Perception Is Violent?
Are you entitled to control how others view you?
A look into how social perception is becoming more important to some than individual thought and how laws may be supporting this idea.
Recently an app named MakeApp was released and caused a stir. It’s function is really no different from SnapChat’s Flower Crown Filter, except one makes you look like a Disney princess and the other… a meth addict (primarily in the instances of people using photos in which they aren’t wearing makeup) .
It applies a filter to try and show what a person may look like without makeup. Unfortunately many took the app as only a means for men to remove a women’s “camouflage” and determine whether a woman is really attractive or not.
Like a torrent of angry beavers, many began gnashing their maws about “Sexism!”. Thus I found myself enthralled with the tweet by Ryan above, “Removing someone's makeup with an app is a violent, misogynistic act.”
Ryan had further explained himself below his original tweet, but unfortunately I did not have the foresight to screen capture the other tweets. I’m also blocked by Ryan and cannot find the tweets. I will try to surmise what I recall, but I cannot perfectly quote him. I remember in his further explanation he said something akin to:
“What I mean by ‘Violent’ is that to forcibly remove someone’s preferred image or perception that they put out to others is harmful. People are entitled to the social perception they desire.”
This got me really thinking about social perception in the modern day and how it seems that others feel entitled to control how others perceive them. I of course vehemently disagree with that notion, NO ONE is entitled to control how I or others view them.
We see examples of this movement to control perception in other areas of life as well, for instance the issue of gender identities. Personally if you are a friend or if you are polite to me, I will gladly refer to you as either he or she. However in the cases of gender neutral pronouns like zie or zir, I’m not very comfortable using those. I firmly believe that using all these extra pronouns just serve to make life overly complicated.
The control of perception has unfortunately left the field of just social interaction and has begun it’s forays into establishing laws. The most widely discussed law is Bill C-16 in Canada that was passed with it’s Prime Minister stating “Great news: Bill C-16 has passed the Senate — making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression. #LoveisLove”
In the summary of the bill it states: “The bill is intended to protect individuals from discrimination… from being the targets of hate propaganda,”. So what does Canada’s Human Rights Commission consider “Hate Propaganda or Hate Speech”?
In Canada under the CHRA it is illegal for any person to make a statement which “is likely to expose a person or persons to ‘hatred or contempt’ by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
Of course this brings up a lot of criticism about censorship. “Is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” seems worryingly vague and brings the question “If I don’t adhere to someone's Gender Identity/Expression by not using their pronouns, will that constitute “Hate Speech”?
Of course in the summary of the law it also states: “It also adds that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on a person’s gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance for a court to consider when imposing a criminal sentence.”.
Several things bother me about this so lets start with the word bias. Bias could just be as simple as holding the opinion that some gender expressions aren't real, you now would get aggravating circumstances simply for disagreeing.
Next is aggravating circumstance the definition of which is: Factors that increases the severity or culpability of a criminal act. My problem with this is that the fact that evidence of bias, prejudice and hate are not needed to constitute a criminal offense, only an aggravating circumstance. So you can be charged with a hate crime when no bias, prejudice or hate has been proven.
The most notable critic of the law would be Jordan B. Peterson, he argues “Compelled speech has come to Canada,”… “The very idea that calling someone a term that they didn’t choose causes them such irreparable harm that legal remedies should be sought [is] an indication of just how deeply the culture of victimization has sunk into our society.”
Similar laws are even popping up in America with California passing Senate Bill 219 or the LGBT Senior Bill Of Rights.
A quick look at the bill and it states:
“ The bill would make it unlawful, except as specified, for any long-term care facility to take specified actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, including, among others, willfully and repeatedly failing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns, or denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring or refusing to transfer a resident within a facility or to another facility, or discharging or evicting a resident from a facility.”
If a nurse or caretaker uses the wrong pronouns out of malice and to hurt the feelings of the elderly person is it really the government's place to punish the nurse/caretaker? Wouldn't this problem be more simply solved by the employer of the nurse/caretaker reprimanding or firing them? With such laws it is not a far jump in logic to ask, should using the wrong pronouns be illegal in general if it’s the government's job to save people’s feelings?
Is denying someones preferred social perception so damaging that it should be likened to assault? Should one go to prison for not uttering the correct labels? Should the government be responsible for keeping your feelings from being hurt? Also to return to the topic of MakeApp, should altering someone’s photos be considered assault? We are approaching a time where such questions will be and are being answered by our laws.
In my opinion advocating that if your perception of someone else is not to their tastes that it constitutes violence is an attempt to control your thoughts. To people like Ryan above no one is entitled to their own minds/opinions, only to their images/identities.
Thanks for reading, please tell me your opinions. Do you agree or disagree? Am I completely wrong? Please let me know. Thank you.