Once again, something is kicking around in my brain, wanting to bubble to the surface as something meaningful, and I am linked to an article that shakes things loose.
Ever heard of cultural normalization? It's really just a sociology term called normalization, defined as "social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as "normal" and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life." I may have heard this term in college and forgotten about it, because the concept has been that thing kicking around my head for weeks and weeks.
The term came up today in a series of links related to the recent Facebook decision to change their policy regarding humor about rape and domestic violence. Specifically, in an article commenting on the thin line between humor and vulgarity and censorship through the eyes of one woman's barrage of rape-joke feedback after expressing her views on the topic. From How dangerous is it to be a woman on the internet with an opinion? by Clementine Ford:
Get upset over being told (as West was) that someone’s going to rape you with a traffic cone - even though they don’t even find you attractive - and you’re being ‘sensitive’ and taking things too personally. But tell a man you don’t like his joke about rape and it’s like Stonewall all over again. You might as well call him a RAPIST, which is like, the worst thing you can ever say to a man EVER. He’s not a rapist! He just thinks rape is funny! Not in real life, silly. Just fake life. Anyway, stop being so mean :(
There is some fascinating reading out there right now about this topic, but that wasn't where I was going with this. No, my topic today is my utter consternation that conservatives seem to have absolutely no idea of the power of culture on our society, so much so that I imagine they would argue that "normalization" does not exist. I have not yet had that conversation, but it is the conversations I've had and comments that I've read that leads me to this supposition.
Actually, all of this began a few months ago during some debates about gay marriage. I have never had my patience so tried as I did while I attempted to remain sane and calm listening to conservatives not attack gay marriage, but dismiss it out of hand as a states rights issue. The apathy I felt rolling in waves from the internet showed me the greatest chasm I have discovered yet between conservatives and liberals.
It completely blows my mind that virulently homophobic individuals will use normalization as a reason to oppose any sort of gay rights, but then conveniently forget the concept exists when it works against them. The "gay agenda" is in fact (a largely imaginary) example of normalization - allow gays an inch, they'll take a foot and suddenly gay marriage will be forced on everyone until the species dies out! But take these exact same folks and try to explain to them that allowing discriminating laws against gays (or allowing bullying against gays, or allowing gay slurs to go unchallenged, etc) is in fact normalizing homophobia, and watch them whip out their denials ala "hate the sin, not the sinner" fast enough to make your head spin.
Normalization is real. Culture is powerful. Stop denying it. Fight apathy as you would fight hate. Who is committing the worse crime, the criminal or the silent observer?