The ‘hypoxymoron’: a hypocritical oxymoron. Many years ago I created this term to describe a strange phenomenon plaguing society. Hypoxymorons are the result of a chicken-and-egg scenario. A problem is identified, but when one attempts to solve it, they end up creating the very problem they wished to solve. This is perfectly exemplified by social inequality – be it sexism, racism, or homophobia. The frightening fact is hypoxymorons are becoming increasingly integral to the way our society deals with perceived injustices.
We strive for equality. This means equal rights and treatment; race, gender, and sexual orientation should not define our judgements. However, we point out and celebrate when a national leader is a person of colour. We find ourselves counting the ratio of blacks to white in every association. We have special awards and treatment for certain racial groups under the rationale of affirmative action. It seems the goal is to enforce and confirm equal opportunities. The problem is that equality dictates we should be blind to skin colour. On the contrary, we make race the focal point. This is an oxymoron – it is hypocritical to claim we are not racist while drawing attention to race.
The same principle is seen when addressing sexism. We eulogise female leaders, claiming they represent a winning battle against female subjugation. This may seem logical in itself. The problem arises when people vote for a prime minister because she is female. If they were truly egalitarian, they would not consider gender. Once again, the very people who advocate equality end up propagating the enemy they want to thwart. The more attention gender gains, the worse our inherent sexism.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation has elicited another paradoxical dilemma. It shouldn’t matter, we say, if you’re transgender, gay, or straight. In the same breath, we brag about the inclusivity of LGBTQ events. Our society simultaneously claims sexual orientation should not matter, but any deviation from heterosexuality must be announced and glorified. The irony of this hypoxymoron eludes even the most woke proponents. Highlighting sexual orientation does not solve biases; parading pansexuality does not prove impartiality. We continuously break what we are trying to fix.
Imagine a swinging pendulum. An issue at its worst is the pendulum at maximum displacement. We think the issue will be solved by the pendulum swinging back to equilibrium. However, we ignore the pendulum’s trajectory when it overshoots to the other side. A hypoxymoron is when the pendulum of a social issue has gone too far, creating an equal but effectively opposite problem. It is time to wake up to ‘woke’. Creating true equality for humans is not about accentuating our variation. Solving systemic problems is a matter of identifying how we treat people differently, then making sure we treat them the same.