Monday, September 14, 2009

Policing your area

When I was little and in pre-school, I remember "policing your area" to be a thing we did everyday, after snacktime, before quiet time. We were each responsible for picking up the bits of detritus created by a room full of 3 and 4 year olds during the course of a day in the space close around us. It didn't matter if it wasn't you that created the mess, it was your area, and your responsibility to clean it up.

I think that is true as adults too, though in more than just a tidy space kind of way. I am a feminist, that is my "area" and it is my job to speak out against other people who call themselves feminists and then do something hurtful, like claiming that transwomen aren't "real" women.

I am also able-bodied, white, hetero, agnostic and female. When someone who shares my same areas says something stupid, it is my job to speak up, to police my area.

Now I can criticize things outside my area, like religion or men for example. But it's not my job to change it. It's not my area.

If a PWD, or a POC or a wealthy white male, for example, were to criticize me- I have two choices. I can listen to what they have to say and try to do better, or I can fight it. My general rule of thumb is that if what I am doing is causing harm to another person, then I will listen. If what I am doing is trying to stop someone from causing harm, then I will fight. This is where I almost universally end up when I am criticizing misogyny or religion.

Wonder and I have had this conversation before. She is not thrilled with my anti-religion stance, and she is one of the good Christians who I admire. But I make pretty valid claims against religion, and she sees that it is her area that needs policing, not my critiques. I don't use strawmen to draw my conclusions. I'm not making up the image of the screaming hypocrites, the pedophile priests, the pro-lifers who couldn't care less about actual lives, the Jesus lovers who only know Charity as a stripper from the local titty bar. I am not making up the fact that those are the majority of voices that get heard on the Christian front. And to me, though I know there are good people like Wonder who are Christians, constantly separating them out from the screaming hypocrites feels like it's too much policing of another person's area. It's not my job to change the image of religious types from greedy god-bags to Christ followers.*

*I feel the same way about ALL religions, btw. I dislike the messages from fundy Muslims, fundy Jews, and pretty much any religion that uses God to justify violence and hate. But it is the fundys, the hardliners, the haters, that get heard most often. After 9/11 there was a huge liberal cry for moderate Muslim voices to speak out. So if we require it from them, we should require it of our own religious types.)

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