PHILIP'S BLOG: Bias – when will it end?
BY PHILIP PATSTON
Last night a friend of mine commented on a Facebook post saying that a young woman I know goes out with her daughter. Without thinking I replied, mentioning the young woman's name.
But then I thought, "What if the young woman is not out? Will naming her out her to her employer, the business' clients?" I quickly deleted my reply and just reacted to my friend's post with a ❤️.
I felt so conflicted by this, even though another friend suggested I was thoughtful to consider the risk. It dawned on me that, as far as we have come in promoting civil/human rights, there is still huge inequality in the perception of straight and non-straight relationships.
I wouldn't have thought twice had I been naming someone in a straight relationship. But I had to censor my reply in case of the ramifications of, if not blatant homophobia, at least subtle heterosexism.
This bias – and I refuse to call it 'unconscious' because anyone who isn't aware of is in serious denial – is incredibly sad and indelibly etched into our sociocultural norms. Marriage equality has given us the façade of being liberal but, unfortunately, the law doesn't change attitudes. In fact, it can often entrench bigotry and discrimination.
It's easy to blame people who aren't publicly out for perpetuating outdated attitudes, but that is heterosexist in itself. Even I have been in situations where I've omitted to be out, simply because it didn't feel safe (Kim Baker Wilson's recent article attests to the truth of this reality).
I have no answers, only the questions, "How long and what will it take for society to truly and authentically embrace diversity? When will the judgements – and particularly the expression of them – end?"
And one more question: Is it simply a matter of time?
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