Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Perks of Progressivism

I'm glad I'm a progressive. With every blog post I read, every news story that trumpets the end of the world, every frantic neo-con that's found something else to worry about - I find more peace in the fact that I don't feel any need to agree, play along, endorse, or worry.

Now, I realize that I might have the political definition of progressivism wrong, but to me, being progressive means that I feel that all human life is equal (women are equal, non-whites are equal, gays are equal, etc. to their male, white, straight, etc. counterparts); fully equal civil rights is the best thing we can hope for in this nation; secularism in government is paramount to that end; sexual liberation, privacy, and education will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, rapes, sex crimes, etc.; intellectualism is something to prize and foster (and so scientific research should be funded and encouraged). My feeling is that if someone happens to be doing some crazy things - while not doing any harm to anyone - that I myself wouldn't do, why the fuck should I get bent out of shape about it? I also don't see the use in the government trying to legislate morality - it doesn't work, it hasn't ever worked (for any significant amount of time), it's not supposed to work, it's not legal, and it's not the government's job anyway.

And you know - as sour as the world looks since we haven't achieved the above things yet - things are pretty good so far. I don't feel guilty when I have sex with my boyfriend whom I am not married to while using contraception. I don't feel guilty for admiring an attractive woman that walks by (or admiring aloud with my boyfriend). I don't see anything wrong with people that get off on BDSM (though I, myself, don't). I don't see anything wrong in associating with minorities if I happen to strike a chord with them. I don't get angry when I see boobs on TV. I don't have to weird out on someone if their religion doesn't agree with mine. I don't have to keep my vagina under lock and key until I'm married. I don't hate all Muslims just because of 9/11; it's more reason for me to be non-religious, actually, instead of hating a religion that isn't mine. I don't even hate conservatives because they're conservative. I know that I can love my neighbor even better than some Judeo-Christian person can, because it doesn't matter what color their skin is, what gender they're sexually attracted to, or what they do behind closed doors - I can still love them for just being neighbors. It's nice to be progressive; there are so many more open doors. I learn new things all the time; I learn how to think about things differently all the time.

But isn't it funny that progressives - particularly feminists and atheists, in my experience - are criticized for being so angry all the time? Regressives are clammoring about all kinds of things that are wrong with the world. They try to push legislation that enforces what they - a subset of the total population - find moral and acceptable. They're angry a lot (Bill O'Reilly is a good example) - mostly about what other people do with their own private lives. And yet, I have so much more freedom than they do. I can watch porn if I wanted to, without having any guilt or worry of being found hypocritical, and a regressive can't do that. In fact, a regressive would persecute me for that. I won't even get into the hypocrisy that ensues when a regressive is caught doing something like that after spending years of his/her career fighting it. But you know what - regressives watch porn too. And I'm okay with that. But I can't figure out why regressives want to ban and outlaw things that they themselves do anyway, just because this book says that it's bad. That's the only reason they give too - gay sex is bad and dangerous because it makes baby Jesus cry.

Being angry is okay, by the way. It's what you do with your anger that matters. Bill O'Reilly does it wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. did it right. And before you say, "gee, MLKJr sure didn't seem angry," think again. Would he have done what he did if he weren't angry? You would be angry too, if you were the target of "separate but equal" bullshit and racial repression. You would be angry too if the Constitution defined you as three fifths of a white person. You would be angry too if you had to get up from your seat so that a white person could sit there. And before you go, "you're not black; how do you know?" then remember that I am a woman. Sexism is the new racism. It's rampant and ubiquitous, to the point where people still have no idea that it's there and they're actively participating in it. And that's not to say that racism is a thing of the past! Progressivism is an uphill battle by its very definition: it's easy to stick with the status quo if you're the one in a place of privilege.

Progressives want to open more doors. Regressives want to shut, lock, and monitor all doors. It's so much easier to just open the doors, so we can all watch porn, for example, if we wanted to. The key phrase there is "if we wanted to," by the way.

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