joreth: (polyamory)
A comment I want to expand on for a future blog post. The context is that Unicorn Hunters frequently accuse the poly community of being hostile towards anyone interested in a triad, and if we were just nicer to them, they'd eventually learn how to do polyamory ethically. But because we're so mean to "couples", they just leave the community.

It is my opinion that the couples who get all hurt and feel "attacked" are people who actually do want to do the bad, predatory things, are steeped in their privilege and don't want to examine it, and are generally not approaching the community in good faith to "learn". Even if all of this is subconscious.

That's why they feel "attacked", because they are seeing themselves in the "attacks". As I say in basically every post where I criticize people for something - if you're not doing the thing I'm criticizing, then I'm not criticizing you.

Most of the cismen on my friends list who regularly read my feminist posts and don't feel attacked are able to do so because they recognize that they are not my targets (even if they might have been at one time). They see how they are not doing the things I'm criticizing, so they can be part of the group of "men" and yet not be part of the group I am "attacking".

Or they can see themselves in my criticisms and feel humbled by the recognition and seek to change.

But people who tend to see themselves in my criticisms and don't want to change, even subconsciously, start to feel cognitive dissonance, which tends to make them feel attacked, and then defend themselves with straw-man arguments, sealioning, deflection, diluting the definitions, and Motte & Bailey tactics.

And then get personally offended when I, or someone, see through the smoke and mirrors and red herrings and call them on their bullshit.

But I'm the "intolerant" one who refuses to "teach" and who "scares off" well-intentioned but naive newcomers.

My comment that I want to expand on later:

I mean, how often do we hear about people wanting to get into birdwatching being "chased off" by other birders just because they're new to birdwatching and they make mistakes that could even be harmful to the very birds they're professing to be interested in and want to be respectful of, even though that totally happens all the time?

People who are new to an activity typically spend more time with their mouths shut and their ears open, learning how others do that thing and less time arguing that their inexperience is just as valid as the experience of the veterans.

When people *do* make mistakes in a new activity and the community tries to correct them on it, those who genuinely want to learn tend to listen to the corrections, even when some people aren't as "nice" as they could be about it. We don't have all these horror stories of would-be-birders leaving the birding community because birding veterans were mean and wouldn't teach them.

And it's not because birders are just generally nicer than poly people. It's because new birders are more willing to learn, so experienced birders aren't frustrated and burnt out with constantly "educating" people who are coming to the community in bad faith, pretending to be "open" and "willing to learn" but really steeped in their privilege and demanding concessions for their environment-trashing birding preferences.

Date: 2/1/19 06:28 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] lovepeaceohana
lovepeaceohana: Troy, Abed, and Annie from Community, my new OT3. (troy+annie+abed)
yyyyyyyeah -- there's a lot of "but I get to want what I want!" that can't bear to examine the context in which that desire exists, that really needs to believe their desires are totally apolitical and in no way part of systems that can hurt and oppress others. Any attempts to get them to consider it becomes "shaming" because they're uncomfortable, and they haven't got the emotional wherewithal to be curious about that discomfort so they blame it on the person who "shamed" them.

Date: 2/1/19 07:54 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] dawnd
dawnd: (Default)
Well, on the other hand, I do remember being that person, around racial issues. I lost a friend over it a couple of decades back, because she didn't think I was genuine in my desire to learn even though I WAS uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable because I was new at it. These ideas were genuinely new to me, and telling me that I should already have known them was simply not helpful. What WAS helpful was pointing me at resources without shaming me in the process. It was helpful to empathize with me that these feelings were new and uncomfortable, and that many people experience them in the process of learning this stuff. It was helpful to tell me that it wasn't my fault that I had been ignorant, but at the same time, now I knew better, and my words and actions from now in would be expected to measure up to a new standard. It was helpful to me to be greeted as a fellow human being, by a member of the oppressed class, and for me to see that as an individual, I could do better, even though I was part of the oppressor class (in this way.)

You can dismiss this as being "nice" or coddling. I generally prefer to see it as being compassionate and educating someone in order to create genuine change and valuable allies.

You don't have to do this work, of course. No one says you have to spend your precious energy this way (not being snarky here.) It's always your choice. And if you don't have that energy to spare, you shouldn't spend it that way. But honestly, I think shame as an educational tool is highly ineffective and even counterproductive. Simply not engaging with them is likely to work better, in my experience.

I've tried to approach my own educational efforts around polyamory this way, because that's what worked for me, and what I wished I'd been given. No, not every person genuinely wishes to learn, and yes, it gets exhausting sometimes. And when that happens, I let someone else carry the torch for a while, while I rest. Sometimes setting of boundaries does need to happen. Rules (dare I use the word) need to be codified, and standards of behavior enforced in group spaces. They just don't need to be based in shame, in my opinion.

I also think your analogy, while interesting, and having some valid points, also falls down in that birders are honestly just *watching* birds. The Unicorn Hunters want to actively *play with* their targets. And those targets are presumably adult humans capable of their own thoughts and choices, unlike birds who need to be more actively protected because they lack the capacity for rational thought and response. I think it's a bit more like educating people around consent, where the unicorns need to be educated *as well as* getting the "hunters" to quit violating consent. It's not enough to shame the hunters into playing some other game. The unicorns need to be educated as to their own rights and responsibilities as well, because people are more complicated than birds. And unfortunately, sometimes we "vote against our own best interests," especially in matters of the heart.

YMMV of course. ;)