Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

Discussion in 'Literature' started by CooperTFN, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

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    I heard a few of Mitt Romney's sons are going to play Imperials in 7...
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  2. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Justified, no, but I explained that they are different, functionally because they are.

    Racism is based on nothing. There are no differences and therefore it is entirely a mental construct. If you rendered a human being unable to recognize racial characteristics they would never notice different gruops in society, and the idea that people were being treated differently would register as absurd.

    However, if you rendered someone unable to recognize gender, they would still notice that half of humanity behaved and functioned differently than the other half. The same with species. JediFreac mentioned multi-personalities in the Thakwash - that's a species trait. To them it is natural, but in humans it is an illness we try to erase.

    Therefore it is possible to present a 'Color-blind' society, which is what Star Wars does (whether or not this is believable or should even be the goal is irrelevant at this point), but it is not possible to present a 'Gender-blind' or 'Species-blind' society.

    As a result, when the problem is insufficent diversity, the solution varies depending on which category you are on within the Star Wars universe. Racial or ethnic diversity can be addressed simply by randomizing the appearance traits against whatever target demographic breakdown you want. In a video game context this can even be done literally. You cannot address issues regarding female characters, alien characters, or even droids so simply.

    The point is you can't double-count. If you want to say the Epicanthix and similar species are poorly designed species that reflect prejudiced attitidues out of universe, fine. If you want to say that such Near-Human species aren't really their own species and are actually proxying racism in the Star Wars context, fine, say that, but you can't make both attacks at the same time.

    And yes, many science-fiction settings use speciesism as a metaphor for racism. I really hate that tendency, because it's bad biology (fantasy is different, since fantasy generally ignores science outright) and bad method of instruction. Learning to tolerate brain-eating tentacle monsters is not the same as learning to ignore cosmetic variations in human appearance.
  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    [face_laugh]





    I'm going to regret asking this, but...tell me how it is that women "behave and function" that is so different from how men "behave and function"?

    Keep in mind that in order to justify sexism, as you are attempting to do, your construct must apply to all women.

    My take on this is that if we were to render a person gender-blind, that person might ask why some people grow facial hair more easily than others, and why some people have these nice chest protrusions and others don't. And of course they'd notice a difference if people walked around naked.

    Other than that, there is absolutely no construct whatsoever that can apply to all members of one gender. Not even size. I'm 5'7", which isn't excessively tall, but I've met several men who are shorter than I am.

    And stereotypes and generalizations are for people who are incapable of thinking of others as individuals. We may have a tendency as humans to want to lazily box other people into categories in order to simplify our thought processes, but we also have a moral obligation to get away from stereotypes as stereotypes lead directly to exclusion at best and bigotry at worst.

    As far as species--addressing every species in Star Wars would take too much of a wall of text, but just to give a few example, Orn Free Taa acts quite a bit like many humans in both the SW universe and real life, although he is a Twi'lek. So do Ahsoka Tano and Shaak Ti, although they are Togruta.
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  4. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    HIS NAME IS STEPHEN AND HE HAS FEELINGS

    Honestly, I think that's probably pretty much what he meant. His other recent posts make it clear he's talking about basic biological differences, not, like, "enjoys shopping".
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Jan 15, 2013
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  5. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    I hope so, but he did mention "behavior."
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Jan 15, 2013
  6. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    I, for one, love Gands. (It's worksafe, folks, I just didn't feel like plastering it all over the tread.)

    And backtracking a bit to the Force eliminating mental conditions... The Jedi Temple in the NJO has a psychiatric cellblock in its detention center, for use in detaining Force-sensitive individuals who were affected by Force Psychosis. Ysalamiri keep their abilities in check and prevent escape. Basically, it's just a holding cell. The Asylum Block was built at considerable expense, and I doubt that this is the first time that it was used. Nor would it be the only time. Like it or not, mental illness exists, and even the NJO has to deal with it.
  7. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Yes behvaior, such as urinating while seated rather than standing, or menstruation, or similar activities.

    And for a concrete example of how the difference between race and gender applies in the real world, look to law enforcement. Legally, a police officer is blind to race (yes, yes, this is in theory, people are imperfect and the rest), race and ethnicity cannot be taken into account during proceedings at all. On the other hand, gender is taken into account often. A male officer can only search a male subject, a female officer must search a female subject (and for the curious, a male officer has to search the male parts of a transgender individual and a female officer the female parts). Similar requirements govern holding and transport policies.
  8. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Something about the word behavior doesn't fit those things for me. To me, and perhaps I'm wrong, behavior is not about body functions we have no control over - its about what we can control.
  9. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Well, women could pee standing up if they really wanted to...wait, what are we talking about again?
  10. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Er, yeah, those reflect policy preferences. You were just talking about how race is a construct -- so are gender roles. If you want to really bring law into this (which is kind of pointless, since that's only a product of the society that creates it), then you should note that discrimination based on race and discrimination based on gender (both considered immutable characteristics) are equally prohibited under the law of the United States and that the different levels of judicial scrutiny applied to laws which facially burden those protected classes reflect a policy preference towards ameliorating historical animosity and disadvantages rather than some sort of absurd assertion that one sort of discrimination is permissible because there are reasons to discriminate while the other is not because there are not reasons to discriminate.

    We're not contesting that race and gender are treated differently. That's patent; what you're being asked to defend is your assertion that sexism is different from racism because there's a biological basis for it. Yet the indicia of racism is not disparate treatment on the basis of biological function, but disparate treatment on the basis of social roles. There is no basis for that, whether biological or societal.

    The biological differences are a sham. They're completely irrelevant to the argument that racism and sexism are both unjustified forms of discrimination that does not reflect the fact that we are all members of the gens humana.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Jan 15, 2013
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  11. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    If I recall, there was a study done that said that women viewed the world with a more emotional level of detail, while men tended to view the world superficially. Of course, there would be exceptions to this. But, I recall seeing that somewhere, some years back. I could be mistaken, though.
  12. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Dammit Rob, I control my menstruation all the time. I time it perfectly, I tell myself when I'm allowed to bleed. :p

    You've been camping or hiking with a woman, haven't you? ;)

    I call bull**** on that study; seems the so-called researcher was looking for a nice neat stereotype.
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Jan 15, 2013
  13. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    There's always some study going on to that effect, but it's hard to unmoor findings like that from the influence of gender roles. I could "prove" with a study that women prefer pink, but it'd be a learned trait, not a biological one.
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  14. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    There was a local store called "Libby Lu's" (I think) that looked like it had been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol. Every time I walked by it, I was thankful that both of my children are boys.

    I hate pink. I also hate Valentine's Day because every Target looks like a ****ing Bubblicious factory exploded in it.

    But I digress. Lies, damn lies and statistics. I don't even know about "learned behavior," as my mother is one of the biggest girly-girls you'll ever meet.

    The bigger point is that people take such "studies" and use it to justify sexism, or racism, or other forms of bigotry. In the context of this thread--if a study came out that Twi'leks had smaller brains, it could be used to prove that Twi'leks aren't as smart as humans and that humans should rule them.
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  15. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Bib Fortuna did fall for the Jedi Mind Trick pretty easily.
    Last edited by Robimus, Jan 15, 2013
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  16. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Yes, both are prohibited, but what is discrimination is not the same in both cases. A black man performing a patdown on a white man, or the reverse, is not discriminatory. A man doing the same on a woman, or the reverse, is discriminatory.

    If race and gender are different, how are prejudices based upon those traits not different? They are equally bad, sure, I'm not saying that's not the case, but they don't manifest the same way. Racism is disparate treatment based on race a set of characters that many people, including most racists, believe imply some kind of difference (whether biological, theological, or cultural), but that is in fact illusory. Sexism is disparate treatment based on a set of characterists that are, at least in part, actually different across gender boundaries.

    What I'm asserting is that the potential solutions are different. For race, because there is ultimately no difference of consequence, you can eliminate racism by eliminating recognition of race itself. This is the 'post-racial' or 'color-blind' setup, and, critically for this thread, this is the solution that Star Wars posits. Many people don't like this idea, they prefer a 'color-conscious' solution, one that reflects and treats different 'races' with some form of accomidation. That's as may be, but if the issue is gender, or species, that's the only possible form of solution. You can't produce a 'gender-blind' society or a 'species-blind' one, nor does Star Wars attempt to do so.

    So yes, within Star Wars at the least, these facets of diversity are treated in wholly different fashion.
  17. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    I don't know if you are not aware of the large body of research deconstructing race and gender (as you define it) as social constructs, but just to add some complexity to this discussion...

    Racism isn't based on "nothing," it is sadly based on visual difference in physical appearance and humans' tendencies to self segregate and prefer those who are like them. There is no scientific basis for a sense of superiority and the categories themselves shift on social whims, but the difference is such that even babies can see race--they are not "colorblind." Babies can also recognize gender, though I don't know what they would make of a woman with a deep voice or someone cross dressing or someone intersex. Babies can also tell the difference between human faces and monkey faces.

    I really don't understand the "if you rendered a human unable to recognize" stuff because even babies (and in the Star Wars universe, twi'leks) are able to see physical differences in skin tone and hair color. In fact, humans in Star Wars are clearly able to do this, too, regularly commenting on the red-gold of ladies hair. Babies don't make a prejudiced judgment call automatically but they quickly learn to by the time they are toddlers.

    The "if someone couldn't see gender they would still notice gender" argument doesn't make sense, either. Like I've said ad nauseaum in this thread, if alien anthropologists visited modern day Americathey might draw conclusions such as, "there is a continuum of gender and most people fall on one end or another with some in the middle, but these people try and pretend that people are just one or the other and make people fit in one or the other category. The ones called males are treated better in this society." Or, they might observe, "Based on a number of different markers such as intelligence there seems to be little to no substantial difference between those with light hair or light skin or dark hair or dark skin; however we note substantial self segregation and those who have light skin clearly occupy higher social strata."

    That observation does not automatically make our world colorblind. Nor does it make Star Wars colorblind. If Star Wars were colorblind there would simply be more human diversity. Lucas Publishing would not have told the author of Invasion to make the Galfridians white. If alien anthropologists noted the humans in Star Wars they would also conclude that humans in Star Wars self segregate and that white humans and male humans are treated better in society."

    The aliens would probably also observe, in our world and in GFFA, "Despite their protestations that these categories of gender and physical appearance are treated equally this is clearly not the case."

    Repeatedly the stating that the SWEU is colorblind is a classic writer's failure of "telling" instead of "showing." George Lucas telling us that podracing is "wizards" does not actually make it wizards. (Likewise, parents can insist to their children all they want that they are colorblind or gender neutral and kids can still observe otherwise through observing interactions.)

    It is not an "attack" it is a critique. And I am making both critiques because both are true.



    Tl;dr Star Wars isn't colorblind because the humans and the human actors in Star Wars all have skin tones.
    Last edited by JediFreac, Jan 15, 2013
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  18. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Sexism, last I checked, doesn't exactly hinge on ovulation. It's based on imagined differences--perceived behavior, societal roles, etc--not real, biological ones. Just like racism.
  19. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    No -- discrimination is disparate treatment. Someone performing a patdown on a person of opposite gender is not discrimination.


    They're both meritless. Are you saying that there hasn't been a female president or that male-preference primogeniture existed for centuries in the UK royal succession because women pee sitting down? That's a contention so absurd that I feel guilty even trying to figure it out, because it feels like such a ridiculous strawman.

    The point is that the biological differences between the genders do not justify disparate treatment. I know you're trying to "explain" that one is based on real traits and are claiming you're not trying to justify it, but it's a really bizarre point to try and make.

    Why... not? Are you saying that discrimination in favor of men cannot be eliminated because, gee, people will notice that boys have weewees and girls don't? I'm sorry, but do you think the human species is profoundly stupid?

    I'm really struggling to stay polite here, but I'm having great difficulty. Please explain to me why BASELESS discrimination cannot be solved by simply not thinking in gendered terms because boys and girls have different parts.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Jan 15, 2013
  20. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Removing our OOU look at the Star Wars Universe, what canonical (in universe) proof do you have that would back this claim?
  21. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Assuming the alien anthropologists have access to the same history that we do, such as wookieepedia, and can only extrapolate from the evidence they have...some examples.

    - Human men disproportionately outnumber human women in military, political, and Jedi spheres.

    - Every human that has held the highest political office on a galaxy-wide level (Supreme Chancellor, Chief of State, Emperor) has been a light skinned human. This seems to be consistent ranging from Valorrum to Mon Mothma to Cal Omas to Roan Fel.

    - A majority of famous human military leaders are documented as having light skin over the course of several different generations from Revan to Bel Ibis to pretty much every Imperial Moff. They are also almost always male.

    - The Jedi order is disproportionately comprised of light skinned human males, especially Luke Skywalker's reformed New Jedi Order. One class of students was almost entirely comprised of light skinned humans including Waxarn Kel, Miko Reglia, Wurth Skidder. Nearly all the humans on Skywalker's Jedi Council were light skinned human men and all were light skinned human. At another point the Praxeum, all enrolled human students in a graduating class were light skinned humans: Solo siblings, Tenel Ka, Zekk, Raynar Thul, Eryl Besa, etc. There is no documented evidence that any Solo sibling interacted with a dark skinned human peer at any point during their education. (Assuming that humans of all genders and skin tones are equally likely to be Force sensitive and have Force potential, there must be some bias involved, unless light skinned human males are truly the most worthy of leadership, which goes against the argument that the GFFA is colorblind and gender blind.)

    - Entities that claim to be egalitarian and represent organizations like the Rebel Alliance, such as the illustrious Rogue Squadron, have human membership almost entirely dominated by light skinned human men. There may also be women in Rogue Squadron rosters but again they are almost all if not all light skinned human women. Out of the entire history of Rogue Squadron, there is only one recorded leader who was a human woman with dark skin, compared to several human leaders with light skin, mostly male.

    - Light skinned humans dominated the leadership of the Rebel Alliance at key battles, and went on to dominate most of the human leadership in theaters during the Yuuzhan Vong War as well.

    - Despite several generations having passed, important galactic families such as the Chume family of Hapes, the Skywalker and Solo families, the Halcyon/Horn family, etc. all seem to have intermarried and only had children with other light skinned humans.

    - Systems of government tend to position women in lower positions...the Grand Master of the Jedi
    Council is nearly always male and if human, light skinned. The Empire blatantly discriminated against women. All of the Imperial women who managed to even climb the ranks were light skinned. Queen Amidala was disparaged by the Nemodians not jut for her age but for being a "girl." Most Wookiees running around in the galaxy and making historic impacts are males, conversely most over sexualized Twi’leks are female.

    - Several important documented recorded feats and events were accomplished by groups of all light-skinned humans, yet it is difficult to find a single historic feat accomplished by a group of darker skinned humans.

    - An important historical figure known as "the Chosen one" was a white human male. A number of important historical figures are light skinned human males (Zayne Carrick, Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Cade Skywalker...even the woman who was frozen and helped them was light skinned.)

    (The only text that seems to break this down is Legacy, where you see Skywalker love interests who are nonwhite and even nonhuman, more than one character of color can be present in a scene, and Rogue Squadron is led by a woman of color. I would argue that the vast majority of history the alien anthropologists would have access to would lead to these findings. From there, they could draw a number of conclusions...but a galaxy wide societal preference for light skinned human males would likely be the simplest interpretation to make.

    If the authors of the EU wanted to shape this GFFA so it wouldn't lead to this conclusion, they could tell more diverse stories.)
    Last edited by JediFreac, Jan 15, 2013
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  22. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    For that matter, the main casualties in at least the first X-Wing book? Several aliens and women. I'm sure you can all remember the chapter that went on and on about how Lujayne Forge, a moving piece of background, was THE HEART OF THE TEAM THAT WILL NEVER BE LIKE PORKINS! And Andoorni Hui had very few lines, all of which could be printed on a single page and you'd still have space left. The women's starfighter piloting skill was below that of the males (with Ooryl Qrygg, a male Gand, being the lowest-scoring of the males) and it was only after they were let in on Corran's magical secret, did they actually achieve higher combat scores.
  23. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    So we shoudn't segerate public bathrooms by gender now? That is a form of disparate treatment. I think it is a non-discrimatory form of disparate treatment (or at least, it arguably is), but it is certainly a fashion of treating the two genders as not the same. Are you really arguing that a completely unisex society is some sort of viable status for Homo sapiens?

    That's the point I'm making. We do things that seperate the genders in our society. Some are discriminatory, many in fact, but some are not. And some of those things are such that, if we segregated them by race, it would be considered discriminatory, bathrooms serve as a good example again.

    Of course, species differences can be far broader than gender differences. Can a Hutt climb stairs? Probably not. Therefore building any construction that Hutts might expect to use where stairs provide the only access to a location would be considered discriminatory against Hutts (much as it is to certain classes of the disabled today). Altering access therefore has a cost, it is not 'baseless.' It may not be justified (in the US we get into legal messes about undue burden and the like at this point), but requires an actual physical action to be taken.

    Yes race can be obsevered without reason, but you just stated that the judgment call is learned. Hypothetically, and this is all about the theory here, you could produce a human society such that this judgment never was learned, because there was no reinforcement (now granted this might require some sort of genetic modification give self-segregation tendencies). If you did that, if you somehow removed racial identity from the human conciousness, there would be no need to treat anyone who displayed any of the different appearance-oriented traits that add up to race any differently.

    If you somehow removed all notion of gender identity from the human consciousness, I am positing that there would be differences in how the type x and type y phenotypes ultimately ended up across the spectrum of society. I don't know exactly what those would be, because the social science is indeed very suspect, but they would be something.

    If you extend out to species this gets rather more substantial. In C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun Trilogy there is a species known as the Regul. The Regul undergo an amphibian-style metamorphosis in order to become adults. Both the young and adults are sentient, but in the society of the Regul the young are not persons, and may be destroyed at any time for any reason. In the face of that mentality, if you remove boundaries of species and say that everyone is the same, people are going to die.

    Are whites really treated better in Star Wars? Or are they simply more abundant? The demographic numbers of certain Star Wars products are certainly skewed towards a white-dominated society, but if we had some way to measure the socioeconomic status of all those characters would we really find that non-whites are worse off? I don't think it's even possible to measure such a thing with the information we have available.

    I grant that the Jedi Council of the New Jedi Order is overly dominated by white men, but that is a specific institution at a specific point in time and has more to do with a sort of inter-author nepotism than anything else. It is quite possibly the least diverse example in the EU. The Jedi High council of the final old Republic years certainly wasn't dominated by white men, until Obi-Wan joined it didn't even contain one for at least a decade.

    While this is a trend, it is not absolute. Counterexamples include Blotus, a Hutt, and Leontyne Saresh, a female Twi'Lek (who is the Supreme Chancellor in the second half of TOR).
    Last edited by Mechalich, Jan 15, 2013
  24. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Bathrooms? That's your answer to a question about solving baseless discrimination? Have we gone from a discussion about how sexism has to be cured differently than racism to a discussion about how gender discrimination is a good thing? Because that seems to be what you're driving at now.

    Well, that's fair enough. All this time I took you at your word that you weren't trying to justify gender discrimination, but rather explain why it would be different than racism. But here you are, justifying gender discrimination.

    Glad you could be honest about it, at long last.
  25. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    So we shouldn't have bathrooms seperated by gender? Or sports teams? Or high school kids on school trips? Or anything at all? We should allow male officers to search women and vice versa? That's a rather radical position to take - labelling absolutely every action that seperates the genders in any way as discriminatory. The consequences seem awfully dangerous to me, rather likely to increase the rate of sexual assault among other things.