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The Minoritized Movement
How the dominant ideology holds itself to a different standard.
Those from minority groups are often treated as representatives of their group, while those from dominant groups are not. If someone from a minority group commits a crime, the headline includes the minority aspect of their identity. If someone from a dominant group does the same action, they are often described merely as a person, rather than a representative of the dominant group.
This places pressure on minorities to be on their best behavior since their actions will reflect not just on themselves, but their entire group. Minorities have to act as unwilling ambassadors for their demographic, while those from dominant groups do not face the same pressure.
Minority social movements face the same prejudice. When someone from a minority movement behaves badly or says something offensive, the fact they were a member of a minority movement is included in the headline. They are treated as a representative of the movement and other members of the movement are expected to disavow them and their behavior. When a member of a dominant ideology behaves badly, others in the dominant system are not expected to make disavows.
I’ve experienced this personally. The media will write entire hit pieces on the movements I’m a part of based on the words of one activist or an anonymous Twitter user with only a few followers and suggest that it isn’t the case that those actions don’t have anything to do with me. At the same time, no one from dominant institutions has disavowed harassment, slander, or similar actions carried out by the opposition to those movements. Instead, media has often been complicit.
This minoritization extends even to the issues of the movement itself, where the dominant ideology holds minority ideas to one standard, and its own ideology to another. Some examples:
Homebirth movement. If a child has problems during homebirth, that homebirth is held as representative of homebirths. If a child dies during hospital birth, that death is seen as an unavoidable tragedy, rather than as representative of hospital births. Statistically homebirth is safer than hospital birth, so the opposite should be true. Harm is more representative of hospital birth, yet homebirth is held to a higher standard since homebirths are the minority choice.
Homeschooling movement. Homeschooling children who are merely socially awkward are used as representatives of the problem of socialization in homeschooling. Public school children who are violent, on drugs, or have mental illnesses are not representatives of public schooling but are often used as justification for more funding for schools. Subjective social anecdotes are treated as representative of homeschooling, while objective statistical failure is ignored in government schools.
Intactivist movement. Most intact men are perfectly happy with their body. If one person has an issue with their foreskin later in life, even if it is merely a psychological issue or adult preference, that is used as justification to impose genital cutting on unconsenting children. When children experience harm from circumcision, including even dying from genital cutting, this is treated as an acceptable outcome, rather than something everyone who participates in the system of circumcision must be held accountable for.
Note that this minoritization has more to do with social dominance than group size. Jewish groups are a demographic minority, yet on the issue of circumcision when they body shame, use racial slurs, or attempt to incite violence, those statements are not taken as representative of Jewish people, nor are other Jewish people are expected to disavow them, because the Jewish position on circumcision is dominant in genital cutting cultures.
Being minoritized puts undue pressure on minority movements. Those in minority movements know that if they ever have a moment where they are not on their best behavior, their actions could be used to justify harming others or marginalize other activists doing good work. At the same time, those in dominant institutions will yell offensive statements at protestors, engage in online harassment, and even threaten violence, knowing they will not face consequences for their actions because they are protected by the dominant hegemony. This needs to change.
At some point in every social movement, the focus shifts from the minority to the dominant group. Rather than trying to justify their own differences, the minority begins to question what justifications exist for the dominant order. Often, they find few. The reason that the dominant ideology doesn’t hold itself to the same standard is because it cannot meet the standard it sets for others. If movements want to end their own minoritization, they need to shift from defending themselves against unfair standards to questioning the dominant hegemony.