Imagine, if you will…

I’d like you to imagine for a while a dystopian world in which interbreeding between Maori and Pakeha is forbidden- by social convention and stigma perhaps, maybe expressly by law, maybe not- it’s not entirely important. And then imagine to yourself that it happens anyway, and that many children grow up having to pretend to be exactly the same as their mother, to hide their real skin tones, not to embrace their own culture, language, and genes. They would have no opportunity to find a halfway point between Maori and Pakeha culture, because in such a society, the very idea of deliberately trying to compromise between the two would be representative of that forbidden “sin” which we don’t acknowledge.

Perhaps some of them get stuck with the “wrong” community. They may be raised as a race with whom they cannot identify and do not empathise. So they wait until they’re independent… and then establish themselves a new identity, maintaining the opposite deception.

Now, I’d like you to imagine that now and then, the veil slips. Sometimes people who had parents from different sides are discovered- usually during their most intimate moments with someone they trust and perhaps even love. What’s likely to happen in such a society, where we find someone who has to pretend to be something they’re not in order to be accepted, in order to survive? Well, acceptance is possible, but it will be difficult, especially as it would essentially involve living a lie, or coming out as a counter-cultural advocate for their loved ones. Rejection is likely- most people don’t want to handle shades of grey in societies that deny them. With rejection social stigmatisation and abandonment, then prejudice, are likely to follow.

But there’s an even greater risk for women- panic. The man has been deceived, he has fallen for someone he’s not supposed to, his very identity- whether as Maori or Pakeha- has been undermined. Somehow- the person he was attracted to, perhaps loved, has been replaced with someone she wasn’t before, someone completely different, who he cannot relate to, who disgusts him, who embarasses him and robs him of those parts of his manhood that correspond with his racial identity. In such a case of panic, what’s the worst he can do? Kill her. And in such a society, it will happen- because there is no mental preparation for a world with nuances, no shades of grey, no possibility that who you are depends on what your brain is, not what your body is. They’re not the subtle differences from the norm. They’re not unique things to love. They’re abberant disturbances, freak mutations to be destroyed. And he has just made love to one. How can he redeem himself from such a sin? Perhaps he can’t. But he can destroy all the evidence. He can kill her in panic.

And because society as a whole wants to disappear the people who challenge their orthodox categories, he’s likely to be let off despite the suspicious circumstances if he lands up in court. It’s likely that the flimsiest excuses will convince a prejudicial jury to acquit. It’s likely a killer will not have to face justice, even when there is overwhelming evidence of their crime.

In such a society, these people who are both brown and white would face enormous difficulties. They would be rejected by both groups. And their enthusiastic attempts to approach one norm or the other would sometimes distance them from people who might try to deconstruct the artificial barriers of delineated race.

How is this world different from ours? Well, in our imaginary world, we had a slightly more disturbing version of apartheid that divided us into discrete categories of race. In our actual world, the discrete categories we cling to are of gender and sex, and trying to cross them- or find a middle between them- is at best difficult, as Georgina Beyer is experiencing having been out of work since quitting as an MP. At worst, it’s deadly.

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2 Responses

  1. On the actual point you’re trying to get across, I can see where you’re coming from. Not sure it is that comparable with the fantasy example you gave, but I understand what your trying to say.

    On the matter of Georgina Beyer, can you please explain why you automatically assume that she can’t get work just because she is a transsexual? Unless you have some evidence of this, all I see is yet another double standard from you.

    As Colin Espiner reports:
    “Ms Beyer said that while other former Labour MPs were appointed to boards, she had received nothing and was turned down for a position on the Human Rights Commission….”that my former parliamentary colleagues seem not to want to appoint me to anything, but are quite happy to accommodate others who have left or are about to, so as to shut them up from whingeing from the sidelines in election year. One could be forgiven for being a little vexed.”

    My goodness, who does she think she is? How dare she just expect to be given a job as a Labour crony?

    Ari – I think you might want to start looking at her attitude before assuming it’s her gray shade of gender.

  2. Sean- Because having been an MP, and a major, and been very effective in both roles, she’s probably so well qualified that for her to be unemployed for months on end after retiring from Parliament cannot be related to always being the worst applicant. From there I applied Occam’s Rzor and assumed at least one of those rejections was discrimination. I think it’s idealistic in the extreme to assume otherwise, personally.

    And yeah, I agree with you that politicians shouldn’t get automatic public service appointments. Not only does that potentially compromise the neutrality of the public service, it also bypasses proper recruiting procedures and the principle of merit-based qualification. That said, the inconsistent treatment is very suspicious, don’t you agree?

    As for her attitude- she strikes me like most politicians do in respect to the quote you gave- blind to their own entitlement. However much I dislike the sort of people who routinely fill the ranks of Labour and National’s benches, I’ve only found one or two who I’d be willing to say probably don’t deserve to be employed at all after they retire from Parliament, and Georgina has very little in common with them.

    However, that said, while I don’t think she should have been appointed because it would have been unethical, I do think she would be eminently qualified for many senior positions in the public service.

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