Wrangler's recent comments have me thinking. Thinking through my experience.
What/who do you think of when I say "other?" Honestly. Who is "other" to you?
One way to answer that is to say, "Well, we know who the others are: they're minorities. Black people. Gay people. People from 'third world' countries."
But another way to answer that is to think structurally: what does the other make us feel like, usually? Answer: uncomfortable. Like we'd rather be out of their presence.
Who does that for you?
For me, these days, the "other" (conceived that way) is the upstanding Southern Baptist, who tucks his shirt in and shaves every morning. Who speaks with clarity and brightness. Who greets you with a smile. Who was actually a virgin until he was married.
Now, again: who is the other? Who is the other if you feel much more comfortable around a gay foreigner who happens to be wearing a big-bird costume than you do around a Southern Baptist preacher? And if the views of big-bird and the preacher conflict, which other do we defer to first? Whose political perspective is more important? Let's not pretend that Southern Baptism has a more pervasive cultural influence these days than homosexuality. When was the last time you saw anything but a Sunday-morning sermon that even hinted of Southern Baptist culture? But have you seen MTV? Or a sitcom? Or the internet?
We talk in abstractions about "the other," but I'm not sure we're thinking about the same things.