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Author Topic: Gender Based vs. Gender Biased  (Read 41744 times)
Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #75 on: June 02, 2004, 07:47:55 PM »

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Actually, you take my comment out of context and thereby misrepresent it.

Understood within the context of the discussion from which you snipped my words, it becomes obvious that I was suggesting that if we focus more on the extant differences between conventionally-socialized American men and American women, we neatly bypass arguments over whether those differences have their origin strictly in nature (essentialist arguments), strictly in nurture (constructivist arguments), or somewhere in-between.

By quoting me out of context, you are able to misconstrue my words as advocating a totalitarianism of thought in favor of constructivism.

Actually, I've re-read that post of yours and the context of that quote does nothing to provide the explanation you just gave of it. I would also argue that simply focusing on extant differences does not bypass their origin, except from the designer's perspective. Any players of said game will automatically assume the differences came from somewhere, and will form their own opinions and attribute them to the designer. Thus, by not making it clear what your position is, you leave yourself open to have your position misidentified and potentially attacked. Simple example, in AD&D 3e: "There are no differences between males and females", possible responses: "Good, that's how it should be/Oh yeah?/What the fuck?".

But I don't think the context of your post provided the explanation you gave, thus I don't think I was quoting you out of context, merely out of your intended meaning, which I had no way of knowing.

Quote from: Doctor Xero

Quote from: Ravien
Whilst a PhD does not an expert make, I would agree that Doctor Xero has expertise in the constructionist side of the gender debate, and it really is a shame that he chooses not to benefit us with his knowledge.

Since I cite a number of researchers in that thread (and was blasted by a few Forge posters for it), I assume this was also sarcasm?

No, not at all. Two points here, one: citing researchers in no way proves a point. It merely provides evidence. As I'm sure you are aware, I could cite many researchers who have found contrary results to those you cite. And two: I was not being sarcastic at all. I honestly feel that despite my disagreements with your opinions, your arguments would be helpful for this topic.

But although I may have misinterpreted your words, I sensed a tone of superiority in your arguments stemming from your PhD background in Women's Studies (which I personally feel is a biased course itself, considering for all your arguments on gender equality, I can't seem to find a course entitled "Men's Studies", though I may have found the ideal middle ground of "People Studies", otherwise known as "Psychology"), and I felt it prudent to state that when even the "experts" disagree about something, then the "commoners" have every right to form an opinion without first consulting such experts, a thing which doesn't make sense when all experts agree.

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I have met many and read even more who do just that.

Take a look at some of the angrier writings of essentialist feminists.

Also, look at some of the writings of later acolytes of John Gray's interpretations of gender differences.

Take a look at gender as understood within the field of sociobiology.

Read some of the anti-feminist conservative evangelical fundamentalist Christian writings in which various writers declare that gender roles were ordained by God and are hardwired into the soul.

Really? These people would actually argue that being poor was a result of genetics? That becoming a criminal is hardwired into your genetic code? Surely even within the confines of gender such people can see that stating "all females are biologically/theologically predestined to be feminine" is instantly disproven by the existence of females who are not feminine. Without a substantial social component, such occurances would be impossible. They may be arguing for "should be", rather than "are", but this acknowledges the effect of society in defying the "should", and thus they cannot be construed as arguing in favour of extreme existentialism.

Maybe these people you suggest are that stupid, but I doubt it. Instead, because of your inclusion of "sociobiology" within that context, I think you are interpreting "extreme existenialism" as suggesting "a strong biological component", which is not how John Kim explained it nor how I see it. Indeed, looking at sociobiology, one can instantly see the importance of both social and biological factors to that field, hence "socio" and "biology".

On the other hand, as I originally stated, I got the impression (read: I may be wrong) from pm's with you that you hold the extreme constructivist side, by stating that any and all differences are purely social. Perhaps you mean that there are biological differences, but that these can be completely bypassed by social development, but the effect is the same and so is the conclusion. I have also seen this opinion held by many other people, in all walks of life, concerning all matters of humanity (not just gender), whereas I have never met a single person who would deny the social factors as many deny the biological factors.

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If I want to challenge the idea that women are incapable of matching men in terms of strength, I would design a game in which male and female characters roll the same dice to determine strength value. (Compare Villains & Vigilantes in which women have fewer dice to roll up for a certain attribute which controls muscular prowess with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in which male and female fighters both used three six-sided dice for rolling up the Strength attribute).

I agree completely. This is why John has stated many times that not including gender differences is a statement all on it's own, and no less valid than a statement of including gender differences.

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I have read some marvelous nutritionist/bio-chemist papers proving that PMS is a purely social entity which results entirely from the nutritionally messed-up modern urban diet.

I disagree with your use of the word "proving" from a scientific perspective. Though I do think those papers would be interesting.

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I honestly think you would be better off running these women in games which challenge their reification of gender roles rather than in games which humor them. Either that, or accept the idea that you will be running games which marginalize and dismiss men who are intuitive, socially adroit, and otherwise tread upon the territory these women would set aside for women only.

I would suggest otherwise. Instead of you, the GM, deciding to "challenge your players", you should humor them. Two reasons. One, the games you are playing already do "challenge" them, which is exactly why they have a problem with them. If I see a game that says "magical fireballs cannot set fire to objects because the fire is magic", it doesn't "challenge my conceptions of magic and fire", it pisses me off and I won't want to play it. If I can't take advantage of things which I feel my character should have as strengths, I get annoyed, and I think, Kris, that this is what your players may be feeling. It doesn't matter why I feel they should be strengths, only that I can't use them.

Two, games are meant to be fun. If my players say "I wanna ride a dragon", then I let them, and build an adventure out of it for them. If they say "I wanna be cooler because I'm a girl/ I'm an elf/ I'm rich/ I'm blonde/ whatever" then let them, because the important part is "I wanna be cooler", and this really means "I wanna have more fun with this game", and why would you want to deny them that?.

-Ben
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M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #76 on: June 02, 2004, 11:48:52 PM »

Quote from: Ravien
Surely even within the confines of gender such people can see that stating "all females are biologically/theologically predestined to be feminine" is instantly disproven by the existence of females who are not feminine. Without a substantial social component, such occurances would be impossible. They may be arguing for "should be", rather than "are", but this acknowledges the effect of society in defying the "should", and thus they cannot be construed as arguing in favour of extreme existentialism.

Maybe these people you suggest are that stupid, but I doubt it. Instead, because of your inclusion of "sociobiology" within that context, I think you are interpreting "extreme existenialism" as suggesting "a strong biological component", which is not how John Kim explained it nor how I see it. Indeed, looking at sociobiology, one can instantly see the importance of both social and biological factors to that field, hence "socio" and "biology".

Not to speak for the good doctor, but I think there is another possibility. My exposure to sociobiology is limited to a smattering of information about E. O. Wilson from twenty years ago, so I'm not presuming to speak for that field--only to recognize a possibility.

There are those who believe that homosexuality is entirely genetic; there are those who believe it is entirely conditioned. This is not the place to have that debate, only to recognize it.

Clearly, some people have no inkling that they even might be homosexual in their younger years, but when they are older they turn to same-sex relationships. Also, there are cases of people who are involved in homosexual activities in their younger days who eventually settle into a heterosexual relationship as they mature.

Those who claim a genetic foundation for homosexuality do not claim that these people don't exist. They claim that those who are genetically homosexual are unhappy living heterosexual lives, as they have to repress their natural inclination, and if they were freed from societal pressures they would express their natural preferences.

To take it to the gender differences, the argument would be that those who are acting in roles that are contrary to their genetic structure have been forced to do so by societal pressures, but have not actually been changed in their innate desires and preferences. All working mothers, it would be claimed, would rather be home caring for their children, and all child raising fathers would rather be working to support their families. The preferences are fixed by our genes, but our conduct may be forced to be contrary to it.

I won't say the argument is spurious, but I do think it weak. In any event, it is possible to regard the empirical evidence for social impact on these aspects of character as demonstrating only forced conduct and not changed personality, and thus to maintain the position that the characteristics themselves are genetically fixed.

Difficult to disprove, really, particularly if someone wants to believe that.

--M. J. Young
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greedo1379
Member

Posts: 123


« Reply #77 on: June 03, 2004, 02:20:33 AM »

I remember someone posted a while ago about an article they read on rpg.net about women and men's differences as the related to fighting and such.  I stumbled across it today.  The address is below.

http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/vecna19jun01.html

Just FYI.
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Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #78 on: June 03, 2004, 11:02:16 AM »

Quote from: Ravien
your arguments stemming from your PhD background in Women's Studies (which I personally feel is a biased course itself, considering for all your arguments on gender equality, I can't seem to find a course entitled "Men's Studies", though I may have found the ideal middle ground of "People Studies", otherwise known as "Psychology")

Actually, I have never claimed to have a Ph.D. in Women Studies ; I have always stated that I have a Ph.D. in Gender Studies.  (I've made reference to my experiences in Women's Studies as part of my Gender Studies program, but that is a very different thing.)

Gender Studies is the study of gendering, both gendering based on the anatomical sex (male, female, intersexed, etc.) and gendering based on sexuality (mostly homosexual, mostly heterosexual, ambisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc.).  It is a multidisciplinary field which utilizes both scholarship and science, incorporating insights from humanities, anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, genetics, general biology, and so forth.  Furthermore, there have been universities which have Men's Studies coursework as well as Women's Studies coursework -- Gender Studies is a conflation of those two (and Gay and Lesbian studies) into one field of study with the understanding that one can not effectively study womanhood or manhood in a vacuum.

Ravien, your decision to reword my statement about my Ph.D. in Gender Studies as a statement about a Ph.D. in Women's Studies is yet one more of the many examples of your choosing to misinterpret my words.

Quote from: Ravien
I felt it prudent to state that when even the "experts" disagree about something, then the "commoners" have every right to form an opinion without first consulting such experts, a thing which doesn't make sense when all experts agree.

Not all experts agree on how weather occurs, the nature of gravity, implicate order theory, quantum theory, how bees fly, the proper interpretation of various Holy Writ, and the exact birthdate of Alexander the Great, for example -- but this does not mean that I will assume a 20 year old slacker stoned out on the sidewalk automatically has an opinion equal in validity to that of a meteorologist, physicist, mathematician, entomologist, theologian, or historian.

The use of the term "commoner" is silly ; an expert is someone who is more learned in a particular field, not some ridiculous elite figure.  I am not a scholar of history except as it applies to my fields, so I will rely on the judgements of historians when it comes to the Fall of the Roman Empire, but that doesn't mean I will turn to an historian for insights into the functional value of my duodenum.

Quote from: Ravien
Surely even within the confines of gender such people can see that stating "all females are biologically/theologically predestined to be feminine" is instantly disproven by the existence of females who are not feminine.

Not really.  Rather than explain it in detail, I suggest you read up on the concepts of the statistical outlier and of the history of the concept of deviation.

As for evangelical fundamentalist conservative Christians, I have read the argument that deviation from the norms they propose does not disprove said norms but rather proves the existence of Satan and proves the accuracy of the notion of Original Sin.  And I am not referring to mindless fanatics but intelligent individuals with, however, an airtight paradigm through which they interpret all data.

Just as some essentialists interpret all data to reinforce their reification of gender roles, particularly ones which ascribe intrinsic superiority to their gender in ways they find comforting.

I am trained to recognize both sides.  However, since the essentialist arguments have been taken up by others, such as yourself, I need only present the constructivist perspectives.  I have pointed out the occasional essentialist point when talking with extreme constructivists.

Quote from: Ravien
(read: I may be wrong) from pm's with you that you hold the extreme constructivist side, by stating that any and all differences are purely social.

If they were Private Mailings, why bring them up in public?  Bad form, Ravien.

Either way, however, you will notice that we no longer mail one another ; it became obvious to me that I was failing to communicate effectively with you, so I saw no reason to further annoy either of us.  I wasn't cutting you off, just trying to keep from annoying you needlessly.

Quote from: Ravien
I would suggest otherwise. Instead of you, the GM, deciding to "challenge your players", you should humor them. Two reasons. ---snip!-- If I can't take advantage of things which I feel my character should have as strengths, I get annoyed, and I think, Kris, that this is what your players may be feeling. It doesn't matter why I feel they should be strengths, only that I can't use them. ---snip!-- If they say "I wanna be cooler because I'm a girl/ I'm an elf/ I'm rich/ I'm blonde/ whatever" then let them

The problem is that by your logic I should have humored that player of mine who insisted that Blacks should not be able to hold positions of authority.

When I have players who insist that Whites should have +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Wisdom and Blacks should have -1 to Intelligence but +1 to Strength, or that anyone who is 1/4 Jewish or more should have a bonus to financial skills, or that people who intend their characters to "erupt into homosexuality" later on in the game must start out with a -1 to Strength and -1 to Willpower to reflect their genetically ordained sexual fate, I have no interest in humoring them.  Furthermore, Ravien, I have no ethical qualms with annoying racists, anti-semites, or homophobes.  Their why does matter.

Quote from: Ravien
why would you want to deny them that?.

There may be those who would enjoy playing RPGs titled  Sexwolf: The Joys of Rape or Gaybashers and Other Role Models, but I see every reason to deny them that enjoyment.  I have had too much experience in the Real World academically and interpersonally with those sorts of people to lionize or celebrate them -- or indulge them.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #79 on: June 03, 2004, 11:03:04 AM »

Quote from: SlurpeeMoney
Holy wow. Doctor Xero has been busy on a post I had thought of as long dead. And now he has so much information down I feel rather intimidated even trying to reply to his points.

My deepest apologies, Kris.

I had misread my computer (I turned to the Forge for a break after a very long teaching schedule) and thought there were postings between my postings.

Please, don't feel intimidated.  I include so much information only so that you can see that I am not spuriously shouting attitude on this topic.

There is much I do not know, which means that I can still have the joy of learning further.  I look forward to opportunities from people such as you to learn, and I am glad that the Forge has only a few posters from whom there is little to learn.

I look forward to your future postings, Kris.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #80 on: June 03, 2004, 06:50:18 PM »

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Ravien, your decision to reword my statement about my Ph.D. in Gender Studies as a statement about a Ph.D. in Women's Studies is yet one more of the many examples of your choosing to misinterpret my words.

Decision? Choosing to misinterpret? If I misinterpreted your words I apologise. I only read your post once so perhaps I was mistaken in my placing of "PhD" with the wrong course stream. I am human, I make mistakes. If I have come across as hostile towards you I apologise also, it was not my intention, I just call things as I see them, and when I'm wrong I accept it. But from the above I get the impression you are responding aggressively to your perception of me attacking you. I attack arguments, not people.

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Not all experts agree on how weather occurs, the nature of gravity, implicate order theory, quantum theory, how bees fly, the proper interpretation of various Holy Writ, and the exact birthdate of Alexander the Great, for example -- but this does not mean that I will assume a 20 year old slacker stoned out on the sidewalk automatically has an opinion equal in validity to that of a meteorologist, physicist, mathematician, entomologist, theologian, or historian.

To a degree, your point is valid. However, suppose this 20 year old stoner was actually right about something. Should you dismiss his opinion because he is not an "expert"? What if, one day, he takes a trip and comes up with a theory on how to explain quantum entanglement with time travelling particles. Should we just ignore him cos he is a stoner? This point ties in with this one:
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an expert is someone who is more learned in a particular field, not some ridiculous elite figure.

Unfortunately, the two are seldom seperate. If an expert is standing next to a stoner, and is putting forward an argument for a false conclusion, whilst the stoner puts forward an argument for the truth, the "expert" will be believed simply because he is seen as superior (ie: elite). And to think that there is no elitism within science or any other field is preposterous.

The fact is, the expertise of a speaker has no impact on the truth of a claim. Truth is independant of everything. If said stoner says A, and said expert can refute A with B, then A can be shown to be false without the need to resort to rank and title. Everyone's arguments are valid until proven otherwise. An expert may be one whose theories are simply harder to disprove.

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Not really. Rather than explain it in detail, I suggest you read up on the concepts of the statistical outlier and of the history of the concept of deviation.

Perhaps I am misinterpreting you here, but I take that as a slight. I won't parade my statistical prowess but I know statistics rather well. However, an outlier does disprove an absolute. A statement "All females are genetically destined to be feminine" is disproven by the existence of masculine females, regardless of how far out these masculine females may lie from the norm. This is because of the nature of the word "all". I don't want to get into linguistic semantics though. On the other hand, outliers do not disprove rules and tendencies (only absolutes). If I say "all balls in this bag are red" and then pull out a green one, then my statement was false. If I say "most balls in this bag are red" and then pull out a green one, then my statement still stands.

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If they were Private Mailings, why bring them up in public? Bad form, Ravien.

I don't think so. I never brought out the content, only my conclusions on your stance. Feel free to air your conclusions about my stance if you wish. I honestly wouldn't be bothered in the slightest, because I feel I have nothing to hide.

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Either way, however, you will notice that we no longer mail one another ; it became obvious to me that I was failing to communicate effectively with you, so I saw no reason to further annoy either of us. I wasn't cutting you off, just trying to keep from annoying you needlessly.

Wow. I thought I could have said the exact same thing. Freaky.

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I have no interest in humoring them.

The thing is, Kris does have an interest in humoring his players. Because he feels they are all on the same page as he is. Your statement basically boils down to "play with people who share your opinions about controversial matters". You may not want to humor his players, but perhaps he does want to. Are you going to tell me that he shouldn't want to? If not, then I really don't see how you can refute that.

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There may be those who would enjoy playing RPGs titled Sexwolf: The Joys of Rape or Gaybashers and Other Role Models, but I see every reason to deny them that enjoyment. I have had too much experience in the Real World academically and interpersonally with those sorts of people to lionize or celebrate them -- or indulge them.

What about an RPG entitled Kill Everything that Looks at You Funny? I've had experience in my life with attempted murderers and violent people, and I've seen the damage they can do. Should we not celebrate violence in games? Should we not indulge the violent streaks of people? My 16 yr old sister, who is rather religious, wanted to play a murderer who tortured her victims. Should I have denied her that character concept simply because I felt it was in poor taste? Or is being a gaybasher worse than being a torturous murderer?

Quote
I have no ethical qualms with annoying racists, anti-semites, or homophobes

Why? Are they not people too? So, because they discriminate against other people based on race/religion/gender/sexuality, then it's ok for you to discriminate against them based on their discrimination? Is it ok if I discriminate against you based on your discrimination against them? How about we all just stop discriminating completely? Or is this one of those "you drop the gun first" deals, where we all kill each other?

I apologise if it seems like I'm playing the devils advocate; philosophy has the effect of making me question everything. In one of our classes we looked at animal rights, and the topic came up about that german guy who ate another german guy who he met over the internet. Both men were entirely concensual with the idea, and the victim had every oppurtunity to leave at every point right up until his final breath (the killing took many hours). Whilst we might all balk at the idea of slowly eating another human, we came to the conclusion that ethically, this situation was the ideal, where both eater and eaten are willing. Analogously, raping someone up the ass is unethical, but concensual anal sex is perfectly alright (though far from my own tastes). So if eating another human or having anal sex is ok so long as all involved are willing, why is it wrong to play an RPG exploring anything at all when all the players are willing? Just because you may disagree with the subject, doesn't mean that your opinions should hold sway over other people's choices. This is very nearly a censorship issue, and I am firmly opposed against any form of cencorship for numerous reasons.

Hence my conclusion stands. If Kris wants to explore gender differences from any perspective at all, and all his players are in complete agreement, then I say "go for it" in whatever way helps them all have fun.

-Ben
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Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #81 on: June 03, 2004, 07:38:13 PM »

Quote from: Ravien



I disagree with your most recent thoughts ethically and artistically and, from the perspective of debate and communication, I disagree with your way of presenting them here.

I imagine that, if you want to, you could tit for tat return my sentiments.

Although we could argue about this all day, and we might both even benefit from the experience if we could actually communicate with one another, doing so provides nothing of value to Kris's thread nor to anyone reading it.

Kris's thread involves taking gender into account in game mechanics.

I still maintain that one should never cater to prejudice, not even "just gender stereotypes", but since you seem to consider catering to it acceptable if players enjoy the prejudice, and since I don't feel like starting a new thread on the topic merely to argue with you, in the interests of amity, I will withdraw from further clarifying my statements to you.  I imagine you may well do the same.

Quote from: SlurpeeMoney
Slogging through what seemed more argument than constructive criticism is, or has been to me, an indication that, while the subject does warrant further discussion, it is time to take a breath and get back to the issues.

I agree, Kris, and I regret that even statements against prejudice may be seen as controversial when gender and sexuality are involved.

Good luck with your topic, Kris.  I have enjoyed your postings.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #82 on: June 03, 2004, 11:10:19 PM »

Quote from: Ravien

Unfortunately, the two are seldom seperate. If an expert is standing next to a stoner, and is putting forward an argument for a false conclusion, whilst the stoner puts forward an argument for the truth, the "expert" will be believed simply because he is seen as superior (ie: elite). And to think that there is no elitism within science or any other field is preposterous.


One of your buddies has collapsed on the ground and appears to be having difficulty breathing. Next to you is an ER practitioner and a stoner.  The ER practicioner advises placing your buddy in the recovery position and applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; the stoner recommends letting 'em sleep it off.

Now, if you were in that situation, which course of action would be most prudent to follow?

I make no bones about the right of anyone to challenge the experts, but based on the fact that "commoners" have the same intellectual faculties, not that daily experience is equivelant to serious research.  Without thatdegree of effort, such arguments will be demolished by those who have already trained in the discipline and quite probably have encountered such challenges before.  Standing on the right to have an opinion achieves nothing.

Quote

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I have no ethical qualms with annoying racists, anti-semites, or homophobes


Why? Are they not people too? So, because they discriminate against other people based on race/religion/gender/sexuality, then it's ok for you to discriminate against them based on their discrimination?


Yes, it is.  By analogy, we treat accused and convicted criminals differently from citizens not so accused or convicted.  Your argument is sophistry.
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