Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

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Inst
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Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby Inst » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:13 pm UTC

We are all sexist, or rather, most of us are. If Sexism is defined as making distinctions based on gender, then most of us are sexist because we are either gay or straight, meaning that we are attracted to a specific gender, as opposed to being bisexual, pansexual, or asexual. Yet, at the same time, monosexuality is not condemned by mainstream society as being malignant or pernicious.

When do sexual distinctions segue into being what is conventionally defined as sexism, and when are sexual distinctions simply an unavoidable fact of life? When is sexism in the loosest sense malignant, and when is it benign?

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ObsessoMom
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ObsessoMom » Sun Sep 13, 2015 8:08 pm UTC

To be brutally frank...the fact that you've started so many new threads within such a short time of (apparently) abandoning an old identity, so that I can't tell whether or not you've responded trollishly to my good-faith responses in the past, makes me reluctant to invest much time in responding now, whatever your sex may be.

Not that a good discussion can't come of this question. But I'll wait and see.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ahammel » Sun Sep 13, 2015 8:52 pm UTC

Inst wrote:If Sexism is defined as making distinctions based on gender, then most of us are sexist because we are either gay or straight, meaning that we are attracted to a specific gender, as opposed to being bisexual, pansexual, or asexual.

Sounds like an excellent reason not to define Sexism that way.
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby elasto » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:16 am UTC

I concur.

Sexism is when you make assumptions about someone's abilities or character - when if there is any correlation between ability/character and gender, it's vastly swamped by the natural variance within each gender.

Like racism, classism and so on, sexism is bad because instead of treating someone on their own merits as a unique individual, it pre-judges.

What you are talking about is sexual attraction, which has nothing to do with a judgement on someone's abilities or character.

---

To put it another way: It's ok to judge a book by its cover if the judgement call you are making is about the cover. Otherwise it's unwise at best, and unjust at worst.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:15 am UTC

I agree with other posters that "making distinctions based on gender" is not a good definition of sexism, but of course the interesting question in the OP is how to refine that definition into a better one.

"Making assumptions about someone's abilities and character" doesn't seem like it gets everything. For example, there are a lot of examples of physical violence that are sexist, but which that standard would get wrong. Or how about the media's infamous obsession with what actresses wear to the Oscars? That's sexist, but the sexism doesn't come down to an assumption about abilities or character.
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ahammel » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:37 am UTC

Perhaps something like "the idea that women are less morally valuable or intellectually capable than men, and the kind of behaviour that results from that idea" is closer. Maybe add a clause that allows for swapping "men" with "women", if you like. It's probably still not philosopher-proof.
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby elasto » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:23 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I agree with other posters that "making distinctions based on gender" is not a good definition of sexism, but of course the interesting question in the OP is how to refine that definition into a better one.

"Making assumptions about someone's abilities and character" doesn't seem like it gets everything. For example, there are a lot of examples of physical violence that are sexist, but which that standard would get wrong. Or how about the media's infamous obsession with what actresses wear to the Oscars? That's sexist, but the sexism doesn't come down to an assumption about abilities or character.

Not sure I really follow either of your examples - can you expand?

For example, when are assumptions about physical violence violated? Cops in the US will tend to regard a suspect of either gender as highly dangerous until proved otherwise, training a gun on either and forcing them to submit. And the US army will accept any candidate that can prove themselves physically capable. So it may be true that, on average, guys are more violent than women, but sexism means being prejudiced in an individual situation. When does that occur exactly? (I think the US army might have easier rules to get in for women than men, so that might be a fair example of sexism if so, but wouldn't seem to be what you were getting at)

And an obsession about how actresses look is not sexist; Valuing what an actor thinks, says or does (but not an actress) would be sexist - but you can say someone looks nice in that dress and still take their views, speech or actions seriously (if you don't, it's the latter that the failing, not the former)

I don't know if the media is more or less sexist than wider society; The issue being highlighted there (Oscar dresses) isn't the media's sexism, it's its obsession with superficiality and celebrity: It's fine to highlight Clinton's poor choice of dress for some social function, or the shocking state of Trump's hair at the same function, so long as it's mentioned in passing and the bulk of the discussion is an in-depth analysis of their respective policy positions...

It's the former without the latter that is the real crying shame.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby Inst » Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:59 am UTC

I registered my other account because I needed forum admins to fix the child-status on this account; I was drunk and I had mistakenly clicked that. This account was then deleted them remade.

That said, I myself don't believe in equality; I'm not some crazy objectivist or teenage Nietzschean (too old for that), but I think that equality is like a Platonic noble lie; it makes our society work better than others, but it has an obvious incongruity with reality. At the same time, I don't think that lack of equality means that people fundamentally deserve to be mistreated based on their relative valuation; if there is no belief in equality there is still the human capacity for empathy and the associated capacity for love. That's a more logical reason to treat people nicely; i.e, your head is screwed on correctly (you are not a sociopath) and you haven't been brutalized (to desensitize you to the pain of both others and yourself), it's based on a natural human faculty and does not require that people attempt to square the circle in Euclidean geometry. Equality by itself also implies a horrid truth; i.e, if people were not equal, and you could convince yourself that they were not equal, you would now have carte blanche to mistreat them. If for any reason someone had taken either the literal or moral step of moving out of line, you are now entitled to infinite retribution; a pedophile, for instance, might be justifiably tortured in the most horrid way irrespective of the level of his or her crime.

However, because mainstream society believes in equality as a basis for social interaction, I want to be able to make sense of it. I don't subscribe to it myself but I acknowledge that others subscribe to it and I tolerate their decision to do so. Hence this thread.

===

That said, there are a few other points. For instance, if, for the sake of simplicity, we ignore transpeople and natural hermaphrodites, there are assumptions that can be justified based on gender; i.e, women have certain physical attributes, men have other certain physical attributes. Google claims that sexism is defined as prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination against a gender, usually women; in this case, we have shown that discrimination is by itself leads to absurdities. Prejudice, on the other hand, is better, because it's defined as "assumptions that cannot be justified by facts or reason", which converts sexism into a truism; i.e, the claim that women can't do math is prejudicial because there are many talented and capable female mathematicians, both now and historically; because the claim is false it's sexism.

===

I think what I'm trying to do here is proof by convergence, i.e, I set an upper limit to the value of the variable, and a lower limit, and I constantly try to adjust it so that the distance between the upper limit and the lower limit is minimal or better yet, zero. Applied to this problem, discrimination by itself cannot be said to be sexism because it leads to Harrison Bergeron absurdity; for example, women can't be sperm donors, unless they're transwomen, is it now sexist to not let women interview for sperm donation? On the other hand, prejudice is almost tautologically valid as a definition of sexism; "women can't do math" is false, hence "women can't do math" in the strict meaning is a sexist belief. However, to apply prejudice as the sole criteria means that in every single case women have to prove that they can do things as well as men before it becomes a sexist belief, so as a criteria, it seems too extreme to be comfortable.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ahammel » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:01 pm UTC

Inst wrote:However, because mainstream society believes in equality as a basis for social interaction, I want to be able to make sense of it. I don't subscribe to it myself but I acknowledge that others subscribe to it and I tolerate their decision to do so. Hence this thread.
I suspect your confusion comes from a similar mistake to the one you made in the OP. Egalitarians do not believe that there are no important differences between men and women. They believe that people should be judged and respected on their own merits rather than the perceived merits of some group that they being to.
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:16 pm UTC

Inst wrote:We are all sexist, or rather, most of us are. If Sexism is defined as making distinctions based on gender, then most of us are sexist because we are either gay or straight, meaning that we are attracted to a specific gender, as opposed to being bisexual, pansexual, or asexual. Yet, at the same time, monosexuality is not condemned by mainstream society as being malignant or pernicious.

When do sexual distinctions segue into being what is conventionally defined as sexism, and when are sexual distinctions simply an unavoidable fact of life? When is sexism in the loosest sense malignant, and when is it benign?


Who I'm attracted to is driven by many factors, of which apparent sex is only one. Being attracted to someone or not, however, is not something anyone has a right to.

Rights should be ascribed without gender bias. This does not require us to worry over sexism in every irrelevant detail, such as this.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby mcd001 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:19 pm UTC

Inst wrote:I myself don't believe in equality

If I understand your use of the term 'equality' (which seems to mean that everyone is the same), then *nobody* believes in equality. If every person is unique, no one can be 'equal' by that definition.

I believe what most people mean by equality can be divided into either 'equality of opportunity' (we should all be afforded the same opportunities for success, although some may not take them and some who do may fail), or 'equality of outcome' (we should all end up with the same end results, despite our differences and disparities). These are two radically different viewpoints, but both also tend to support the concept of 'equality under the law' (no one should receive special treatment from the legal system; justice is blind).

Perhaps you should take a moment to better define what you mean by equality.

Inst wrote: Equality by itself also implies a horrid truth; i.e, if people were not equal, and you could convince yourself that they were not equal, you would now have carte blanche to mistreat them.

I don't see how ANY of the above definitions of equality leads to your 'horrid truth', which is certainly horrid but less certainly true.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ObsessoMom » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:25 pm UTC

I, too, don't quite understand your question, Inst.

You seem unapologetic about not believing in equality. At the same time, you seem worried that this is an unpopular view. If you are seeking validation or permission to continue thinking that one group is, in general, inherently superior to another, based on the data you've considered...um, feel free? And I'll feel free to think that you may be assigning undue weight to some pieces of data, based on your own membership in one of those groups.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby Inst » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:18 pm UTC

@mcd001:

With equality, a lot of people seem to mean it in the definition of personal value or equality before the law. However, both equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes are problematic; equality of opportunity was given a sufficient critique in "The Rise of the Meritocracy"; i.e, in a society where there is total equality of opportunity, if you are downtrodden or possessed of inferior social value, you deserve it; you had the same chances as everyone else and you blew it. This becomes an incentive to withdraw social welfare nets and move towards an Objectivist society, or a return to medieval-style class abuse. Equality of outcome sees critique in Vonnegut and Rand, on the other hand. Equality under the law is not utilitarian; it's deontological and ignores social benefits members might have provided and which would be withheld on imprisonment.

My point of view is to just skip the problems of equality and look for a different paradigm which can result in a benevolent society.

@ObsessoMom:

It's an intellectual game. You might not believe in, say, Islam, but you might still be interested in understanding it as a theological system. Same with Catholicism, various branches of Protestantism, and so on. It improves your understanding of how other people think, and deep structures in their religion might be applicable to your own thinking or be applied to different fields.

That said, I am in one privileged group and in one disadvantaged group. I can be justifiably accused of kick-down sexism, but at the same time, as mentioned before with my own ideology, I like women and if women were empirically inferior to men, I would choose to become gay instead. IIRC, it is men's love for their own wives, sisters, and daughters that moved the feminist movement in its early stages, when women didn't have the vote.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby SDK » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:32 pm UTC

Inst wrote:... if women were empirically inferior to men, I would choose to become gay instead.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm sorry. I started chuckling when you were talking about equality necessarily resulting in class abuse, but now I can't help but laugh. Sexuality has very little to do with empirical anything just like equality doesn't end after you take your first shot.
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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby PeteP » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:40 pm UTC

Maybe Inst is bi then they could restrict themselves to men and call that "becoming gay".

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby Inst » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:22 pm UTC

SDK wrote:
Inst wrote:... if women were empirically inferior to men, I would choose to become gay instead.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm sorry. I started chuckling when you were talking about equality necessarily resulting in class abuse, but now I can't help but laugh. Sexuality has very little to do with empirical anything just like equality doesn't end after you take your first shot.


Well, in the case of people who are attracted to women, empirical boobs. ;) Less sardonically? Sapiosexuality. Say, if women are dumb, weak, and in need of protection, why would you be attracted to that? You might have the urge to care for that, but it's not necessarily the same as love, which I see as a type of admiration. I read somewhere, and perhaps I'm mistaken, but in ancient Greece, many aristocratic men had a bisexual pattern where they had sex with women to produce children, but their most intense and intimate emotional relationships were with other men. If you consider the pattern of human capital development in those societies, it's understandable (Hypatia isn't even les, she's a! fffffffff).

As far as equality resulting in class warfare, as others have mentioned, equality is a bad term because it can mean a variety of things, from equality of value, to equality of outcomes, to equality of opportunity. It's only the third case that can potentially lead to class abuse and possibly class warfare.

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Re: Monosexuality, Sexism, and Sexual Discrimination

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:42 pm UTC

Actually, I'm asexual myself, and am not sexually attracted to either men or women. But it's definitely not something I chose. I did choose to get married to my best friend, who is a member of the opposite sex, and to have two kids with him (and a pretty active sex life with him, too), but this lifestyle choice did not magically make me heterosexual, because I'm still not sexually attracted to anyone.

Just as sexual attraction is a real thing, sexual revulsion is a real thing, too. If someone finds either women's (or men's) bodies sexually repellant--I don't myself, BTW, I just feel no attraction to either--that isn't sexism. Sexual revulsion may motivate someone's sexism, by underlying their sexist attitudes and actions, but that revulsion itself is not sexism.

It sounds as if you may experience some sexual revulsion, and are looking for logical ways to justify it. But from where I'm standing, neither sexual attraction nor sexual revulsion has any basis in logic. You don't have to justify things you can't help.

Now, if you think certain people should not be extended the same human rights, because you happen to find their bodies sexually repellant...that's different.


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