I know most all of my readers are aware of these things, but to those who may not be, I'd like to offer a gesture of tolerance, understanding, and acceptance this holiday season. If more people would take these things to heart, so much suffering in the world could disappear.
Sexism is discrimination against anyone because of gender or gender identity. 'Reverse sexism' is itself a sexist term, because it presumes that the person being discriminated against is always necessarily sexist and already discriminated against the other person. Sexism is discrimination due to gender or gender identity against anyone, male, female, hermaphrodite, transsexual -- anyone. And it is wrong.
Racism is discrimination against anyone because of race. In the modern world, most people have mixed and rich heritage of many races of people. Racism is ludicrous to begin with, but especially today. Most distinguishing by race is merely cataloguing by physical characteristics.
Ageism is discrimination against anyone because of age. In a world where life expectancies are longer than ever, and medical technology is more advanced than ever, people are more capable for longer. Yet attitudes persist that after 50, a person's worth is lessened. Similarly, people under certain ages are also discriminated against by others and sometimes even denied fundamental human rights.
Discrimination and intolerance know no bounds. You can be racist against your own race. You can be sexist against your own gender. In short, a person can be discriminatory against his or her own social groups.
Discrimination exists against sexual preference. This essentially makes any non-heterosexuals into second-class citizens, unable to enjoy fundamental rights that are afforded to heterosexuals. It can lead to abuse, attacks, and hate crimes, and it is every bit as wrong as racism, sexism, or ageism. Non-heterosexuals are often completely and unfairly disregarded in casually discriminatory statements, practices, or laws.
But I would like to give you a little reminder. You can download the images below (please do not link them directly from here) and upload them to your own blogs, comics, webspace, and whatever else you want.
The message is a simple one: be.
Be who you are, and allow others to be who they are. Help to stand against intolerance, injustice, and all other forms of detrimental discrimination in the world. Don't be afraid to say 'I don't agree with this' or 'this makes me uncomfortable', regardless of who is doing it. Intolerance is intolerance, regardless of its source.
The road to ruin is paved with good intentions, as the old adage goes. Even charities and non-profit groups may promote intolerance without understanding why. If more people contacted them and let them know this, they may be more willing to change, to be more inclusive.
Before you support any group, ask yourself the following questions:
Are they helping one group by discriminating against another? This is not uncommon, especially in today's world. For example, in many communities, men -- and most especially heterosexual men -- are not supported in any way if they are victims of sexual abuse or rape. Similarly, specific men's health issues are often overlooked or downplayed, and male sufferers of diseases commonly associated with women -- such as breast cancer -- are significantly overlooked because of promotion, publicity, and popular misconception. Beneficial groups can help those suffering from a common condition without being exclusionary or promoting misinformation that in turn causes others to be exclusionary. In a world of dwindling attention spans, it is important to present a balanced view concisely. If more people speak up and contact these groups, it may be possible to help them and, by so doing, help others.
Are they actually helping people? For example, there are plenty of shelters and similar places run by religious-affiliated groups who help the less fortunate and victims of abuse and other crimes. However, some of these have been shown to use the opportunity to force their views on those they help, which can lead to other problems and can be very harmful to a delicate emotional state. In some cases, if these victims do not agree, they are denied any help. It is one thing to have the religious information available to those who are interested, but a very different thing to impose these beliefs upon those who have no other choice.
Are they addressing an actual problem? People have only limited funds and other material support to dedicate to problems that affect them. Several groups exist to combat the adult entertainment industry, for example -- an industry more heavily regulated than virtually any other industry in the world, made up of adult professionals who are paid for their work, like any other job. It is common for these groups to misrepresent the industry as abusing and exploiting women and children (overlooking the facts that abuse is illegal, men also work in the industry, that all-male adult videos exist, and that children are not allowed in adult film because it is illegal), but what are they doing to actually help those they claim are victims? Often, nothing. It may be better to find a group who actually works with legitimate abuse victims and helps them to repair their lives and heal, or a group who works to stop illegal exploitation.
Does their approach make you uncomfortable? If so, you may want to look for another cause to support, or contact them and let them know why you feel uncomfortable. If anyone attempts to judge you for choosing not to support any group, you can remind them that it is your choice in the first place. If you feel that a group is presenting itself in a way that makes you feel excluded, weigh the positive and negative and ask yourself: are they being tolerant? Are they letting others be who they are, or are they promoting discrimination against others, implicitly or explicitly?
Above all, the most important thing is to be who you are, to allow others to be who they are, and to consider the people and causes that you support. It is your choice, to weigh the benefit and detriment of each and every group, cause, and person. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is tell them if you have a problem with a part of their approach, because they might not even realise that it is offensive or objectionable to someone, or that it is misrepresenting facts.
If you support being yourself and letting others be themselves, please feel free to add one of the following images to your internet presence. Remember to download them from here, don't directly link them, and upload them to your own space on the web. If you'd be so kind, please do make the buttons link back here (http://hushicho.blogspot.com/2010/12/be.html), so people can read and find out about be.