Maybe you can afford to forget who's in charge, but we cannot.

Christians reading this don't have to feel like I blame you for the myriad awkward conversations, occupational difficulties, educational barriers, and glaring injustices non-Christians in America can face. You are personally not to blame. That's not what acknowledgment of Christian privilege needs to mean.

What it does mean is that every time you get the urge to bemoan the sad state of Christianity in America today, remember where you are in relation to the rest of us. Remember what non-Christians in America go through because of Christian supremacy before you complain about the persecution of American Christians. Remember that when you claim Christians are a maligned and hated group in America, you may be talking to someone who really knows what that's like.
xenologer: (prophet)
Okay. It looks like I'm going to be writing an entry on privilege. Thought I was gonna be able to avoid it, but it doesn't look like that'll be happening.

I am going to preface this with something. I don't like the word "privilege" to refer to things like "male privilege" or "white privilege" or "Christian privilege." It implies that white people and men and Christians (or whatever) all have things they shouldn't have, that no one should have. Personally I feel that being able to walk home past sunset without worrying you're going to get kidnapped and killed is not a case of anybody's privilege. Everyone should have it, and it's a damn shame that they don't.

Right now it feels every time the term "privilege" gets used we're talking about things like "seeing people your own race or sex in public office" or "being able to get a job based on your qualifications and not your face" or "being able to control people's sexual access to you." I feel that treating these as privileges treats people who've got them like they have more than they should instead of treating the people who don't as though they've got less than they should. It's why I prefer to talk about people who're disadvantaged over talking about people who're privileged (unless I'm using it to mean precisely what I just mentioned: people who've got more than they should).

It doesn't seem like it makes much of a difference, but feminist scholarship and analysis as I've seen it is often about just this kind of thing: linguistic subtleties. What message are people getting by the words we use? It seems when "male privilege" comes up that we're not talking about women dealing with shit they shouldn't have to, but men enjoying autonomy and security they shouldn't get. Even if that isn't what's meant, I'll be happier the day we find another term.

That said, we don't have other terms. So please understand what I mean when I use the word "privilege," and that I feel icky because I have no other options.

This entry is not about male privilege. This entry is not about white privilege. This entry is about Christian privilege. Keep in mind what I said earlier about privilege. I'm not saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things they don't deserve. I'm saying that Christians enjoy lots and lots of things that not all religions have, but all religions do deserve.

Cut for a list of Christian privileges in America, some obviously being more pressing or relevant than others. )

Much of this is unavoidable, because Christians are a majority in America. That's why Christians have national holidays and Hindus (to my knowledge) do not. That's why Christians can fill every town and city in America with their places of worship. That's why Christians can support their own television channels, and their own private schools (at least to a greater degree than Wiccans or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists). I say this because I want you to understand that I understand that this is not a concerted effort on the part of most Christians to make other religions feel marginalized in a nation that is only tolerating them. Sometimes it is largely because Christians have numbers on their side in this country.

For a more thorough explanation of what "Christian privilege" is for the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer you to Understanding Christian Privilege: Managing the Tensions of Spiritual Plurality, by Tricia Seifert. Tricia Seifert is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Iowa. She studies the impact of educational programs and policies on student learning. This article mainly discusses Christian privilege on college campuses, but the general ideas apply well enough that I'll probably refer back to this a good bit.

Adapting Peggy McIntosh’s white privilege and male privilege framework, Christine Clark, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Lewis Schlosser, and Craig Alimo developed several examples of Christian privilege. In an article in Multicultural Education, Clark and her colleagues define privilege as the manifestation of unearned and unacknowledged advantages that those in the dominant social or cultural group (in this case, Christians) experience in their everyday lives.

See? It's not always the fault of Christians, and I'm not asking Christians to feel guilty for being the dominant group. I don't know a single Christian who is powerful enough to be to blame for the marginalization of non-Christians in America. What I'm trying to get across is that because Christians are a privileged group in America, non-Christians commonly and easily feel marginalized and merely tolerated in a country that is supposed to belong just as much to them as to their Christian neighbors.

Lewis Schlosser and William Sedlacek, in a 2003 issue of About Campus, note that the timing of the term break at Christmas—which often goes unquestioned— privileges Christian students, who do not have to choose between their schoolwork and attending religious ceremonies, while it marginalizes non-Christian students, who must negotiate conflicts between their studies and their spiritual observances. For example, in some years, Ramadan—one of the key religious observances of Islam—may coincide with many campuses’ midterm exams.The perceived secularization of Christmas has helped to reinforce its position as central to the college and university calendar.The suggestion that Santa Claus and a Christmas tree are devoid of religious connotations and are “just part of the culture” (p. 124), as Douglas Hicks notes in Religion and the Workplace: Pluralism, Spirituality, and Leadership, cements Christian privilege.As Christian symbols are placed at the center of our institutions’ cultural fabric, non-Christians are pushed further to the margins.

Again, this is not something Christians necessarily need to feel guilty about. Christians who truly believe that their religion deserves special treatment above all other faiths and at the expense of all outsiders are few and far between. But they do exist, and they are the reason that I'm writing this.

Christians often claim that it is difficult to be Christian in America. They say that liberals are "waging war" against Christians on sites like this one, dedicated to exposing the introduction of Islam into our culture (and an alleged accompanying undermining of Christianity). Because students are encouraged to learn how Muslims pray (since American culture already teaches them how Christians pray), Christian groups view this as a threat to their supremacy, a threat to their privilege. If children learn as much from outside their homes about Islam as they learn about Christianity, the perceived "right" of Christianity to be vastly overrepresented is undermined.

So the reduction of Christian privilege gets painted by many Christian groups as persecution. When the symbol of their faith is held up above all others as a symbol for America and patriotism, they cheer. When they learn that they must share religious displays on government property with other faiths, or not post them at all, they claim persecution.

What Christians are losing in these cases (and in most I can think of) is not the right to practice their religion on an equal footing with Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or whatever other faith you can mention that has migrated to America. What they are losing is supremacy. Their privilege is being eroded, and rather than claim they should not have had such an overwhelming advantage in the first place (or at the very least that other groups should not have been so proportionally disadvantaged), they cry foul and play the victim.

So here's a warning for my journal. You may post whatever comments you please. I haven't deleted a single comment to date, and I don't intend to start. But if you post on my journal with the pose that Christians in America are somehow in dire peril of being marginalized, persecuted, or even just maligned widely in the arena of public opinion, I ask you to remember this.

If you are Christian, you have power that no other religion in America has. I find it hard to believe that anything can happen to Christians in America to bring them down to the level of every other religion in this country anytime soon. Fret all you like that Christianity is under siege, but the rest of us are well aware you aren't going anywhere. You make it kind of hard to forget. Whether you mean to remind us who's boss or not, non-Christians in America face that reality every day.

For more information on how Christians can forget they have privilege, check out Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo by Lewis Z. Schlosser.

One possible explanation for the existence of Christian privilege is the notion of a “nonconscious ideology” (Bem & Bem, 970, p. 89). Bem and Bem first defined the concept of a nonconscious ideology to describe how implicit beliefs and attitudes are used to maintain the status quo in terms of gender inequality. They used the analogy of a fish and its environment to illustrate their concept of nonconscious ideology. A fish does not know its environment is wet, because that is all it knows and all it has ever experienced. The fish has no idea that anything else exists besides water because it has never had to think about any other possibilities.

(snip)

In a similar fashion, Christians are not likely to know (or believe) that the environment is oppressive, because that environment has never been oppressive to them for being Christian. Thus, Christian privilege is likely to be a result of Christianity being the nonconscious ideology (in terms of religious group membership) of the United States. Even if this is a valid explanation for the existence of Christian privilege, because Christians are the dominant religious group in the United States, it is their responsibility to recognize their power and the accompanying privileges.

Maybe you can afford to forget who's in charge, but we cannot.

Christians reading this don't have to feel like I blame you for the myriad awkward conversations, occupational difficulties, educational barriers, and glaring injustices non-Christians in America can face. You are personally not to blame. That's not what acknowledgment of Christian privilege needs to mean.

What it does mean is that every time you get the urge to bemoan the sad state of Christianity in America today, remember where you are in relation to the rest of us. Remember what non-Christians in America go through because of Christian supremacy before you complain about the persecution of American Christians. Remember that when you claim Christians are a maligned and hated group in America, you may be talking to someone who really knows what that's like.

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