A rare evening to myself

Just for a change, hubby is out for the evening, leaving me in the living room by myself.  So what do you do when you get your own choice of activities?  I’ve got a couple of movies to watch, the type that the rest of the family would never be interested in: The Help and Pay it Forward.  It’s my chance to sit in comfort, watch movies, drink fruit cider and have a nice relaxing evening.

I’m currently watching The Help, and as always when I come across the subject matter I find myself horrified that people could treat others in such a way.  We’ve come a long way in 50 years or so; not as far as we need to, maybe, but seeing scenes where someone is horrified to see “a colored person using our bathroom!” I feel distinctly uncomfortable.  At one point, after featuring as one of the King’s wives in a local production of The King and I, I tried to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but again the sentiments in the book I found unbearable, and I soon set it aside.

I’ve been similarly shocked by a topic much closer to home this week: I’ve been reading about the attitudes of some male gamers to females who dare to stray into their territory, ranging from in-game abuse (from the mildest “get back in the kitchen” comments to swearing, and threats of rape and abuse) to hounding them on the internet generally, including death threats and public harassment.

Why do we have to be so cruel to others?  Because it makes us feel better about ourselves if we can consider someone else as inferior?  Because we actually believe it?

I understand that part of survival is banding together with “like” and rejecting “unlike”.  I understand that fear of the unknown is a protective mechanism.  But shouldn’t we be beyond that by now?  Shouldn’t we be able to see something different for what it is, no threat to us, and welcome the unknown?

I have a son who has a strange interest – despite being of university age, he’s addicted to My Little Pony.  Since they resurrected the show a year or few back, it seems to have attracted a strange audience, made up of males in their 20s and 30s, known as bronies, who religiously watch every episode they can get their hands on, create or collect art, fanfic and little plastic figures and socialise on forums.  His brothers are treating this interest with thorough hostility, to the extent that sometimes shocks me.  While I’ve been rather disapproving of this interest, considering it rather strange, I’ve been tempted into playing the game and even started watching some of the episodes myself.  The reluctance I’ve felt to admit this in my family, knowing the reaction I’d get, makes me realise just how brave – or merely uninterested in what people think of him – my son actually is.

How can we get to the point where we can accept someone for what they are, without questioning, or pressuring them, or expressing anything other than support?  How can we get past the initial fear of something different, and start to move towards acceptance and celebration of the difference?  All I know is that I need to show acceptance of my son, and show the others in the family that their attitude is not reasonable.


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