Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Discrimination of the Future

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My spouse has been looking at the feminist community again.  Like the vegan community, it’s one we don’t delve into much, because certain members are far too quick to jump on those who aren’t perfect.  You have to say and do all the right things.

Granted, feminism has done some wonderful things for our country.  Particularly the first wave, who removed political, educational, and cultural barriers that many women today never even think about.  Marriage today isn’t a horrifying prospect, even if the workplace still discriminates far too much against those who have taken time off to care for children.  And, to a lesser extent, against women in general, partly out of concern that they will take more time off.

Now, however, the second- and third-wave feminists are battling over how we should treat gender.  Second-wavers tend to minimize gender, as an effort to achieve true equality, particularly in the workplace.  Third-wavers prefer to embrace it, in all its forms.  They’re the ones reaching out to the homosexual and transsexual communities, and trying to make everyone aware of the difficulties imposed by those who simply haven’t thought about it.

Consider: If you’re anatomically male, but dress and act female, to the point where everyone considers you a woman, do you use the men’s restroom or the women’s?  How many people will freak out at seeing you use the “wrong” one, because they either know or don’t know your history?  How much easier would it be if every place had sufficient single-occupant water closets to accommodate you?  For most places, it could double as the wheelchair-accessible toilet.  It would also create less confusion for two-year-olds being assisted by parents of the opposite sex.

My office building used to have six single-occupant restrooms.  Granted, half of them were difficult to find.  After a renovation, it had just one, in combination with a women’s restroom with two toilets, and a men’s with one toilet and a urinal.  Nobody was happy with the change, except maybe the building owner.  We weren’t even clear on whether it was compliant with OSHA standards.  The single-occupant toilet probably saw more use, particularly at first, than the others combined, and not just because it had a shower.

Closer to home, it’s relatively easy for the left-handed to understand such complaints.  Microwave buttons are on the right.  Yes, it’s a minor inconvenience, but one out of several hundred encountered in a typical week, by ten percent of the population.  School desks don’t have to be right-handed, but far too many are.  Scissors have more right to be manufactured toward one hand or the other, and are much cheaper, so no elementary classroom should lack a few pairs of clearly marked left-handed scissors.  Otherwise, children will learn to cut awkwardly with the wrong hand, or slowly and painfully with the wrong scissors.

Contemporary society strongly discourages active discrimination against the left-handed, but remnants remain.  As a standard form of greeting, we extend the right hand.  Our vocabulary still includes the words sinister and gauche.  Satan is commonly portrayed as left-handed.

I once searched for a Portal-compatible game controller with the buttons on the left.  I found a site reselling them with the analog sticks switched, but the buttons were still on the right.  Not useful; some games support remapping axes, and I can switch them at the driver level on some computers, but the hardware is much harder to reverse.

Oddly, one of the most common annoyances is the way people react when they first notice.  “Oh, you’re left-handed?  My cousin is left-handed.”  There; your lifetime of pain has been swept away, for you have been lumped into a known category with someone who has also been mostly suppressing and concealing such complaints.  The particularly obtuse will combine this with their reaction to finding out that you once lived somewhere they happen to know someone:  “Do you know him?”

This, one way or another, will be the fate of homo- and transsexual people within twenty to fifty years.  Right now, they’re rightfully raging against those who beat them up, enact laws against them, try to switch them, or at least force them into categories where they don’t fit.  So were the lefties, fifty years ago.  In some parts of the world, even now; many Islamic countries have no left-handed people.  In public, that is.


Written by eswald

5 Mar 2013 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics

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