Guest post: A social justice version of pareidolia

Originally a comment by Sastra on It’s a war on multiple fronts.

The identity theft of an entire sex (both of them) could never have been pulled off without guilt: guilt over the way we for so long refused to accept homosexuality as a perfectly normal and natural orientation; guilt over the way we for so long put women and men into restrictive “boxes” of attitude and behavior; and guilt over the way we for so long allowed children to be mercilessly bullied on the supposition that it made them “toughen up.” By “we,” I mean modern Western society. We ought to have known better. We should have been heroes.

And so we — some of us, that is — overcorrect by experiencing a social justice version of pareidolia, seeing Faces in the Clouds of fuzzy concepts running up against an incoherent concept propelled by soppy thinking. Trans people “know who they are” in a secret inside way. Don’t they look like gay people? Trans identities defy traditional ideas of men and women. Doesn’t this appear to be sexual nonconformity? Trans folks are fearfully dependent on being accepted by their peers. Isn’t this resembling fragile youngsters trying to navigate a schoolyard filled with popular kids gatekeeping who’s in and mean kids intimidating who they can? Look at the shapes. No way that’s a coincidence.

And, for the rainbow coming out of the clouds, we have the same group responsible for our wicked past re gay people, sexist roles, and bullying now coming out against trans identities: the conservative religious right. It’s like the voice of God telling us “Yes, that’s totally a face in the clouds.” Hero time. This is how we’re going to get it right.

Pareiodolia is an evolved instinct. I think it’s not really a mystery why people see a resemblance between solid social justice issues and the nebulous, undefinable, innate sense of transgender self billowing itself around their shapes. The interesting thing is how we are able to second guess ourselves, look closer, and accurately see nothing.

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