The Dark Side Of Performative “Wokeness” And Cancel Culture

The Dark Side Of Performative “Wokeness” And Cancel Culture August 11, 2020

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Image from Pixabay


Remember how I blogged about both cultural appropriation and cancel culture?


Know how sometimes people will complain about how “wokeness” and “allyship” can sometimes be performative “wokeness”? Here’s a great personal story and a wonderful lesson to learn about how things can potentially get performative and what people need to do in order to make sure it doesn’t happen.

I’ll start with a big one:

Not listening to the groups you’re claiming to defend isn’t a great start in attempting to be an ally.

It’s not cool to hate on people and not listen to them when they call you out

There is nothing “woke” about going on a “cancel all Wicca” binge. First of all, not all “Wicca” is actually Wicca. Second, some of us are actually in initiatory practices which is also referred to as closed practices.

I got into it with a Facebook group that puts trigger warnings on all mentions of Wicca. Actually having PTSD myself makes this “trigger warning” on Wicca insulting to me as hell, and is making light of actual trigger warnings on serious issues. Thanks, “allies”.

They also claim to be defending closed practices and marginalized groups. When I pointed out that my traditional Wicca is NOT their assumed Wicca, they pointed several pages into a fellow initiate’s website mentioning Lilith and accused me of appropriating from Jewish practices and being racist against Jews.

You need to listen to marginalized groups and not automatically assume who you’re talking to

Fam, I am Jewish. I am an actual legit Jew. My parents are Jewish, I had my naming ceremony at birth and everything, I am honest to Hashem 100% Jewish. And the amount of antisemitism I’ve had to deal with in my own communities is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve also been stalked, harassed, threatened, and doxxed over it. I’ve been accused of being “anti-white” and referred to as a “Jewess” who is “tainting Hellenism with her Semitic mindset.”

These are real quotes from pagans and polytheists. I get more hate over this aspect of my identity than anything else–about as much as being female if not more so, but I’m more than certain that being a woman increases this particular brand of hate severalfold. I will likely receive even more for this blog post since I’m not trying to make excuses for my heritage or try to claim “it’s only cultural” in order to downplay it. Cause it means I’m not being a “good Jew” to these people.

Welcome to the background radiation of my life.

You have to pick and choose your battles carefully too

We also don’t police people’s personal practices in my traditions. That’s called a C-U-L-T and we don’t do that. I’m not responsible for what someone else in one of my traditions puts up on their page in their own time. Also and most importantly, neither of my initiatory Wiccan trads include Lilith in our praxis. And if a coven decides to up and do so in their own time, we can’t police them either. Covens are autonomous, end of. We reserve banishing people from our trads for things such as being a transphobic, racist, and all-round bigoted jerk as well as pedophilia.

In short, we pick and choose what hills we die on. And I do feel that we’ve chosen wisely.

I’ve had my own rants on pagans and occultists blithely including Lilith and “Hermetic Qabalah” in their practices while engaging in all styles and speech ranging from microaggressions to being outright antisemitic, and that’s yet another post for another day (and I promise you it’s coming). Either way, to talk down to me about the heritage I come from when you’re not Jewish yourself is downright freaking rude and presumptuous.

And speaking of rude.

You can’t police on “closed practices” then refuse to listen to people who are actually in them

Continuing the performative “wokeness”, I had non-initiates in there trying to school me on my own history and traditions. THEY DON’T KNOW THEM. News flash: you’re not an initiate and therefore don’t get to tell us what’s in our own traditions. Let alone how we’re handling issues such as gender polarity, gender identity, and sexuality (and my traditions actually are). Until you are, listen to those who are members of said closed groups. These people have read maybe a Cunningham book or two, met a few neo-Wiccan bad eggs. And now they’re trying to throw everything away with the explanation that “our history is problematic.”

That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works.

Do you honestly think ANY of our histories aren’t problematic? You might as well throw literally everything away at this point. Let’s get real here: human history is multitudes of tire fires in a huge wasteland filled with nothing but. Your pagan practices come from patriarchal societies that practiced human sacrifice and slavery. But you want to whine about Alexandrian and Gardnerian trads as a non-initiate? Or worse yet, paint all of Wiccan traditions with your loosely-based-on-Cunningham brush? Really?

On problematic histories and how to handle them (and not)

The key is to teach where you came from and why you left it. And that’s exactly what we do in our traditions. And had they taken the time to actually listen to me we could’ve had a wonderful dialogue on that but nah, it’s much cooler to hate on Wicca and pretend to care about “closed practices” while lecturing those who are actually in them.

The reality is that they aren’t remotely concerned about actually protecting or defending Jewish people like myself, closed practices (like the ones I’m actually an initiate of) or anything like that, they just want woke points and an excuse to both hate on others and feel superior. And refusing to discuss things while sweeping them under the rug does more harm than good.

Want real education on Wicca? Sit down and talk with a real initiate about it as opposed to ignoring and muting them with the arrogance that you know more than they do. Don’t ignore, attack, and/or mute the people you claim to be defending.

THAT is where allyship and “cancel culture” becomes toxic.

Welcome to performative “wokeness”.

So you screwed up on this, now what?

People are gonna screw up. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. So how do you handle it?

I’ll tell you what you don’t do: mute the only Jew in the room who got accused of being racist against her own heritage in a presumptuous rant about someone else not even related to your own practices while you claim you’re off to talk to the mods “about how her ethnicity/culture was assumed” and claim “it’s not punishment, you just don’t have the spoons.”

Know what Jews in the pagan, polytheist, and occult communities don’t have right now? Spoons for dealing with microaggressions and low key antisemitism, because it is everywhere. I literally spent all day on it in another group before dealing with that crap. I can guarantee you that right now, none of us have the spoons. None. And if you “don’t have the spoons” to handle this sort of problem when it comes up in your “woke” group then you can’t have a “woke” group. CAUSE THAT’S LITERALLY  YOUR JOB AS A MOD. This is how your “wokeness” becomes performative “wokeness”.

And silencing the person who was attacked? Not cool.

And yes, all of this happened in a “woke” group that claims to be helping to protect against “closed practices” and “marginalized groups”. Guess what, that “threefold law” that you claim all Wiccans adhere to (which initiatory Wiccans like me don’t adhere to it and dgaf)? You’ve replaced that with a massive quantity of paranoia on everything you practice to the point of actually being racist in your objections. Including policing and silencing the very people you claim you’re trying to protect and defend.

Who needs a dogmatic “threefold law” or alleged “Wiccan creed” or whatever when you can silence the marginalized people in the room instead and engage in performative “wokeness”?

Also, you can’t handle discussions on marginalized groups without listening to them

And when you DO screw up, the thing NOT to do is bombard their inbox with a wall of text of nothing but excuses. Or make it all about you. Cause it’s not about you, Karen. And yup that “woke” mod did exactly that, unfortunately. Here’s what you actually do: recognize you made the error, issue a sincere and PUBLIC apology (yes you have to own it!), and take steps to remedy and correct.

If you can’t adhere to your own rules about “calling out” people when people call YOU out, your behavior is hypocritical and harming the very causes you claim to support.

This is where “allyship” and “cancel culture” become performative “wokeness”. You have to actually take your own damn medicine. This means being okay with being checked yourself, listening to other people, and certainly not shooting first and refusing to ask questions later.

I don’t know why this is so challenging. I don’t know why any of this is so hard to understand. And this gives hate groups more ammunition against us, so thanks for “defending” me and other marginalized people I guess.

And whatever you do, don’t you dare tone police us either

This post went through a million edits because I’m angry as hell and I don’t want my points to be lost in the anger. There’s a lot that people need to take away from this that is super important, and that importance outweighs my desire to rant. And I’m not the only one frustrated by performative “wokeness” either. It’s hurting a lot of people and making activism much harder to do. And it’s already hard. All of this is hard. But we gotta.

I’m also allowed to be angry. So are others dealing with this and similar nonsense.

If you feel attacked by anything I’ve said, sit with it for a while. Examine why you feel that way. And stop being defensive about it, too. You can’t lecture people on this stuff without cleaning your own house first. I know people are trying to come in with good intentions (and I’m sure you are too), but this isn’t how to do it. This is how you harm those whom you claim to care about.

Impact > intent.

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