Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cultural Rules

NOTE: I am trying to fix the links in a number of old posts, and have reproduced a number of essays from my now defunct blog in order to allow myself to create working links to them.

I am sometimes puzzled by the rules our culture has established. So in the interest of clearing my mind, I am trying to figure this out.

In the case of "transgendered" (should be transsexual) individuals, we are fine with accepting their claim that they were born in the wrong body and giving them the external appearance of another sex. But were the same to happen with the case of race, we would not be so good with helping a black man look white. Likewise, deaf activists tell me that cochlear implants, instead of curing a birth defect, are "genocide against the deaf." So surgery to correct defects, or even claimed defects, only applies to those unhappy with their sex.

In the case of homosexuality, there are similarly complex rules for therapists. A man who has both homosexual and heterosexual impulses can be "helped to understand his homosexuality", but he cannot be urged to adopt a heterosexual identity. Therapy can only herd one toward homosexuality, anything else is intolerant. The argument is, apparently, that one is "born gay" and to be "forced" into heterosexuality is cruel. To which I would reply, how do we know those who are confused are born gay and just faking being straight? Couldn't they be born straight and faking being gay? Why assume all are born gay? Is all sexual confusion a certain sign of some "gay gene"? Is there anything in biology which supports this claim?

And then we come to cultures. We are told that to teach majority culture to minorities is oppressive and destroys their identity. But to teach minority cultures to the majority, even to force them to adopt those identities for a time as an "exercise" increases tolerance. Does this mean only the majority can be intolerant?

I am sure there are many more questions hiding in the back of my mind, but those three are the ones that have been bothering me of late. I still don't understand the rules our society seems to adopt, but at least I can put them into words.

Perhaps someone could help me understand the rationale.

Originally posted in Random Notes on 2008/06/11.

NOTE: This is a very old post, on topics I addressed in greater detail later in my blog. I have not yet reproduced all those essays, but as I do I shall add links here to those more comprehensive posts.

NOTE: I favor "transsexual" over "transgendered" for a number of reasons. First, I am not a supporter of the silly gender/sex distinction au currant in the social sciences. To my mind, anything relating to human sex is sex, gender is purely a linguistic construct. Second, even if we adopt the sociological sex/gender distinction, since these individuals are changing their physical attributes, and not just their social identities, it would seem sociological usage would still favor using sex over gender. Thus, I tend to think "transgender" is a mistake, an attempt to be excessively sensitive and PC leading to misusing terminology, even in terms of the current liberal/sensitive vernacular. (I imagine in the sociological usage, someone who would have been called a "cross dresser" could be "transgendered", as it is entirely related to social constructs, not physical characteristics, but once there is a physical transformation, I would argue it is a matter of sex, not gender, if we choose to use such distinctions.)

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