“Fear is a very loaded word.”


This comment was by Mostly_123 on the post Male Sexuality is Threatening Because We Don’t Understand It.

‘Fear’ is a very loaded word.

Bias, disdain, resentment, and hate all connote an arbitrary measure of cruel selfishness; whereas ‘fear’ connotes self-awareness and self-preservation. Because of this, fear is often used to justify and legitimize prejudice—a justifiable fear (and really, what fears can’t be justified, in some way) can be used to justify, rationalize, or even enshrine a prejudice. But so many people seem to forget that understanding and/or rationalizing a prejudice is NOT, and should not be the END of the process, it’s only the middle.

The end of the process should be overcoming the prejudice—one might need to understand a prejudice first, and even rationalize it existence to themselves; but that’s not the end. Stopping in the middle ensures a perpetual cycle of hate & fear. Indeed, it has reified it; it’s elevated the fear/hate to something normal, healthy, expected, and sustainable—not something to be deconstructed and overcome.

People like to feel good; and though it feels bad to fear or to hate, it feels GOOD have the satisfaction, the piece of mind, that comes from knowing that that fear or hate IS somehow justified. It takes a lot more work, reflection and introspection to explore and overcome a prejudice; it’s an open-ended commitment with no guarantees, and moreover, unlike a prejudice, it puts the onus squarely on us, rather than the thing we’ve become comfortably prejudiced against. And a lot of the time, that DOESN’T feel good; it feels like work. It takes more effort to overcome something than it does to accommodate something.

It’s much easier to justify prejudices than it is to transcend them. So, it’s not enough to just validate someone else’s fear or prejudice—that just normalizes, enables, and perpetuates it. It’s not always possible (or wise) to validate someone who holds a rigid perspective to the degree that they want and expect to be validated; unless you’re looking at things through the same ideological prism.

photo: allthehopeintheworld / flickr


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  1. Mostly_123, I always like your posts. This one is particularly interesting about fear. May I recommend that you right a column about the 4th Amend, US Constititution.

    “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…” I would like to hear a different perspective…even if it’s bit off subject or using a news story of the day. At least consider it.

  2. OirishM says:

    Very glad this got comment of the day!

    Yes, fear is used to justify things like Schrodinger’s Rapist, but it’s also been used in the “black men coming to rape our women” meme as well. Subjective fear-based reactions that involve generalisations about non-essential characteristics like rape or gender are always wrong.

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