I know that putting others down has been something that has happened for centuries. Jokes at the expense of others, mocking, and teasing are all seen in Shakespeare’s plays. However, I feel like with the increased availability of the internet this type of behavior has become all the more common.
I have a tumblr account. I got it because a friend told me I should do my blog there. Instead I have just linked the two. Anyway, I started following people who liked my posts, and then people they reblogged from. In doing so I have noticed a great deal of hate. I rarely see a well thought-out post on tumblr that hasn’t received some sort of attack. What makes it even weirder to me is how ridiculous these attacks are. Someone talks about disliking a certain word, or the way something is used in the gay community for example. Immediately they are attacked as “cishet white privileged males”.
First, since when did that become an insult? This descriptor is a list of biological traits: cis-gendered, heterosexual, white, male, (and the privileges that are associated with these things). Since when is it ever okay to use a person’s biological traits as an insult? I am still struggling with this. I have heard members of the LGBTQA community use ‘heterosexual’ and ‘cis-gendered’ as insults, I have heard women use ‘male’ as an insult, and I have heard POC use ‘white’ as an insult.
These are not insults any more than gay, female, or black are insults. How on earth can we expect people to respect us if we won’t respect them? I understand, people in minority groups have experienced far more discrimination than those not in minorities, but does it really fix anything to behave badly in return? If, as a woman, I create a “men suck” group to try and increase awareness of the discrimination women still face by verbally harassing men for the privilege they were born with is that really much better than the behavior of the sexist men? How does attacking someone else fix your own problems?
I understand that privileges are not a biological trait, but something that have occurred in society due to certain prejudices. We should acknowledge if we are born with more rights than another person just due to biological traits, and yes, we should work to change the inequality. But having certain privileges doesn’t discredit a person’s view.
Going back to my tumblr example, the second problem I have is the fact that the person writing this “insult” has no idea of the race, gender, or sexuality of the others involved. One of my favorite arguments was when someone threw this “insult” at a particular person who was arguing against the actions of a particular feminist group. It turns out that the original poster was not male, not white, and not straight. Just because someone disagrees with your point of view does not mean they are inherently prejudice against you or your specific group. In fact, just because you belong to a minority group of some sort doesn’t mean that your views represent the views of that whole group, or that your views are correct.
These types of comments are not just on tumblr, but all over articles and blogs on the web. I find myself becoming irate when I read comments on many well-written articles. I may not even agree with the article’s premise, but the fact that the author is a man has nothing to do with that.
I was amused after the Thought Catalog article I posted on fat. I was interested by all the comments, but for a number of different reasons. There were people who obviously didn’t agree with me, and instead of making an intelligent comment they said that I must be fat. Oh no, someone said I’m fat, that must mean my view that fat isn’t bad is wrong! I just don’t understand.
In some cases, people are trolling and seem to just get a great deal of pleasure out of starting arguments and bringing others down. That’s a whole other psychological discussion. But in many cases, these types of comments are from people who just think the author is wrong, and apparently feel this is the way to show it. You are not going to change many people’s minds either by describing their biology or by attacking them personally. I think that does not speak highly of you, and suggests you are not intelligent enough to have a reasonable discussion.
I understand people have different views and people disagree. I just don’t understand why people assume you can change the minds of others by attacking them.