Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Sympathy for the Barb?

(sketch of an essay that I'll get around to writing eventually)

Should we feel any sympathy for spearhead sorts?If diversity to them feels like a burden, and acknowledging issues with oppression changes the nature of stories, do all stories need to be about oppression? What if they can only take place given oppression, do they need to acknowledge it?

I am tempted to see both "yes" and "no" answers to this to be ugly. Ugly in a way that highlights an existing difficulty in thinking about social justice. The "Yes" answer to the question above claims universal jurisdiction, relevance, and centrality in all cultural content. The "No" answer leaves something in place we might claim is cultural rot that enables terrible things. "Can't I just enjoy something without always thinking about its grand place in the world?" - we might add qualifiers to that, "it's just a story", or "it's just where I shop". Is the British colonial explorer necessarily a haram idea? Are the blackface plays to be removed as a genre (or must we pinch ourselves each time we see them to remove ourselves from simple enjoyment of them?) Are Huck Finn, or the dream of being a princess, or cowboys and indians to be purged from our culture? ... but can we afford to build a habit of not looking at the other side of these things? Doesn't that blind us to past and present injustices?

In sum, what level of responsibility and burden do we want to take in our consumption of media and goods? Are the obligations different between these two categories? Are the harms different?

I have opinions on these matters, but I'd rather drive home the dilemmas in this post; I can feel the strong tugs of each position. Both are compelling through the different frames of analysis I've learned to use. The most extreme voices on both sides; the politically correct "offense fetishist" (consider and the masculinist "MRA" sort (consider, should not be taken as representative of our only choices in the matter; while this issue is difficult and complicated for me, neither of those subcultures/position-groups appeals to me. It's not enough to be able to point to an extreme on the other side as justification for our beliefs; both groups are real people with real perspectives that some people find compelling, but there are a number of other perspectives that we might take (some between, some outside) in building our conceptions of social justice and cultural engagement.


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