Sunday, December 23, 2007

More on unfair bias

A lot is being said (including by me) against bias due to racial, ethnicity, gender, etc. But I don't hear much about bias due to good looks or the lack thereof. Yet we have widespread discrimination against the less-than-lovely, and stereotyping galore. And this has been going on for ages, and continues unabated even while we're protesting against other forms of bias.

What's wrong with ethnic or gender bias? Isn't it that we're judging people by superficial factors and depersonalizing them into groups and stereotypes? Well isn't that exactly what we do with the pretty and unpretty?

We start as children, and adults do it to children, too. Cute babies get oohed and aahed over, but not-so-cute babies get a polite "positive" comment. Children choose up teams and pick first the big and strong (although to be fair, this usually settles in to picking on the basis of performance--still not nice, but at least that's based on something relevant).

I'll have to yield as well that whereas we have no choice whatsoever what ethnicity or gender we are, we have some choice in whether we'll be attractive or not. In a scene from "Legally Blonde", Elle describes Vivian as "not altogether unfortunate"; here was a basically pretty woman who was doing little to be attractive. I have seen women who were not very pretty be very attractive by having good posture and poise, wearing flattering clothes, hairstyle, and makeup, by exercising a great smile, etc. (Pardon my gender bias here, but I look at woman a lot more than I look at men.)

Still, the normal way it works is that the less-than-lovely are told they're not pretty, and they tend to grow into the role (just as the classic Negro lack-of-eye-contact, when making eye contact with a white could get you lynched).

I encourage you, in this "good will toward all men" season and as a New Year's resolution, that you look into the persons you come in contact with, and show caring for the person, rather than a mere response to the outside appearance.

My definitions:
Prettiness: The outward appearance; that which a person has genetically.
Attractiveness: What the person does with his/her appearance.
Beauty: That which comes from within, from the heart and mind, but can and does show on the outside through appearance, animation, and action.

1 comment:

Phritz said...

You touched on some important points regarding affirmative action in your recent comment on "New Worlds". Alas, the NW gangstas are not overly concerned with rational, balanced discussions of politics, economics, or what was formerly known as ethics, and the point will most likely be lost on 'em. (and really, few people in Blogoland have even bothered with the cliffsnotes to utilitarianism, or the Declaration of Independence for that matter).

Affirmative action became part of the ideology--one might say the dogma--of PC liberal bureaucrats decades ago. It's not really even a matter of dispute for most. Being included in one of the "target groups" now generally means a free meal ticket in academia or state job rackets, with all the perqs and pensions, etc.---

Taken to its extreme, AA really becomes quite absurd. For various sorts of state jobs and for admission into UC graduate programs for instance, points are awarded for various factors which have nothing to do with a candidate's actual skills. A crippled, hispanic, female veteran would probably have enough points to gain entrance into a UC medical school, regardless if she doesn't know haploids from hemoglobin. Let's hope she isn't also allowed some administrative handicap when she sits for her medical boards (tho' most PC bureaucrats would most likely be quite pleased to allow sistahs into a Medical school instead of some WASP cracker, regardless if he aced the MCATs, and sistah couldn't quite make it through the pie graph problems).

In effect AA quotas reward people for being incompetent, if not lazy; it's debatable whether AA's even to counted as a Jeffersonian form of classical liberalism--really AA's seems more akin to a type of diluted marxism-lite. Classical liberalism, while flawed, concerned meritocracy, qualification, rights--not handouts. Yes, citizens in a democracy are entitled to certain rights, perhaps even some welfare: but being entitled to cradle-to-grave handouts---or being granted admission into top-tier universities simply for being poor, or a minority, or female---should not be among those rights.