The Equality of Fear and Assumptions

Fear, Bias and the Single Story

The bigger problem with bias is that it creates fear . This aspect wasn’t discussed last month when we talked about fear previously, but it was well demonstrated last weekend by the shooting first and the nature of the media outcry that followed it. Believe it or not, I was going to talk about fear anyway. This just made my initial point a little easier to make. I had saved it for the end of bias because it’s important to realize what you’re biases are before diving too deeply into how it affects us all. Because of those events, I don’t think I need to linger too long on how these biases cause conflict, so let’s move right past that. Fear and bias also hold us back from greeting people as who they are individually, which is usually not the worst thing they could possibly be. More importantly, they exist for all genders. I don’t have personal experience with the non-binary gendered on this but it’s hard to be aware of gender issues and watch tv without realizing that there’s only one story given to them by media. I’m pretty sure there is a lot more to the non-binary gendered then “tricking” the people into thinking they are one of the binary genders.

Part of the problem is that in order to protect ourselves from those few people who are the worst that their stereotype tells us they can be, we are driven to making these assumptions of everyone. We don’t bother to wait for indications, we just lash out at all people as if they are that minority, this was evident during both the #yesallwomen and #notallmen campaigns over the weekend. As a woman, I still find that the point was lost on most men who responded with #notallmen that there aren’t enough non-sexist men to counter the effects of those who are. Part of this is the bias that even the best intentioned can harbor toward other genders. We simply don’t feel the solidarity from those who are #notallmen, which means to me that though they are not all misogynists, that doesn’t make them our allies, either. And yes we know that there some men who are allies and that plenty of men are perfectly great individuals. That wasn’t the point. So the fear crept up in the men in that responded (or so it seems) that all women assumed they were like these mass murderers and were just waiting for the chance. The backlash ensued and #yesallwomen was created to attempt to show them that allies are what is warranted. Men’s issues need women allies as well. They need women who don’t oppose their rights and they need allies to counter the women that do oppose their rights.

Today’s atmosphere feels like both sides are staring at the other waiting to see who will blink first so they can pounce. Instead, let us try to have some compassion and try to understand people first. Of course, do this without putting yourself in such a vulnerable place as one would be when they might learn that the person they are dealing with is someone to fear. Fear and negative assumptions are equal among people, and we all seem to fear the same thing when you get right down to it.

We fear the other. We just rarely realize that we are also the other. We are the other person, the other gender, the other race.

Fear and bias shouldn’t govern the way we view other people. Compassion and acceptance should just have a solid foundation of reasonable caution.

Join me next week for a look at how we fall prey to “the sins of our fathers” and follow me on Twitter at @createparity and Pinterest for more about gender issues!

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