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It's Not Your Job To Educate Others, But Do It Anyway

by Nicole Chardenet 2 months ago in humanity / fact or fiction / education / controversies / activism
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Tired of people's stupid questions? I'm tired of everyone else's stupid questions too, but I still answer them.

No, this is not what I do under a full moon. Image by Jean Louis Mazieres on Flickr

"It's not my job to educate white people!"

Man, it's tough to be a 'woke' black antiracist today. If a twelve-generation legacy of slavery, 100ish years of Jim Crow and Herschel Walker aren't enough of a cross to bear, you still have to keep answering Stupid White People Questions.

"Why do you get mad when I say I’m colorblind?"

“Do you really get followed around in stores?”

“Don’t you know there’s black privilege too?”

Nobody knows the troubles you’ve seen.

“Is there really any such thing as ‘microaggressions?”

“If education is so important, why do black kids accuse others who do well in school of ‘acting white’?”

“But what about Ibram Kendi’s racism?”

A little personal Googling would avoid the annoyance you feel at having to answer the same seriously dumb questions.

Then there are the ones that push internal buttons because—well, erm, maybe they have a point? Some ‘dumb questions’ persist because antiracists would rather not answer them.

They fall into two buckets: Truly Stupid White People Questions, and Uncomfortable White People Questions.

Or male questions. Or religious questions. Or gender/sex questions.

I understand both sides, the frustration of being asked the same questions about something over and over, especially when you want to scream, or maybe you actually do, “WHY DON’T YOU DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH? WHY IS IT MY JOB TO EDUCATE YOU?”

For me, substitute ‘Paganism’ for ‘race’.

Monotheistic folk, we Pagans are really, really tired of your dumb questions too. It’s not our job, either, to update or educate you on how modern Paganism has changed since the practices of Baal. FYI: No, we don’t sacrifice children anymore. I don’t care what QAnon told you.

“Google, ignorati? Ever heard of it?”

I don’t say that. I answer the questions, however truly stupid, and say, “Google Paganism and Wicca, it’s fascinating stuff. We’re sooo not like the pagans of yore. We’re all about human equality, spiritual power for women, protecting the Earth, the great circle of life and the web of human interconnectedness. Hey, it’s the 21st century, amirite?” Friendly chuckle!

PxFuel

If you don’t want to ‘educate’ others, you’re right, it’s not your job, but ask yourself this question, regardless of whose dumb questions you get ad nauseum:

“Would I like to be part of the solution, or the problem?”

I can offer two reasons, as an exasperated Pagan, why you might consider the former.

You’re changing the world one mind at a time

Not everyone who asks questions is evil, stupid, or making fun of you. Often, there’s genuine inquiry behind it.

I’ve chosen to be the solution. When you get angry and tell people off, you’re the problem. The first two questions I usually got when people found out I’m Pagan were THE most annoying, the ones that made me want to rip heads off. But I didn’t.

“Do you worship Satan?”

“Do you do naked rituals?”

I politely tell them no, Pagans don’t worship Satan, and I add a little historical perspective: Satan is a Christian deity, not a Pagan one. He was invented by the early Church, and debuted in the New Testament. “Christians will argue Satan isn’t a deity,” I respond, “but I argue he is, especially among the fundamentalists, who ascribe almost the same power to Satan as they do to God.”

It gives them food for thought.

As to the always-salacious question about nudity in rituals…

“Some do, I don’t. Geez, we live in Canada, and before that, I lived in Connecticut. Do you know how COLD it gets in both places? Ha ha ha! Then there are the summer bugs. Who wants to get bit there by skeeters?”

Can I blame them for thinking we all get nekkid and shag each other in the circle? Whenever the mass media drags us out of the shadows (at Halloween) they often focus on the nekkid rituals some groups do that others don’t. Anything that appeals to the penis gets top billing. Not to mention all those Hollywood movies featuring gorgeous naked or nearly-naked witchyboos.

Sometimes I’ve added—honestly— “Look, do you know what REAL witches look like? Geez, we don’t want to see ourselves naked, much less each other!"

People are interested in alternative religions whether they’re spiritual seekers or curiosity whores. I can get mad and put them off, make them walk away and think Pagans are real bitches, or I can feed their curiosity and perhaps incline them to do their own research.

Those who contend daily with racism, sexism, gender identity and other issues might consider how many minds they might change, or plant the seeds, when they answer ‘dumb’ questions.

When you offload education efforts to Google, they could go down all the wrong rabbit holes

If I told my ‘dumb questioners’ to just Google Wicca and Paganism, they might pull up fundamentalist propaganda along with legitimate websites and videos.

Google is working to ensure their algorithms provide more reliable sources in their search results than in the past. Today, the first page or two of Paganism/Wicca search results look mostly respectable. A few years ago, before political pressure to reduce higher ranking of pseudoscience, conspiracy theory, and downright fake news-driven results driven solely by popularity, Google’s coveted first page offered a mixed bag of reliability and factualism. I hoped that, after talking about Paganism in a positive manner with a thumbnail sketch of what we commonly believe, that people would discount fundamentalist nonsense.

Now you have to dig deeper into Google to find the crap. When I Googled, Are Wiccans Satanists? I found only one Christian-written article critical of Wicca by the conservative Focus on the Family. It provides a less hysterical Christian critique than I used to get years ago, and I’m not much nicked it’s on the first page. It’s targeted at parents whose teen girls may be showing interest in Wicca and brings up a good point about how it may appeal as a ‘mix ‘n’ match’ religion for a generation that eschews absolutes. Young unformed minds might not be ready for something like Wicca, not without responsible adult guidance. I disagree with some of the article’s contentions, and reject its argument that Wicca is wrong because the Bible is against witchcraft, but I can’t call it propaganda.

Encouraging Google use offers you the opportunity to educate on the basics of responsible research. Social and political divisions encourage us to remain within our insular ‘bubbles’ of belief and only consult sources that substantiate our already-formed opinions rather than challenge us to consider others. You can’t trust mass media as much anymore. Researching growing sexual predation in the trans movement is Exhibit A in attempting to untangle fact from narrative, or outright fiction, from two warring sides with their own diametrically opposed agendas.

Not only the right has a reliability and credibility problem.

When I Google about transwomen raping or sexually assaulting others, it takes a little effort to locate the truth, starting with ‘truthiness’. The right-wing media is far more willing to report issues of men in dresses intimidating women with their genitalia, but twisted to their own narrative and sometimes outright false.

Worse, the journey often starts with far-right sources. The Blaze? Intercept? Breitbart? The UK’s Daily Mail? I’ve run a lot of sources through Media Bias Fact Check over the years and these sources are all huge factualism fails, but that’s where you often start for the first clue about the trans movement’s uncomfortable problem.

Left-biased sites mostly ignore these stories, so I’ll take the alleged offender’s name from the right-biased media, Google it, perhaps with quotes around his name along with ‘trans’ and maybe other key words, to see if there’s mention in more reliable sources. Which you can find, if it’s a real story, with braver websites willing to risk social media condemnation for ‘transphobia’, like The Guardian or the UK’s Unherd.

Still, you can’t always trust these sources either. A fair chunk of them still bounce up and down in the MBFC ratings. I’ve seen Fox News ranked as high as Mostly Factual although they otherwise remain fairly stable at Mixed. The Guardian was ranked higher a few months ago, today it’s Mixed. CNN is the same, stabilizing at Mostly Factual far more than Fox News, but not enough to make them a reliably reliable source.

Overall, the farther one travels down the bias spectrum, the lower the factualism rating, but even sources on both ends can get something just enough right to hint whether there’s a real story or grain of truth. MBFC offers brief summaries of fact checks the source may have failed or notes they have so far not failed a fact check.

How many people, really, know how to properly research and pay attention to information sources, particularly who’s funding them? If MBFC doesn’t list their source, I encourage them to Google it, perhaps with quotes, and add ‘is it reliable’, or ‘who’s funding X’. I also encourage them to click the About link on the website to see who’s behind it and possibly funding it, which might influence its point of view.

We all think we’re better at critical thinking than we are. But some are really lousy at it and won’t know The Intercept from the Associated Press (The AP is one of the least biased, most factual sources).

We should try to guide people away from the Internet’s uglier rabbit holes.

Now let’s ask you, the non-educator, an important question.

Are some of those ‘dumb questions’ those you’d rather not think too much about?

Some ‘dumb questions’ get asked repeatedly because they deserve answers they’re not getting.

I intentionally ask ‘dumb questions’ of certain feminists still stuck in the ‘80s when women had less financial, economic and political power than we’ve got today.

I ask because there’s real inquiry behind them and I’ll keep asking them until feminists stop hissing and spitting like angry kittens and answer them.

Like, “Why does she let him treat her like that?”

I don’t assume an abused woman will be automatically hunted down and murdered like some feminists think. I know abusive relationships usually happen gradually, with equivalent compliance from the victim. Not all abusers are physically violent, and not all violent ones are Stephen-King-character-over-the-top-psycho violent. Every decision a woman makes to stay with that guy is consensual (unless she’s trafficked), and sometimes she doesn’t understand she has a choice. But not all. Many domestic violence victims are educated, competent women, many go into it warned, making excuses along the way until they’re wondering how they got to the point where they could star in their own Lifetime Channel movie.

I’ll keep asking my ‘dumb question’ until victimhood-identifying feminists acknowledge how much female choice and power plays a role in abusive relationships. After which, I hope, we can better educate girls and women on how to avoid toxic partners entirely.

Other questions that make feminists squirm are, “How many rapists get off scot free when victims refuse to report and take them to trial? And, doesn’t that give the men permission to rape again, since they got away with it before, making the earlier victims partially complicit in future rapes?”

I understand all the reasons why women wouldn’t want to put themselves through the ordeal of a rape trial, but they forget for whom it’s also quite an ordeal: The accused.

Putting more rapists on trial will give them plenty to squirm about for several months, most importantly contemplating this uncomfortable thought: How pretty am I? Shit, maybe I shouldn’t have worked on my glutes so much at the gym!

He might be acquitted, but he’ll be forever changed. His world will never be as safe, either.

Feminists hate these ‘dumb’ questions. I keep asking them because they’re not.

They’re questions that put others on the defensive because this ain’t The Battered Wife or The Burning Bed forty years ago. It’s today, and not all women can claim ignorance or lack of financial and personal power. There are logical, moral, and ethical problems with deniers’ stated positions.

Every social justice activist will encounter squirmy questions.

Truly dumb questions require patience, so you can educate others and not create animosity. I can’t believe we Pagans are still defending ourselves against Satanism but instead of getting mad, I put the responsibility for belief in Satan squarely in the lap of the early Christian church, where it belongs. Not-so-dumb questions demand answers.

Antiracists tired of answering questions about ‘acting white’ or the still-high rate of fatherless black American families need to come up with better answers than “Educate yourself!” which sounds like they should start with themselves.

People who claim transwomen are the real victims (and some are) need to answer for the blatant misogyny, entitlement, and traditional male aggression many trans activists - invariably transwomen - exhibit.

If feminists want to end rape and sexual assault, they’ve got to think about why they aren’t willing to take difficult but realistic steps to end it.

Related: The Woman Who Abetted Sex Trafficking

Men who are tired of being blamed for everything wrong with the world must debate why they’re responsible for the lion’s share of violence against others.

Some dumb questions are really dumb, but let’s answer them anyway. It’s not our job to educate others? If you choose social justice you signed up to be an educator. You quickly learn who to educate and who just wants to fight.

I choose to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. Which do you choose?

He's educating himself. PxFuel

When I’m not working to annoy the ignorati, I help women and others reclaim their power on my website, Grow Some Labia.

humanityfact or fictioneducationcontroversiesactivism

About the author

Nicole Chardenet

"Grow Some Labia" is for women and others who are tired of self-infantilizing narratives that identify with victimhood rather than self-power. Big girls and boys don't blame 'The Patriarchy'. Twitter: @nchardenet. [email protected]

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