Sex and Gender: Enemy Divisions


Anytime I need a break or blog fodder, I turn to Gawker.com to get my fix. I agree with their political leanings most the time and the links they unearth. But sometimes their reporting strikes my inner icky chord of disappointment. Behold: “Who is the Hero Who Threw Tomatoes at Sarah Palin?

In case the title doesn’t make the story obvious, some dude in Minnesota pitched two tomatoes at Sarah Palin from a second story window. He missed her but hit a police officer and is now facing assault charges. The author lauds this as an act of heroism. I call I juvenile act of hate.

I dislike Sarah Palin. She embodies everything I detest about our media-saturated, sound-bite-centric, political three-ring circus. The woman represents none of my ideologies and I would never vote for her. I would also never do something as dumb as throw a tomato.

Commenters on the site pointed out that a tomato is not a bomb (it is more like a shoe) and that no-one was hurt. My issue isn’t the level of potential harm. My issue is human tendency to draw the “us vs. them” line in the sand and rationalize hateful acts.

A big problem many people have with Sarah Palin (and the Republican party in general) is that they use incendiary, divisive rhetoric that does not address real issues at hand. It’s hypocritical to criticize these acts and then laud a physical act of hate simply because you dislike the person on the receiving end.

This gets us nowhere.

I see this often studying sexuality issues in a liberal area. Abstinence-only supporters are the devil. Who cares what they think? Why listen to them? They’re the enemy and their thoughts are invalid.

During my first semester of grad school, we were discussing a book called “The Stranger Next Door” about a gay rights battle in a small Oregon town. Most students insisted on calling conservatives in the book “them” or “those people” the same rhetorical tactics employed by the very people they spoke against. I brought this point up and one guy became incensed, telling me I could never understand how they were the enemy.

Enemies, foes, them, the others. It is so easy for us to excuse rights violations when we think of people in this way. And it drives me bonkers.

If we are ever to move beyond these social schisms we must learn to talk to each other. Even if we disagree, we need to spend a few moments outside of the thought process that benefits us most. This does not mean we must endure acts of violence because another group deems it acceptable. But it does mean we should wag our collective fingers at acts that further such divisions instead of applauding it because we dislike a woman like Sarah Palin.

Besides, who throws a tomato? Honestly.

2 thoughts on “Sex and Gender: Enemy Divisions”

  1. One thing I’ve realized is that labels are evil- the phrase “divide and conquer” is meaningful- when faced with a force more than your own, if you are able to get them fighting with each other you have half as many people to worry about.
    A rule of thumb that has served me pretty well is “anyone who argues using divisive terminology like right/left/liberal/conservative etc etc etc is probably not able to look at things purely objectively”.

  2. Just discovered your blog and love it, but I could not let this one go. Republicans are not the only party that spread the politics of division. As a libertarian, I am just as appalled by the Democratic Party’s ability to create demons out of anyone who has achieved financial stability. Those people become “the enemy” as if they all got their money by cheating the poor. I hate it as much as I hate the poltics of the right, but I also do not throw the red fruit at any of them. šŸ™‚

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