How can we ever hope to change hearts and minds when we purposefully obscure our own ideas under a haze of academic language and expertise? How can we fight misinformation campaigns if we can’t even make information transparent to everyone in our field? Anyone who has tried to read Judith Butler without training in dissecting and understanding her particular brand of academic speak would most certainly come to the conclusion that gender theory is solely the field of bored elites with nothing better to do with their time, rather than a vital understanding of how we live and breathe and exist.
Pride started as a way to demonstrate that the queer community exists and is strong and proud of who we are. Pride still means these things. Pride in the face of those who want us to be silent, who would rather us dead than to bear our presence—that takes strength and courage and love. And we have those things in spades in the queer community.
The predilection toward rape is a learned behavior. It is learned through speech about how sex is “scoring,” through the objectification of female bodies in media, through fathers excusing their sons’ actions as a sin of drinking rather than a sin of seeing other people’s bodies as belonging to him.
Because that’s the thing with questions: you get answers. And you’re not always going to like or agree with the answers you get—that’s your prerogative! But you can’t do the double-bind of simply “asking” and then pretending to be baffled when people refuse to take you by the hand and guide you through your “innocent” questions.
We cannot hope to approach a world in which racial justice--not reconciliation, justice--is achieved unless we are willing to challenge whiteness in all its forms, including within the discussion of gender. Russell Moore is fundamentally the wrong person to lead this charge, but an unsurprising one from a political standpoint. It helps the white church to look "progressive" on certain issues, to play their cards right in the midst of a tumultuous election season. But the centrality of whiteness to all of Moore's positions guarantees that no real change will ever happen.
Focus on the Family calls this irresponsible. Secular critics call it too cynical for its own good. I look at it as the ultimate superhero movie for millennials, the one that captures a “fuck you” attitude toward the world of pain and hurt and irresolution and hands us a way to grasp at some kind of happy in the middle of it all. It looks at our fear of everything and takes our hand and says, “We know a lot of it is bullshit, but there’s a chance for something good, even if unorthodox, even if it comes at a cost."
The inability to do this between the hard-right literalist and the liberationist theologians creates a dissonance in the language that starts small but echoes out into larger and larger rifts. Part of the reason Matthew Vines has found such success is that he can easily and quickly speak the evangelical language and can be trusted to understand and start from the same place as the evangelicals he’s discussing these issues with. There’s a level of authority there that I consciously gave up when I decided to declare myself a pro-choice, feminist, bisexual theologian. I can’t be trusted to be on the same page as the evangelicals anymore, despite us starting from the same book, from the same Scriptures, and from the same faith in a creator God who loves us.
There’s still a lot of work to be done and it starts with the recognition of the humanity of others, the recognition and examination of our own privilege in the wake of terror. I don’t begrudge Europeans for their feelings of insecurity and resentment following the series of attacks they’ve suffered in the past few years. But I do want to hold them to a higher standard of human interaction, one which recognizes that Europe is a diverse, beautiful place full of diverse, beautiful people, and responding to violence with violence toward fellow humans does no good.
It was fascinating to see how the experiment in the elevator rippled out and struggled and clashed with the institutional standard that demands things be performed in particular ways—ways that tend to cater toward white people. I mean, the Oxford Union is the place that, last year, had a drink special at the bar called the “Colonial Comeback.” So it’s a little hard to argue that it doesn’t have issues on some level, just as every institution does.
Baylor has a systemic problem that cannot be solved by targeting one or two people on staff. Individual people failed, yes, but these individuals are supported by a system of apathy toward victims of sexual assault. Keeping status quo is okay, so long as only one or two people are harmed—and we can get those people to leave if we’re apathetic enough. Our culture—especially Christian culture—encourages silence. Baylor University must overcome both the ongoing culture of silence around sexual assault and the Christian purity culture that prevents open discussion about sexuality in any form.