gretchen_marie: (dr gretchen)
gretchen_marie ([personal profile] gretchen_marie) wrote2011-10-20 12:37 pm

Black and White Thinking

I cannot abide people who refuse to see shades of gray in this world. Let's face it... there are shades of gray EVERYWHERE. In every field, in every topic. And no one in the world has the right to say, "this is how it is for everyone who is *insert a group*."

Not even someone who is part of that group.

I am at a conference at UNI today, a conference for those working to end domestic violence. The keynote speaker is Dr. Gail Dines, author of "Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked Our Sexuality." She has some WONDERFUL points about the culture we live in and how it reinforces violence against women and grooms young men to detach from women (i.e. teaches them absolutely nothing about how to have a healthy relationship or sexuality).


She is yet another "all or nothing" person. Yet another black/white, dichotomy, binary person. Someone who refused, utterly REFUSED, to acknowledge that there might possibly be women doing sex work who WANT to be doing sex work. I men refused. She quoted a study of 7 countries that stated unequivocally (in her words) that women in sex work want one thing: to get out.

Leaving aside the potential can of worms that would be opened by questioning the structure of the study (since any study can be structured to confirm a hypothesis rather than to gather information), how exactly does she justify speaking for ALL women, everywhere? She said this myth about some group of women having lots of fun sex is just that, a myth.

She also pissed me off by saying there was no excuse for men to NOT stand up to misogyny and exert a view of healthy masculinity. I said that in many cases, men were not AWARE of the need for their voices, and not aware of male privilege or the impact of misogyny on their own lives. She dismissed that out of hand. "There's no excuse," she said.

Really, I truly cannot abide this kind of thinking. It is polarizing, exclusive, in a realm that NEEDS to be inclusive.

I see this in every field of activism I have ever been involved in... black and white thinking. It is as if, by admitting that there might be some part of the world that does not fit into the binary, one loses face and ground.

To me, being able to admit and discuss the gray areas means you feel strongly enough about your topic that you aren't threatened by those shades of gray.

Ah well. I didn't change her mind, and she didn't change mine. I'm going to go give a presentation on Deaf culture and domestic/sexual violence now, and see if I can change some people's perspectives...

[identity profile] 2011-10-20 11:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I completely agree with you, and don't get the binary thinking that causes the whole "us or them" mentality.

Sigh. Here's hoping you are able to do some mind-changing with your presentation!
Edited 2011-10-20 23:37 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2011-10-21 12:48 am (UTC)(link)
I know when I dismiss something out of hand or refuse to acknowledge the worth of a logical comment it's because I'm afraid of its validity and potential to change the way I think about something. Sounds like what she was doing. Tragic.

[identity profile] 2011-10-22 06:22 am (UTC)(link)
There is a hell of a lot of black and what thinkers in my law school class - and the classes, the cases, the issues are mostly shades of gray. I notice that the younger the student, the more binary their thinking. Some of them are very scary in their doctrinal belief system. Maybe I was at that age, too. Can't remember.