Other = somebody who does not belong to the dominant (privileged) group and is being oppressed by them discursively, materially, symbolically.
Somebody is Othered by not belonging to a certain gender (hegemonic masculinity), gender identity (cisgender), sex (cissexual), sexual orientation (heterosexual), skin colour (white), class or social+economic+cultural capital (educated, middle to upper class), age (young for women, middle age for men), citizenship (by birth), physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, emotional and developmental ability (fully functioning body-mind), religion (Christian), geopolitical position (postmodern western society), eating habits (omnivore), lifestyle (capitalistic-consumerist), clothing (age and gender appropriate), family arrangement (heterosexual nuclear family unit), love arrangement (monogamy), marital status (married/in a relationship), emotional standard (discipline, moderation), sex activity (missionary position), body standard (male body), body size (thin for women, muscular for men), speech (without impediment), language (clear, formal), voice (moderate volume, appropriate to the social occasion, sounding adult), physiological preference (sight), dwelling (private home), anthropocentric worldview (man as the epistemological centre) …
Other is defined as different because she/he/them are measured up against standards of the dominant group. But it is not the concept of difference itself that is problematic (we should all strive to the societal diversity and plurality), it is the inferior position of Other as a consequence of a dichotomous relationship between them. Different is not equal because it invokes contradictory feelings; an abjection, as French philosopher Julia Kristeva has named this mode. Other appeals and appalls at the same time.
The abject status of Otherness has to be managed to be socially bearable and according to French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, there are two strategies of coping with the Otherness: ‘vomiting’ and ‘ingesting’. The first method (i.e. ‘spitting out’ the Others, which are seen as incurably strange or alien) is manifested as an isolation, exclusion or disdain: barring physical contact, dialogue, social intercourse and commercial trade, creating spatial, mental and emotional separation etc., which in its extreme version meant annihilation of the Others (incarceration, deportation, murder). The second one (i.e. ‘devouring’ foreign bodies to be identical with and no longer distinguishable from the ingesting body) took a wide range of forms: cannibalism, enforced cultural assimilation and appropriation, which means that their Otherness was annihilated.
Perhaps those strategies look outdated, yet they are still in use, but in a more complex and even disguised manner (e.g. covert sexism, aversive racism, online harassment, mobbing, discursive vilification, pathologization, medicalisation …).
So, who or what are or can be Othered? Women, non-hegemonic masculinities, non-binary people, genderqueer, agender people, femininities, transgender people, transsexual people, intersex people, LGB people, asexual people, children, old people (women in particular), people of colour (PoC), poor people, under- and overeducated people, illiterate people, digitally illiterate people, immigrants, apatrids, people with foreign accents, people with visible disabilities, people with invisible disabilities, people on the neurodiversity spectrum (autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder, ICD or impulsive-compulsive disorder), dyslexia, depression, anxieties, sleep disorders (e.g. circadian rhythm sleep disorder or CRSD), Tourette syndrome), people with speech disorders (stuttering, cluttering, sound disorders – lisp or sigmatism, rhotacism, lambdacism, muteness, apraxia of speech), people with voice disorders (mutational falsetto, spasmodic dysphonia), atheists, Muslims, Jews, Roma people, Hindu people, Wiccas, Neopagans, Nonwestern cultures, vegans, vegetarians, macrobiotics, collective community lifestyles (cult, kibbutz, commune), single-parent families, blended families, cross-generational families, adoptive/foster families, same-sex parent families, grandparents as parents families, cohabitation, LAT (living apart together), childlessness, singleness, polyamory, emotional excess and sensibilities, BDSM, kink sex, masturbation, age difference between sexual partners (younger man – older woman), fat bodies, ultra-thin male and female bodies, tall women, short men, bodies with missing limbs, people with dysmorphic body features, junkies, gossip, profanity, poetic language, psychotic speech, touch, smell, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), menstruation, breast milk, body hair (pubic hair, armpit hair and leg hair for women, back hair and lack of facial hair for men), homelessness, cooperatives, dancing and running as everyday body movements in the social conduct instead of moderate walking, nonhuman animals, nonhuman entities (A.I.), feminism …
As can be seen, the contemporary Otherness is a sum of an intersectionality of privileges and oppressions, yet those on margins lose most.
These are Other matters.<<< Back