Thursday, 19 June 2014

The problem with "Not All..."




In the wake of the Isla Vista tragedy last month, there was a surge of articles identifying the role that misogyny and rape culture played in influencing Eliot Rodger's motives. To which, there was the predictable response of, "Hey! Not all men are misogynist would-be murderers! This was just some crazy guy." The problem with the "not all men" argument, is that completely misses the point - that we live in a culture where women often experience fear of assault or discrimination. The "not all men" argument is designed to indemnify the person who speaks it of any responsibility for the issue, rather than actually address it, and dismisses these fears as being unfounded.

On the flip-side, in Bendigo, there have been a vocal minority opposing the establishment of a local mosque, with opponents resorting to a campaign of intimidation and racial stereotyping - implying that supporting the Islamic community equates to supporting terrorism, paedophilia and domestic violence. To argue that "Not all Muslims" are these things would, undoubtedly, fall on deaf ears, as it doesn't actually address the fears and concerns that these opponents have for their community.

And I'm sure that it would be no consolation to the Islamic community to tell them that "not all people in Bendigo" are culturally-intolerant xenophobes, if they aren't afforded the same basic freedom to practice their faith as every other person in the community.

Which brings me to a comparatively-trivial comparison, but one that impacts on many professionals in the library industry. Arguing that "not all librarians" are socially diminutive, conservative, shushing bookworms, but in fact highly-qualified tech-savvy information wizards, does nothing to help the plight of the profession. Because the fact is that there are elements in the industry who do fail to live up to its professional standards or meet modern expectations of information management practices.

And arguing "not all librarians" is not the solution.