• Defining norm, deviance, and liberation

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    A norm in the social sense is a system that assigns value to traits and to those who possess these traits, writes and distributes roles, and punishes for deviating from these roles.

    A deviant is someone who does not have traits that are considered valuable from the point of view of the norm, who feels or presents in a way that is rejected by their environment.

    The principles by which something is considered normal or deviant are connected to historical and cultural backgrounds of each particular society and humanity as a whole and do not correspond with humane ethics. A large amount of deviant features or behaviors are quite benign. There exist important exceptions, such as taking someone’s life, destroying or stealing personal property, or sexual assault. However, even in case of these behaviors, the amount of punishment the deviant receives depends more on other sorts of deviance exhibited than on severity of harm. And the society can and will use these behaviors as a means of punishment of other types of deviance.

    The first and the most important thing that is expected from a deviant is to reject their deviance and strive to be normal. If that is impossible, the next expectation is to accept their inferior position in the society and be as quiet about their deviance as possible. And the last resort, for those who refuse to be quiet, is to be spectacularly punished and serve as a cautionary tale.

    The norm has some degree of flexibility and may conditionally accept certain forms of deviance – such as some kinds of gay relationships, gender non-conformity. The condition on which they are accepted is typically more severe self-policing and active participation in oppression of other deviants. Deviants who reached this conditional acceptance often value it a lot and are willing to create obstacles against liberation. 

    Actual deviant liberation would require destruction of the norm. That includes deconstructing the entire system of what is considered desirable versus undesirable, both when it comes to taboo traits such as the most stigmatized paraphilias, and traits very few people consider serious, like incoherent speech and poor reading comprehension. As an outcome of this change, it still will be possible to condemn nonconsensual acts against others’ autonomy, but their existence will be approached as a flaw of the system, not a character trait of particular individuals.

    However, even starting to work towards such a goal means that first we need to learn to recognize each other as fellow deviants, suffering from the same injustice, and we need to undo normative biases within ourselves. The ideology of radeviance is an attempt to critically analyze what the society punishes, why, and how, and to give deviants an opportunity to unite.

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