28 March 2012

Where Intentions Meet Perceptions

Discussions often go awry because of misunderstandings; it is especially common in predominantly text-based discussions, but it happens in face-to-face ones too. Often, it is a simple matter of semantics, where two people define a word differently, and the problem is usually resolved as soon as each person makes their definition clear. Sometimes, though, as I have observed recently, the problem has more to do with a perceived insult where none is intended. Words can be fluidly interpreted, and often, multiple interpretations can be equally valid. Some words may have a meaning that a person was unaware of, or a connotation that is known to one group, but not another.

Perception is a powerful thing, and is by nature more subjective than objective. It often takes effort to look outside your own perspective and see why another person finds something insulting. There are many expressions of this problem, but I will only address the few that have cropped up in my world lately. I'm not even going to go into people who refuse to listen to any point of view that doesn't agree with their own, since the 'you're wrong, I don't care what you say, la la la la' argument is just childish and trying to reason with it is pointless.

First up, the simple perceptual misunderstanding, or a perceived offence due to phrasing or terminology. This is a pretty common problem, related to semantics, but usually more personal.
Example 1. An analogy comparing two things may seem apt to the one who makes it, but another person may

14 March 2012

When Religious Freedom Isn't

The news these days is full of things pertaining to 'religious freedoms', particularly in America. Most of these are proposed legislations championed by religious zealots, not to preserve their freedoms, but to quash other people's. Religious freedom is the freedom to believe (or not) in whatever you like, and act according to your own conscience and morality. Dictating what other people are allowed to do with their own body is not religious freedom, it is theocratic oppression. I find it ironic that many of these same people harshly criticize Islamic states for their treatment of women, and yet are just as guilty of misogyny, albeit using different means.

I am speaking of several new laws which have passed or are about to be passed, such as this blatantly discriminatory one in Arizona, which will allow employers to withdraw insurance coverage for birth control unless provided with proof that it is prescribed for non-sexual purposes, such as acne or hormone control. So firstly, a woman would have to show her employer her medical files, detailing her menstrual, skin, or other personal problems, just to be able to get a prescription covered that is perfectly legal and covered by the insurance plan already. How does this support anyone's religious freedom, exactly? Secondly, and more importantly, a woman who has every right to have her prescription covered for whatever reasons she uses it, can have that right taken away by some bigoted fanatic who thinks everybody should live by his/her rules. Not that any woman isn't entitled to have sex whenever she chooses to, but under this law, even a married woman who has decided with her partner that they are not yet ready to have children can have her coverage taken away.

Why, you may ask, is this law being passed?

13 March 2012

The Confusion about Nice Guys (TM)

  I have been involved in several conversations lately concerning The Nice Guy (TM), who is not in any way related to a person who is actually nice. In these exchanges, I have noticed two factors which tend to bog down the concept with pointless bickering and name calling (on both sides). First, there is often confusion as to what separates the Nice Guy (TM) from a guy who is genuinely nice, and how to tell them apart. Second, some people are unable to understand why the Nice Guy (TM) is received with such venom, and why they are regarded as misogynistic creeps. I'll try to clarify both of these, but I think a part of the problem might be due to 'branding'. Although the Nice Guy (TM) does pretend to be a nice person, the name is a bit misleading for a passive-aggressive narcissist with entitlement issues, so let's call him PANE for the purposes of this post. It seems appropriate.

  A PANE is not a nice person. A PANE often thinks that they are nice, but has little to no consideration for others and has trouble viewing anyone around him as a complex person with emotions of their own. A PANE is usually hideously insecure. A PANE is someone who will profess friendship (and only friendship) to a woman, and will go out of his way to provide emotional or financial support, all in the hopes that she will be so impressed by his 'niceness' that she will seek an intimate relationship with him. The PANE often has an idea of 'what women want', which is usually a shallow understanding of romantic idealism (flowers, candles, door-opening & paying for dinner) and agreeing with everything she says. When she does not seek a more