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Everyone does...

Saw this, this morning...

It reminded me of an attitude I see from time to time that really shits me.

It's the brushing off of the needs of people categorised as special in a condescending sort of way. The Discrimination Act exists because it happens all too often that the dominant culture, or sexual orientation, or able bodied social participant refuses to acknowledge the difficulties faced by the social participants of the subservient culture. By subservient, I mean the culture with less social currency.

It stems from this idea that all people start out the same. We are all powerless babies at the beginning of our lives and therefore we are all equal in that we all need to breathe, eat, sleep, and be loved.

Sure, I'll give you that on the face of it. But then human nature kicks in and we start to look for the differences. It starts with 'my toy' and the exertion of power where one child tests their ability to meet their own needs first and foremost. Older toddlers will start to group themselves into same-same groups. Once that happens, there is the assertion of 'our group is better because...'

Conscientious parents try to soften this natural process of 'survival of the fittest' but often teach their children a lesson they don't even realise they're are teaching them - to be nice. Nice means, the other person is actually weaker and therefore we need to give them more of what we have, because that is what they need. Their needs are the same as our needs we just need to make sure we share equally 1:1. Beyond that there isn't much we can do.

That assumption that everyone has the same needs does not acknowledge that even before a baby is born they are advantaged or compromised by the attitude of the society they will be born into.

You are black in a white society, you are from a family who communicates differently to the society they live in, you are sexually oriented differently to the most people in the society you're born into, you have cognitive, or physical, or psychological needs (babies who were in utero in New York at the time of the events of 9/11 were found to have higher cortisol levels than babies whose mothers were not under high levels of stress - this means they were born more prone to anxiety and depression).

Even before they are born, they are different from the dominant society and will live a life where their different needs will not be recognised and respected because the society they live in believe doing things for them makes them equal when 'doing for' is just another action of treating as weak.

You see, there is a difference between being nice and being respectful. Being nice doesn't engage with an understanding that everyone is not equal once 'done for'. Being respectful acknowledges the fact that people who are different from the majority (not the norm, the norm suggests the way people are expected to be, the default for how people should be) live with the pressure to blend in, to minimise their difference so other people will be comfortable.
The dismissive, 'Everyone needs to be treated equal' implies that if people are nice to people who are different then somehow those, disadvantaged people, will magically no longer be disadvantage. If we create accessible buses, or braille labelled lifts, or unisex toilets, or if we say 'Sorry', then we've blotted out the difference and everything is okay.

Everything is not okay until society acknowledges that some people will always be aware that they are 'done for' because they are 'different', rather than society not looking for the difference but flowing with the need of the person.

It is a complex issue that is all to often glazed over by people being nice. 

PS. The language I have access to does not offer a useful vocabulary because it reduces everything to 'different' and 'same' because that is how we think.  


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