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Majority and normality

29/09/2022

People belonging to a majority have a specific thinking error: they may think that belonging to the majority means being normal. This means in turn that if someone belongs to the minority, they may be regarded as not normal. This thinking error may cause an awful lot of pain to people belonging to the minority.

The source of the picture: freepik.com

We all belong to the majority in one respect, and to the minority in another; and we feel the consequences of this thinking error especially when we belong to the minority, and most of all if this is not our choice.

One of the most well-known examples of this is sexual orientation. The majority of people are attracted to people of the opposite sex; and, especially in cultures where people with different sexual orientation are not very visible or not accepted as is the case in Hungary for example, they may regard people with different sexual orientation as strange, as having a disease, or even as not natural or not normal. This view has a nice name: heteronormativity. People who belong to the minority have a choice to become visible (and possibly even educate people belonging to the majority), to remain hidden as much as possible, or to fake and claim to be heterosexual. In a society where heteronormativity is widely accepted and supported, some of these people might even decide to take their own lives because of this; unfortunately we can read news like this from time to time.

Similarly, the majority of adults have a partner and have children. And they tend to think this is normal. Having children, and of course a partner is so natural for the majority, and sometimes it is even rewarded by politicians, as is the case in Hungary now. As a consequence, it happens frequently that when you meet someone for the first time, you get the question: "What about your family?" or "Have you got children?". Or, for example when you are looking at a flat to rent, you get asked: "Your partner couldn't come today, could he?" And people asking these questions usually haven't got the faintest idea that with these seemingly innocent questions they might ask about the most painful life experiences of the person they are talking to.

Everybody who does not have a child or a partner knows these situations. First you might get caught unawares and you do not know what to say. Shall I start to explain it all to a stranger? Others may be able to say at once that it is none of your business; others may need to get prepared to say that this question is too private and they do not want to answer it.

Because these questions are really intrusions into your private life. And the fact that some people think it is completely acceptable shows that it is the norm in the given cultural background to have children and have a partner (which usually means being married).

If you don't, you either are invisible in most cases or you are regarded as strange, as someone who breaks the norm. And if you are invisible or if you are regarded as strange, your experiences might get invalidated.

A few weeks ago I posted about Word Childless Week, and someone shared my post on Facebook. One of her acquaintances wrote a nasty comment - just because she shared that information. This was an example of invalidating someone's experiences.

If you belong to the minority in this respect or in any other, you should know that your experiences are valid. You should know that your worth does not depend on whether you belong to the majority or not. You have complete worth exactly as you are. No one has the right to question your raison d'être. You are a complete and valuable person with your own valid experiences, difficulties and it is self-evident that you do have a reason to be.

And if you belong to the majority in this respect or in any other, you should know that your experiences are valid too. You should also know that as you are the member of the majority, things are easier for you in that particular aspect than for people belonging to the minority. Please be aware that others do not belong to the minority in order to question you or your values, your way of life, your difficulties or your experiences. They belong to the minority either because they were born like this (or if you prefer: God created them to be like this), or it Is the result of their life circumstances; or - in situations which can be influenced by conscious decisions - they have decided so. And you should know that besides your normality, there are other kinds of normalities; if someone belongs to a minority, they are normal and different from you.

The world is a colourful place and people can have an indefinite number of different variations, too. We belong to the majority in one respect, and to a minority in another. Can we find a place for all of us?