A lifestyle group I participate in on Facebook recently changed it’s name to try to draw more people to it.
It used to be Artists’ Box (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent, it’s a kink group).
The leaders got together and chose a name, and made it happen, changing the name to Painter’s and Sketcher’s Art Studio.
Thing is, the name made some people in the group feel left out, because they are neither painters nor sketchers.
Some do pottery. Some blow glass. They feel excluded.
Some are multi-talented, and feel like the name is too restrictive.
And these people spoke up. To the predictable replies, of course:
- “Me too!”
- “It’s for everyone, still, it’s JUST a name change to help with the search.”
- “Quit whining and causing trouble.”
- “If you don’t like it, GTFO.”
- “The leaders have the right to change the group name.”
I certainly agree with that last part, and really, would probably have left it at that.
After all, you can’t please everyone all the time, and I don’t bother trying.
Or, I might have reconsidered and changed the name again, after input from those who were concerned. Maybe I wouldn’t—I don’t have to know, since it’s not my group.
But it wasn’t left there.
A poll was created about the name.
Which, of course, resulted in all those who identified as painters and sketchers (admittedly, probably about 85% of the group) to jump in, cast their vote, and jeer at the losers, whose voices were drowned out by the sheer numbers of the majority.
Thing is…an issue of inclusion cannot really be solved by a majority vote.
Of course the majority will pick what suits the majority. That’s how “othering” works.
That’s how segregation happens.
That’s how non-binary folk get erased.
That’s how gays get sent to straight camp.
And so on…
Let me be clear: I don’t care about a group name. At all. Either I continue to find the group valuable or I don’t.
But then, I have the privilege of rarely being othered.
And if I’m not part of the privileged majority, that makes a HUGE difference, when one of the few places I feel accepted and welcome seems to change to exclude me.
And I might try to fight for my space, with people who seemed to care at one point.
And if those people posted a poll to show that their choice was right, I would despair, knowing that my voice actually doesn’t matter, because the majority will do what the majority chooses, (almost) always, and that is rarely to the benefit of the minority.
Because the majority will do what sounds good, not what is right.
And it’s not about that. It’s about understanding another point of view.
Everyone may choose their own path, to grow and learn or remain comfortable and ignorant. Unless, of course, they are given a nudge by the leaders of their groups and sites.
I personally don’t think the majority should decide by a vote. In the past, the majority hung people for saying the Earth was round and burned withes at the stake.
Might (or a majority) does not make right.
If you are a leader, the question is not whether to put everything to a vote. It is to lead. It is to decide whether you want to be inclusive in the small part of the world you have power over, or whether you want to just go along.
The question is, will you ask the minority their perspectives, and find the RIGHT path for you and those you lead (knowing you will lose some along the way), or will you do what is most convenient, and point to the majority as your validation?