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Author Topic: Equality/Power/Culture  (Read 2081 times)


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« on: April 04, 2007, 11:49:34 AM »

I recently came upon an interesting (and small) essay on the web site of the National Youth Rights Association. In it, the author characterizes his particular movement as being composed of three basic (and different) philosophies.

1. "Youth equality" activists tend to explain adultism in terms of stereotypes and discrimination. Adults harm youth because they have bad ideas about them; adults fail to see shared humanity. Solutions may involve questioning double-standards, or trying to be "age-blind", living without assumptions.

2. "Youth power" activists tend to explain adultism in terms of the history of youth being treated like human property. Adults unjustly claim the right to command young people's obedience. Liberation projects might include taking away adults' right to spank, changing the power structure in schools, winning the vote.

3. "Youth culture" (or "youthcentrist") activists tend to think about adultism in terms of adult repression of youth culture. Young people have their own ways of being: e.g. playful, dyed hair, music choices, swearing, etc. Liberation involves embracing youth culture and creating alternative spaces where it can flourish, like free-schools and recreation centers.

The author suggests that the presence of these three philosophies is inevitable because they have manifested in other movements. One of the examples offered is queer activism.

Queer activism: The "equality" perspective promotes the idea that "we're just like you [heterosexuals]", in every way except choice of partner. The "power" perspective focuses on the ways in which gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgendered, intersexed people and other sexual minorities have been forcibly kept down and harmed: queer-bashing, anti-sodomy laws, preemptive laws against same-sex marriage, religious leaders calling us "abnormal and perverse". "Culture" -oriented activists focus on community events like Pride marches, reclaiming closeted historical figures, and creating queer safe zones.

The author then goes on to identify several areas of conflict, all of which seem to be centered around the "equality" philosophy. I would suggest that these areas of conflict arise from the inherently faulty (if occasionally politically useful) proposition that "we're just like you." The Power and Culture philosophies proposed require a certain admission of the inherent existence of "we," while the Equality philosophy quite frequently drifts from a simple assertion that "we" are (or ought to be) equal to "you" to the unacceptable assertion that "we ARE you" or, to phrase it more bluntly, "we do not exist."
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."


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RE: Equality/Power/Culture
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2007, 12:12:49 AM »

Hm, this was indeed a very refreshing lecture. Never suspected before that this form of separatism existed... Though I have my peculiar views on the issue of adult supremacism, I acknowledge both the entirely justified claim for more rights and self-determination of young people, as well as the intellectual accomplishment to present the issue as a matter of social separatism.

The "we" most certainly requires an understanding of being "not them", otherwise the entire discussion of identity politics and equal rights would make no sense. Either one can demand equal rights for one's particular group, *OR* one can demand to be counted as member of one of the existing privileged group. The latter strategy was successfully applied by many closeted homosexuals who made any possible effort to appear belonging to the privilleged group of heterosexuals - they entered heterosexual marriages, produced children and presented themeselves in any other social facette as "straight". It's equally understandable and disgusting to see some Gay people returning to these tactics and trying to persuade heterosexuals to see them as "straights honore causa". These straights h.c. often tend to publicly express their indignation about other (too colourfull) gays as opposite to "normal" people.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it." Thomas Paine
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