Posted by: *carrie* | July 1, 2010

Image depicting various oppressed groups looking down on 'Gay Marriage' and saying Setbacks are merely temporary

Setbacks are merely temporary

(comic via The Lighthouse)

One of the things that I’ve been turning around in my head lately is the difference between how liberals view the world vs. how conservatives view th world. (Also, warning, I’m speaking in very general & common terms of liberal vs. conservative).

Something that I find comes up repeatedly in feminist literature, discussions, and blog posts is the idea of inclusion and exclusion. Feminists have taken a lot of criticism, frequently from within their ranks, about racism, transphobia, ableism, and basically just not reaching out to hear different voices and reach their needs.

I think this is a great thing, and what I usually see when someone is called out is a discussion around marginalized groups and some level of awareness building.

This doesn’t just happen in feminism. For example, it happens when you’re trying to build up a community food garden and have to face issues of racism, classism, access to space, trust, and most importantly, ensuring that you’re doing something that the community wants, not something that you think would be good for those particular people.

There are a lot of things that intersect. There are absolutely liberals who ignore nuanced issues and focus on their one or two things, disregarding anything that might stand in their way.

At the very least, becoming more involved in these types of discussions and activism has opened my own eyes to things that I probably wouldn’t have stopped to consider even a year ago (hello, privilege – we almost all have some kind of it).

Then I see conservatives. Granted, I don’t frequent conservative blogs or read Glenn Beck’s drivel. But I don’t see conservatives arguing over the minutia of abortion. They say: Abortions are Wrong. Ban Them. And then they get to work.

Liberals? They say: Abortions are the choice of the uterus-owner. What if it was a 10 year old girl raped by her father, and if she has to tell her parents she’ll be in a worse situation. So we need to protect the rights of the girl, and pass laws against parental consent. And we need to pass laws to protect against abusive partners. Etc. Etc.

Obviously, I think the second option is better. I think you absolutely have to look at the world not in black & white, but in vibrant colors and delicate greys.

At the same time, I think this is where the conservative movement has its biggest advantage. Because they’re not dealing with the what-ifs or recognizing the very real problems of the non-suburban-middle-class people of the world, they  can focus on a few things. They remain a strong united front. Did you hear many conservatives criticize George W. Bush? Ever?

Do you hear liberals criticize Obama? Like, constantly? Because he’s not doing enough for enough people, all the time?

I don’t have any answers. I just wanted to externalize these thoughts. Because I think our willingness to critique and work to improve on our ideas is a major strength of liberals. Our lack of cohesion and unity is what prevents the work from getting done as quickly as we’d like, or with all the provisions we dream of.  As liberals, we need to balance the desire to meet everyone’s needs with the reality of getting things accomplished.

I used the comic atop this post because the ‘issues’ do intersect, and we do need to recognize that it’s important we work together. That feminists respect women who would rather identify as womanist and realize that we’re all reaching for similar goals, and they’re all valid and necessary.

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