Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apparently, I'm really stupid. Who knew.

Something occurred to me while I was reading my regular blogs last night, it's probably nothing terribly profound, but I thought I'd share. I keep meaning to make posts and then not doing it for some reason or another, here's as good a place as any to start.

First, via Feministing

Point being that obviously women don't really think about the issues, they just sort of feel things. The result of this of course is that their wants and opinions and positions on issues don't really matter because, well, they're just illogical and don't think things through the way rational men do.

This is why women should just leave all of the important decisions to the men, and concentrate on being pretty.

Second, via Feministe, an article by Dennis Prager at on why it's a bad thing when young people get involved in politics. Prager doesn't just hint that it's a bad thing, he actually flat out says it (which surprises me, and I'm not sure why).

"The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions -- and those exceptions are usually those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships -- when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing." (emphasis is mine)

I'm not going to even get in to the whole "those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships" bit, because I don't even know where to start with that, is it just me or is he basically saying that it's bad when young people get involved in politics except for when it's phenomenal? The logic escapes me.

Anyway, one may wonder why it is that Prager thinks young people (an age group he never really bothers to define) being involved in politics is a bad thing, well...

"For those of us who view the late '60s and '70s as the beginning of a downward spiral for American society, however, the mobilization of many young people on behalf of Barack Obama is not encouraging. It is only the latest example of young people getting excited as a result of their unique combination of naivete, lack of wisdom, romantic idealism and narcissism.

Most adults throughout history have recognized that young people are likely to be unwise given their minuscule amount of life experience. After all, most adults, even among baby boomers, believe that they themselves are wiser today than 10 years ago, let alone than when they were 20 years old." (emphasis is mine)

So, young people are...too emotional, don't really think about anything (or have the capacity to do so), and think they're far more important than they actually are. Hmm. That sounds sort of familiar. Not to mention that yeah, people get "wiser" with age, but, that doesn't invalidate the views they held in their youth and it doesn't mean that the voices of young people who happen to be above voting age should be silenced. It also doesn't mean that just because older and "wiser" people are convinced that things should be done in some way that that is actually the best possible way to do things, there's this little thing called progress and it has a tendency of coming from young people, just saying.

Anyway, I digress. The point I'm trying to make here, and what really struck me when I saw/read these things yesterday is that these people are trying to rationalize - to themselves and to other people - the view that people who are not members of the dominant class (older, rich, white, straight, men...more or less) don't actually have opinions that matter. Women are too emotional! they say Purely logical thinking is possible, and the highest,most intellectual form of thinking and women don't think that way, they say. Women are hormonal and irrational, they say. Women's opinions don't count, they say. Young people are naive and lack wisdom, they say. Young people are too idealistic, they don't live in the real world, they say. Young people are too full of themselves and don't care about anyone but themselves, they say. Young people's opinions don't count, they say. They say these things about a number of other groups too, these two things were just what really got me thinking about this.

And the thing is, we've all heard it before. At least I have. My father is very conservative and constantly tells me that when I grow up and get out of this "goddamned liberal" university, I'll be a republican because that's what makes the most sense. He tells me that the things I believe aren't important (because, obviously, if rich white straight men say it doesn't matter, it doesn't actually matter) and that I'm too emotional and not actually thinking about things. I'm never sure if he means to tell me that my opinion more or less doesn't count, I'd like to believe that he doesn't mean that, but what I see most of all is an unwillingness to believe that anyone else could possibly have a valid view point.

When we have privilege, we don't always see the things that hurt people who are different from us in some (rather arbitrary) way. Further, especially if our privilege is well ingrained in us, we think something is wrong with people who think about things differently than we do. This is not to say that people who try to overcome their privilege or who are more liberal/progressive never see people who disagree with us as "stupid" but, I don't claim to be perfect and I do try to not brush off views that don't fit with mine by just assuming that the person is stupid. I could continue with the line of thought about liberal/progressive types thinking of people with different views as "stupid", especially the negative view that some people have of religious people in general, but I think that's a topic best left for another post at another time.

The point is, that these people - that people at all - believe, and want other people to believe, that people who don't think like they do, who don't have their life experience or background or privilege, don't have, and can't possibly have valid views and opinions. And isn't that really the problem?

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