Posted on February 23, by Scott Alexander [Content warning: Discussion of social justice, discussion of violence, spoilers for Jacqueline Carey books. This post was inspired by a debate with a friend of a friend on Facebook who has since become somewhat famous.
To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion. Ideally, we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games: At least in the beginning, we are seeking public desensitization and Inside a convicts mind essay more.
We do not need and cannot expect a full "appreciation" or "understanding" of homosexuality from the average American. You can forget about trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won.
And to get to shoulder-shrug stage, gays as a class must cease to appear mysterious, alien, loathsome and contrary. A large-scale media campaign will be required in order to change the image of gays in America.
And any campaign to accomplish this turnaround should do six things. The principle behind this advice is simple: The acceptability of the new behavior will ultimately hinge on the number of one's fellows doing it or accepting it.
One may be offended by its novelty at first--many, in times past, were momentarily scandalized by "streaking,'' eating goldfish, and premarital sex. But as long as Joe Six-pack feels little pressure to perform likewise, and as long as the behavior in question presents little threat to his physical and financial security, he soon gets used to it and life goes on.
The skeptic may still shake his head and think "people arc crazy these days," but over time his objections are likely to become more reflective, more philosophical, less emotional. The way to benumb raw sensitivities about homosexuality is to have a lot of people talk a great deal about the subject in a neutral or supportive way.
Open and frank talk makes the subject seem less furtive, alien, and sinful, more above-board. Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject, and that a sizable segment accepts or even practices homosexuality. Even rancorous debates between opponents and defenders serve the purpose of desensitization so long as "respectable" gays are front and center to make their own pitch.
The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome. And when we say talk about homosexuality, we mean just that. In the early stages of any campaign to reach straight America, the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself.
Instead, the imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible. First let the camel get his nose inside the tent--only later his unsightly derriere! Where we talk is important. The visual media, film and television, are plainly the most powerful image-makers in Western civilization.
The average American household watches over seven hours of TV daily. Those hours open up a gateway into the private world of straights, through which a Trojan horse might be passed. As far as desensitization is concerned, the medium is the message--of normalcy.
So far, gay Hollywood has provided our best covert weapon in the battle to desensitize the mainstream. Bit by bit over the past ten years, gay characters and gay themes have been introduced into TV programs and films though often this has been done to achieve comedic and ridiculous affects.
On the whole the impact has been encouraging. The prime-time presentation of Consenting Adults on a major network in is but one high-water mark in favorable media exposure of gay issues. But this should be just the beginning of a major publicity blitz by gay America.
Would a desensitizing campaign of open and sustained talk about gay issues reach every rabid opponent of homosexuality? While public opinion is one primary source of mainstream values, religious authority is the other. When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers.[Content warning: Discussion of social justice, discussion of violence, spoilers for Jacqueline Carey books.] [Edit 10/ This post was inspired by a debate with a friend of a friend on Facebook who has since become somewhat famous.
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