Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars


Liberal university prof condemns ‘bias’ of showing wedding photos in virtual meetings

'When the virtual background of a Zoom meeting attendee has pictures of his or her wedding, it unintentionally reinforces the idea that marriage is most fitting between opposite sexes.'
Fri May 29, 2020 - 9:28 pm EST
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May 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — As the government pours trillions into the economy to keep businesses afloat and the debate about the COVID-19 lockdowns rages, experts of every sort are pumping out a nonstop stream of advice on how to weather social distancing and quarantine. Fitness experts are giving home workout advice, parenting experts are giving coping tips, and teachers are teaching parents how to be teachers (or at least how to help their kids with homework).

And then we have the progressive university staffers like Caroline Brooks and Amy Bonomi of Michigan State University. Their contribution to all of this? An essay published by MSU Today titled “There’s an unconscious bias in virtual meetings. Here’s how you can avoid it.”

A pressing issue, according to Brooks and Bonomi, is that while “employees use videoconferencing now more than ever, there’s an issue happening beneath the surface with platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Skype beyond stress and mental health that’s affecting its users.”

I’m sure many of you are as sick of Skype and Zoom as I am by now, and we can all reel off plenty of reasons why. But I will admit that I had not thought of the fact that, as Bonomi solemnly informs us, these meetings are rife with unconscious bias. This occurs, she noted, when we use “language, symbolism, and nonverbal cues that reinforce normative social identities with respect to gender, race, sexual preference, and socioeconomic status.”

Such as? “For example, when the virtual background of a Zoom meeting attendee has pictures of his or her wedding, it unintentionally reinforces the idea that marriage is most fitting between opposite sexes.”

I will confess that I had never considered how offensive my wedding photographs might be to somebody who, upon seeing it, might draw broad and sweeping conclusions about the institution of marriage. A wedding photo of a straight couple inadvertently communicating subconscious homophobia? It’s a real minefield out there these days. I hope Bonomi gets paid the big bucks for this stuff — she obviously provides what is known these days as an “essential service.”

DROP Disney+: New teen film 'Out' features openly homosexual main character! Sign the petition here.

The two researchers then provide a list of tips for all of us accidental bigots, such as “use inclusive language”; be “sensitive”; and be careful about “symbolism,” which includes family photos. There are also ways that you can be an “ally,” which is a sort of participation trophy in the Oppression Olympics:

Challenge microaggressions. Be a strategic ally in calling out microaggressions when they occur. This can be done by naming microaggressions on the spot or addressing them privately. It is important to share how the microaggression affected you and may have affected others and to provide tools for improving skills, they said.

This stuff may seem laughable, but a generation is getting taught by folks who genuinely believe it. To some progressive professors (and to be fair, I had plenty of great ones during the course of my history degree), one of your wedding photos can actually convey “unconscious bias.” I think my wedding photo betrays a rather obvious bias for the other person in the photo, whom I happen to be marrying — as do anybody else’s photos — but Brooks and Bonomi are too busy ensuring that hetero-normativity doesn’t poison your Zoom calls to notice that.

Perhaps as governments search for places to make fiscal cuts in their quest to claw our way back out of the deep hole we’ve dug during the coronavirus lockdown, they can take a good gander at public universities and the research they’re producing. We might discover that taxpayers are funding a lot of bizarre nonsense that we would all be better off without.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In the latest episode, Ethan Gutmann, an investigative writer and defender of human rights, joins Jonathon to discuss the live organ harvesting that he discovered was happening in China.  

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 

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