Saturday, February 11, 2012

People who are different than me

They are so dang hard to understand!!!

Here's an inspiring example of getting it, though:

It made me realize a simple truth: “This woman isn’t some unassailable mystery, or some video game that responds to a proper combination of insult, backhanded compliment, quarter-circle-forward-fierce-punch… She’s like me. She’s a normal human being.”

As embarrassing as it is to type now, back then that seemed like a revolutionary thought.

I think an epiphany like that isn't something to be embarrassed about. Empathy -- especially towards people that you can't immediately identify with -- is harder than people commonly realize. The "unfathomable woman" is an extremely common trope, and not because people are doing it on purpose...

The difficulty isn't limited to men failing to empathize with women, or even limited to people of more privileged groups failing to empathize with people from more marginalized groups. (For example, a gay author might wrongly imagine that he doesn't need to do research or exercise empathy to write convincing straight people.) Similarly, here's a popular blogger analyzing a famous Christian author's attempt to write a non-Christian character:

First of all, Arthur has always struck me as a character misunderstood by his writer. Finley keeps trying to force him into the role of Chief Villain, subtype Spoiled Brat (male), but it fits very awkwardly on Arthur. Sometimes he feels sorry for Elsie, sometimes he doesn’t, sometimes he’s nice to her, sometimes he’s very weirdly mean to her. It’s all very inconsistent and unnatural.

That’s probably because Finley herself doesn’t know why Arthur would hate Elsie. Clearly, because Elsie needs trials to overcome with the Power of Christ(tm), but other than that, there’s just no justification for Arthur’s villainy. It’s all very random. What does Arthur have to gain by making Daddy Dinsmore angry at Elsie? What was he hoping to achieve, and what does that failure mean that he’s so dejected by it? We’ll never know because Finley herself didn’t know.

On a related note, through my extensive blog reading, I recently stumbled upon an interesting example of what I like to call the central tension of feminism:

For every trait or role that's considered feminine, some women will say "Stop saying this negative thing is 'feminine'!" and other will say "Stop saying this negative thing is feminine!"

Here's the 'Mormon Child Bride' taking on a celebrity over how to affirm femininity and women's strength.

Of course, the range and diversity of women's experiences doesn't have to be a weakness -- check out this news item about how it can be a strength!!


Cognitive Dissenter said...

Very thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading the links too. Nicely done, Chanson.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks CD!!!