Thursday, 29 May 2014

Is Prejudice Inevitable? Relating UKIP to Elliot Rodger.....

On a blog about UKIP I read this superbly accurate quote by Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis:

 “Nazism, fascism, racism and every other anti-social and anti-human mode of behavior are not products of ideology, do not contain ideology and neither do they constitute ideology. They’re the expression of the beast within all of us growing unchecked, when its barbaric and inhuman presence is aided, enhanced or facilitated by sociopolitical circumstance.

“The only antibiotic against this beast within, is education. I am talking about real education and not the irresponsible education of indiscriminate information which actually supresses restless and critical thinking. I am talking about education which does not rest on its laurels and does not create complacency in the student, but instead propagates questions and insecurity”

In my view, education, information and intelligence play a part. Your parents attitudes are important but it can mean that you actually disagree with them. 

When it comes to education - at my school, we discussed Things Fall Apart and To Kill a Mockingbird. The same themes are in Shakespeare if you have the right teachers – there is anti-semitism in the Merchant of Venice, which we discussed in comparison to Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet has prejudice as a theme and can be compared with Love Across The Barricades...... It's all there if you, and your teachers are prepared to look - there really is nothing new under the sun.

My school was also a school with kids from all round  the world, including army kids and honestly, racism wasn’t a problem.There were other problems, including blatant prejudice about kids without much money and parents without the right occupations etc. If smart (which a lot of us were) it becomes discussed, and we realised that prejudice is the problem, be that against women, blacks, disabled etc.

I’m lucky in a way because my sister has a disability, so I learnt a lot of this at the sharp end, at primary school defending her from morons. I learnt early on that a lot of people can be wrong, judge on appearances and people not being "normal", and that sadly, though you can excuse children, their parents aren't much better. 

I’m also lucky to be smart enough to extrapolate the general theme of prejudice and also self aware enough to notice, analyse and disregard it if it dares to try and take me by the hand. It’s often the case that it’s “natural” to be prejudiced, but we have morals, we are human, we’ve had the Holocaust and we’ve tried to learn the lessons it taught us, because we never want it to happen again. But that takes experience, education, information and intelligence. And even then you’ll get people that disagree with you because they resent those things that you have. Probably, deep down, they resent you being right. Hence UKIP.

So, onto Elliot Rodger :

One of the theories is that Elliot Rodger was too protected, so his only “problem” was the one that he became obsessed about – this trope that you’ll get the hot girl eventually, that you are “promised” one and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you. This trope IS a problem – but at a distance my armchair psychologist's best guess is he was depressed, mentally ill and/or psychotic and women became his focus for why he felt so bad (instead of actually confronting what it really was he didn’t like about himself or his situation). What people are saying is that society backs up his world view, and again, this isn’t entirely wrong – I guess a similar case would be if he was a member of the Klu Klux Klan pre Rosa Parks – you know if everything about society backed up your worldview you would have less chance of changing it.

That said though, responsibility eventually has to lie with him, even if we lived in a perfectly enlightened society that didn’t seek to make women seem worth less than men, it may be that he’d find enough “evidence” to support his world view. 

So, prejudice isn't inevitable, but confronting and/or preventing it is difficult, costly and time consuming. I don't think we can do anything else with conscience tho. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

They are Sexist Killings. Not Hunger Games killings, or Virgin Killings. Look at the misoygny, it's right in front of you........

I've been told to enjoy being a newly-wed today, but I'm getting really wound up by the killings by Elliot Rodger and the consequent reporting of them

From the quick move to describe him as mentally ill (I imagine he was, but shouldn't we ask why did he feel entitled to his views on women?) to the reporting of the "Hunger Games" killings or the "virgin" killings.

These were sexist, misogynistic killings. He hated women. Not just these women, but all women. He hated them because he'd been rejected. He felt that this rejection was unfair, and that he should have what he wanted.

A few years ago I read "The Game" by Neil Strauss. It's a really good exploration from a previous member of the Pick Up Artist community, of his previous fellow travellers in the quest to treat women as a commodity, or prey... A year or two later I was at an event run by a news organisation, and everyone in the room rather thought they were someone important in the media. One chap, having previously hit on my friend (smooooth), started trying to impress me with various "Game" techniques - negging, giving and removing attention, etc etc. So I asked him if he'd read "The Game". He honestly looked stunned. He wasn't very bright, and he wasn't very nice, but it occurred to me he couldn't understand why a mere woman would have come across "The Game" or read it. I read it out of interest and you should too - Strauss is an excellent and thoughtful writer.

He saw me, not only as an object, and "prey" but also as someone entirely without agency.

And I saw him, at that point, as the patriarchy distilled into one moron.

Elliot Rodger mustn't have been having a great time, I agree he was deeply troubled. But if we won't look at the misogyny, and the idiocy of removing or denying the agency of women to live and love how they want to, then we will have more Elliot Rodgers.