gwyn_bywyd: Photo of my hand, holding home-grown cherry-tomatoes (Tomatoes)
[personal profile] gwyn_bywyd
Usually I'm all about consensus decision-making, inviting and encouraging diverse points of view on subjects, phrasing what I say as my own opinion, not presuming that this will be the experience of others.

But recently I've noticed the emergence of Authoritative Voice on a few occasions. Authoritative Voice phrases things in less conditional ways than I usually speak. It posits things as a matter of fact, rather than my subjective opinion. It is quite stern, and while not boastful about academic accomplishment, makes it quite clear that it knows about that of which it speaks. It tends not to encourage actual debate, but would be happy to answer questions of clarification. Authoritative Voice is right, by implication it possibly says that if you disagree, you are wrong. This is among the reasons that I'm frankly a little uncomfortable with Authoritative Voice, and wonder if it really ought to be coming out of my mouth.

Upon analysis, it appears that I use it at times when progressive views would be seen as "just her opinion" rather than having objective validity (which all the listeners presume to exist, and which reactionary conservatives around here are always happy to claim their opinion has.)
Examples include:

* speaking about queer kids in the community - saying that there ARE queer kids in the community - at least 10% of kids in the area, who may each feel alone, scared and isolated. Saying that these should be some of the most important people in the world to us, since they are unquestionably some of the people closest to God's heart.

*When someone was dismissing as pantheism the environmental theologies that someone else was talking about with joy.  I said in fact, no, this is not a valid critique, environmental theologies often include elements of panENtheism - which is totally different. Later, I felt really bad about shutting down debate in this way, but know that opponents in this debate don't hesitate to do the same to me (I've been called "not a Christian" to my face by one of my professional peers. Which, yeah, if you're ever looking for a conversation-stopper among clergy, that's a doozy right there.) And the person I shut down was seemingly privileged (whilst being aware that there may be invisible areas of disadvantage of which I am not aware) - white, middle-class, middle-aged male - who had no problem blithely romping over the views of this other person (female) and indeed others (women, PWD, the young) in the group.

I think I use Authoritative Voice when I think that expressing views in such a way as to allow other points of view would be seen as being uncertain somehow, and that the progressive view would thus not seem to have as much worth as the conservative view. Here's the thing, the other side in these debates doesn't give their authoritative voice a second thought - in fact, that is always how they speak. Can I afford not to speak in the same way?

What do you Dream-width-ers reckon?

In seeking to have the voices of the marginalised heard and a progressive social agenda furthered is it ever ok to engage in debate (or, indeed, to shut it down) using the methods of the kyriarchy?
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bywyd

May 2010

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