Photo credit: Red Herring Society
If this is the age of victimhood, then there are no larger (and more recognised) victim groups than gender and racial minorities.
My race (and certain other traits) put me firmly in the “victim minority” bracket—well, if you ignore the horribleness of my maleness. I should clarify that I don’t see myself in those terms. But so strong is the wave of desire to identify and deify victims, that *some* people in everyday life insist on interacting with me as a member of a victim class. They mean well.
I’ve resorted to spending more time than I’d like thinking about these terms—if only so I can find ways of ridding myself of them. And I have found a couple.
But of all the illogicalities that have emerged from the degeneration of political (and politicised) discourse, the biggest one (to me) is the exaltation of subjectivity.
This is the idea that an individual’s feelings on matters with universal consequences, are more important that the construction of universally comprehensible and verifiable standards.
This is the biggest illogicality because it imposes the expectation that everyone, everywhere should get along and hold hands… while assaulting, in sadomasochistic fashion, the only mechanism which can allow them to do so—objectivity.
This is not just a conceptual problem and I’ll illustrate that with a practical example.
Everywhere I look, I see stats about how there are either too many black people or too few of us in whatever state of existence we’ve decided is topical. There are stats about how few women there are in STEM and a cherry-picked list of desirable professions. There’s the inexplicably persistent gender pay gap narrative, which has been repeatedly debunked by such sexist publications as Harvard (a female professor at Harvard, to be specific) and Forbes (in an article written by another female academic).
And Thomas Sowell (a black economist) has been admonishing the western world since the 80s, about the inaccuracies (and dangerousness) of the way we dishonestly politicise disparities in income and opportunity, across race and gender.
But I digress… because I don’t have a problem with these statistics, nor am I even here (solely) to debate their validity.
It’s what we—humans—do with these statistics that really bothers me. We abuse them with this new-found exaltation of subjectivity.
We turn victimhood into a mechanism for attaining disproportionately large power, then do what humans do best when we wield too much power—abuse it.
So, we say, “My subjective reality is that white people are racist and evil, therefore the fact there aren’t more black CEOs *must be* the fault of white people.”
Or we say, “My subjective reality is that all men are all evil, rapey gorillas, so the fact that there aren’t more women in STEM *must be* the fault of men.”
Even ignoring that in all these conversations, never have I seen a causal chain constructed (let alone a causal link established)… there’s still a huge inconsistency in how these ideas evolve.
To prove that [INSERT MINORITY GROUP] would achieve a perfectly even 50/50 split of opportunities, were it not for the interference of [INSERT MAJORITY OPPRESSOR], we pretend there’s perfect uniformity across groups.
We proclaim that gender and race are social constructs, completely removed from science and reality.
Women, men and people of different races are perfectly uniform in all abilities, interests and aptitudes. This is an incredibly subjective stance to take… but let’s entertain it for a minute.
If this were true, then there’d be absolutely no need for diversity. If we are all uniform, then we are all interchangeable.
This is an exemplary case of mutual exclusivity. Either we are all different, therefore we need a good mix to capitalise on unique qualities… or we’re all the same, and each human possesses the same abilities to the same degree of competence as every other human.
If we acknowledge diversity, we *must* also acknowledge lack of uniformity. And if we acknowledge lack of uniformity, we *must* also acknowledge inequalities of ability.
The mistake we make is that our prejudices cause us to value some abilities more than others—and we are simplistic enough to assume that being less skilled in these abilities makes people less valuable too.
For example, no one would bat an eyelid were I to suggest that the average height of Dutch people is greater than the average height of Senegalese people. But swap height for beauty, IQ or some other politically charged subject and the reaction completely changes—because human prejudices cause us to assume “beauty” and “IQ” are more valuable (or humanising) qualities than height.
This prejudice manifests itself in other unhealthy ways which I will cover later.
But I like to ask myself, “What if I’m wrong?” So, I did and I could find only one potentially credible criticism.
That criticism is that diversity isn’t about biological composition and abilities. It’s about cultures and communal experiences, and how those shape individuals.
This is an idea I like… but if this is the case, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to fixate less on the artificial constructs of gender and race—aka the “patriarchy” and the “white devil”? Both follow arbitrarily biological lines of categorisation and represent a hypocritical stance by those who claim things like race and gender shouldn’t be used to judge others. Surely, the shared experience of the human condition supersedes both? Surely, the lesson is that all humans (male or female, white or non-white, heterosexual or homosexual etc.) tend to abuse power when they wield too much of it?
If race and gender are social constructs, are the problems we see in the world not more likely to be borne of human nature—rather than “white nature” or “male nature” or any other selectively defined nature?
And do the solutions to these problems not lie in our ability to find connections, based on shared human experiences and struggles, which traverse cultures and communities?
Yet, it was James Damore’s position that women, as a group (not at an individual level) tend to have different interests from men, which got him fired. He didn’t say the interests held by women are inferior to those held by men—simply that they are different.
It’s funny because firing James Damore seemed to me a highly “patriarchal” move. It proved that Google believes the interests that are most likely to be held by men are more valuable than the interests that are more likely to be held by women. Therefore, the only way to argue that women (as a group) are as valuable as men is to argue that women are the same as men.
This is a sad conclusion because it encourages women to value themselves based on how identical they are to men.
This is symptomatic of a general move in society. We push groups identified as being marginalised to measure their value based on how identical they are to groups which are considered to be unfairly free of marginalisation.
Equality has been (wrongly) conflated with uniformity.
Similarly, Apple’s diversity officer lost her job because she dared to suggest that a group of white men can still be diverse. Is whiteness so overpowering now, that it completely nullifies every other aspect of a person’s existence? Their nationality? Their sexuality? Their socio-economic background? Their religious background? Their philosophical background?
In an age when we bemoan the paucity of women in top jobs at tech companies, should the expression of a logical opinion in a measured manner be a sackable offence? Especially for one of the few talented women (out of countless others) who’s bucked the trend of female underrepresentation?
Subjectivity has been given such supremacy that the popular positions on gender and race are so riddled with inconsistencies that they suggest:
- Race and gender are social constructs which have no basis in biology or science
- Yet we must have perfectly uniform race and gender diversity across the most desirable occupations, because race and gender are important variables in these equations
- This is because people of different races and genders bring different experiences and perspectives to the table
- Yet we must never talk about the fact that different people are inclined towards different experiences, and that this shapes who they are—especially if talking about this distracts from “white guilt”
But why does this all matter—why play this game of semantics?
Because the are real problems in the world, which need real solutions. I’m going to shun political correctness and talk about those problems.
Incarceration rates among black people in western societies are high. Women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs (though this is not the same as a gender pay gap)—and we mustn’t forget that men are overrepresented in jobs where people are most likely to die. Rape is too high—I won’t quote stats because I don’t care if there’s one rape a year, that’s still too many. Mental health problems take many lives every year—especially men’s. Young, working class men represent (arguably) the most economically under-privileged group in the UK.
And these are just a few of the problems we face.
Any good scientist (or problem solver) will tell you that to change an outcome, you must first accurately diagnose its cause. If you try to affect the wrong cause, you will not reverse the negative outcome.
This is why I’m so opposed to the politicisation of these issues. When we politicise them, people stop looking for answers and start looking for scapegoats. Throw the exaltation of subjectivity into the mix and you get a recipe for obscurantism and ego tripping.
Meanwhile, people are still suffering the very real consequences of these problems.
This is not a game where the blacks win and the whites lose, or the women win and the men lose. It’s a reality where we all win or lose together—because there’s only one Earth and we *all* have to share it.
It may well turn out, upon thorough investigation, that men and white people are to blame for 90% of the world’s problems… but we currently have no proof, just feelings. So, thorough investigation must come nonetheless.
Even in English criminal law, the condemnation of one person requires the accumulation of near-insurmountable evidence. You generally need actus reus (proof that a criminal act was committed) and mens rea (proof that the accused wilfully committed said criminal act). That means if I slip and accidentally knock a person dead, I can’t be guilty of murder (there’s no mens rea).
Yet, we so casually condemn entire groups of people?
And, to be clear, I have no political or social affiliations. This article does not exist to support one cause at the expense of the other. I think the left wing is just as full of shit as the right wing. I judge people on an individual-to-individual basis. I don’t care if you’re white, black, straight, genderqueer, conservative, liberal, nationalistic or anarchistic—if you show me kindness and openness, I will do the same.
But I find it funny that our desire for labels is so strong, we’ve labelled those who disagree with the adoption of labels . They call us “centrists”, as a slight… people who are too spineless to “pick a side”, I guess. As if we’re somehow in-between this stupid, unworkable idea and that other stupid, unworkable idea.
I’m not a centrist. I’m saying I’m not even on the same spectrum. The damn thing is broken.
I’m saying when you let go of the need to be right and focus on what the world needs to get right, you might see that the answer is no one has a good enough answer yet—and
we all need to keep looking. Hard.