Some common forms of categorism

Categorism has different forms, such as racism and homophobia. It also has different expressions, such as prejudice and discrimination. There is also the categorization problem: Categories as such are always more or less arbitrary, so we must always consider why a certain division of people is made, by who, and on who’s expense.

Today I am going to talk about the forms of categorism. The word ”forms” here is a bit awkward, but I don’t find a better word. At first I was calling it ”targetings” instead, but I think that’s even more awkward. Anyway. Some common forms of categorism are:

* Racism
* Sexism
* Homophobia
* Paraphobia
* Transphobia
* Ableism
* Ageism
* Antisemitism
* Antimuslimism
* Categorism versus atheists
* Categorism versus religions and other beliefs

The last two are in desperate need of good titles. The one prior to that already has a good title, antimuslimism. However, it also has a bad title, the name ”islamophobia”. There are those who are trying to give ”categorism versus atheists” the title ”atheophobia”. However, this name is awful in the same ways and for the same reasons as the name ”Islamophobia”. I will return to why these names are bad. But first, a brief summary of the forms I listed.

Racism
This is categorism based on dividing people by race, ethnicity, color of skin, nationality, geographical ancestry, or whatever you call it.

This is the most classic form of categorism. Thus, people who don’t know the word categorism, or don’t expect their audience to know it, often call other forms of categorism ”racism against [category/categorization]”. For example, ageism is sometimes called ”age racism”. In Sweden, the word ”åldersrasism” is still more famous than ”ålderism”, but the later word is gaining.

Sexism
This is categorism based on gender. The most famous forms are misogyny and misoandry: Bigotry against women and men respectively. Note that the ”sex” in ”sexism” means ”gender”, not ”intercourse” or ”sexy”. That something is sexy or sexualized does not make it sexist. Portraying a woman as sexy is not automatically sexist in itself, but become sexist in at least two situations.

One is individual cases when you interview a female politician, activist, scientist or similar, and focus on her looks instead of her works. Would you seriously do that if she were a man? Second, we also have a sexist social structure, where men gets portrayed for their works while women gets portrayed for their looks. This structure is problematic even if many of the individual cases are totally unproblematic as individual cases. While media should keep portraying some women as sexy sometimes, it really should portray more women for their works and more men for their looks. Even things out a bit.

Homophobia
Categorism versus homosexuals. To a large extent including categorism versus bisexuals, but other sexual minorities are not included. That is why we need the word paraphobia.

Paraphobia
Categorism versus sexual minorities. ”Para” stands for ”paraphilia”.

Transphobia
Categorism versus transgender people – transsexuals, intersexuals, genderqueer people, and so on. Note that this is about gender, not about sexuality. Thus, it is a kind of sexism rather than a kind of paraphobia. However, transphobia and homophobia can overlap, since it’s often the same accusation of ”not being a real man”.

Ableism
Categorism against people who have disabilities. Often in the form of ”categorism through exclusion”, making them invisible by overtly taking for granted that everybody has the same physical capabilities. For a good satire of how disabilities are a part of the social environment (including architecture) rather than of the person, see the handisam job interview.

Ageism
Categorism based on age. Often in the form of prejudice and discrimination against young people, against old people, or both. Can also take the form of a ”separate but equal” kind of apartheid, where it is considered wierd or even immoral of adults from different generations to be friends (or worse yet lovers).

Note that it is not ageism to deny children the same responsibilities and rights as adults, since children genuinely ARE different in relevant ways. While even babies should be given some little level of freedom to crawl around the floor as they please, both freedom and responsibility has to be introduced gradually as the person grows in maturity. Generally speaking, discrimination is undue different treatment, not diferent treatment as such.

Antisemitism
Categorism against Jews. This include not only targets who are of the Jewish faith, but also people who are ethnic Jews. It also include expressions of categorism against individuals who are mistaken for being Jews. For example, it is antisemitism to hate the non-jewish CEO of a bank, if you base that hatred on the belief that he is a lackey of the global Jewish conspiracy ZOG, ”the Zionistic Occupation Government”.

Antimuslimism
The same thing as antisemitism, except that it is directed against Muslims rather than Jews. Just like antisemitism, the targets are not only Muslims, but anyone accused of being a Muslim or being a lackey of the global Islamic conspiracy. Currently growing as wildfire in Europe, as old racist organizations has switched target from the Jews to the Muslims – and gained some undeserved public recognition in the process.

Categorism versus atheists
Around the world, especially in countries such as USA and Indonesia, there is a constant persecution of Atheists. Many preachers are spreading lies about Atheists being immoral (or even incapable of having any morality), portraying them as pitiful creatures living meaningless lives. Atheists sometimes gets mistaken for communists, and thus wrongly accused of being against democracy. Indonesia and some of the USA states has laws that discriminate against Atheists. In Indonesia, we even have a case where a civil servant named Alexander Aan got beat up by a mob because he’s an Atheist. The police and court did not take any action against the mob, but instead sentenced Aan to two and a half year in prison for having angered the mob.

We really need a good word for categorism versus atheists.

Categorism versus religions and other beliefs
We also need a general word for categorism versus religions and other beliefs. This word must include categorism versus atheists, it must not be restricted to only religions.

The problem with words such as Islamophobia and Atheophobia
It must be okay to disagree with Islam, Atheism, or any other system of belief. However, this disagreement should be made without making generalizations about Muslims, Atheists or whatever.

The same religion means very different things to different people, and we can’t assume that everyone else see things the same way as we do.

Muslims and Atheists can get discriminated against, bullied, or even murdered. We need to defend them from this, because they are human beings with human rights. It is Muslims and Atheists we need to defend, not Islam and Atheism. Defending a faith or system of beliefs is up to its followers, and they are free to fight for it as long as they don’t violate anyone in the process. (And no, to disagree with people is not to violate them.)

Above I have mentioned some of the most common and most important forms of categorism. However, they are only examples. Categorism can be based on any category or any categorization. Bullies can make up new excuses as they go along, and hate groups will keep switching targets until they find victims the public will let them get away with attacking. When people start to realize that this target wasn’t okay either, the hate group will eventually move on to the next group of victims, without even skipping a beat or changing the rhetoric. The book ”American Fascists” tells us that the old preachers who spread hatred against homosexuals are the same individuals who in their youth used to spread hatred against Afro-Americans.

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