Saturday, November 28, 2009

Religions are funny.


Despite being raised in a fairly Christian environment to some degree or another, and a brief foray into that evangelical Christian youth group... thing... I am not a religious person. I don't identify with any particular mainstream religion or any of the "fringe" religions that some of my peers (20-something, middle-class white people) find appealing (why are all the 20-something white kids in Uptown Buddhist? I'm skeptical). I have tried, because I thought that it was important for me to do so, and I have come out of those experiences with more understanding, but not with any particular god or belief system winning me over.

Because of my lack of religious or spiritual belief or dedication, I often find jokes made at the expense of various religions and those who practice them quite funny. A couple feminist blogs recently linked to a video of a group of rapping Christians promoting the "Christian Side Hug," as opposed to a normal hug which may accidentally arouse someone if they realize they're touching someone's breasts or crotch through several layers of clothing.

Ok, that's really hilarious. And the video is certainly making its rounds, as I received my very own Christian Side Hug on Thanksgiving when at imnotme's mom's house.

You know what else is hilarious?

-Muslim men think that when they die, they'll be greeted by a large number of their very own virgins to deflower in heaven;
-Jews believe that women are impure when menstruating;
-Catholics believe that if they tell a robed man behind a cage all the bad things they did, they are free from consequence;
-Muslim women believe they need to cover their hair, and sometimes their whole head, because they should be more modest than men;
-Muslims, Jews, and Christians believe that a person's natural inclination toward same-sex romantic relations are evil;
-Many polytheistic religions like Hinduism believe that there are several deities controlling their environment and lives.

(I'm obviously making vast generalizations.)

See, all religious people, regardless of which religion they practice, believe in some weird stuff. The fact that Christians are currently quite influential in Western society doesn't make that untrue. Can we please stop pretending that we can only make fun of powerful things, people, religions, ethnicities, companies, or belief systems?

Also, sometimes women do dumb stuff, and sometimes Muslims do dumb stuff, and sometimes Asians do dumb stuff. If we feel the need to call people out on their dumb decisions or make fun of their weird behaviors, can we please stop pretending that only certain groups get to be held accountable for their idiocy? Geez.

The lament above came from the comment thread over at the Feministe post, the one making fun of the Christian Side-Huggers. Of course that's hilarious; what isn't hilarious about a bunch of kids rapping about how you should leave room for the Holy Spirit in your hug? Der. But when I brought up the fact that the post was written solely for the purpose of making fun of Christians, especially young Christians, and that this would never fly if the object was Islam or Judaism or any other religion, people jumped all over me about how it's okay to do that when the object of the ridicule is an oppressive group, and that if another group is oppressed, they are basically untouchable when it comes to parodying or laughing at their beliefs or behaviors.

I don't believe that just because a group can reasonably claim to be oppressed in one particular society, that they are somehow freed of any critique of their choices and behaviors. I do not believe that criticizing oppressive practices or negative behaviors prevalent in an oppressed group further oppresses said group. Ignoring negative qualities because of a perceived disadvantages fosters acceptance of negative and damaging behaviors. Allowing some people or groups to be absolved of responsibility encourages negativity in all senses to further prevail.

Sorry, but I am of the belief that if one makes a choice, it's subject to criticism and judgment. While it's always a good idea to practice sensitivity and not be a jerk, if the behavior or attribute in question is not an inherent one, then it's open to be mocked. For example, I would not make fun of someone for being blind, but I would make fun of someone for wearing hipster glasses.

Critical-thinking caps, people! Don't take them off just because you're in the company of other progressive-minded folks!