Don’t Be An Ally

2014-02-15 The_Daughters_of_Zelophehad
The crazy-sounding name actually comes from a Bible story found in Numbers 27.

For someone who writes about Mormonism an awful lot (and blogs at Mormon blog Times And Seasons), I’m actually surprisingly new to the “bloggernaccle“.1 Which means I’m not really very familiar with a lot of the big-name blogs, even if I’ve heard of them. Like Zelophehad’s Daughters. (Easier to remember than to spell!) I take it that my bloviating on issues related to gender roles and overall skepticism of feminism and all things socially left might get me into some pretty hot water over there, but that’s just a guess. I don’t actually know.

In any case, I happened upon this piece by Eve over there called Don’t Be My Ally, and I really liked it.

Her main point, which is that the relationship of “ally” is incredibly dehumanizing for ally and allied alike, is profound. To my mind, it’s basically a politer version of the “identity politics” criticism from the right-wing of American politics: reducing people to their categories is an awful thing to do to someone. She’s also unafraid to point out what I consider to be far and away the worst trait of Mormon feminism:

In recent years I’ve been unsettled to see how often Mormon feminism roots itself more deeply in in various secular feminisms than it does in Mormonism or in Christianity.

My own relationship with the term “feminism” is… complex. I go back and forth. But if Mormon feminism were really and truly distinct from secular feminism (i.e. the political dogma of the American left), I would be very excited and much more interested in engage and self-identifying as feminist. (I am concerned about women’s issues; I’m just leery of the baggage that comes with the word “feminism.”)

Lastly, she manages to get in some good digs at male allies that (1) I firmly believe need to be said and (2) made me chuckle:

Inevitably some allies tote their ally(ship? hood?) to enhance their own status and credibility, and some usurp the voices of those they ostensibly champion.

Yup. I like to refer to this as “White Knight Chauvinism,” although another variety (which I have yet to name) is basically a slightly better-disguised of nice-guy whining. You know, when “nice-guys” (which usually, at best, means “socially impotent”) complain that girls always date jerks as though they could sort of browbeat attractive ladies into dating them. It’s weird and creepy. And, as a guy, I can’t help but notice that more or less the same motive seems to operate for some allies who view their support as a way to ingratiate themselves with the ladies.

On top of being an article I really liked, it just made me happy to see such common sense coming from an outlet that I would be predisposed to view with skepticism. It’s always good to be reminded of the possible common ground between reasonable people no matter what their political home turf may be.