When the Excluded Exclude

Caveat the First: I was not at Pantheacon. Instead, I lost five pounds in 24 hours due to food poisoning.

Caveat the Second: I do not self-identify as pagan.

Apparently, there was a public ritual held there, specified as being for cis-women only. And a silent protest ensued.

Oh, how this makes me itch in funny places. I know all too well about being excluded by those who consider themselves also excluded. And it leaves me sad, tired, and not a little bit bitter. Granted, my issues fall along disability, rather than gender, lines. But I cannot help but wince a bit at this.

As I’ve mentioned before, I once had a middle-aged transvestite man point and laugh at my visible disability. And I was gobsmacked that somebody who has likely been harshly judged for their external presentation did not see a problem with harshly judging how I present. Compounded by the fact that this happened at a science fiction convention — a space that itself purports to not only be inclusive, but a haven for those excluded by majority culture.

I’ve seen statements that people need to “toughen up” and not be so sensitive about this. For myself, that’s about three steps away from being told it is my job to be a poster child for disability or chronic pain. And if you don’t know my thoughts on that by now, you need to go back and read this blog from the beginning.

When I am simultaneously told that X space is a big tent, yet that I need to stand outside because there’s no room for me, it leaves me sad, tired, and not a little bit bitter and confused. When it comes from people who simultaneously trumpet about how they are excluded by mainstream society, this only compounds it.

And I just don’t understand it. Seriously, use small words. Make me smart. Because…I’m at a loss to understand how a space claiming to be inclusive is OK with excluding.

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2 Responses to When the Excluded Exclude

  1. J. Decker says:

    I wasn’t there, and I was (realizing I too am not party to every detail) pretty upset when I did hear about it, but here’s a little of what I’ve sensed/been able to gather.

    It’s clear that part of this particular ritual’s continuing existence relates to a particular leader in the community, who many have historically had a strong respect for. I think the discussion surrounding this this year, and the well-attended sit-in outside the discriminatory ritual, were in some ways attempts to address the situation in a more community-minded, “get everyone to agree” sort of style.

    I applaud the goal (if I’m right), I in no way applaud the result. Or …. hmmm.

    Here’s the thing. That the ‘con organizers continue to allow this ritual to be held as a P’con event a year after the issue was first raised is damaging and hurtful to at least some members of the trans community who have spoken to me. It *continues* to be damaging. It asserts the privilege of this self-described community leader over one of the smaller, less-powerful fractions within the pagan community. It is not, in a word, okay.

    This is not in any way to criticize those who attempted in good faith to show their feelings in other ways, to work towards longer change. The descriptions I heard of the sit-in and the meeting were deeply moving. I applaud, strongly, what they were able to do, and I feel bad coming down like a load of wet socks to say what I’m about to say, given the power and unity those people apparently showed.

    But it was not enough.

    People are still being oppressed and hurt as a result not only of the ritual organizers, but as a result of the ‘con organizers allowing this ritual to be part of the ‘con. I am at a complete loss to hear any explanation, save for the respect for one’s “elders”, for the organizer’s inaction in leaving the ritual out of this years convention. And that’s not good enough, when the marginalized are continuing to be marginalized.

  2. Adotnon says:

    I think that there are some people who just feel a need to look down on others, for whatever reason. I think this may run stronger in marginalized groups because they want their turn, dammit!

    It’s not an excuse, but possibly an explanation. I would hope more people would examine themselves and try and figure out just WHY they feel the need to exclude, especially when they have experienced it themselves.

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