linked us to a piece on "hateability", or the invisible attribute applied to certain groups that make them acceptable targets for violence, harassment, and trolling
, by amorpha
in 2011. Now I have a single word what used to take the entire Geek Social Hierarchy to try and hint at, and for that, I am immensely thankful.
The applicability of the word and concept are immediate and far-reaching. For example, in current Republican and conservative politics, women and minorities have much more hateability than white men, and poor people are also more hateable, even if they are white, perhaps especially if they are white. Also, though, intelligent people are more hateable, because people have successfully been sold on the idea that people who are smarter than you believe they are better than you - by people who are smarter than they are and do
believe their intelligence, wealth, and privilege make them better.
The piece, however, mentions plural bodies and the Otherkin as examples of how groups can receive the invisible stigma that marks them as acceptable targets based on models of the world that must categorize everything, and generally do so dualistically into things that are/are possible/are desirable, and those that are not. Things that exist outside the mental model must be reclassified in such a way that brings them into these mental model - so plurals who choose to live plurally are refused existence as themselves and become not really plural with the accusation of "faking it" or "not really being multiple/dissociative" because they don't meet the definition a hater uses to define the world around them (to mean "one body, one mind, one entity inside"). Anybody outside "cis, straight" as their self-perception and orientation doesn't meet the definition conservative Abrahamic religions use to define real people. Anyone who doesn't see themselves as human entities, but are yet stuck in human bodies don't meet the definition of real people because body is definition. By their target not meeting the definition of "real", a hater no longer has to feel empathy for the target, and therefore can hate without tripping their own conscience.
One of the things a cursory study of Eastern religious and philosophical thought will turn up is a running theme that things do not sort so easily into categorizations without harm being done. Not This, Not That. Buddhism seeks to separate a person from being caught in the illusion of This And That by ceasing the operations of a mind that insists it must categorize and distinguish, least reality itself come undone. To which the Buddhists point out that the reality the mind insists is there is also an illusion, crafted by that same mind that must distinguish. Quiet and still the mind, and all the illusions will fall away, leading to the enlightenment where one no longer insists on This or That.
The Daoists are a little less dour about it, but they also point out that from the cosmic whole came two, and from them, innumerable things, all of which are still part of the cosmic whole, and which contain their opposite inside them, nebulously, at all times, so every This has a That already in it, and so trying to exclude That from This is a pointless exercise.
In other beliefs and traditions that are nominally invested in the saving of as many souls as possible for their deity, there's at least a wave at the idea that everyone should be at least given the option to join the committee of the select. Yet here we have people being jerks and assholes to other people they have never met, based entirely on whether or not those other people fit an arbitrary definition of normality. Its not like someone can choose whether or not to climb Mount Normal or not. And for many, to do so would do great violence to their selves and leave them as much less than what they are.
Yet haters are still gonna hate. Because in our brains, we have to determine who's in and who's out as a question of surviving and thriving with each other. The brain says to trust those who are like you and distrust those who aren't. And even in this technologically advanced age, we're still struggling with that - discrimination of certain forms is prohibited by law, but those whose job it is to enforce the law end up in a lot of situations that look like they're discriminating in precisely those forbidden forms, and the people who can prove it are conveniently dead. Or sentenced to very long prison stays.
Or their politicians engage in that discrimination by passing laws and initiatives that say "you cannot have these rights, we reserve them for people like us only, who believe as we do." And "you may have these rights, but you cannot access them except at great expense and difficulty, because we believe you should not have them but are barred from taking them away completely."
Or they use their money to purchase the government so that the rules will be rewritten to favor them and give them the power to enforce their own beliefs on their employees, whether legally permitted or not, with the very real threat of leaving and taking the economy with them as their leverage.
Or they use the power of their technology or their fame to intimidate, harass, and silence those voices that talk about the advantages conferred by looking or acting a certain way, by holding a particular position in society, or how media and technology often cater to certain groups without considering the large swath of others who are also interested in this thing and want it to work for them too.
Because they lack the ability to see with new eyes, from perspectives not their own. Because they've been told they should be ruling at the top, but instead they're toiling at the bottom. Because there's so much invested in making sure that they fight with each other instead of fighting together. Because they're sure they aren't one of the players that gets to play, so the remaining option is to be the hater that's gonna hate.
As an example, have I mentioned how much I love Sarah Mensinga's Dragon Girl
? It's a great story because it's about a princess asserting herself and getting what she wants, after some false starts where others try to convince her that she should be happy in some other role.
It is also an Otherkin fairy tale. Not because Sarah Mensinga is Otherkin (to the best of my knowledge, anyway), nor because the tale is explicitly so (Vylah's motivation for wings and fire breath is so that she can stay with the family she's always had), but because it is about a girl who wants a body form more like the dragons she was raised by, and because the tale explicitly ends "And so she did. And Vylah was happy." So it's not a story, like the others, where someone is transformed by magic as a curse and wants to go back to their human forms, but one where the princess wants to not be human. And for someone who understands at the core of their being that they are not human, a story about someone who wants and gets what they want in this way can be powerful.
Does that make this tale more hateable? Having pointed out this aspect of the story, does that revise anyone's opinion of it? Should Sarah Mensinga be persecuted by the under-bridge dwellers of the World Wide Web because she created a story with a strong woman? Because it could be read as a tale for a group that is traditionally very hateable? Because princess stories should be cast in the Disney mold, with happy marriage as the end result for princesses always? (Even Frozen does this - Princess
Anna is getting married, Queen
If any of those questions sound ridiculous, it's because they are. But not all cases are this explicit. And not all cases will be this detached, either. Because there is an organized anti-you brigade out there somewhere, waiting for the point in time where you identify or ally with their chosen target. You can see them at work on others who are vocal about their membership in hateable groups.
So, if there's an Us and a Them, is it because there's a difference, sometimes strong, but that essentially the two can coexist or the errors can be corrected? Or is it because one group is being excised out entirely and becoming an acceptable target? Down the latter path lies atrocities considered acceptable. That way lies the Bad End for everyone.