By the definition quoted in my profile, I am a feminist. But that's not the definition I've encountered, in too much of my life. Nor does it precisely describe my position, at least in terms of focus.
From where I sit, it's not a good thing to force people into categories. This includes pushing little girls to be "feminine" and little boys to be "masculine". It includes treating people differently because of these forced or irrelevant categories. And the more there's a size and power imbalance involved, the worse it is.
It's also, at some level, inevitable. The human condition is such that we tend to think in categories, judge people based on first impressions, and try to "help" those we care about in ways that may in fact be toxic. After living in the United States for 20 years, I catch myself reacting differently to black strangers than to white ones, as well as reacting differently based on clothing, behaviour, apparant age, etc. etc. I've got these summary expectations that tell me things - not necessarily accurate things. And if those expectations tell me "this person is likely to be a bore with nothing in common" or worse yet "this person is likely to do unpleasant things to/at me", I'm likely to take evasive action almost automatically. I can override these not-so-brilliant ideas [some of the time, at least], and I can certainly keep my mouth shut about my immediate reactions [most of the time] - but I can no more turn them off than I can fly to the moon without appropriate equipment. And as far as I can tell, the same is true for every other human being. We form expectations, based in part on experience, and in part on borrowed experience (things we've been told), and we're very likely to act on them.
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This entry was originally posted at http://locore.dreamwidth.org/578.html.