Monday, May 14, 2007

If I Were In That Situation I Wouldn't

In discussions of rape and other forms of sexual hostility and exploitation I often see people using their projection of what they would do in a situation to discount serious realities which harm real people. From there they justify doing nothing about those harms or even advocating for undoing systems which help people who have experienced great sexual trauma.

I see this when people dismiss the scope and problem of acquaintance rape into something completely preventable by the victim and I see it when people talk about prostitution as if nobody is objectively traumatized by the experience. To them any trauma is self-inflicted.

The basic flaw in these projections is that they aren't based in reality. The "If I were to do X ..." by it's very nature in this context makes the action a completely willing action with all consequences known. The speaker assumes in this theoretical situation that those who do X have all the resources and knowledge the speaker has. This assumption is implicit in the "If I ..." structure but is often treated as if it isn't there.

These people don't understand the full scope of problems they are projecting themselves into but instead of saying they don't understand them, they pretend they understand the problems with absolute clarity. To those who have been in the situations these people project themselves into, they look like arrogant fools who only care about what happens to people like themselves.

Think about a projection which discounts an experience such as "When I go out my front door I have to grip the handrail to get safely down the front steps. So handrails on steps are needed." The projection by those who either don't want handrails or want them to be optional everywhere is often "If I were to go down those front steps, I wouldn't have to grip the handrail."

Those doing the projecting aren't truly putting putting themselves where the original speaker was, they are adding certain elements to their own environment and omitting certain elements of the other person's environment and basing their judgment on that altered reality. This is like me saying, "When I look out my window, I see freezing rain coming down" and someone looking out their window, seeing the sun shining and deciding that I'm either insane or a liar.

We are different people in different situations, but the projection discounts this basic truth.

Because the other person wouldn't fall on theoretically dry steps I shouldn't fall on steps coated with an inch of ice. There is also an implied slur on anyone who needs a handrail when the steps are dry.

Those doing the projecting often present themselves as smarter than the rest of us, but their projections instead reveal their ignorance.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:45 AM   1 comments links to this post


At May 16, 2007 11:12 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

Yes! Good writing. Context matters more than most people can think.


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