Politization of Category and Depolitization of Categorism

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Politization of Category and Depolitization of Categorism

On one hand, doing politics is needed in order to handle problems and to change things for the better. On the other hand, doing politics is something which is often exhausting, infuriating, boring, and does not spark joy. People tend to avoid situations and persons which they find to be exhausting, infuriating, boring, and/or failing to spark joy. This duality of politics comes with a huge set of opportunity costs for each person who are subjected to one or several foci of categorism:

  • On one hand: If you don't do politics, you miss out on standing up for yourself and for others. Letting yourself and others get mistreated, rather than making a fuss. Leaving yourself without tools and networks for handling if some person or social system attacks you too badly anyway.
  • On the other hand: If you do politics, you risk souring your emotional and social life. This souring can be at any place on the spectrum from merely tainting your life a little bit to on the other hand ruining it completely. Ending up either entirely alone or surrounded only by people who are bitter or manipulative or both.

Keeping a balance of how much and often to do politics can be very hard in itself, even when the playing field isn't being manipulated to make things harder. Which it usually, to some extent, is. This skewing of the playing field goes in both directions: On one hand Politization of Category, which means framing a certain category of people as if their lives and participation in society would in itself be “political”, and on the other hand Depolitization of Categorism, which means framing prejudice/bigotry/discrimination against said category as if it was some kind of apolitical natural fact.

Politization of Category

When it's considered “political” for a person to have a certain gender, skin-color, sexuality or other social category, this can have several negative effects on the person's mental and social health and prosperity.

When you are considered being “political” it becomes easier for people to make an open debate of your identity, your openness, your participation in any social context, or even your very existence. These attacks (both when they are happening and when they are simply past experiences you have to deal with the memories of) are pushing you towards acting political, at which point people (often the very same people) dismiss you as being exhausting, infuriating, boring, and does not spark joy. Even without such pushes towards politics, you may easily internalize the idea of yourself being inherently political – which also pushes you towards acting political to an extent which has negative effects on your personal life.

There are many reasons for why a person may push for a category of people being treated as political. For example...

  • Being bigoted against people in the category, while also feeling more comfortable framing oneself and fellow bigots as being “unpolitical” rather than as being “bigoted”.
  • When people don't let you openly demonize and dehumanize people you are bigoted against, you can always retreat to a “treat the controversy” position of “oh, I'm just being neutral in this important debate – you are not trying to silence free speech, are you?”
  • Genuinely wanting to stay neutral, yet out of convenience and/or limited understanding ending up in a Biased Balance. Either actively making such an analysis, or simply going along with the flow without thinking about it: When people are divided into two categories by one axis or another... if you are constantly presented with one category being presented as normal while the existence of the other constantly sparks debate, it becomes very easy to perceive the people in the other category as “being political” when they are simply publicly existing and living their lives.
  • Trying to speak up for the category itself, perhaps losing sight of the actual human beings who are being categorized, or never caring about them in the first place. Perhaps putting it on a pedestal, sacralizing it. Maybe even crowning yourself as being their champion, savior or leader, considering them to owe you deference and loyalty.
  • Trying to speak up for the people who are being subjected to categorism by initiating or participating in political debate on the subject, entering an implicit or explicit discursive alliance with the bigots about the category being inherently political.

Depolitization of Categorism

When it's considered “nonpolitical”/”unpolitical” or simply “normal”/”natural” for a person to have a bigoted attitudes and discriminatory behaviors against people who have a certain gender, skin-color, sexuality or other social category, this dynamic does many things to enable and protect the categorism.

  • To position the categorism as being “nonpolitical”/”unpolitical”/“normal”/”natural” is to normalize it. It makes it easier to let the normalization be evidence of itself: “It is normal in a moral sense because it is normal in a social sense, so lets pretend that it is normal in a social sense because it is morally normal and neutral rather than because we opt to enable it.”
  • It also makes it much easier to blame the victims (as well as blaming anyone standing up for them) whenever people acts in prejudiced, bigoted and discriminatory ways. “by contradicting the normal people, you were the one who caused the conflict and the bad mood”.
  • It pushes vulnerable people and their allies to position themselves as political, with all the negative side effects that entails, thus closing the circle.