• Deviance-adjacent groups 


    There are some groups that either take up a significant part of the population or can’t be considered a deviation from the norm for some other reason, yet still share many common traits with deviant groups in how they are treated. Items are not designed with them in mind, they are not included in what people imagine as a neutral or default person, and the environment is hostile to them. Some important examples of such a group are women, children, and fat people (obviously, excluding the ones that are deviant due to something else, like transness or disability). 

    The norm, as it is discussed by radeviance, is not just an objectively recorded statistical average. It is also the way the society sets the golden standard of a person and polices those who don’t fit it. It is not impossible for it to marginalize features that may be held by up to 50% of people. However, the exact ways these people are seen and talked about may differ a lot.

    Cisgender women as a deviance-adjacent group

    One of the most important differences cisgender women as a group have with many deviant groups is that this is a group that is not supposed to be abandoned by its members. While handling most deviant groups, the society combines two approaches: deviants are simultaneously told to do better and not be deviant and deprived of resources that would allow them to bridge their presentation with the standard. Holding the promise of acceptance in front of the deviant while making it harder and harder to reach is one of the regulation mechanisms. 

    Meanwhile there is no socially acceptable way for a cisgender woman to stop being a woman. Moreover, cisgender womanhood can even act as a normative group in relation to transgender identities and is only treated as inferior to cisgender manhood. This is happening because cis women are not a deviant group themselves, but are affected by the anti-deviant oppression due to misogyny1. All oppression types are interconnected and overlapping, and it isn’t uncommon for one oppressed group to be victimized by bigotry that primarily targets someone else. In this particular case, misogyny is expressed through putting women in a deviant-like position.

    Most social standards and norms are centered around features, typical or stereotypical for cisgender men. It shows in who gets included in medical research, what shape the mannequins used for car crash testing are, priorities in clothes design, and much more, which makes living as a woman more dangerous and uncomfortable even when no direct violence or threat is involved. Women are confined to a narrow set of roles that imply inferior thinking abilities, weakness, and dependence. Conforming to these roles brings them punishment for failing in competition against men and not conforming (whether voluntary or no) brings them punishment for a blatant deviation.  

    Children and adolescents

    With children and adolescents, the main difference is that everyone has been one at a certain point in their life. This is an identity you are meant to have for a fixed period of time and then abandon, and trying to get rid of it too soon is a deviation by itself. 

    Material oppression of the youth is undeniable. These people have very little or no legally granted autonomy over their body, pastime, personal property, and social circle. Adults in their lives also get away with violating the legally granted rights by withholding information about these rights and resources that would let the youth report abuse. One of the main mechanics that allows such a system to continue functioning is devaluing young people.

    Everything connected to childhood and teenagehood, except for the conditions adults supposedly create, is seen as undesirable. Young people are stereotyped as inherently less intelligent, less responsible, less knowledgeable, more impulsive, and harder to work with. Like with other marginalized groups, as correctly pointed out by this comic, any individual young person who fits this stereotype is used to justify it. 

    Low social status of a child is a source of a belief that children are inherently not interesting as people, and that every adult who expresses interest actually wants to take advantage of them.

    The few positive stereotypes, associated with childhood, are emphasizing children’s supposed pure and untouched by the world state. It is believed that adults are creating safety and happiness for children, and that a good child will appreciate this. And while only a minority of young people actually fit this role (largely due to adults not living up to their declared ideals), this is the standard they are judged by. 

    In case of violation of age roles, young people may be branded interchangeably as too childish and as trying too hard to be an adult. It is important to recognize that these two characterizations may be applied to the same person during a single period of their life and do not constitute any objective description of their personality and behavior. Overall, conforming to age roles includes both a negative and a positive attitude to childhood. A growing child, a teenager, or a young adult are supposed to be grateful to their parents/other adults for shielding them from harder parts of life and are supposed to have a certain degree of attachment to “simplicity” and “innocence” of childhood, yet they are also supposed to be happy about growing up and ready to abandon childhood at the exact time it is deemed proper by adults in their life. 

    Fat people

    Despite normality of fatness in a strictly biological sense, fat people are positioned closer to a deviant group socially. The narrative, surrounding fatness, is focused on overcoming and eradicating it, and people are much more blatant about not including it in their vision of the norm.

    Fat people suffer from lack of accommodations (seats, clothes, furniture), are frequently victimized by doctors who dismiss their health concerns as a side effect of weight, and deal with a lot of interpersonal violence, especially in childhood. In addition to that, they are stereotyped as having various negative traits, ranging from being lazy to being a sexual predator.

    While approaching fatness, the society presents several somewhat contradicting points of view: on one hand, fatness is inherently ugly and undesirable and easy to get rid of with proper attitude, yet on the other hand, fatness is an epidemic and is corrupting and tempting (fat models in ads are accused of promoting their lifestyle to children). This contradiction makes more sense when you recognize that the society views being fat as a corruption of moral values. The same kind of logic is used by conservatives who believe queer orientations and genders are spread through propaganda. Lack of accommodations for fat people (seats, clothes, furniture) is at least partially a conscious and deliberate choice, as accommodations are seen as encouraging being fat. It wouldn’t be wrong to refer to the push to lose weight as promotion of conversion therapy, due to general similarities between this and queermisia/paramisia.

    In case of fat people and some other deviant and adjacent groups, the bigotry and oppression they face often leans on ageism. Children are used as an excuse to discriminate, since they are believed to be especially vulnerable to bad example, and deviants can be accused of child abuse/grooming just for existing in public. Deviant liberation would be impossible without tackling this problem and liberating children. 

    1. While all kinds of oppression are linked, there is no central and most fundamental type of oppression – it doesn’t all wrap back to misogyny or racism or transphobia or ableism or anything else. Rather, oppression employs some of its many facets to deal with an oppressed person, and these facets may not be what is directly associated with this person’s identity. This somewhat contradicts what I said previously in “A radeviant look at oppression”, were I claimed that all groups are primarily oppressed through deviance or association with deviance – back then I did not think it through. ↩︎

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