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24 September 2010

Gender Police

Have you noticed the little heart-things on Facebook in people's statuses, asking you to click if you "like" something? Here is one that a friend posted the other day:
Jane Doe likes If a 12 year old girl's butt ever says "sexy" across it I should have the right to punch the mother! on ♥.
Why should we punch the mother and not the father? Should fathers not be equally responsible for the clothing that their children don? Why are we punching anyone? Seems like a pretty violent response. And, have you ever actually seen a 12-year-old wearing such pants? I don't doubt that they're out there, but I haven't seen them, and I doubt very much that most people who "like" this status have seen them either.

I think this points to an interesting social phenomenon that is a bit more obvious in the virtual social networking world than the "real" world, and that is that our values often say more symbolically about our worldview than they do about our actual, direct experiences. In the same way that I've never encountered a teenager girl with inappropriate clothing, I doubt that most people who favor tougher stands on immigration, for example, have ever lost a job to an "illegal alien" (let alone met one).

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