Feminism: The Cycle of Fauxgress

[Content Note: Misogyny, WWII Appropriation, Racism]
[Note: This post was previously published at Shakesville.] 

See Tony Jones blog. He is a professional Christian author, blogger, and social media consultant.

See Tony Jones ask why there aren't more women in his blog comments and social media communities. 

See Tony Jones tell a woman (who says that his usual methods of interaction with others online set off her abuse triggers as his behavior reminds her uncomfortably of abusive Christian men from her past) that her suggestions effectively compare him to Hitler and that there is no possible lower insult in society for a man than to be told that his behavior touches off a woman's abuse triggers:
Karla, remember that the next time someone tells you that you remind them of an abuser. For a man in today's society, that is akin to being compared to Hitler. There is no lower blow.
(I'm sure that this will be revisited again the next time someone tells Tony Jones that he has unexamined white privilege. The best thing about the No Lower Blow tactic is that no one ever holds you to the last time you said it!)

See Tony Jones invite Christian feminists to guest post on his blog, while explicitly warning them that the comment sections to their posts will not be moderated. See Tony Jones scoff at the suggestion that this could be seen as a means of using womens' work to drive pageviews over progress, and that this may be a less-than-stellar deal for any women who choose to accept.

Here is a pattern:

1. Ostensibly Progressive Blogger (often, but not limited to, white and male) notices (or has it brought to his attention) that his community is looking a little more homogenous than might be expected, were he actually fostering the community of inclusion and intersectionality that he likes to believe he embraces. Blogger publicly asks how he can Do Better and make his blog more welcoming for women, people of color, trans people, etc.

2. People in the targeted demographic who already follow (or are notified by other people who follow) the blogger tentatively point out why they are feeling unwelcome in the blogger's space. Frequently this comes down to the blogger's failure to check his privileges when writing, his failure to proactively include intersectional viewpoints in both his own writing and in guest/co-blogger posts, and/or the unsafe space of the unmoderated or poorly-moderated commenting section.

3. Ostensibly Progressive Blogger blows off the suggestions from the people in the targeted demographic. This can be done in a variety of ways: the blogger can state that the suggestions are invalid and/or would not work; the blogger can state that the suggestions are already applicable to everyone and should be more broadly applied to society at large (thereby deflecting discussion on the specific failings in his writing and in his community space); the blogger can insist that the suggestions are personal attacks.

4. Ostensibly Progressive Blogger will also attempt to silence his critics via various methods: asking or encouraging or simply silently condoning followers who pile criticism on the people responding to the solicitation with suggestions; allowing or encouraging the conversation to move away from genuine suggestions to blanket praise of the blogger; refusing to address personal attacks on the people offering suggestions or acknowledge that these attacks are part of the problem; choosing not to moderate the threads as a safe space and leaving up hateful and triggering material directed at the people giving the suggestions and/or against the whole targeted demographic.

5. Ostensibly Progressive Blogger ultimately changes not a damn thing. The blog stats receive the anticipated drama-spike, the ad money rolls, the blogger basks in the praise of the followers who were already comfortable in their space, and the people who were already in the "feeling kind of unsafe here" target audience can quietly slink away, more deeply hurt than before their suggestions and experiences were solicited, because now they've been told their suggestions for inclusion were actively harmful to others

This is not something that happens in a vacuum.

Nor is it limited to a specific subset of religious bloggers.

Nor is it necessarily limited to male bloggers.

Part of being an actual progressive means actually listening to marginalized people. Checking one's privilege doesn't begin and end at an abstract recognition that you have it, and then doing whatever the hell you felt like in the first place but this time with a satisfied sense of Allyship Achieved! for merely saying that privilege is something you have.

Really allyship, the kind that takes place daily, means continual reflection and self-examination. It means understanding why your priorities are what they are, and changing them to whatever they should be. It means listening to marginalized people when they have been hurt, and not asking them to feel bad for making you aware of your privilege. It means being able to take criticism on board without filtering their feelings through a validity prism, and without insisting loudly and longly that no really, I'm not like that.

And being an ally means that a solicitation for suggestions on how to improve shouldn't be a trap designed to harm the marginalized communities you claim to wish to reach.


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