This is Part 2 of the Other series.
So, we form groups. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a human thing. We want to be able to relate to people, we want to feel safe and known and loved and valued. A way of doing that is to gather with people who feel like ourselves. And by nature, that means we’re excluding people who don’t fit into that group. It’s not malicious, it’s necessary. Groups require emotional and psychological energy to maintain.
This does get malicious, however, when we start looking at power structures. That’s when a Group becomes a Norm. That’s when we start to internalize assumptions about who we should be, and start to act on other people as though they should be those things too.
Norms create the sense that a characteristic or set of characteristics is the basic, human condition. So when people fall out of those norms, it gives groups an excuse to treat them badly. Normal is good, and just, and expected. What’s up with ‘those people’ who aren’t normal? The stronger the norms are, the greater the consequences are for falling outside of them.
Next up: Actual ways that Other is used as a category. Dewey Decimal System, we’re coming for you!