Sexists, Skeptics, Symbols, and Sepsis

Introduction: Why Sepsis?

Posted on: 2013/05/14

Why Sepsis?

The short of it is, it’s a short word that fits into my alliterative title and concisely describes a lot of what concerns me in our society.

Many of our societal issues are caused by our lack of awareness of the little things that promote intellectual and emotional rot in our society; before we know it, that little scrape we sustained when we, say, chuckle at Seth McFarlane’s ridiculous ditty about how he saw actress’ boobs, gets infected when we don’t let the fact that those boobs were presented mainly in movies where the characters were assaulted get in the way of us just enjoying some good, old-fashioned boob time, and goes septic when, in real life, one in five women experience sexual assault and we’re sitting here chuckling as the onscreen assault of women becomes nothing more than a vehicle for us to see boobs.

It’s in the little things, the details, the places where we want to turn our heads away because it’s just not that important. That’s where the diseases grow and spread, and the body politic goes septic, rendering our entire society ill and our wounds invisible to all except those who sustain them most personally.

I am concerned with moving beyond the obvious issues of sepsis and pointing to the little scrapes and cuts that let the disease in. Sometimes I might have some medicine handy; just as often, all I can do is point, and you may know more than I do about how to heal. Society isn’t going to heal at the hands of one person. It takes all of us, working together, critically analyzing what we’re conditioned to accept and presenting positive alternatives, to fix ourselves.

Sometimes we can do that by more closely examining the ways in which we are conditioned to be sexist, which manifest in a plethora of ways that intersect closely with race, gender expression, sexuality, gender identity, ability, class, and any number of other identities.

Sometimes this occurs through the application of skepticism, both as defined by the movement and as defined by the individuals who use it, although I think that feminism done properly is, on the whole, a skeptical project, whether or not it receives any official seal of approval.

Sometimes this can be done when we look at our symbol systems and how they coach us to violence, both rhetorical and physical. Since I approach symbol systems both as a skeptic and as a student of rhetoric, I will likely find this a point of extreme difficulty when these two hermeneutics cross ways, and I welcome input from both believers and nonbelievers when this intersection is the topic of discussion.

I hope we can work together to make things a little bit less septic around here.


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