Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The assumption of heterosexuality, the assumption of similar religiousity

This is a half-formed idea, so help me fix it.

In an otherwise useless college politics of sex class, I did learn one interesting term. People's tendency to decide without asking that other people are straight was termed "the assumption of heterosexuality."

Aside from being a great name for a Rolling Stones concert (doesn't the "Assumption of Heterosexuality Tour" have a nice rhythm?), this concept was really helpful in that it was a simple way to look at the way people silently marginalize others.

Transexual friends have told me that living as a man and living as a woman are different, but I can't look for that. I'm so used to shop clerks talking to me a little more and male co-workers listening to me a little less that it isn't something I can watch for. Never having lived as a man makes the differences iompossible to see, though I'm told shop clerks vs. male coworkers is a simple example of what they are.

If I were a different race, would person A be kinder to me and person B be colder? I haven't a clue.

But it's easy to watch for well-meaning people assuming others are heterosexual. It's a mistake I catch myself (and don't catch myself) making all the time. It's kind of a meditative civil rights exercise to watch for this.

Perhaps we should all try the meditative civil rights exercise on assuming that other people approach God differently, but that everyody means well. (I'm guessing this is one of those things that the ministers learned to to in Div school, but it sounds both unobvious and worth trying in my head.) And trying not to talk like our way is the central way and any other way is an amusing variation on our way.

(As Peregrinato pointed out, I myself wrote in some assumptions as recently as a few hours ago.)

I don't delight in Christian language, but I honestly don't want to drive Christians from my church. I assume that the rough contrapositive is people who do delight in terms like "Lord" and don't want to drive athiests away either.

As a former Christian and a former Athiest, I hereby apologise for any Christians or Athiests who have wronged you.

Can we start from there?

CC

2 comments:

Satori said...


Perhaps we should all try the meditative civil rights exercise on assuming that other people approach God differently, but that everyody means well. (I'm guessing this is one of those things that the ministers learned to to in Div school, but it sounds both unobvious and worth trying in my head.) And trying not to talk like our way is the central way and any other way is an amusing variation on our way.


Probably a very good idea, especially in a church that, at least ideally, has a set of principles instead of a creed, and is supportive of each member's personal journey and beliefs.


As a former Christian and a former Athiest, I hereby apologise for any Christians or Athiests who have wronged you.


Not only is that not necessary, I don't think it's particularly helpful. As someone who has gotten grief from *some* Christians since I was a child growing up Jewish in a very non-Jewish suburb, it would be as silly of me to expect you to apologize for the other kids telling me I killed Jesus as it was for them to say such a thing.

Apologizing for what others do doesn't help anyone, in my opinion. What does is each of us having the courage to tell others who share our general worldview when they're being inconsiderate, and especially when they're being bigotted.

Anonymous Poster said...

I liked the way that you said "assumption of smilar religiousity."

At various times, I have had religious people express shock that I am not a Christian and had secular people express shock that I went to church.