You can’t understand because you’re not [insert identity]!
The single worst concept to spring from the ash of identity politics, a medium so fertile for the growth of stupidity it rivals libertarianism, is the notion that in order to understand or relate to a person’s experience you must actually share a relevant identity with them.
My apologies, did that not make any sense whatsoever? Well of course it didn’t, feminists developed it. But that’s why I’m here. Allow me to illustrate an example to better illuminate this retarded idea. (And no, I’m not sorry about using the word ‘retarded’.)
Let’s say you’re a man talking to a woman about rape and she says, ‘Well, you couldn’t possibly understand because you’re a man,” implying that only women truly understand the subject of rape since the majority of rape victims are women and rapists are men, blah, blah, and blah…
Here’s another example since I love beating dead horses. Let’s say you’re straight and you’re talking to a gay friend about homophobic discrimination and they say, “Well, you know, you don’t and won’t really get it since you’re a straight dude, you MUST be gay to fully understand it, or even understand it enough to be taken seriously when discussing it.”
If you’re thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t really make sense,” don’t worry, that just means your critical thought is still somewhat intact.
Let’s unpack this common conceit amongst the social justice crowd.
If we are all human beings, and if human beings are capable of experiencing the same emotions across a spectrum of experiences, understanding that many experiences can be extrapolated upon in order to appreciate others we’ve yet to possess, then what identity could be so unique that it becomes impossible for others to consider it a reality?
The answer to that is none. The human imagination is limitless in scope, it is kind of the point of an imagination. Conversely, human emotions, a crucial part of our reaction to experiences, are limited. If they were not limited, if they were not so defined and contained within our species, human to human emotive experiences would indeed be impossible.
Additionally, many seemingly different physical experiences ultimately boil down to the same emotive experience. Being unexpectedly pushed by another person ultimately elicits the same emotive reaction as being called a ‘fucking-faggot’, or being purposefully ignored, gossiped about, or even libeled. Yet all these people could say to each other, you don’t know how humiliating it is to be…or enraging it is to be…or hurtful it is to be…
Losing a leg is likely very different from losing one’s memory when you get into the practical consequences. But the sense of frustration, embarrassment, necessity to adapt, and anger that could spring from these two very different losses are really the same and are at least capable of being extrapolated upon.
So if a gay person says, ‘you don’t get it because you’re not gay’ or ‘because you’re not black’ or ‘a woman’, what experience are these individuals thinking of that actually necessitates the impossibility of an identity change in order to ‘get them’? What experience is so inextricably bound to identity that it actually derives from the identity itself rather than the many factors that assemble it? And if bigotry is socially constructed then how can it be identified innately, divorced from its social origins?
There is nothing unique about experiences with bigotry. What is fundamentally different about experiencing prejudice due to skin color as opposed to sexual orientation? And what is unique to these experiences that someone who has been seriously and unfairly misjudged for any reason could not extrapolate upon them to better understand? The only often cited difference here is the frequency and motive behind the events and it doesn’t take a guided tour through the Matrix to move beyond that.
In fact, claiming that a human being cannot understand another human being because of their sex, sexual identity, ethnicity, or class is itself remarkably bigoted and only proves my point. Such a claim on the part of social justice dumb dumbs elegantly counters their notion that the shoe is impossible to put on the other foot.
The claim that all white people are secretly racist if not overtly, or that all men are potential rapists, or that all heterosexuals dream of a homoerotic experiences, is not only condescending but intellectually hypocritical.
Lastly, I want to conclude by admitting that we can acknowledge that some experiences are harder to understand than others and that all experiences are likely best understood by having them without hoarding experience like covetous dragons that are so narcissistic they cannot imagine a person sophisticated enough to comprehend them.