Derailing Gender Discussions

I’ve been noticing a trend recently. It’s not that the trend is recent (it’s happened for ages), but my awareness of it is. It’s someone focusing on gender matters (which were only tangential to the discussion at hand) over any other kind of discussion.

I would like to assume the best of those who are doing this (because they are both males and females), that they are unaware of this trend in their discussions. But, in some cases, I find that “innocence” questionable.

Recently I posted on Facebook a comment on an interaction between an African-American man and a police officer. I didn’t point any fingers at anyone in particular, simply reminding people that we cannot judge every police officer or every person of color by a single stereotype. We’re all human, and we have to stop polarizing ourselves by setting up these straw men of stereotype. An old friend posted a comment, saying that the person in the article had a military ID, and therefore was probably given a pass simply because he is in the Armed Forces (National Guard, but still part). He made a reference to the “blue brotherhood.”

My response was mostly about the ethics of giving certain types of people a “pass” simply because of who they are. It’s not that much of a jump from forgiving a military person or sweeping the issue under the rug for someone who either is a police person, or who is related to one, to forgiving crimes for someone who is wealthy and powerful. It’s an ethics issue.

I made a side comment about the fact that the police are still called the “blue brotherhood” even though there have been patrol women since the year I was born (late 60s, if anyone cares).

His response to my response? Focused on the tangential gender issue.

I find it interesting that I’m seeing this happening more and more. Focusing on the gender issue is easier, particularly if someone is an outspoken feminist. It ends the discussion of the real issue, to focus on the gender issue.

Maybe it is because that’s what hit my friend in the conversation. Maybe the discussion of ethics hit a sore spot, and he wanted to point the discussion down a different path.

Yet, it is a tactic used quite often, particularly so the non-feminist can point to it and say, Look. See? She turns EVERYTHING into a gender issue!

I want to discuss ethics, because until we have a real understanding between human beings about ethics we can’t stop the horrors we see every day. I want to have discussions about justice, and not just justice for women. But, these are uncomfortable subjects for many people. They feel defensive, even when they have not been personally attacked. So they jump on the subject that can derail the more uncomfortable one, and can make the feminist focus on it rather than on her (or his) original subject.

This is a more subtle way to derail discussions than the more blunt and obvious are you sure you’re not PMSing? I’m not saying that all men do this, nor that it is even just a certain type of man.  My friend, for example, is a strong proponent of equal rights and feminism.  He’s, in fact, one of those people who I believe is doing it unconsciously.  There are so many issues that are essentially “the norm” in our society, that it isn’t always an intentional issue.  It’s that they happen organically, and just like when you are trying to quit an unconscious habit, you can get defensive if someone other than you points out that you have it.

Perhaps you think I’m being far too judgemental or anal-retentive about our police forgiving our armed forces for traffic related issues, as long as no one is hurt.  I’m not.  Yes, I am more than well aware that our armed forces are NOT treated with respect, and that many of them are living far below the poverty line.  I think that is absolutely disgusting, given how much money is budgeted for our military.  You would think as strongly as BOTH of our major political parties agree that our soldiers (of whatever gender) deserve much better treatment that more of the military budget would go to the care of our soldiers, many of whom have sacrificed their body and their health.

The ethics of ticket forgiveness is a very touchy subject.  Yet, there is an option in our justice system. It’s not easy, but it is possible to plea bargain with a traffic judge – particularly if you have a relatively clean driving record when it comes to what is known as a “civil infraction” (which includes things like speeding [unless excessive] or rolling through a stop sign). Things like a DWI which involve a criminal charge are things you should have a lawyer for.

Our justice system was intended to not allow the rich and/or powerful to purchase justice. It was supposed to be impartial.  Unfortunately, as with anything else related to the human condition, it was corrupted.  We are back in the same problem countries have had for centuries – one set of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set for everyone else; as well as different applications of the law depending on ethnicity or heritage.

This isn’t a “grey area” of ethics, people.  If there is mercy applied, it should be applied fairly, regardless of differences of class, gender or ethnicity. I, myself, have benefited from that mercy (I’ve never intended to cry in front of an officer, but I will admit a few times when I did – and received a warning rather than a fine. But I do wonder if I received the warning because I was a white girl crying.) but that doesn’t make that any more fair just because I received a benefit. I’ve been poor for too long to not be thankful to be shown mercy, but I feel it is important that the mercy should be applied fairly, even if I don’t have the money to pay a fine (of course, driving safely and legally is not that much more difficult to do either in order to NOT have to pay a fine).


Categories: ethics, Feminism | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Derailing Gender Discussions

  1. georgiakevin

    Your post is well thought out and what you write makes perfect sense, man I need to read everything that you write!

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