Us and Them: Why are we so keen to be torn apart?

I have serious concerns about the future. It’s really worrying. As a society, it’s all become about ‘us’ and ‘them’.

The world is like a giant classroom of popular kids and needs. There’s no middle ground to be found.

Charlie Brooker did an excellent sketch on his show ‘2016 Wipe’ about mourning the loss of ‘meh’ – the nothing response when you just didn’t care. People care now, but instead of seeking out ways to unify and have common ground, they’re tearing each other apart. Meh is becoming extinct – we’re all casting ourselves as fairytale characters. Wholly good or wholly evil.

This morning I read a post on feminist entertainment site The Mary Sue about Trump’s lady in chief Kelly-Ann Conway branding all feminists “anti-men and pro-abortion”, and a guy had commented “I’m pro-abortion but feminism is definitely anti-men. Otherwise it would be called equalism. It’s like White Pride trying to say it’s not racist.” I tried to engage him and shared an article from the Huffington Post about why the name is feminism and said if he wanted to make a comparison, it would be more like comparing Black Lives Matter to racism. Feminism is not about overthrowing the men and BLM is not about destroying all the white people – it’s just about being considered equal, which is what this guy believes in. He responded with a flippant response that he wouldn’t believe that it was an anti-men movement until they changed the name, and just because “you say you’re not racist doesn’t mean you aren’t” (I assume he meant you in general, not me specifically…) and he went on his merry way. But this exchange made me feel very sad, and here’s why.

“Posting something that directly insults feminists on a feminist entertainment page is a bit of a stupid move”

He believes in the concept of feminism. This man is an ally and thinks that those who identify as men and those who identify as women (or any of the shades of gender on the spectrum) should have equal rights. His beliefs are intersectional, as he demonstrated a disapproval towards racism. He thinks that all people of all races should have an equal piece of the pie. But because he’s cast the feminists as villains (“them”) he’s blocking off a potential network that supports his point of view. Also, posting something that directly insults feminists on a feminist entertainment page is a bit of a stupid move – most people don’t respond to being compared to racists on their home turf favourably….

The insults are getting more creative. People are labelled “nazi”, “fascist”, “bigot”, “liberal elite”, “snowflake”, “libtard” – it’s a way of pressuring someone into saying they agree with you. It’s a form of bullying. Recently The Sunday Times featured a quiz/article by Rod Liddle called “Are you an over-educated elitist snob?” and the cover of the magazine boasted the title “How Liberal elite are you?” Now, the article is clearly a piss-take and a bit of dry humour, but the message is a dangerous one: education is bad, knowledge is bad, equality is bad. One of the questions on the cover of the magazine is “do you support gay adoption?” Now, bearing in mind the message is “liberal bad”, I presume the “right” answer is… well… the right answer! How does that help us as a society? Turning already persecuted groups (for example, gay couples who are desperate to be parents) into the “them”.

It’s true you can’t like everyone and agree with everyone – the world would be boring otherwise – but we need to be careful about branding everyone black and white, left and right, heroes and villains. We don’t live in a fairytale, and right now, we’re a million miles away from a happily ever after!

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