Personal Modifiers

So I recently saw this image on Facebook about giving likes to these wounded female veterans. And in the picture there are a couple of amputees, presumably obtained during their service. And this made me upset for some reason, so I thought about it for a few minutes and now you have a blog post saying why. And here’s the gist of it.

I didn’t see wounded female veterans

No, don’t be ridiculous. I definitely saw what would presumably be females that have given their time and effort for our nation. I just don’t recognize them as “female veterans”. To help illustrate my point, allow me to direct you to Jamie Brewer’s tweet

(Oh wow, you can tell politics is hitting me hard because for some reason I read Hair Time Now as “Her time now” which has commonly been a criticism of the Clinton campaign)

So this by itself isn’t bad. I don’t disagree with the idea that people with autism should be afforded every opportunity. I believe that everyone should be afforded every opportunity. My beef isn’t even with the tweet itself. My problem is with the headlines that followed it. These headlines made such a fuss because Jamie Brewer has autism and became a model. It’s downright bonkers. Autism may be a barrier to becoming a model but it’s a barrier that can be overcome through individual determination and the desire to chase one’s own dream. Note: In the following statements, I am not denouncing Jamie Brewer’s efforts in achieving her goal despite that which would be considered a handicap. Imagine the number of tall white blonde girls that become models that get no headlines. Imagine the number of black girls, latina girls, asian girls that become models but get no headlines. I am convinced that the biggest reason that there was a fuss about this Jamie Brewer is because of her condition. A condition outside of her control. Something she never asked for.

So what does Jamie Brewer have to do with wounded female veterans? Absolutely nothing. No, the problem is with the media’s follow-up. The media made a big deal of it because it could be framed as an inspirational story of a girl overcoming odds to achieve her dream and that sells. Jamie Brewer would be useless to headlines had she not had autism. Absolutely useless, which I alluded to in my previous paragraph. And that’s the problem. The way people are being manipulated using these modifiers. The way social identities are being used to push narratives and push politics around. Hillary Clinton’s campaign seemed to bank on women supporting her because she’s female and women are female so female solidarity. She’s banking on minorities supporting her because Bill Clinton was a popular candidate among minorities, sometimes even being referred to as ‘the first black president’ in jest. There are a lot of other references like third wave feminism and Black Lives Matter which also abuse this narrative but I won’t delve too deeply into because many others have covered it and I don’t think I have too much to contribute to on the topic.

Let’s bring this back to point. I’m a student. I have student loans and as long as I’m in school, I’ll probably accrue some more. I’ve applied for some scholarships but I’ve yet to win any, probably due to my noticeably poor writing style (apparent in this blog, even). It’s not that big of a deal to me, because I’m sure someone is getting these scholarships to go to school. But when I see organizations like Sons of Italy and NAACP discriminating based on lineage, when I see several scholarships that I can’t apply for just because I happen to be a white male going into the science field, I get a little bothered. I recognize that these scholarships probably come from private institutions and since it is their money, they can spend it however they like. That’s fine. I just can’t help but think that the idea that because you fit some arbitrary criterion that people are willing to offer you the opportunity to have them pay for your education is a little backwards.

Why does this bother me? Let’s extend this to society, where you could feasibly see people unable to apply for jobs just because they happened to be white, or cisgender. I don’t want to see a future where diversity is recognized because it’s enforced by law because that’s a dangerous path to go down. You could have men or women in the service that are unable to perform tasks required of their position, and as such, cost the lives of comrades in the name of equality. It seems like we’re coming to the point where modifiers determine your value. So now everyone is in a competition to see which combination makes you the most disadvantaged so you can put your fingers in all of the pies and claim the benefits that activism would eventually yield. It’s like an RPG. Oh you’ve equipped white cisgender male? +1 for white, +1 for cisgender,  +1 for male. Your equipment has a bonus of +5 or less so you’ve been given the ‘tumblrin down society’ debuff which makes you a target should you ever disagree with certain individuals online. You beat the boss but you had a gay black man in your party so instead of a 50/50 split between the two of you, the split goes 30/70 because ‘reparations’. And it’s not like you chose to be white, cisgender, or male, but because of original sin (at least, in the United States) society is your fault because you ‘benefit from the structures in place’.

Most of all, I hate how I had to use these labels just to be understood for this blog post. I truly believe that we won’t move forward as a society while we still use these labels. I suppose that’s why President Nixon in Futurama has always appealed to me. See, (to the best of my memory) President Nixon began every speech with the address, “My fellow Earthicans”. There were no black women, white men, transgender latinos to President Nixon. There was no difference between robot, alien, or human. Everyone on Earth was one race. And I hope that in the future such ideals would spread such that everyone is of one race. Like we’re bound by the Force or something, and it doesn’t matter what you are or where you come from. We’re all one presence.

Artemis Hunt

Personal Modifiers

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