It seems my article (Hey go look at it, it’s right here: http://www.cracked.com/article_20997_5-shocking-realities-being-transgender-media-ignores_p2.html ) is getting a reaction (And yes, I am listening to The Heavy’s “Love Like That” right now) and the issue that always fascinates me the most is when arguments rest on how everyone is angry, offended, scared, and confused by whatever it is being talked about.
And I see the same refrain of people being offended by other people’s offense. Even the term ‘offensive’ is offensive these days to a lot of people, but rage makes it hard to see that irony. Which I get – rage makes it hard to see anything except potential targets, because I imagine that anger really is about our brains and bodies trying to solve a problem by fixation that is sometimes quite helpful, and sometimes entirely unhelpful. (I’ve read a lot on the subject in Psychology, Cognitive Science and Physical Anthropology articles I can’t recall the titles of at this time, but Harriet Lerner and Mona Lisa Schulz come to mind for the former groups)
But my personal refrain on the subject is that I see a distinction between intellectual offense, and emotional pain (Both of which are valid, but I have more connection to the latter). When slurs get involved, when someone’s feelings are torn into, the rational mind is the last thing anyone wants to listen to, and vice versa, because it’s easier to deal with issues when we can isolate them one by one. But I know very few people who can naturally ‘divide and conquer’ all of the issues they face – things are stuck together, (Song change!) and we have to sort out the differences.
The mathematical formulae for why insulting people in deeply personal ways always fall short, because two very different issues are at stake. I don’t feel like I can successfully debate a slur which affects me because when I hear it, I’m already in pain. I’ve already been hurt. And the rational argument I construct won’t make me feel better, nor will anyone else’s. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try, and I don’t feel it invalidates any of the perspectives in question.
I see this all the time in every controversial topic – I’ve been part of conversations about sex, race, and identities of all sorts with this same refrain, where people are very clearly arguing from such different places they can only end up furious on all sides, for the simple matter of no one being listening at all.
But it does mean we need to be nicer to have productive discussions, so maybe we should take turns. And I’ll take the time to respect the logic, for anyone who can take the time to respect how I’m feeling. No judgments. I’m listening. (Just listen to me when you finish your spiel, please.)
Also, seriously, “Hate Crimes and Fashion Crimes so Rarely Intersect” should be the title of a show.