A little while ago, I got an email from Tim relating to the latest poll. He wanted to know if I had any thoughts to share on the issue of gender balance and women’s participation in particular on YAR. This has been discussed some before on YAR but it continues to be an issue. This is pretty much what I sent him, but he’s currently out of the country and I felt compelled to share it now.
As many of you know, I used to write more and now I don’t at all. This is largely due to being back in school and spending a lot less time in front of my computer and thinking about being young, anabaptist, or radical. If I really wanted to, I could make time to read YAR more than I do, even comment and contribute.
But I got tired. I got tired of the same stupid discussions over and over with basically the same person (actually different people, but it started to feel so familiar). I got tired of watching my friends and allies get tired and burned out (sometimes they just got quieter, sometimes they gave up and walked away in frustration), I got tired of having to defend my own existence and belief to straight white men who, as a friend of mine so aptly described it, “come on the blog for a while and do the virtual equivalent of beating their chests and yelling.”*
It isn’t even reassuring to know that eventually they’ll lose interest and leave because there seems to be a limitless supply of them out there in the interwebs just waiting their turn. I’ve seen this in so many virtual groups, listservs, blogs, etc. Why is it almost always men? What is wrong with these men and why don’t they just get over themselves? What inadequacies are they trying to compensate for with these behaviors?
As long as YAR is a safe place for certain straight white men to be gadflies who shit in everyones lemonade while hiding behind a veil of earnest piety and godtalk, it will never be a safe place for women, people of color, lgbt people, or even decent straight white men who just want to read and write and be a respectful, privilege aware, part of this blog. Women, people of color, and lgbt people have more than enough bullshit and unsafe places to deal with in our real lives, work, family, and churches, we won’t spend much time and energy on virtual bullshit and unsafe places.
We have tried to ignore them, we have tried to challenge them, we have tried patience, love, and reason. Maybe we should try respecting ourselves and our community and block their lowdown ways from the conversation. If we don’t, we are effectively blocking everyone else from relevant conversation and decent, life affirming community.
*PS to all you indignant straight white men out there who are just about to write a comment here. Yeah, you know who you are. You are the ones who refuse to check your privilege, or engage power dynamics. And you are the ones who whine about political correctness. “If you feel the burning desire to leap to your own defense and declare, “I’m not the problem!” then you just might be.” (two points if you actually read the piece that quote came out of)