Othered

Being set outside of the tribe, being cast out however momentarily is a situation that none of is unfamiliar with. Othering is a tool that is commonly used in culture to punish actions, reset and test social mores, team build, and justify actions among other things. Although often hurtful acutely, it is not an action that is particularly harmful in our day to day situations, as a person’s id is rarely dependent on shop hierarchy or water cooler politics. Even children who act outside of the boundaries their guardians set for them often find themselves physically isolated from their tribe as a means of education.

 Our identities as individuals and as members of certain cultures and subcultures is dependent on the existence of specific rules and doctrine. Without these rules, these macro and micro cultures cease to exist and membership within the human race becomes homogeneous. I suppose it brings bearing to the question of whether that homogeneity makes all remaining members the same, or maximizes their potential for absolute individuality (setting the standard that each person is their own unique individual instead of a copy).

 At this point I assume that you’re probably wondering why I’m going on about all of this.

 We all use it as a social tool to varying degrees, to strengthen our relationships and lubricate social interaction. Some employ it consciously, some unconsciously. Bottom line is that we are all familiar with what it is. Now it becomes important to look for it in regular interactions, whether our own or the interactions that take place around us.

 In terms of violence, one of the most dangerous (as in highest potential for fatality) forms is asocial violence. Asocial violence is by definition the type of violence exhibited in predator/ prey interaction. Strictly speaking this is not a concern for members of the same group or tribe. Here comes the hitch that we are seeing all over media lately. Hate speech.

When a person or group is othered, they become separate from the source which sets one or both parties up for subjection to asocial violence. Think of the last time that you heard a group of people objectifying an individual in sexual terms. How about the “contemporary movement” that highlights the difference between citizens and immigrants. My bottom line is that the dangers of social othering are prevalent in such a myriad of places that bolstering oneself against it is nearly impossible with the exception of seeing it and making an exit before it becomes a problem.

I speak at length on violence against women in my classes because frankly, violence against women is the most prevalent form of violence in in our society. I am incensed thinking about how many times I have heard those women close to me recount past assaults. in the same vein, I am also often questioned on what "qualifies" me to speak on the subject. For the record, being the stature that I am does not preclude me from being on the receiving end of being othered... and subsequently beaten by a gang of white supremacists. As you can probably tell, its still one of my least favourite memories, the silver lining being that I have the tools available to me that have enabled me to not only process it, but learn from it as well. 

The fear that I felt afterwards of being put on the outside was probably the most visceral emotion I have ever been known to feel. I reacted harshly often. I mean, growing up in rural Alberta I was very familiar with the lingo surrounding what i was and was not to many but I became almost deaf to it until that night when things changed.

I suppose that's what makes me passionate about the subject and by extension violence against women. There are a whole lot more of them than there are of me (women that is). Its all the same, it all ends the same, it all feels the same. Being made to feel like a thing to another person is never palatable and we should never allow ourselves to become blind or deaf to it regardless of if it comes by way of race, sex, religion, or any other means,

Dax Williams