Feminism: The Hazards of Distancing

[Content Note: Misogyny, Hostility to Reproductive Rights]

Myself on the hazards of using distancing language in response to specific suggestions:
I would like to point out something else that bothers me. Simply eliding Liss' actually-pretty-specific-list into a vague "Advice for Decent Human Beings" has -- whether Myers meant to do so or not -- effectively moved the conversation away from the actual content of Liss' suggestions.

One of those suggestions -- one that matters a very great deal to me -- was Institute a zero-tolerance policy for misogyny in your comments. No slurs, no misogynist narratives, no questioning women's agency. To the best of my knowledge and observation, this policy has not been implemented at many major movement atheist blogs.

To the best of my knowledge and observation, this policy has not been implemented at Dr. Myers' own blog. I say this because in Myers' own linked post to Liss', an extensive "should women be allowed bodily agency" conversation occurred in the comments there and is still available to read in all its potentially-triggering glory, six days later.

This is not a criticism of Dr Myers -- he is free to run and moderate his blog however he chooses. But if he genuinely believes that Liss' 18 suggestions for making spaces more inclusive of women are the bare minimum for being a decent human being, then he is not meeting that minimum. Yet by reframing Liss' words, by criticizing the scope of her post title, and now by clarifying that he didn't mean the words he said in the way they are generally meant, we have effectively stopped talking about the unsafeness of spaces where womens' agency is up for constant debate.

And we have reached that point in the conversation precisely because we stopped talking about Liss' actual advice and instead summed it up in a pithy-but-meaningless "just be decent!!" platitude. I think that's unfortunate.

Reposted here because I am all in. When a privileged person asks a marginalized person how they can make a space more welcoming, their response should not be reframed, should not be generalized, and should not be helpfully summed-up, because to do so inevitably redirects the conversation away from the words of the marginalized person and puts the focus on the reframing of the privileged person. This is silencing and denies marginalized people a voice, whether it's intentional or not.

And the correct response to having this pointed out is not to argue out intent, but to say I didn't know that, I do now, I won't do it again, I apologize. It's that simple. 


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