What Is Discrimination?


there are only a few things being misunderstood as often as the concept of discrimination. So, I decided to explain it in a simple way, show you why discrimination is such a huge problem and give you an idea about how to improve your behaviour. If you strongly identify with your culture, this whole thing might be confusing and you might feel insulted. That’s okay, feel free to disagree but keep your hatred to yourself. Thank you. Now, with that thing out of the way, let’s start.

“Discrimination” comes the Latin verb “discriminare”, meaning “to distinguish”. This pretty much reflects the main meaning of the word, “to distinguish between certain categories”. For example, you could discriminate shapes by their number of edges. Then, you get categories like triangles, squares, pentagons and so on. Discrimination can be useful in science or wherever categories are clearly distinguishable and important. If you want to sell buttons of different sizes and colour it’s important to discriminate between colours first to be able to sort them. This might all seem to be trivial and it really is. Whenever a certain property of a group matters that only has discrete values, you may discriminate between them. To give another scientific example, a computer stores data using “bits”, storage units that can exist in one of two states, namely 0 and 1. It’s necessary to discriminate between those two states to store data. No problems so far.

However, problems occur when there is no use to discrimination or, in other words, if the property those categories arise from is either not important or even arbitrary. That’s what happens a lot on a social level. The most simple example I can think of is called “sexism”. Our culture usually discriminates between two sexes, male and female. Those are ill-defined categories, but let’s just assume for a moment that “male” refers to a person having testicles and “female” refers to a person having an uterus. Someone who has an uterus usually menstruates at some point of their life. With this definition, it completely makes sense to discriminate between sexes when it comes to advertisement for tampons. It also makes sense to have doctors specialized on the anatomy of one sex. But, it makes no sense to sell pickles dedicated to men or women. There is no sane way a pickle would ever interact properly with the anatomy of only one specific sex—please, don’t abuse pickles—and yet, I’ve seen pickles advertised only for men or women. And that’s what sexism is, social discrimination between sexes—or more exactly, between genders, as you will see later on. This leads to the key problem, social discrimination.

Why is this a problem?, you might ask. The answer is “culture”. In my previous post I already explained that culture is a way of thinking and acting shared by multiple people. In most western cultures girls are associated with pink, boys are associated with blue, women are supposed to be “weak”, men are supposed to be “strong” and so on. It’s thanks to early feminism that the worst clichés are mostly gone by now but many still remain. If you check the definition given earlier, this makes no sense at all. A uterus has nothing to do with pink, has it? That’s just silly. Even if you talk about chromosomes, men having an XY pair that’s XX for women, this makes no sense. Yes, those chromosomes tend to produce more of certain hormones—but that’s just a tendency. Discriminating statistics tell you nothing about a specific person. Also, there are all kinds of combinations like XXY, there are mutations, your genes change over time, your hormone balance also changes—there are many reasons why associating sexes with genetics doesn’t really work. That’s why there is another term, referring to the cultural aspects of sexes called “gender”. There are mainly two genders, male and female, describing all the culture associated with male and female sex. I someone wears make-up, dresses, high heels, likes pink, raises kids and so on, that’s supposed to be female in our culture. Driving cars, doing sports, making money, etc. is supposed to be male. This concept lies deep within our culture. All people, especially children, tend to adopt their culture because human beings are social animals. We have social structures that we want to fit in to, everyone has their place. But those places are associated with categories. A boy might be told those stereotypes from the day he was born. He is supposed to like cars, so he develops an interest for cars. He is taught that only girls wear dresses, so he never does. He is told that women are less worthy, so he abuses them. People identify by the categories they are put into, they live the way they are supposed to according to other’s discrimination. Many people think that discrimination is about privileges, non-equal rights, clichés or disadvantages; but those are just the results of discrimination—and they are the big problem.

Let’s talk a little more about sexism, shall we? When I told you there were two main genders, that’s not the whole truth. Of course, there were many people before who noticed that sexism is bullshit and that they don’t fit into the category assigned to them—they just can’t adapt. Many just swapped their “gender” because they felt that the other gender was easier to adapt to. While this completely misses the point of it all—because it’s still discriminating—it got much worse. Today, we have a huge set of gender categories. Cis gender are those who identify with the sex they assigned at birth. Agender are those who don’t identify with none of the main genders. Genderfluid people move back and forth between male and female. Bigender means to identify with both main genders. There is much more vocabulary out there and I don’t guarantee for the accuracy of those explanations. All in all, it’s a mess. The problem with all these categories is that they still are categories. All those transgender people are still acknowledging that there are real social differences between male and female, besides culture, by basing their “gender identity” on it. It is still sexist. Actually, everyone trying to oppose sexism should identify as “agender” as all gender differences are of cultural nature—if they feel like identifying at all. Because that’s the main issue, why would you identify with a “gender” in the first place? Use all the freedom you’ve got and: Fuck gender!

Now you’ve got an idea about sexism and why it is a problem. It’s the same for each kind of social discrimination, no matter if it’s about gender, “race”, income, nationality, caste or whatever. The only way to oppose all of this is not to identify at all. This might be hard if you are new to this idea but it’s not that complicated. All you have to do is learning to ignore all kinds of stereotypes and just live the way you want to. Don’t care about “genders”, don’t restrict yourself to one genre of music, don’t give a fuck about personality tests, don’t think about describing your character. Just be your-fucking-self! And if it comes to other people, just don’t judge. Many people think the human brain works this way, by putting things into categories, but that’s not the case. I like to think about “discrimination” and “differentiation” as two different things. While “discrimination” refers to labelling objects by category, “differentiation” means to recognise that two values of a property of an objects differ. So instead of discriminating people, differentiate between them. I used to speak about “atomic differentiation”, meaning to see each individual as a blank sheet and to observe their properties as you get to know them, without ever labelling them by category.

I hope this gave you a better understanding about discrimination and how to deal with it. I think that sexism is the most misunderstood and most problematic kind of discrimination nowadays. That’s why I used it as a prime example. It’s also why I dislike modern feminism. While everyone can call themselves “feminist” while most so-called “feminists” don’t have any idea about this stuff—which is really disappointing. Also, calling yourself a “feminist” is discriminating on its own. Remember, you can always stand for your opinion without identifying with a group.


27.08.2015 23:40:09 UTC

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