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October 04, 2012

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S

Great stuff.

If you'll bear with me:
"Two millennia ago no one thought of themselves as neurotic, or ADD, or straight, or white, and nothing has changed in human biology in the meantime to explain how these categories could have come into being on their own."

Surely 'neurotic' or 'ADD' or 'straight' work as descriptions in a way that is different from how 'white' works. The former could plausibly be used to, for example, predict behaviour even if society had never learned about them (which is not discounting that those behaviours are conditioned in part by social conceptions of the self, of sexuality etc.) whereas to call someone white predicts nothing, says nothing about how they will act or be treated, without the broad adoption of the idea of racial difference.
Possibly fewer were straight in that they defined themselves in terms of attraction to the opposite gender (and engaged in sex acts exclusively with that people of that gender) but that would mean fewer people were, in fact, straight. Whereas whiteness seems exclusives a historical phenomenon about power relations etc.

mtraven

Did you mean "pets" where it says "pests"? The sentence works either way, but makes more sense with "pets" -- pets are indeed animals who have been arbitrarily granted the social status of partial persons.

Racial categories may have originated to facilitate exploitation but they are often maintained for other, defensive reasons, eg the black pride movement and other manifestations of identity politics.

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