July 2018
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dream (screaming in frustration about lookism) / when to speak up about prejudice with acquaintances

I was on a college campus with a group of students in their early twenties, laying around on the grass talking. One person started talking about how 'ugly' ze looked without makeup and styled hair (rumpling zir eyebrows, wiping off zir eyeliner, and mussing zir hair to show us). I said, "What's the difference? You look the same to me!" (implying that attractiveness is inherent, and that makeup is for decoration, not correction (in that layered meaning dreamspeak can have)) and some other person started explaining it to me, essentially tearing the first person down by saying how 'awful' ze looked without the subterfuge! and the first person nodded along, smiling, not defending zirself at all! I couldn't take it anymore and I ran off, a long ways away on the other side of the building, and SCREAMED out my frustration. As I was screaming, someone who looked like Adam Lambert (haha) came up to me and said, "I want to hear what you have to say" and I responded with disbelief at first but then told zir how I just couldn't stand lookism, and went into it in-depth, as ze listened intently and considered what I was saying. Then there was something with zir wanting to be with me and me saying that it would be too much of a clash of worlds, and then rushing off in magic coaches but that's blurry and not important.


This is the second time in as many weeks that I've had a dream where I screamed about lookism. (a Bel-definition of the word: lookism is the attitude that it is appropriate to rate the attractiveness of people (others and/or oneself) by external qualities. Lookism is prejudice based on one's own ideal for attractiveness, which may or may not match the societal ideal, and may or may not include more than one style of look. ANYTHING that says "x is more attractive than y" is lookist -- thus, saying that curvy women are prettier than slender women is just as lookist as the opposite). I think my dreams are using lookism as a stand-in for all prejudice.

I've been spending more time with people who haven't been hand-picked for their willingness to unlearn prejudice (like my LJ friends) and so I've been hearing a lot more lookism and sexism (which intersect really well as lookism is closely tied to gender -- ideals are often measured by how 'feminine' or 'masculine' they are). And I really don't know how to react. Because honestly if I spoke up every time someone said something prejudiced I'd be doing it every five minutes! it's how people relate! So I can't do it every time but I don't know how to pick the best times so I end up saying nothing. Apparently my spirit is getting so fed up with my silence that it is screaming when it gets the chance -- in my dreams.

How do you know when you know someone well enough to possibly embarrass them by pointing out that their mindset is prejudiced? I mean, I'm fine doing that with my deep relationships because I don't want deep relationships with prejudiced people, but with casual relationships? If it's one issue, it's so simple, but when it's an issue tied with five more issues, all of which together form the person's worldview, where do you even begin? I don't want to change anyone, necessarily, I just don't want to come away feeling like I've been silent in the face of prejudice when I should have taken the opportunity to speak up. And I don't want to be TOO bold and have someone close off to change when they might have otherwise realized their error. I just want to be true to my beliefs in a way that is not so harsh it gets shut out and not so gentle it isn't noticed. I really am not sure how to develop this balance. ((I'm not really looking for advice right now, because I feel like this is something I need to figure out on my own, but if you want to share your own experiences of confronting prejudice, they'd be very welcome.))

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(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣connate╠══
any experiences to share? ;-)
oceanid ══╣Bottles╠══
Personally I really struggle with that same issue. I'm not afraid to voice my opinions to close friends, whom either agree with me or highly respect my point of view. I struggle the hardest to voice my opinion at work, especially because the culture here can be rather judgmental of people who don't live life fitted to a particular mold. (Though I continue to work here because I do love the actual work).

If I can, I try to just say what I think in passing and not make a big issue about it unless pressed for more information. If I don't "feel" like the situation is appropriate for my own opinions, I'll remain silent. There have been a number of occasions when the other person's opinion was just so strong, I felt actually ill. But again, if this person is not a close friend and I suspect they will not be respective of my views, I find it better to ignore them and excuse myself and not subject myself that that sort of "mental torture".

Do you think Lookism is only applied to "attractiveness" or can it also be applied other things? For example, when I get on a late night train, I always try to avoid the carriages that contain people whom I view as potential "trouble makers", such as young teenagers, wearing ripped jeans and skateboards, or just anyone who doesn't look "clean cut" (not sure how else to say it without sounding judgmental). And I try and sit with people who appear to me around my age, well dressed etc. This is because I feel safer since people have been known to be attacked / robbed on the trains by the former (not to say the latter wouldn't do the same, but generally based on what the media tells us which is all I have to go by), so I do judge people based on appearance to protect myself. I'm not sure if you see this as Lookism, but I find it very difficult to "fight off" this internal "survival" way of thinking.
petite_mewsette ══╣╠══
The teenagers that you are afraid of may be more wholesome than the people you're choosing to be near. In high school, I dressed like that -- well, maybe I dressed even "scarier" than the people you're avoiding -- but I was a very nice, harmless, clean-cut kid. This applied also to most of my friends, who -- though some made poor choices about substance abuse -- would never accost a stranger and had a strong moral compass regarding violence and kindness to others.

Take, for instance, my friend E--. He was a huge guy, dressed gothic, with wild, curly hair, mutton chops and a tongue ring. He was a veritable Hulk even without his big boots on. He came trotting up to an old lady in a parking lot, who was extremely alarmed to see him standing there... offering to help her put her groceries into the car. :)

I'm not saying you shouldn't trust your gut. Sometimes we have intuitive feelings that I don't feel we should ignore. But sometimes looks can be deceiving. :)
oceanid ══╣╠══
Yep, that's why I mentioned in my post that "not to say the latter wouldn't do the same, but generally based on what the media tells us which is all I have to go by".

I should clarify that I don't at all judge people based on appearance at all for virtually anything else I can think of. The people I love the most in my life are covered in piercings, tattoos, cry "bloody murder" and as much as it breaks my heart, many of them so have substance abuse problems(aka, people my mother would never approve of ;) ), but I love them all so much, they have hearts of pure gold and I trust them with my life. I actually get told a lot by my co-workers that the people I am friends with don't seem to match me (which is absurd) because I am very "clean cut", no piercings, no tattoos, never even dyed my hair! Goodness, I don't drink alcohol, nor coffee or smoke lol. I get labeled "good girl" a lot, even though I think the term is just too strange.

On the flip side, working in the "corporate world", I've met one too many characters who are the exact opposite, though they are "well" dressed and clean cut. So much so I have had to file complaints to HR or confront them myself.

At the end of the day, I've (fortunately) never seen or been attacked on a train before, but I read about it (hence me mentioning the media, honestly if I didn't read the newspaper, I'd have no idea people could be attacked on trains! And the newspaper always seems to claim people with a "rough" appearance were the attackers) and know it's a real possibility. When I step on a train late at night, my intuition guides me and I sit around the people who I feel are safest to be with. Unfortunately, because I don't know any one on the train personally, I have nothing but their appearance to judge them with. I am completely against people who do judge based on looks, but in a situation like this? I'm often at a loss as what is the "right" thing to do, given I am absolutely terrified of ever being attacked :(

I consider myself to be an open-minded person, but the way my mind always seems to jump to conclusions in these sorts of situations always makes me wonder how open minded am I really? :( It's confusing.
petite_mewsette ══╣╠══
Well, I think that being biased in the social sphere is different from being biased when you're dealing with your safety. While weird frottage perverts seem to tend to be well-dressed, muggers seem to tend not to be.

I don't think it's wrong for you to get on the train car with clean-cut people if only because they're similar to you in appearance -- you aren't obvious there and maybe less likely to be targeted? Whereas when you're the one tidy-looking person in a train car full of people who dress in a more alternative or aggressive manner, you are more apparent and sort of the odd man out?

It is a tough situation to consider, but maybe "sticking with your tribe" is the best way to be safe.
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
But again, if this person is not a close friend and I suspect they will not be respective of my views, I find it better to ignore them and excuse myself and not subject myself that that sort of "mental torture".

That really resonated with me.

And as for your dilemma you presented... to sit with those who appear less suspect is a false sense of security. However, if I presumed everyone to be potentially harmful I wouldn't make it pass the front door!
ladywind ══╣Raven╠══
I'm incredibly confrontational with people I trust or people I'll never see again, and painfully indirect with the folk in between those two extremes.

Example: when I was in highschool, I was a member of a church that kindof fit me and a youth group that SO didn't. I wanted to know what was truth; for the most part, the rest of the group wanted to know what was in style. One year, we got a new guy, younger than most of us, but painfully bright and not very socially savvy. Didn't grok unspoken cues; didn't take hints. Asperger's can do interesting things to how a person processes interactions. I took to him, though, because he asked questions like, "When you dream, what are the camera angles?" and he had the same memory for comedians that I have for musicians. Finally a kindred spirit! So the social stuff, I tried to fill him in on like an anthropologist ("Generally when folk make W face or say X, they mean Y, and Z is what keeps them from saying it plainly or out loud. Except when it's something else. But Z's a safe bet. If you ask what their Z is, they might actually tell you; they might not. Either way, data."), and we got through group things together. Less alone.

Still, there was teasing and nastiness from some of the other kids. And one morning, before we left for some mission-type adventure, I waited till my friend had left the room and cornered the folk who'd been bugging him. "Hey guys? How about giving Rob a bit less grief, huh?"
"But he's such a little nerd. He's so clueless."
"Yeah, and you harassing him isn't doing much to give him a clue."
"But it's fun!"
"For you. Look. You guys want to do something besides flip burgers for a living once you grow up?"
"Yeah. Tell me, what do you think Bill Gates was like as a kid?"
"Think you might want to reconsider the way you treat cats like Rob? 'Cause they might well the ones signing your paychecks someday."

Best way to handle it? Maybe not. Intimidation and appeals to self-interest are base. But effective. They laid off of him, started actually listening when he spoke, and life got easier.


Jay Smooth at illdoctrine.com posted a video a little while ago about addressing the action instead of the mindset when confronting a prejudice, since addressing the mindset tends to send folk off on a defensive spin, derailing the whole conversation. Good stuff.
petite_mewsette ══╣╠══
People like me need more people like you. :) Godde bless for your kindness to that young man, I am sure he appreciated it!
ladywind ══╣Raven╠══
Only difference between him and me (besides a diagnosis of a on-Spectrum neuro-thing) was that by the time I was his age, I'd gotten the Intimidating Crazy Person vibe down pat, and had learnt to hide behind it to watch people. Rob was awesome, he just needed space to show folk he was awesome.

I'm'a go out on a limb, based on your profile here and your presence on Bel's list and guess that you're awesome, too. :) <3
petite_mewsette ══╣╠══
Aww. :) Thank you! That's so nice.

Me, I am still figuring out how to navigate the social waters. You'd think four years of college might have taught me that by now, but, it's a process! :D
oceanid ══╣╠══
I just have to chime in too and say I loved the way you handled yourself :)
saturnsdaughter ══╣╠══
Thanks for posting that video. I find a lot of people I know walk a fine line between trying to be funny and saying something that sounds genuinely homophobic or racist, and there are times when I've wanted to confront them but haven't known how to go about it. Keeping this video in mind will definitely help.
ladywind ══╣╠══
Glad to pass it on. :) The rest of Mr. Smooth's site has also been a source of inspiration and ah-ha moment for me.
aerialmelodies ══╣Blossoms╠══
Hmm... well, I think there are ways to bring up the topic without saying "You're wrong!" Maybe stop the person and ask "Why do you think XYZ? Have you thought about it this way instead?" and turn the problem into a conversation of ideas. Generally speaking, people are much more receptive when they don't feel attacked, even if you're not actually trying to attack someone. By starting up a conversation, you may not convert someone right away, but you can at least get the wheels turning. Sometimes people don't know any different, so the conversation could open up an entirely different way of thinking!

Of course, I may be thinking in terms of a closer relationship than one that is more casual. I don't tend to open up as much about my personal life to casual friends, so I'm not 100% certain that I'd be able to discuss certain topics in the manner described above. I'm horrible about following my own ideas and advice, argh.

By the way, this is the perfect time to let you know that your writings have started my own wheels turning! I try to think about things in a different way now, and hopefully am seeing things a bit more clearly. Hopefully. So thank you! :)
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
I relate to not knowing when to speak and when to let something slide as well. If it's a close friend, I will state my disagreement and why, sometimes more eloquently than others. If it's an authority figure, such as a teacher or boss, I will usually state a disagreement if I feel strongly enough as they are in a position that requires a lack of prejudice.

However, with a stranger I tend to not speak up. I have stated "Nah, I disgaree with that," without engaging in a debate where it was something I felt very passionate about but I generally feel I do not know strangers well enough to know if they're willing to grow or even see a need to.

It's really hard to know. Sometimes I only know by how I feel afterwards. If I should have spoken up and didn't, it eats away at me for ages afterwards.
girlslovegirls7 ══╣╠══
souds like you should write a book k!!! you should get your voice heard on a wider scale! and you dont have to put just your experiences on it. im proud of u big sis
finding_helena ══╣╠══
I tend to just say as casually and non-confrontationally as possible "I don't agree with that because _____" (inserting one-sentence summary of what I think.) This happens to me constantly at work.

I would limit such a statement to once per conversation probably, but it usually tends to put the kibosh on the blind prejudice for a short time at least.
clown_frog ══╣╠══
I'm not even going to attempt to give advice, because I have no idea! I find it very difficult to know when to speak up - and how to. Partly because often when people are saying things that are prejudiced it is said in a very casual manner, by the by, which makes it difficult to pick up on and respond to while still in the flow. If that makes sense. Then again, there is a helluva lot of prejudiced things said at work which I don't respond to because I don't think fast enough, or because I don't want to ruffle feathers in such a small organisation. I don't tend to talk to people, so to speak up only to challenge would not be popular. But I HATE it - like you say, its not necessarily wanting to change people (although I think a lot of the time people haven't stopped to think, and just giving them a reason to do so is enough. I find that with myself, at least, I don't realise i've been holding a belief as truth until challenged), but not wanting to be silent!

In really casual relationships I think I may be more likely to speak out. I stopped to help someone in the street the other day (he was carrying a lot of carrier bags and looked like he needed a hand), and was chatting away to him on the way to his flat. Surprised myself, as I'm pretty quiet, but it seems easier to speak to people when they are completely random. And alone and at my mercy!

There is a big difference between dealing with people with prejudice because it hasn't occured to them that it is prejudice, and people who are prejudiced because they think they are right (someone who is aware of their belief that men are natural rulers, for example).

Rather I should be saying beliefs held by people, and it isn't a fundamental difference between people! There are beliefs I hold as true and there are other beliefs I just haven't thought about. Gentle hints work with the second, but the first kind would require arguments. I'm trying to be aware of when I'm grouping people and then stopping, trying to live by the belief that everyone is individual.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.