Default Bigotry

I really have to question how much “inclusion” there actually is. 

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The default person in society is the most privileged – a cis, straight, white, able bodied man. Lacking any other description, this is generally the identity we assume a character has. If we don’t mention a race, we assume Whiteness. If we don’t mention a sexuality, we assume the character is straight, etc etc. 

And this is not a good thing – we shouldn’t think that way, this shouldn’t be our assumption and this shouldn’t be a societal standard.

But it is.

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If we want to change that – and we should – then I can’t see us doing it with less visible portrayals. We can’t challenge this by only having marginalised characters in a book or on a show that are apparent only to those willing to do the homework.

We need to normalise the presence of marginalised people rather than casting them as the Other…

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These characters should exist, we should have the full variety of diversity in our media. But we shouldn’t have them used as an excuse for erasure or tokenism. We shouldn’t be using research-required inclusion as an excuse for not bothering with text supported portrayal.

We shouldn’t be afraid of having marginalised people in major roles who are clearly identifiable as marginalised people.

— Paul & Renee (Feministe)

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Sylver Blaque’s Blogger Bubbles

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Blogger Bubbles ®™ 2013 is a federally registered trademark by Sylver Blaque.

19 thoughts on “Default Bigotry

  1. I often wonder how India managed the transition into a truly diverse society. We have the second highest population of Muslims in the world. We have hundreds of languages, people of every color and caste, several religions, and all this happened thanks to centuries of invasions, military and commercial, from all over the world.

    • I love your comments referencing India, Raunak. Keep them coming – I learn something new in each one. 🙂 And this one is particularly informative. You know, I hadn’t thought about India’s invasions as including commercial elements as well. But it’s a fact, and one that speaks to the rapidity of its increasing diversity, huh?

      • India was always a commercial attraction. Maritime trade between India and the ancient Greeks flourished. The British too occupied India through the East India Company which was nothing but a commercial enterprise. The spices and gold from India were in huge demand in the west.

  2. The fact that you think you have to use words like “cis’ (whatever that may imply because your explanation was ambiguous), and show a white family under the banner of “not a good thing” and show a mid-eastern family as a “marginalized other” and end up with a family of mixed color as another marginalized example only proves that this represents your perspective. I think that the large majority of Americans do not use default bigotry. Did you use it to arrive at this post?

    • Hi, Wally. Thank you for your comment. This section of my blog is called “Blogger Bubbles.” It’s where I post thought-provoking, interesting, funny, etc. quotes from other bloggers. I find all kinds of perspectives to post in this section of my blog, which is why I created it, as I love being exposed to & sharing alternate viewpoints.
      Sylver Blaque’s Blogger Bubbles: https://sylverblaque.wordpress.com/in-the-blaque/blaque-diamonds/blogger-bubbles/

      The link to each blogger’s quotes in the Blogger Bubbles section of my blog is provided within the post itself, and I’m sure this blogger would love to hear your view about this quote. As for the images, I chose a white family to directly illustrate the blogger’s quote “we assume Whiteness.” My personal interpretation of what this blogger is saying is that, as the blogger states a number of times, it’s “our assumption” that is “not a good thing” – not “whiteness.” And I used the Muslim family (they are not “mid-eastern“, they are American), and the multi-racial family to illustrate “the full diversity” which, as this blogger says & I agree with wholeheartedly, should be represented & represented accurately in our media.

      • Interesting posting here. I was struck by the photographs used. I used to produce big photoshoots for the big stock photography libraries – the kind of pictures you have used. These pictures are the kind that you never look at. For example, you pick up a leaflet in a Bank about savings plans or pensions and there will be images like these to illustrate the text. If they weren’t there the leaflet would look pretty dull – but you don’t look at them, they are little visual signifiers of a message the bank wants to convey about they way they see their customers.

        You will notice that in the two pictures of Muslim and racial mixed families there is nothing in those pictures that is un-white, un-American or un-aspirational. When casting people for the planned shots the art director would reject this person or that for a variety of subjective reasons;- she’s too intelectual – he’s a bit too stocky; and the one that often stumped me – he’s too Jewish (something I’d not seen at all). We are surrounded by these images (that no one looks at) that reinforce a sterio-type which is completely inaccurate of most of our experiences. There was to be no deviation from the message.

        With the people in the first image – the white American family – if I was allowed into their house I would wind up knocking over a drink or saying something that upsets them. I doubt that I would be invited back to plastic land.

        A Freind in London, a few years ago started a woman’s magazine for “real” women. By that he meant women of the normal everyday sizes and looks. The magazine looked exactly like every other woman’s mag except the size of the women. It folded because he couldn’t get the main stream cosmetcis and clothing manufactures to advertise in it. They didn’t want to be associated with any deviation from the myth of the idealised woman.

        • Thank you, Bill, for this very informative comment. I love your point about stock images – especially concerning the myth of idealized images & the reluctance to accept images which fall outside our socially acceptable perception of the norm. Great point!

  3. I was shocked to read this because it it so true, without even realizing that we are doing it. That’s a really great point you make and certainly one to ponder. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi, Judy. Thanx for this comment. 🙂 I agree, this blogger makes great points in this post. And I think you’re right about us not even realizing it. Because it’s so systemic, we believe it is the way things should be.

  4. I agree with it, but I’m not the corn-fed average American. I think most people are afraid of anything that is foreign to them. Just to look at the landscape, our country is typically run by above middle-aged Christian white men. So what’s that say?

  5. What in the world is a cis? Is that the new politically correct acronym for WASP? The artof labeling is growing so fast I can’t even keep up with the latest buzz phrases! It will be of no surprise to you that this is one of your posts that I just can’t agree with – but I love you anyway.

    • Lol. Cis just refers to males behaving as society expects males to behave, following its traditional definitions of manhood (i.e. masculine, in control of their emotions, woman-chasing, etc.), and females behaving as society expects females to behave, following its traditional definitions of femininity (i.e. the ‘weaker’ sex, submissive, emotional, girly, etc.).

      And, no, I’m not at all surprised that you disagree with the viewpoint in this blogger’s post. But I luv you anyway, too. 😉

      • I popped over on the link and read further when I realized you’d pulled this from another source. Then I realized that I disagreed even more than I did at first glance. Having to spell absolutely everything out in a manuscript or TV show would slow the plot down so much that folks would quit reading or reach for the remote. More importantly, it would ruin the magic.

        The author’s job is to introduce you to the characters and make you care about them. Once they’ve done that the reader/viewer has to take some responsibility. They can assume every hero/heroine is just like them and every villain is just like their enemy – or not. The book’s happy ending can become their happy ending – or not. But I don’t think the author should have to over-describe characters just to validate each kind of reader. That’s why two different people can read the same book and be equally moved by it. Why ruin that by bogging down characters to hammer home details that are not germane to the story. We all have issues that we don’t spell out on the t-shirt we’re wearing. Why does an author have to provide full disclosure when that’s not a realistic portrayal of life?

        To say that everyone assumes a WASP family unless specifically told otherwise is projecting a personal bias or prejudice into the situation. I for one don’t operate this way when I read and I don’t think I’m all alone.

        When I see the world, I see all the people in it, in all their varieties. When I imagine the landscape of a book I see it peopled by the same guys who are in my neighborhood. Next door is a Muslim couple from Syria, Across the street is an Asian living with someone who’s at least mostly white, but if there’s other races in the mix, how does that really change our neighborhood in the book. The best yard belongs to a gay couple. It may sound stereo-typical, but we’ve got a French couple with a French poodle. There are Hispanic people, Indians, blacks, Jews, senior citizens, other varieties of Asians and Arabs, folks with various handicaps and the list goes on. I’m sure there are a number of people with sexual concerns they haven’t told me about, whether that’s a hidden sexual preference or erectile dysfunction. I’m married to an Egyptian and my heritage can only be described as Heinz 57, but there’s a lot of Native American in me. I have no idea whether the couples around me are married or not – and even if my neighborhood was a novel, you could easily write 75000 words about almost any couple and whether they’d actually had a wedding or not might not even matter.

        For me, demanding authors tie their characters down with such specificity is dumbing things down. It takes the joy out of the writing and the reading. Wouldn’t you hate to have to disclose every little detail about yourself to everyone you met? I know I’d get impatient with listening to everyone fully disclose their secrets to me, just so we could find a point of mutuality. One of the adventures in life is getting to know people, but no matter how well you know them, there’s always more to learn. Literature should imitate life.

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