I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Tag Archive for Critique

The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture and Shame.

I had a very eye-opening conversation with my mom recently.

We were talking about my marriage to my ex, and she asked me if her hunch was correct that I’d have married him anyway if my parents hadn’t given us permission. (You see, in our iteration of purity culture, even as a 22-year-old adult, I needed my parents’ permission to marry.)

I thought a moment and answered honestly: yes, I would have still married him. Then I clarified, “I honestly thought I had to.”

“You didn’t get that from us!” Mom responded in astonished confusion. “You don’t have to marry someone just because you slept with them.

Let me state up front: that’s an entirely true statement. I agree with it 100%.

And yet it was my turn to be shocked.

Because that statement flew in the face the entire narrative of my first 20+ years of life..

Of masculinity & abusive breeding grounds.

Of Masculinity & Abusive Breeding Grounds

This post originally appeared on Plymouth Brethren Dropout on May 26, 2014. An updated version appears below. It’s been just over a year since the tragedy at Isla Vista that prompted the original penning of this post. So many things have happened since then that illustrate the points made herein, including but not limited to: the largely “secular” ongoing hissy-fit that is GamerGate…

Observations about relationships in Christianity.

What kind of foundation forms a lasting friendship, then? I mean, friendships are a pretty personal thing. There’s lots of aspects that are difficult to pin down, usually including compatible personalities, shared experiences, outlooks on life, mutually enjoyable activities, etc. I think those things are a given, no matter whether you’re a conservative Christian or not. But in my experience, the ingredients that point to longevity seem to be a pretty equal mixture of mutual admiration, respect, and trust. The Christian friends I have now who have been friends of mine for years weren’t my friends just because of our once-shared faith. We became friends through discovering and indulging in shared interests, sure, but we did it while demonstrating respect for each other’s individuality and personhood. Our personalities do click, but we also work hard to be empathetic, trustworthy, respectful people. We care about each other, what demonstrably makes each other’s lives more meaningful and fulfilling, no ulterior motives.

Sherlock Holmes, Vulcans, and how logic isn’t everything.

I mention it because one of the defenses of his insensitivity (to put it mildly) was that his argument was logically sound. And that’s a point that gets brought up an awful lot in discussions of social justice and in general when someone is called out for doing something harmful. It’s especially a point brought up from men against women, usually as a way of gas-lighting us and saying, “You’re too emotional to get this, let me logic at you in a manly fashion.” It’s sexist, it’s dismissive, and it focuses on one aspect of a situation to the exclusion of all else.

As I said on Twitter in my original thoughts about Dawkins’ asshattery:

This is the kind of argument I see quite a lot from those who tend to hold a lot of privilege & experiential ignorance of the topic at hand. Honestly…it makes me think of that scene in the RDJ/Jude Law Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is holding something in his hand, the end of which is mere inches from Watson’s face. Watson: “Get that thing out of my face.” Holmes replies, “It’s not in your face, it’s in my hand.” That’s what these logical men are like. That’s their argument. TECHNICALLY, they’re right. But the practical application & observation of the situation shows that one can be correct but still wrong. In this situation, the argument can (& has been, repeatedly) made that Dawkins wasn’t minimizing when he was making the comparison. TECHNICALLY, he wasn’t. But functionally, he was. Just like the thing TECHNICALLY was in Holmes’ hand but FUNCTIONALLY was in Watson’s face.

The stories we tell: using narrative to make sense of our lives and surroundings.

Examining and critiquing cultural narratives as they appear in “real life” and entertainment is important work. It’s life-changing and empowering work.

It’s important for women to know that they aren’t crazy when a man is stalking them and demanding attention and affection.

It’s important for women to know that if a man — even a man they love — attacks them, it’s not okay.

It’s important for black girls to know that they can grow up and go into space.

It’s important for trans people to see themselves accepted in society.

It’s important for people to know that they are more than a caricature, that the stories of their lives matter.

Oklahoma! and the missing stair.

I’m noticing a lot of problematic things sewn into the story of Oklahoma — things I didn’t notice as a 19-year-old religious conservative — and it’s incredibly frustrating.

The main story is how an abusive man terrorizes a woman, and an entire community treats him like the proverbial missing stair.

(If you’re unfamiliar with Cliff Pervocracy’s missing stair analogy and don’t want to click the link above, he basically outlines that often communities gloss over abusers in their midst the way that someone who lives in a house with a missing stair just becomes accustomed to skipping that step rather than fixing it.)