The word prejudice (or foredeeming) is most often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality or other personal characteristics. It can also refer to unfounded beliefs and may include “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence.” Gordon Allport defined prejudice as a “feeling, favorable or unfavorable, toward a person or thing, prior to, or not based on, actual experience.” via Wikipedia.
In the above definition, Gordon Allport stated that prejudice can be both favorable and unfavorable. This has been proven time after time in human history. You can see this at the familial level (i.e. most/least favored child, sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or grandparent), at the neighborhood level (i.e. worst/nicest house, lawn, pets, children or car), at the township level (i.e. most/least prosperous business, best/worst school, etc.) and on up through all the levels of society including governmental prejudice (i.e. best/worst politician, congressman, president, law, program, country, etc.).
Similarity builds and confirms our societal identity as a whole. Generation after generation throughout human history we have learned that those similar to us are more likely to band together with us. Banding together helps with survival of our selves, our children and our ideals. Unfortunately, the idea of similarity has become so ingrained that most humans no longer accept that different is not wrong.
Different is someone whose skin color is other than ours. Different is someone whose eye shape is other than ours. Different is someone whose language is other than ours. Different is someone whose sexual organs are other than ours. Different is someone whose feelings & opinions are other than ours. Different is someone whose ideas and thoughts are other than ours. Different is not same. Different is not us. Different is other.
The idea that someone can enjoy friendship and love with someone else of the same gender is not considered wrong. Men love their sons, have male friends and can even have an emotional connection with other men in general. The same goes for women and their daughters, female friends and emotional connections with other women. This is considered normal. As long as the other person looks, sounds, thinks and has feelings similar to us.
The idea that someone can enjoy friendship, love and sex with someone of the opposite gender is not considered wrong. Men and women getting together over the past generations is obviously what has kept the human race around. We start out with friendship, usually move on to sex and occasionally end up with love. These physical & emotional attachments, united in the family unit, are the foundation to human society. In the past, this basic unit (father, mother and child/children, as well as the extended unit of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is considered normal in most peoples’ minds.
What has changed is that some of today’s families are not what’s considered normal. Single parent families, as well as multi-color (national, religious, etc.) families, were considered shameful at one point, but are now accepted as a fact of life. There are other families, though, that are looked upon with disgust. Some families have two fathers and no mothers, two mothers and no father, one father and multiple mothers or one mother and multiple fathers. These are the families that are currently debated about in loud voices as each individual of the “normal” units try to impose their own views about such behavior.
I have yet to understand what is so wrong about these family units. Here is just some of the BS that has been spouted.
I have heard flagrant lies stating that someone who is homosexual is automatically a moral deviant. That they will “turn” a child of the same sex into a homosexual. That they will sexually assault the child/children in their care. If this is true, then why is it that most of the people in jail for sexual assault on a minor are not homosexuals? I have not heard of any child of homosexual parents being forced or “turned” into a homosexual. If the child is gay, then it was gay from the get go. Homosexuality is not some form of contagious disease. Most persons that are homosexual are no different from any of the rest of us in their beliefs. Many are firm believers in a personal deity, have strong moral beliefs, have very set ideas about politics and feel that children should be raised in a caring and loving environment. The fact that they enjoy sexual relations with someone of their own gender has nothing to do with any of these other factors. It is an irrational belief because they are different.
I have heard that multi-color families breed children that are confused and lash out at society. If this is true, then why is it that most of the lashing out is done by children and adults of single color families? Not once have I come across a child of multi-color parents that has lashed out at others strictly because of being of multi-colors. Usually, they are lashing out at those around them who have caused them pain and suffering first. This is not confusion on the child, but a defense against the poor treatment by the society around them. These children have the same dreams for the future that single color children have. They want the same clothes, cars, jobs and lives that any other child wants. Their coloring has nothing to do with any of these other factors. It is an irrational belief because they are different.
I have heard that families with unusual combinations of parents cause misguided beliefs in their children about relationships in general. If this is true, then why is it that children & adults of typical parentage are the ones with the highest percentage of divorce and abuse within their relationships? I have yet to hear of very many families of this rare type that have been broken apart due to cheating, abuse of a co-parent or child, lack of money or caused confusion due to non-typical parental roles in the home. These families generally have more opportunities for individual quality time for each child, which generally leads to a happier childhood. They also tend to learn that different ideas and feelings are ok. This leads to less prejudices and greater tolerance in society as a whole. In this case, the type of family unit is a direct cause of these factors and I really don’t see anything misguided about any of it. It is an irrational belief because they are different.
These are just three of the many prejudices floating around out there about different types of family units. I have also added just one of the many questions that each statement brings up. Additionally, I have listed a few of my own personal opinions about why these prejudices are so ignorant. Why are people so afraid of something or someone who doesn’t fit the status quo? In what way is their choice of lifestyle, life partner(s) and family unit going to affect your life? The answer is: it doesn’t! You don’t like it for yourself, therefore, it must be wrong for everyone else.
We, as a society, spout platitudes about how it is ok to be different and unique, that it is ok to have differences of opinions, that it is ok for some to like pink and others to like blue, but in the end different & unique are only ok on the small things. It is only ok to have a difference of opinion about minor topics. It is only ok if girls like pink and boys like blue. Heaven forbid we talk to each other, learn about the individuals in different family units, and accept that their differences will not change who we are deep inside. The only thing that different can change about us is the amount & type of knowledge that we have. On occasion, it can even change our opinions. But it won’t change us as a person. Only we can change who or what we are.
I have to admit that I am just as prejudiced about certain topics as the next person, but I feel that I at least try to keep them away from other peoples’ personal issues. Sadly, I am not perfect and have run smack into my prejudices on a regular basis. I do try to admit when I am being irrational, if only to myself, but, again, I am not perfect. I am quite sure that at any given time in the future you could go through my blogs and find me spouting irrational opinions that wholly contradict opinions that I blogged about before. So be it. I’m human.
My biggest prejudice is against stupidity, aka lack of common sense. This has gone beyond a simple pet peeve. I have yet to understand why someone else being gay is going to destroy society. At what point in history has this ever proven true? Conversely, people who waste large amounts of time & money in our courts suing because they spilled the hot coffee they just ordered on themselves affect everyone’s lives. It is now more expensive for that cup of hot coffee because the manufacturer has to add “warning: coffee is hot” to the cups. If you order hot coffee, then expect it to be hot!
There are entirely too many forms of this type of stupidity to list, but I am sure you all know what I am talking about.
As you can see from my ramblings above, another of my prejudices is prejudice itself. I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but I can’t abide people who rant & rave about something for the simple fact that it is different. Just because something or someone is physically different, thinks differently or has different feelings does not automatically make them wrong or a target. You do not need to make every effort to change that thing or person into something like yourself. Stop trying to force them into specific categories and boxes that they don’t fit into. I aim this paragraph at politicians, statisticians, assistance programs and religious groups. Every one of these special interest groups try to force others into their own special pigeon-hole and wonder why people get angry with them for it.
I like differences that don’t involve injury to another person or group of people. It doesn’t matter if it is a physical type of harm or if it is mental, emotional, religious or financial harm. Harm is harm. Being different is not a license to be damaged. Being different does not make a person or thing inferior to others. It just means different. Period. End of story.
Being different as a child is not fun, most especially when it is a difference that you cannot change. Who your family is, what you look like (although this is becoming a fluid situation at ever younger ages), what your family’s financial status is, what your name is (again, this is becoming a fluid situation), what kind of car your parents have, etc., etc. As you get older, some of these differences can be changed, if you are still worried about it. But not everything is changeable. Your family is still your family. The only way to get away from this is to move to another part of the world and never let anyone else know where you came from. Good luck with that in this age of the internet.
In the end, the only thing I can add is to learn to accept yourself and those around you as you & they are. If someone is going to harm you & yours, it is because that single, individual person wants to harm others. Not because they are gay, colored, Republican, Democratic, religious or any other irrational reason that someone has tossed into the fray as an excuse to cause hate so they can hide their own inadequacies. It is easier to throw rocks than it is to dodge them.