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Prejudice: It’s Not Just Race

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Prejudice: It’s Not Just Race.

Prejudices come in many forms. Some are familiar; color, creed, religious persuasion, are all common themes. But really there are a multitude of other kinds, many of which are socially acceptable and even encouraged in some circles. One such prejudice is over hobbies. It sounds silly but there is only a slight difference in degree. Here are some examples. Look at a sports arena, just about any sport and you’ll find diehard fans dressed in their teams’ colors or as their mascot. Many will chuckle and move on with the game. However take this same scene to, say, a sci-fi convention and you’ll find the same diehard fans dressed as Storm Troopers and Starfleet Officers. The difference? Ridicule. The Sports fan is merely “showing his spirit” whereas the sci-fi fan is “some loser who needs a life”. [ (Garmon) ]
“And all I could think of was how grotesquely unfair it is that science fiction and comics fans are tagged as nerds and dweebs and treated in a condescending manner when sports fans are just as ‘bad’ if not ‘worse.’ … Maybe the only way science fiction and comic book conventions will gain genuine respectability is if they become designed, not for socialization or debate, but about being as aggressive as possible about separating fans from their money. You know; Like pro sports.”

This is because we’re a minority. We are considered outsiders. But there is no difference between the two. Both are fans of a hobby they love and enjoy, occasionally to an extreme degree, but still a similar passion as others who may share their interest to any degree. However, as it is socially acceptable to be a sports fanatic, you may get some good natured jeers from your friends. But you’re supporting you favorite team, right? But the men and women who go to conventions are met with shocked stares and condescending glances if their secret passion to engage in fun social events gets out. I’m not even discussing only science fiction conventions. Those hardcore fans of renaissance faires get much the same treatment. Between lascivious looks at the ladies to the knowing grins at the men, this is just more of the prejudice. What is interesting to note, is what happens when this dark secret comes out about someone previously thought not to be a member of this minority at all. I have seen relationships ended, jobs lost, and friends ostracized; all because they were a fan of something considered bizarre. [ (Dictionary.com) ] “fa·nat·ic [fuh-nat-ik]
–noun
1. a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.”

As per definition, a fan of something isn’t exactly unbiased in their subject. However, just because you’re not a fan of their idea or subject, does not make them irrelevant. Many of today’s technologic innovations are because of fans. [ (Christensen) ]
“Star Trek popularized the idea of a communicator that could instantly connect two crew members on different parts of a planet. To answer the device, you just flipped it open and started talking. Of course, everyone recognizes this device today as a cell phone. Amateur electronics wizards have occasionally made replica Star Trek communicators available on eBay; they use Bluetooth technology to piggyback on your cell phone service.”

Cell phones, MRI scanners, and even weapons are all directly due to fan popularity. And yet still we are discriminated against. I have only once seen someone lose a job over his hobby, which I believe just confirms prejudice. Interestingly enough the Israeli armed forces will not promote members that are found to be involved with roleplaying games. [ (Greenberg) ]
“A security official tells Ynet there are specific criteria for deciding the level of a soldier's security clearance.
"One of the tests we do, either by asking soldiers directly or through information provided us, is to ask whether they take part in the game," he says. "If a soldier answers in the affirmative, he is sent to a professional for an evaluation, usually a psychologist."
More than half of the soldiers sent for evaluation receive low security clearances, thus preventing them from serving in sensitive IDF positions, he says.”

I was shocked when I discovered this. The IDF believes that those who play roleplaying games are “detached from reality” and “Have a tendency to be influenced by external sources” and lastly “are indicative of a weak personality”. Still it is the IDF’s choice to do so, though I do wonder is they would do the same to extreme sports fans. Another intresting experience is that classic prejudice is reduced when two members of different classical groups are in the same fandom group.
(Gosso)
“My uncle, who was strongly homophobic, was not only courteous but genuinely enjoyed the company of a gay couple in our Star Trek fan club in New Mexico. This was surprising to me as his tastes were well vocalized about other gay individuals and the gay community at large.”

Knowing how prejudiced my uncle was, the mere inclusion of them in to our fan club greatly changed how my uncle interacted with members of a group he normally disliked. Now this is not to say that he treated them in exactly the same manner as he did the straight members of our club, but the modification due to their inclusion was quite evident. Prejudice will never completely go away. It’s hardwired in to our psyche as a species; Different means strange, strange means dangerous, this is the way we think. fortunately, it can be dealt with in a humane manner. Fanatics are a way of life, everyone is a fan of something, it’s only that when you’re confronted with someone which is a fan of something you’re not, that is when you dismiss them. Just keep in mind, their dismissing you as well.

Christensen, Bill. "Star Trek Tech." Space.com. <http://www.space.com/technology/top10-star-trek-tech.html>. How fandom has influenced our world.

Dictionary.com. Fanatic. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fanatic>. Definition of words.

Garmon, Jay. Tech republic : Geekend. 27 June 2006. <http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/geekend/?p=285>. Similer essay on this subject, assisted with focusing.

Greenberg, Hanan. "Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons." 28 02 2005. ynetnews.com. <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3052074,00.html>. Shocking military news on blatant discrimination against roleplayers
Gosso, David. “Discussions for this paper.” 17 05 2010. Personal experiences

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