I’ve long been troubled by the concept of “othering” and its pervasive effects on our language and behaviors.

When we categorise the undesirable actions of others as distinct from our own, we unintentionally create isolation that can lead to harmful consequences. A striking example occurred today, within the context of discussions asserting that “real men” do not engage in violence. This type of “othering” not only reinforces an unconscious bias but also trivializes a serious issue. It labels men who commit violence as ‘unreal’ or ‘not real,’ simplifying a complex problem that affects everyone.

Consider the alarming suicide rates among men aged 18 to 45—a clear indication that mental health issues do not discriminate. So why should we isolate the issue of male violence as if it’s an anomaly?

The practice of “othering” isn’t limited to discussions about gender violence. Women, too, have been compartmentalised into categories like ‘mumpreneur’ or ‘girl boss’. These labels suggest that being a mother or a woman adds a qualifier to their entrepreneurial identity, as if these roles offer a different or enhanced business acumen. Far from empowering, these distinctions often diminish us all. For example, is a woman’s success contingent on motherhood or overcoming specific obstacles? As someone frequently pressured to conform to these societal expectations, I see the irony in our selective celebration of women’s success.

Gender and identity are complex, and we all deserve better than to be marginalized by the language of “othering” that excludes or diminishes anyone’s experiences or contributions.

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