Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Personally I try to understand. If there's something about a person that makes no sense to me, I don't just hurl abuse at them or tell them they're crazy. I try to get under their skin and see things from their point of view.
If I still can't understand, I don't see it as their problem, but mine. I probably lack the insight, or empathy, or openness, to appreciate what's going through their mind. My own blinkered attitudes are maybe preventing me from understanding.
But many people's reaction to such bafflement is to go on the attack. To try and obliterate what they don't comprehend, push it away, get rid of it. And the level of abuse can be extraordinary, utterly extreme.
A friend of mine, who I've always seen as enviably liberal, open-minded, compassionate, turns out to have a surprising streak of prejudice.
Although in general she's very progressive about sexuality and sexual preference, and totally supports gay equality, when it comes to transgender men and women, she's relentlessly hostile. She absolutely doesn't get it, and doesn't want to.
Clearly a fan of Germaine Greer on this particular subject, she regards everyone transgender as self-deluded and perverse. She finds numerous ways of belittling and discrediting them - they're trapped in gender roles, they just want to dress up, there's no such thing as "feeling female" or "feeling male", they want to be castrated, they're attention-seekers. And so on.
Does she want to understand? Does she want to know their side of the story? Does she try to put herself in their shoes? No, no and no. She has her own reality-free interpretation of their behaviour, and she pursues it regardless.
I find her prejudice horrifying, shocking, perplexing, repugnant. I told her I couldn't agree with anything she said, but it had no effect. She's totally unaware of her blind spot and can't see past it. It's an odd and uncharacteristic quirk.