This may come as a shock, but I’ve always been kind of a weirdo. I grew up a fundamentalist Christian in Alabama who saved herself for marriage. But I also read Bitch and Bust and considered myself a feminist starting around 10th grade.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like most people are overly true to their “type.” I fear that constraint narrows their awareness.
For example, I was a prohibitionist during high school and my first half of college. I was drug-free myself, and saw firsthand what descent into addiction and apathy had done to my friends. So I fully supported state efforts to save people from similar fates.
I had absolutely no knowledge of the harm prohibition does to poor and minority communities. And why would I? I’m white and straddled the line between poor and middle class. No one I knew had been jailed for possession (or anything, I think). No one I knew had had their homes raided. It wasn’t until free-market economics brought me to libertarianism which brought me to Reason magazine that I discovered the horrors of the drug war.
It’s an acknowledged fear, if not an established problem, that the decline of mainstream media has fragmented information flows. The internet makes it so easy to filter out most information that you don’t already care about and that might contradict your worldview.
So when middle-class white men want to know why I keep harping about rape culture, socially liberal people ask why I bother writing an article with a thesis as simple and obvious as “casual sex is okay for some people,” and someone wants to mansplain that the reason we should legalize marijuana is the non-aggression principle, not racism, I try to take a deep breath to remember, “They don’t know.” Because I didn’t know. Because there was no reason for me to know.
I think a good chunk of humanity honestly doesn’t know about rape culture, because not everyone reads outlets that report on things like the school principal who refused to report his student’s rape so star athlete wouldn’t suffer. These dude and dudettes are like, living their lives, reading The Wall Street Journal, being productive members of society. And that’s great. But it leaves them, for lack of a better word, ignorant about things that many ladies have to deal with that maybe don’t interest and affect everyone the same way.
Similarly, many people who grow up along coasts and in cities really could not have any conception of what it’s like to be told from a young age that sex outside of marriage will ruin your chances for a good marriage, make you sinful and unworthy to be looked upon by God, cause people to lose respect for you, and make you guilty of hurting your sex partner’s walk with God. The fear and shame around sex that some of us grow up with I think would really shock the uninitiated.
So one of the things that excites me most about Thoughts on Liberty, and animates a lot of what I choose to write about, is the opportunity to take people who are already on board with free market economics, classical liberalism, and non-aggression and introduce them to the idea that there doesn’t have to be shame or fear in casual sex, make them more aware of the visceral demoralizing atrocity that is the drug war and help them see rape culture in all its incarnations.
More broadly in life I would like everyone to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. Let’s just say someone denies rape culture, or downplays the racism in the drug war or tries to shame you about what you’re wearing. Instead of assuming they are misogynists or racists or just apathetic to plight that’s not their own, consider that they are probably just understandably ignorant. No one reads all the same shit as you. There are like a million things to watch and read, meaning a person could literally go their whole lives totally missing the stories that shape your world. Instead of getting angry or writing them off, take a deep, cleansing breath, remember that they may know things you’re ignorant about, and try to hand them a little bit of information that may help make them more aware.
It’s tough. But I think it’s worth it.
Or, maybe (and I often suspect this is true) men’s rights activists and social conservatives are just trolling me. In which case, I just need to quit the internet.