Re: Politically Correct Theosophy?
Oct 18, 1996 01:36 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker
[writing to Alan Bain]
> I worked hard making the by-laws of the New York Lodge gender
> non-specific. Correct is when you make language non-gender
> specific. That is simply correct. What is NOT correct is when a
> man/woman does so in such an awkward manner/womanner that he/she
> seems to be throwing the change into your/your face.
You're making an important point here. When language implies that
women are somehow less capable or less deserving, it should be
improved upon. But we shouldn't be arbitrary and capricious in
picking terms that do not convey bias, training ourselves to get
angry over them ("raising our awareness?"), then denouncing people
that continue to use them.
The term "one of the guys" is, for instance, inclusive of women,
but because there's "guys" and "gals", someone may pick this term
as a symbol of oppression and decide to do away with it in public
When we're reviewing terms for bias, we need, I think, to consider
if the term primarily deals with men versus woman as classes of
people, or if it deals with masculine and feminine qualities.
Terms that denote women in an inferior role should be eliminiated,
like "woman driver", "It's a man's world", "workman", etc. But
terms that denote masculine or feminine qualities -- qualities
which can be shared by people regardless of physical plumming --
are perfectly fine.
Some terms like "brotherhood" I see as falling in this second
class. The term does not mean, as I see it, "a men's club, a place
where women are not invited because they can't make the grade." It
rather means a sangha or mutual support of a positive, masculine,
forthright, creative nature.
The term certainly can be targeted to mean whatever someone wants
it to, and it could be setup as a strawman in order to be shot
down for someone's political agenda. But apart from such
attacks, I see the term as a poetic way of expressing an
association and bonding of a spiritual, creative, masculine
(Fortunately, so far, "fatherhood" and "motherhood" haven't also
come under attack, as implying that only men or women or capable
of certain kinds of parenting.)
Terms that express masculine or feminine qualities are perfectly
fine, as long as they don't imply that only men or only women can
enjoy those qualities. And this works both ways. A term that
implies that only a man can succeed in business is just as bad as
one that implies that only a woman has intuition or some special
> Multiculturalism is another movement where Gresham's Law is in
> full effect. It started out as an "E Pluribus Unum" type of
> movement, recognizing the many that created the one. But too
> many have been using multiculturalism as a divisive force, a
> force to push people apart rather than to bring them together.
It may originally have been conceived to foster mutual respect
between people of different customs. But it seems to have
devolved into the creation of artificial ethnic groups, with
contrived customs based upon anscestor worship. I don't think
that someone can say that they have a "cultural heritage" based
upon one's greatgrandfather having been a slave in America, or
several dozen generations earlier, someone else's ancestor having
been a Greek slave in Rome.
In order to make inner progress, we need, I think, to free
ourselves of the biases and prejudices of the culture we find
ourselves in. This includes not only the affects of long-standing
traditions upon us. It also includes the changes that would be
externally imposed upon us by "social engineers" of various
political persuasions, each attempting to change people according
to their own standards.
Everytime someone attempts a makeover of us, changing our
thoughts, feelings, language, and behavior according to *their*
model of how things should be, we're faced with yet one more
obstacle to our hastened evolution and to our moving beyond the
status quo. (Except, of course, if we have associated with them,
and they hold a mentor, tutor, teacher, guru role in our lives.)
Granted, if we go into a certain cultural context, we have to
temper our self-expression accordingly. Like a woman in western
dress might be ill-received in some middle eastern countries. Or
looking someone in the eyes in Japan might be considered
aggressiveness, rather than being open and honest. But we are
putting on different "masks" appropriate to each situation.
What is important is that we use the keys given us by Theosophy to
explore the deeper meanings of things, even if we often find
ourselves having to keep our mouths shut, remaining silent about
things that would simply be misunderstood.
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