Human Geographers are interested in understanding how people occupy space together. How do we get along? Difficulties arise anytime people of different backgrounds (racial, ethnic, religious, financial, etc.) are called upon to share finite space, role definition becomes important pretty quickly! Hierarchies (pecking order), equitable division of resources, friendships, enemies, etc. are all important. What’s interesting to me is how contrast emerges as a primary means of definition when we look at these roles. More specifically, if Gill Valentine’s general perspective is correct, in the west, pretty much everyone is held in contrast with white men.
“Black” is measured against white in gradations, the darker skin the more bad or dirty or scary or treacherous a person is. A woman is either feminine or “manly” based on the contrast against quintessential man. But I suppose if contrasts are going to be the main way to create definition then a fixed position is demanded. Otherwise, otherness can’t even happen. This seems to be a recipe for warfare at every turn. Why must this be? Why must my individuality rely on another to be legitimate? I’m curious…
Is it possible for us to be simply different without an implied inferior-superior spectrum? Can I be “Jon” without being thinner than, fatter than, shorter than, taller than, dumber than, smarter than, less important, more important? What would our societies be like if “different” didn’t demand a superlative?
For example, gender (in my view) is a function of creation NOT volition. If a hierarchy of importance is removed then differentness is not seen as being socially constructed… it’s just different. Simple. I wonder sometimes if we don’t make things complex on purpose?
And one more random thought. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of the body as space. I have always thought in terms of the body providing definition of an individual that occupies space, not as space in and of itself. This is a new concept to me, one which requires some consideration before calling “BS!”