Freedom and fury: about being able to respectfully disagree

You have not really ever met anyone who is naturally as skinny as this girl? I have.

I wish I was more politically active than I actually am, at least in terms of writing. The fact is I am not only a hard worker but also, a little shy and somewhat afraid to express myself, because I am on the fringes of the conventional and as such, also of the unconventional (maybe most of us are? or not? that´s beside the point, though). I hate the word “minority” — seriously? Some of those deemed “minority” are far from actually being so. I also dislike labels, so that turns my defending some causes rather difficult, but here´s what I believe in a very summed up manner: everybody is just as much as equal as entirely different from each other, and that should be taken into account in any discussion about human rights.

Categories deny the fluidity of individuality and of life itself and in my opinion, they might propel even more discord — say one person is born and raised in India, from European parents — what is that person? Should one be categorized in terms of juridical nationality, of patriotic inclinations (if any — I don´t have any), of ethnic roots (if any is predominant, anyway), childhood cultural environment, mother tongue? How can I defend this person if he immigrates to the U.S.? Oh, as an immigrant, think of him as an immigrant. An immigrant, yes, but I haven´t heard of Sting having had any particular issues being a legal alien in New York, and remember, our guy probably is caucasian, although he might have a foreign accent, and well, let´s say he comes from a rich family. Not he — she, because our guy is a girl — he has undergone a sex reassignment surgery from male to female. Transsexual, then? Well yes, but let´s not forget she is also gay; more precisely, a lesbian? Well, she enjoys sexual and romantic relations with girls. She also firmly believes the USA should not close their facility in Guantanamo Bay and enjoys strictly monogamic relations.

Very few would admit to disliking freedom — of speech, of choice. One believes a particular conduct should be entirely forbidden when one deems that conduct unacceptable or damaging to society. Some of these unacceptable conducts are more or less universally shared as unacceptable, such as stealing or murder, but already with significant differences in how unacceptable they are. Others seem to be in the path of consolidating themselves as granted rights, but still provoke a lot of hate and questioning from many, even if not as openly or as much as before, such as having homosexual relations and relationships. Freedom of movement is a strongly debated issue with radically opposed opinions, and I see no path to consensus anytime soon — regional arrangements acknowledged. Freedom of gender? Well, the first ever genderless human lives in Australia — originally born a male, Norrie May-Welby has undergone sex reassignment surgery and then also felt a void while being categorized as a female, having pledged — and won — the right to declare being of unspecified gender. What about freedom of appearance? Can one be overly fat? Can one choose to be overly thin? What is overly anyway, and to whom? Sometimes yes, your body weight can result in health issues.

My approach is usually this: does it concern anyone but me and my happiness? If yes, what do you care? Is it about my body, my life choices, my love and sex life? I do not feel I have the right to impose on anyone my personal choices regarding those issues and I demand to be reciprocated. And even though I am a heterosexual female who is not uncomfortable with the original gender assignment, I do fight for a lot of what I consider being my rights: to go out for a drink alone with a guy without having him think I am necessarily willing to have sex with him; to be relaxed in a room with a lot of heterosexual men and not have to listen to piggish commentary about women and being called a feminazi when I ask them to stop objectifying women and finding it very normal. To live in the trenches of conventional is just as difficult as being entirely unconventional — there is actually no difference at all, which, I think, validates my point when it comes to _not categorizing_.

My point is, there is no standard profile to anyone and there is very little to be taken for granted in any struggle for any sort of freedom, and that is why I firmly subscribe to courtesy and dialogue when it comes to defending or arguing against anyone´s position. This is not only about humility, it is about freedom too. If the idea is to change what seem to be a strongly shared value, there is no point in imposing authoritatively to your readers or listeners everything you believe in. Can a feminist defend monogamy or enjoy cooking for her family? All gay men should vote for Obama? Can I still diet and try to lose weight even though I don´t think Lady Gaga is fat, nor that it should matter? Am I obliged to conform to the “movement´s” expectations about my behavior to be a part of the “movement”? Will I be attacked or banned from a feminist forum if I say, and that is what I believe in, Karlie Kloss was being as bullied for being “too thin” as Lady Gaga was for having gained weight? It is not the fault of some beautiful healthy skinny ladies that other girls harm their bodies to reach a particular ideal of beauty…

Honestly, no consensus will ever be built on fury, even if that fury is geared towards supposedly defending freedom. News flash: everyone defends freedom. The only difference is if it is my freedom or our freedom. And if it is our freedom, then I should respectfully hear what you have to say, and if I do, disagree in the same fashion.


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