Venting, Inventing and Preventing Beardism
By ice rivers
We all know that isms exists. Some isms are active but, seemingly polite. Most isms are simply passive. They hide themselves in etiquette even as they damage. They are in sinister ways even more dangerous than the aggressively active isms.
Let me illustrate this by inventing "beardism".
I have had a beard for many years. Beards go in and out of fashion. Sometimes, like now, my beard is generally accepted.
Other times not so much....
I have experienced active "beardism" as in " Hey weirdo, when are you gonna shave that fucking thing off your face" or "what are ya, a goddamned communist. If you don't like this country get the fuck out" etc.
I have experienced passive "beardism" as in "Oh, I like his beard" and in private (the same person) "we're not gonna give this job to a guy with a beard".
Another form of passive beardism goes like this. The active beardist says " Why don't you scrape all that food off your beard Jerry Garcia and feed it to your goddamned dog." The passive beardist, overhearing this activity just laughs.
To counter all this, there is active third party non beardism. Instead of just laughing, the third party active non-beardist might/should answer the active beardist rants with this comment." I recognize and reject your attempt at beardist intimidation but thanks for illustrating it with your observation".
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as passive non-beardism. If we don't object, we approve.
One current example is the current Republican response to Donald Trump. At first the "establishment" politely laughed off his sexist xenophobia. They should have stopped winking and laughing a long time ago because now it might be too late. Trump's form of "beardism" is becoming the definitive platform of their party.
Isms are everywhere but we're not always aware of them even as they are harming us.
A few years ago, I was in a giant workshop aimed at reducing "isms" in the workplace. As part of one concluding exercise, we were all asked to identify four groups in which we considered ourselves members.
I chose; A) Caucasian B) Male C) Creative personality D) Husband.
Then we broke up into caucuses based on our group identification
When we got into the caucuses, we were asked to identify stereotypes about our group that had caused us disadvantage in the past. Then we had to relate how that stereotype had been used as a subtle form of discrimination/intimidation against us.
I was assigned caucuses B and C.
The commonalities with the caucuses were amazing. Of course, I could go on and on but I want to make this short. For males the most frequent lowest common denominator was "immature". For creative personalities the LCD was "crazy".
We all took a vow to recognize and reject those terms as a form of intimidation whenever we heard them applied to ourselves as members of that group. I have been fairly vigilant in that vow.
In this way we would become active anti-stereotyping in or own group and more sensitive to the stereotyping of other groups as they reported back to the workshop.
Very valuable feedback.
Also amazing were the amount of people who claimed to have never in their lives experienced any kind of stereotyping whatsoever.
Only one in the entire group insisted that she had no experience with any kind of "ism" and she was a forty something Asian person.
I've always wondered about that.