Friday Philosophy: sensitivity

Isn’t that always the way?  I asked you some questions about why you said what you did.  I provided you with some information about how that is offensive.  I did not HR any comment of yours.

I made a comment way up at the top, hoping we could avoid the usage of transsexualism as a slur.  I was hoping we could avoid you implying that transwomen were men.

But you posted the exact slur I was hoping to avoid…sometimes directly to me.  Was that meant to be in my face?

You say I’m the one who is oversensitive.


I’m not angry at you.  I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed in the behavior of my fellow man.  That included you last night, or maybe last week or last month, but more so the people who defended your behavior, which appeared to be remarkably similar to calling me a “n*gger.”

I’d like you to think about that.  The sad thing is that I’m pretty sure many of you…perhaps even most of you…will not.

But can you please stop blaming the targets of your insensitivity for being sensitive.

Note:  This is not directed at anyone at Docudharma.  This is going up at DKos at 7:30 eastern.  It has been a rough week.  Sometimes words have to be said and ideas expressed.

sensitive:  c.1400, “having the function of sensation,” from M.Fr. sensitif (13c.), from M.L. sensitivus “capable of sensation,” from L. sensus, pp. of sentire “feel, perceive” (see sense).

Meaning “easily affected” (with reference to mental feelings) first recorded 1816; meaning “having intense physical sensation” is from 1849.  Original meaning is preserved in “sensitive plant” (1633).

Etymology Online

The sensitive plant is also known as mimosa pudica.

Mimosa pudica (Sensitive Plant) (pudica = shy), is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched, re-opening within minutes.


Perhaps it is telling that the youtubes people made of this plant all showed them closing up after being harassed, but I found no video of them reopening.  Personally, I find the resiliency to be the much more important part of the story of mimosa pudica.

Sensitivity is not a bad thing.  The world needs sensitive people.  I can’t imagine how horrible it would be if it was filled with people with calloused hearts.

Yes.  Transfolk are often sensitive.  Maybe we are more so than suits your pleasure, but that doesn’t give you the right to tell us that we need to stop being who we are.

Can you even imagine how totally screwed it is for a transwoman to be told to “grow a pair?”

Mimosa Pudica is considered to be a weed in Central and South America.  Is that how you would prefer to view people who are differently gendered?

I’ve been here since November 2005 and have been fighting against “that comment” for the entire time.  It was my stated purpose for coming here. I will continue to fight it.  And I will not do it out of anger, but out of the desire to change the common view of us, perhaps your view, so that your society will allow us a place in it.

It is not in our power to make that happen.  That depends on you…and your words and your actions.

I am here to fight against my people being treated as a joke in our society.  You can choose to join me in that fight (my definition of “my people” is open to anyone who wants to identify as such) or you can choose to perpetuate the treatment.  If it makes you feel uncomfortable when I point out when perpetuating the treatment is happening, there is an easy solution.

Stop.  Stop it.  Cease the behavior.  Choose to learn.  Join the fight of people who have fewer rights than you rather than obstructing it.  Teach others.

But don’t tell people to stop fighting for respect.  That’s what the other side does.

Give me equal rights in this society and you can call me any names you wish.  Deal?

Of course, if we had equal rights, you probably wouldn’t want to treat us like slime.


Walled In



maybe both

sometimes neither

our choice

or at least

it should be


for our souls

and yours

if you want it

for you

and your children

your grandchildren

generations to come

the future


to live

all the colors

of the rainbow

of gender

as well as skin

The walls

around you

between us

will fall

if you stop

believing in them

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 6. 2008


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on March 7, 2009 at 00:02

    I wanted to explain how our fight if not a selfish one.  It’s not just the fight for our right to define who we are, but rather it is also the fight for you to define who you are…as men…as women…as people.  It is the fight to allow you the ability to define yourselves what it means to be a man or a woman…and what it means to be a human being.  We want you to be able to escape the restrictive roles allowed in this society, as defined by people like Phyllis Schaffly and James Dobson…and yes, even Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.  You defeat them by choosing to challenge the boundaries of the boxes they would put you in.

    You defeat them by tearing down those walls, not making them stronger.

    But that will come on another day, perhaps.  A day in which I do not feel so very tired…and in a week when I do not feel so beaten down.

  1. that all numan rights are just that human rights we are all stuck in a world where the definition of whose rights and what rights are open for debate. All humans have rights regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, or any other classification we can think up to cull the herd. Your rights are my rights.  

    • Alma on March 7, 2009 at 01:03

    a lot more sensitive people.  I think sensitivity tends to lead to empathy and a desire for a better understanding of all.

    I’m sorry for all the crap that gets thrown your way Robyn.  You deserve so much more respect than a lot of people show you.

  2. I really dont get it… why people have to be that way. mean and nasty. I dont venture into your diaries over there many times (or I do but dont stay long) just because I dont have the patience for it, them, that. You dont deserve that, Robyn.

    Ive been having a very quotey day.

    “The first principal of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating.”

    ~Cesar Chavez

  3. Not as euphonious as I am Spartacus, but what hey, we can work on that!

    • Robyn on March 7, 2009 at 01:29

    …in Orange.

    • kj on March 7, 2009 at 17:57

    now have two versions of “Ship of Fools” on this laptop, courtesy of some Russian site where jbk goes to buy downloads.  🙂   that song is imprinted with these stories and times, Robyn.  and that is a very, very good thing. 🙂

    i am so sorry about the fighting.  i read some of it.  i support you in your chosen work, even if nowhere around.  you changed my vision and perspective and that’s so valuable, there really aren’t words to describe.

    “I will fight no more forever” seems to have secured its hold here.  Maybe it’s the nascent spring, the settling of a year in one place- with a bit of illusive security on the horizon-  i don’t know, but it’s powerful.  

    if i’m not posting, know i’m still reading.  silence has come again, aka “Sige,” and it’s taken me “back to my loving ground.”  acceptance will take another form.

    “Ever Sweeter Plans”  i love you, Robyn.

    • kj on March 7, 2009 at 18:06




    this is her second visit.  her first one brought me here… 🙂

    i can’t wait to see what the second visit brings!  namaste.  🙂

Comments have been disabled.