About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Minimal effort #1: Stop laughing

"Lighten up, it's just a joke." Criticism that is often directed at minorities and mostly at women when they are made the butt of a joke. "After all," many men seem to say, "we have no trouble being made fun of, so neither should you." Yet, there is a difference between the exchanges that go on between acquaintances and friends, or the self-deprecating comedy a lot of stand-up comedians employ, and the punchline "women, am I right, guys?". In addition, it's hard to be funny if people make fun of other groups who are a few notches below them on the power totem pole.

But, the bottom line is, some jokes are also simply not funny or stale. As a micro-effort to improve overall conditions, here's a thing you can do: stop laughing at them. You don't need to lecture or moralise, you don't need to get up and storm out of the room. Simply don't laugh. People love being found funny, so they will repeat what works well - and the reverse is true, too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Progress works for the privileged, too

An acquaintance of mine once asked me why I believe what I believe, and what my primary goal is to advance causes that I'm not a direct benefactor of. He agreed that ethnic minorities, women and sexual minorities all have their legitimate grievances against the system, but as someone who was currently benefiting from it - a white, heterosexual man - he didn't exactly feel like going out there and join their fight. "It's not my place to be there," he said, "why do you think it's yours?" A good question.

See, I believe that flattening pre-existing power structures and barriers beyond the ones we establish during our lifetimes is a huge blessing to how people can relate to one another. This benefits the rich and the powerful, too.
  • If a company owner has happier employees who are not afraid to speak their mind, their loyalty will increase and their productivity will go up. A happy employee is a healthier and a better employee.
  • If (institutionalised) racism would recede, interactions with ethnic minorities would be less fraught with distrust and prejudice. Instead of some vaguely threatening Other, you gain a greater potential of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and partners.
  • If women would not be harrassed on the street, faced with disbelief when speaking up about sexual assault or not be the target of constant micro-aggressions, they would probably feel more secure, open and freer to give consent. No more nail-biting about - understandably - defensive reactions.
These are just a few quick points. It might be weird that I'm framing progressive issues within a context of benefits for the power structures they fight. After all, as that acquaintance pointed out when I told him the above, he said that there are probably people who simply don't care about having happy employees, black friends or safer streets. Yes, but we call these people sociopaths. My point is that everyone has a stake in making society better. To help out is certainly not an obligation, but it sure as hell is the right thing to do.