As of now most people are familiar with the post at Feminist Mormon Housewives in response to a post at Rational Faiths about two months back. We’re getting super meta here: A response to a post that was a response to a post. I was hesitant to even weigh in until two things happened: 1. My name was brought up in the comments on the fMh post, and 2. The branding of Rational Faiths as a “sexist” blog and those who contribute to it as part of the problem.
There is a lot to digest in those two, but mostly the second one is what I want to address. I don’t know if Corbin is a sexist or not because I don’t know him. The post did not read as sexist to me because, unlike the assertion made on the fMh post, I don’t think Corbin was forming any conclusions. Therefore I cannot see how he was “privileging the voices of male leaders over that of a woman.” However, Corbin’s post is actually only a peripheral concern for me.
For the sake of argument, let’s even go ahead and assume that what Corbin was doing was flat out calling Kate Kelly a liar. His timing was awful (that I will certainly grant), but it was news at the time so I’m not sure what waiting would have done. Fully apart from whether or not Corbin or Corbin’s post was sexist, there is Rational Faiths.
In the interests of full disclosure, for unrelated reasons I no longer am a permablogger/contributor to Rational Faiths. I was there at the time period in question though. I am not privy to any private conversations between Kate Kelly and the Barker brothers. One thing I do know for certain though is that Michael, Paul, and Jon Barker are absolutely not sexists. Rational Faiths is not a sexist blog. The decision for this post to stay up was not motivated by sexism.
I won’t go into the inner workings of processes and posting decisions at Rational Faiths because frankly it isn’t anyone else’s business. The finished product is what is fit for public consumption, not what goes on behind the scenes in discussions with administration and permabloggers. The diversity of thoughts, opinions, and ways of life and spirituality are what make it a great blog not fodder for a faux scandal.
The problem with calling out good people for supporting and/or supposedly protecting their “sexist” friends is that you more than throw the baby out with the bathwater—you put people in the cross-hairs who have no business being there. I don’t have to recount all of the pro-OW, and pro-Kate posts and sentiments that have been posted at Rational Faiths as well as those posited by contributors and permabloggers outside of the blog proper. Instead, for one person’s misstep an entire diverse group of writers can be thrown out like so much garbage. Although I no longer write for Rational Faiths many great people are still involved there. Those who, like myself, understand that it is either all “fair game” or none of it is. That includes those who have walked the walk of Mormon Feminism and ally-ship and paid dearly for it.
Feminism does not mean that women are above reproach, and a penis does not disqualify a person from making observations (whether right or wrong). Feminism calls women up. It isn’t meant as a shield to deflect any criticism as sexist. The conversation about ally-ship and how it can be improved is definitely one that should be had. The conversation about being sensitive to timing is definitely one that should be had. But having a conversation about good feminists and good allies being thrown under a bus for the actions of another person? No, there is no room for that conversation.